WATCH: THE MASTERS – TOP GOLFER SELECTION
UPDATE: Dustin Johnson (back) took a serious fall in his Augusta Rental home and is now QUESTIONABLE to compete at the Masters.
The first major championship of the year has arrived. If you’re not sure what makes the Masters so special, it’s all in the packaging. The course, the reward of getting the Green Jacket and the fact that you’ll always be invited back to this tournament for as long as you can walk, makes this the one tournament golfers from around the world strive to get a start at every season. If you want a little more info on Masters week make sure you check out my article “The Nine” which is up on the DK Playbook, in it I answer nine common questions about the tournament.
The Masters is one of the most unique fields of the entire year. The regulars on the PGA take a lot of pride in just being invited to the Masters each year as simply being a solid player doesn’t ensure one gets an invite. Winning a PGA event, being a top-50 player in the world or having a big finish at another major — or making the Tour Championship — are usually the only ways in (having a victory at a past Masters doesn’t hurt either). As a result, several very solid PGA Tour players will be sitting out this week, but late qualifiers like Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood and Ross Fischer will be in the field.
While there are tons of elite players here, it also includes a handful of older champions who are generally past their prime and not really a factor at all in the actual tournament. Players like Sandy Lyle, Mike Weir and Ian Woosnam are long past their competitive days but tee it up here every year nonetheless. These guys are generally non-factors for DraftKings and should be avoided completely. The field also features five amateurs (most years it’s six): Brad Dalke, Curtis Luck, Toto Gana, Scott Gregory and Stewart Hagestad. These are all great young players, but they are also all untested against large pro fields and can generally be described as extremely dicey DraftKings plays too.
The cut line for this event is also unique. The cut still takes place after Friday, but only the top 50 plus ties — plus all those within 10 shots of the lead — will play the weekend. With less than 100 players in the field this year, getting all six of your golfers through the cut line for fantasy purposes will be especially crucial as more than 50 percent of the actual field will get a chance to play the weekend.
Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia
Par 72, 7,400-7,500 yards depending on setup
Augusta National was built on the site of an old tree sanctuary, and every one of its holes has a name associated with its natural surrounding (usually a tree, bush or flower … how quaint!). At its most basic, Augusta is a standard par-72 course that has four par 5s, four par 3s and 10 par 4s. However, there truly isn’t anything standard about the setup of the holes or the course. Augusta is one of the hilliest tracks on tour, and the elevation changes and slopes mean experience playing the course can really pay off. The course was redesigned back in 2002 to catch up with modern technology and now plays quite long but has still seen winning scores ranging all the way from +1 (Zach Johnson 2007) to -18 (Jordan Spieth in 2015). Last year poor weather really affected scoring as Danny Willett won at just -5.
As far as the individual holes go, here’s a brief breakdown of what will await the player’s this week:
- Par 5s 550-600: 2
- Par 5s 500-550: 2
- Par 4s over 500: 1
- Par 4s 450-500: 5
- Par 4s 400-450: 3
- Par 4s under 400: 1
- Par 3s over 200: 1
- Par 3s 150 – 200: 3
While Augusta’s par 5s are often the “action holes,” where you’ll see birdies and some eagles, the true teeth and test of this course lies in the six par 4s that range over 450 yards. Players who can tread water on these brutes (and the tricky par 3s), and take advantage of the very scorable par 5s, will be in great shape come the final nine holes on Sunday.
Last 10 Winners
- 2016 — Danny Willett -5 (over Jordan Spieth and Lee Westwood -2)
- 2015 – Jordan Spieth -18 (over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose -16)
- 2014 – Bubba Watson -7 (over Jordan Spieth -5)
- 2013 – Adam Scott -10 (over Angel Cabrera playoff)
- 2012 – Bubba Watson -12 (over Louis Oosthuizen playoff)
- 2011 – Charl Schwartzel -14 (over Jason Day and Adam Scott -12)
- 2010 – Phil Mickelson -16 (over Lee Westwood -13)
- 2009 – Angel Cabrera -12 (over Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell playoff)
- 2008 – Trevor Immelman -8 (over Tiger Woods -5)
- 2007 – Zach Johnson +1 (over Tiger Woods +3)
- No player has won at Augusta on their first attempt since Fuzzy Zoeller back in 1979.
- Since 1996 no player has won after missing the cut at the Masters the year prior.
- Five of the past eight winners have ranked inside the top-25 in Driving Distance on tour in the year of their victory (Danny Willett did not play enough tournaments to be ranked).
- Five of the past seven winners have ranked 19th or better in Par 5 Scoring in the year of their victory (Danny Willett did not play enough tournaments to be ranked).
- Five of the past six winners of this event have ranked 36th or better in Par 4 Scoring in the year of their victory (Danny Willett did not play enough tournaments to be ranked).
Par 4 Scoring
While many people tend to emphasize Par 5 Scoring at Augusta, it’s actually been Par 4 Scoring that has been more predictive here. Since 2010, the winner at Augusta National has not ranked worse than eighth in this stat for the week. Over the past two seasons the winners — Danny Willett and Jordan Spieth — have ranked first and second, respectively, in this stat.
While the past two champions only ranked 32nd and 44th for the week in Driving Distance, it’s still a stat to be emphasized this week. The average finishing position of the top 11 players in Driving Distance for this event last season was 19th. Augusta is known for wide fairways that don’t overly punish inaccuracy and has also seen its fair share of winners who hit it consistently more than 300 yards off the tee.
Finally, while we don’t have Strokes Gained stats from past years at Augusta, we do have some around the green stats and Scrambling is one of them. Scrambling can be highly variable, but past champions here have always had good weeks getting up and down. Since 2010, no champion has ranked worse than 10th in this stat for the week, and last year’s champion, Danny Willett, was ranked first in this category.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
|Jon Rahm||20-1||$8,600||Phil Mickelson $8,700 and 25-1
Adam Scott $8,800 and 33-1
Justin Thomas $8,900 and 28-1
|Matt Kuchar||66-1||$7,400||Alex Noren $7,500 and 80-1
Branden Grace $7,500 and 80-1
Jimmy Walker $7,600 and 80-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
- Phil Mickelson has three wins and seven top-fives at this event since 2004 and absolutely loves Augusta National. Phil is coming in off a strong start to 2017 but hasn’t won since his victory at the Open in 2013. Given his price ($8,700), he’ll make for an interesting pivot off of some popular players this week.
- Justin Rose is 9 for 9 in cuts made here since 2007 and has six finishes of 15th or better in that span. He was runner-up in 2015, finished T10 last year and is someone who has taken to the course. He’s often the forgotten man in these elite field events but looks as safe as they come this week.
- Lee Westwood landed his second runner-up finish at Augusta last season when he tied with Jordan Spieth at 2-under. He’s made 10 straight cuts at the Masters with seven finishes of 11th or better overall. He knows the course and knows how to get himself into contention at a major championship (winning is a different story).
- Bubba Watson has a bit of a boom-or-bust history at Augusta, in that he’s won here twice already in just eight starts, but he’s also finished outside the top 30 on five occasions as well. Bubba is 8 for 8 in cuts made at this event and finally showed some decent form at the last Match Play event.
- Bill Haas doesn’t have any high finishes at Augusta, but his track record is still worthy of mention. Overall, Haas has made seven starts at Augusta over his career and never missed a cut. While he’s never finished better than 12th, he does have four straight finishes of 24th or better to his name.
- Jordan Spieth has accomplished more in three starts at this event than most will accomplish over their entire golfing careers. He’s placed second here (twice) and won the event by tying the scoring record of Tiger Woods (-18) in 2015.
Cash Games: Starting your lineup out with one of the two highest-salaried players is probably a good idea this week given their recent form and course history. Of the two in question, I would feel better about Dustin Johnson than Jordan Spieth at a cheaper price given how effortlessly he has been dispatching fields. After Johnson, both Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose have nice records at Augusta with Rose likely being the safer target. The $8K range is solid with players like Jon Rahm ($8,600), Phil Mickelson ($8,700) and Louis Oosthuizen ($8,100), all players who have yet to miss a cut in 2017. Some solid values below that range who could be good cash-game targets for the week include Paul Casey, Bill Haas, Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar and Kevin Kisner.
Tournaments: After the top two players, figuring out who to pair your stud with will be critical. While Jason Day makes for an intriguing narrative story, he’s yet to decide if he’ll play (as of writing) and carries some risk given his lack of form. I’d prefer Fowler or Adam Scott for a likely lower-owned $9K player. After that, players who could go overlooked this week but carry upside based on history or recent form include Charl Schwartzel ($7,900), Brooks Koepka ($7,500), Thomas Pieters ($7,700), Alex Noren ($7,400) and Bernd Wiesberger ($7,100).
Top Recent Form (Overall):
1. Dustin Johnson: He has three wins in his last three starts. Johnson is an incredible 45-under over his last four stroke-play rounds. He leads the tour in Driving Distance and is second in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green.
2. Jon Rahm: His last five starts include a win and three other separate top-five finishes. He’s third in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and second in Par 4 Scoring.
3. Tyrrell Hatton: He has not finished worse than 13th over his last five stroke-play events, and he has not missed a cut in 13 starts.
Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (on year)
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Jon Rahm
Top Strokes Gained: Putting (on year)
1. Tyrell Hatton
2. Marc Leishman
3. Matthew Fiztpatrick
MY Stud: Rickie Fowler ($9,300)
Before we get too much further, let me just state that I think Dustin Johnson is very likely to win the Green Jacket, and I’d roster him over Jordan Spieth if forced to choose. That being said, as DJ has won all of his last three starts, picking him is not exactly rocket science. Fortunately, in DFS, we need to draft more than one player, and that’s where Fowler comes in. Rickie has had a fantastic last two months and seems to have slowly been building confidence. Unlike last year, where he was coming off a couple blown tournaments, Fowler showed mettle closing out the Honda Classic and has built on that with solid showings after as well. Rickie may have let us down last year, but he’s shown prowess on this course before too with 12th- and fifth-place finishes here over the past two seasons. At $9,300, he has the makings of a great wingman for your DJ (or Spieth) lineups with upside enough to possibly pull off a great upset this week.
MY Value: Bill Haas ($7,200)
Haas is a player that could easily fly under the radar in this elite field, but he’s someone whose prospects I’m extremely high on this week. He has an impressive history at this event, which includes seven straight made cuts here since 2010 and four straight finishes of 24th or better. While he’s yet to crack the top-10 at Augusta, there are indications that Haas is ready for a big breakthrough. He had his best-ever finish in a major last year with a T9 at the Open and he’s also posted his best ever finishes in WGC events over the past six months with a T4 in China and a T3 two weeks ago at the match play event. While he hasn’t won yet in 2017, Haas has started his season with six straight made cuts and four finishes of T17 or better (including the T3 from two weeks ago). He ranks second in Scrambling and ninth in Par 4 Scoring for the year and at just $7,200, looks primed for a big week.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.