WATCH: AUGUSTA NATIONAL COURSE PREVIEW
It’s mid-March and we are now just two tournaments away from the first major of the year: The Masters. There is nothing better than watching golf at Augusta in the spring and to get ready for it, I’m going to give you my early thoughts on the pricing and which players to watch as we go forward.
Augusta National Sneak Peak
Augusta plays differently than almost any other course on the circuit. It’s a long par 72 that contains a lot of wide fairways, lots of elevation and greens with harsh edges and fast runoffs. Built on a former tree sanctuary, the course has seen some “improvements” over the years and most of them have lengthened the course turning into a bit of a bomber’s paradise. Distance off the tee obviously doesn’t hurt here (it doesn’t hurt on most courses), but regardless of how long a player hits it, one thing is certain, Augusta will punish those who are unprepared for its nuisances.
This makes familiarity with the course an important factor. No winner since 1979 (Fuzzy Zoeller) has won here on their first attempt, and to add to that trend, no winner since Fuzzy has failed to make the cut at Augusta in the year before they won. We’ll talk more about what to look for in your golfers during the lead-up to the Masters, but for now, know that players with experience — who know how to score on Augusta’s par fives and avoid three-putts on their lightning fast greens — will be valuable allies this week.
Players to Watch
Dustin Johnson ($11,300): At the top of the salary charts we find an interesting pricing difference right off the bat. Dustin Johnson is the clear-cut, number one player in the world. Outside of one missed cut, he’s not finished worse than sixth in six starts in 2017 and has earned wins in both of his last two starts. Even with all that, though, Johnson is $200 cheaper than Jordan Spieth this week, a difference based mainly off of their respective histories at Augusta. Johnson’s course history at the Masters doesn’t match Spieth’s historic numbers, but it should be noted that he has improved over the past four years at this tournament, and his best finishes to date — fourth in 2016 and sixth in 2015 have come over his past two starts. To roster Johnson this week you’ll likely have to look past Spieth’s flawless record at this event, but his early season form suggests he might be worth it.
Jason Day ($10,200): A little further down the list we find former world number one Jason Day. Day is the fourth most expensive golfer on DraftKings this week and comes in at a price we haven’t seen him at in a while, even in an elite field like this. Much of Day’s depressed price can be attributed to his slow start to 2017 which has seen him place 64th, fifth and MC in three starts as of writing. Day shouldn’t be discounted though as he’s had a couple of close calls at Augusta before, including a second place from 2011 and a third from 2013. Day came into to this event in 2016 as the highest priced golfer, and world number one, but finished a disappointing 10th. With less fanfare in 2017 and a depressed DK price, he might just rise to the occasion this year and should be a very intriguing target on DraftKings.
Phil Mickelson ($8,700): In the mid-$8k range we have a lot of intriguing targets, and picking and choosing the highest scorer’s from this range will undoubtedly have a huge effect on your success during Masters week. While many might be drawn toward whiz-kid and ridiculous talent John Rahm, Phil Mickelson brings plenty of Augusta success and experience to the table. While the missed cut from last season might draw some people off him, don’t forget Phil was a vital DraftKings play in 2015, as he finished that week second to Jordan Spieth and as one of the highest DraftKings point-getters. While he’s not always the most consistent player, Phil currently ranks fifth on the year in Birdie or Better Percentage and could be a good source of points once again.
Sergio Garcia ($8,300): Garcia’s price definitely stuck out to me right away. While his Augusta history isn’t littered with success — one top 10 since 2005 — he has gotten off to a fantastic start in 2017 and should be heavily considered by DraftKings players here. Garcia won early in the year in Abu Dhabi, holding off Henrik Stenson down the stretch, and has landed solid top 15s in his last two PGA Tour starts. He’ll be a polarizing figure, as he always is in a major championship, but should be considered a value play this week at a discounted price.
Thomas Pieters ($7,700): One of the early stories on Tour this year has been the play of some of the up and coming young talent. While Justin Thomas and John Rahm have put up some huge results already, don’t forget about the Belgian, Thomas Pieters, this week either. Pieters already has two top fives on the PGA in 2017 and is a three-time winner on the European Tour. While Pieters is dripping with talent, his lack of experience may be a red-flag to some. At only $7,700 though, taking a look at a player who is ranked 11th in Birdie or Better Percentage – and who proved he was capable of rising to the challenge on the biggest stages last year in the Ryder Cup — isn’t a bad idea.
Lee Westwood ($7,200): Another price that really stood out to me was the one on Westwood. While Westwood has never won at Augusta, over the past 10 years at this event he’s never missed the cut and has an uber-impressive record of six top 10s and two runner-up finishes in that span. While it’s been a while since his last win, Westwood comes in having made the cut in all nine of his last starts worldwide. Given his recent form and past record at this event, he’s shaping up as perhaps one of the best value picks.
Chris Wood ($6,500): To fit in more than one stud on your teams you’ll need some salary relief. When browsing below the $7k mark the name that stands out the most to me is Chris Wood. Wood’s currently the 55th ranked golfer in the world but was ranked as high as 22nd last season after his big win at the BMW PGA event on the Euro Tour. He’s remarkably consistent (made 11 of his last 12 cuts worldwide) and has experience at Augusta (42nd here last year). Wood is the type of player you should consider when priced as he is for Masters week, and could be the key to unlocking the big point getters in the rest of your lineup.
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.