It has arrived, golf’s first major of the year is finally upon us as the PGA tour makes its way to Augusta National, one of the most famous golf courses in America. Before you know it, the legends we know and love will be teeing it up for the ceremonial opening tee shot, so take a stroll down Magnolia Lane with me as I review the golfers I love, like, and hate for help in building your lineups for this iconic event.
Golfers I Love
Jason Day ($11,600) – This may come as no surprise, but Jason Day’s price is too low as the number 1 golfer in the world, as it probably belongs at the top of the list if not well above $12,000 based on his recent success. He far and away comes in as the highest projected golfer in my model largely due to having the best birdie to bogey ratio in the field at 2.24 and his exceptional scoring average. This means that he makes 2.24 birdies or better for every bogey on average, and outranks the field by nearly .25 birdies per bogey. While the numbers themselves may not mean much, the scoring system on Draftkings rewards birdies heavily, so this stat should translate to high fantasy scoring.
Dustin Johnson ($10,200) – Dating back to 2010 the average finish position of the eventual winner in the previous 8 starts was 11th place, and Dustin Johnson fits that mold. His worst finish in 5 events was a 41st, but he hasn’t finished outside the top 20 in 5 of his last 6 events played. Despite having never finished inside the top 5 at Augusta, I expect this to be the year he breaks through, and at only $10,200, I have no complaints in his pricing to hold me back.
“Based on these stats, he belongs with the highest salary golfers”
Hideki Matsuyama ($9,100) – Matsuyama has quietly become a much better golfer both statistically and empirically in 2016. Through 2016, Hideki ranks in the top 15 in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, Green in Regulation, Strokes Gained: Total, Birdie Average, Putting Average, and Birdie or Better Percentage among other categories. Based on these stats, he belongs with the highest salary golfers, and we have the opportunity to take him at just over $9,000, so I’ll be jumping on board.
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Jimmy Walker ($8,200) – Jimmy Walker comes into Augusta having 5 top 25s in his last 7 events on tour, and a 6th place finish in his last event played. As a golfer who is in the mid-tier price range, his ability to make birdie or better 28% of the time from the fairway is bested only by Jason Day in this field, and on a course that certainly has no shortage of challenges, this should serve him well.
Ian Poulter ($7,200) – Ian Poulter comes in under $7,500 and is easily the best value in my model as the 8th ranked golfer in my projections. Although his stats thus far through 2016 don’t nearly stack up to his 2015 stats, he should be very motivated this week, as a strong finish in 2016’s first major will help him make a case as a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup at the end of September, which has been Poulter’s bread and butter event in the past.
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Golfers I Like
Jordan Spieth ($12,300) – Spieth is the 3rd ranked golfer in my projections and comes in with 2 incredible performances at Augusta in his first two starts here with a win in 2015 and a 2nd place finish in 2014. Spieth has one of the lowest adjusted scoring averages on tour, but it’s his incredible accuracy metrics and enticing birdie to bogey ratio that interest me most. My only concern with Spieth is that he hasn’t shown the recent ability to putt at an elite level, which will be a necessity for him to break through with a back-to-back win at an event like the Masters.
Rory McIlroy ($12,500) – McIlroy comes into the Masters as one of the favorites to win, and in a week where you must have the winner to hope to win big tournaments on Draftkings, he will definitely make his way into my lineups. He is fairly well known as a long hitter off the tee, but McIlroy is exceptional when it comes to accuracy between 50-125 yards, which will be a critical yardage range at Augusta. The only hesitation I have with Rory has been his recent slump in his ability to make short putts. However, putting is a stat that comes and goes, and if Rory is able to find his putting game this week, he has a good chance to top the leaderboard at the end.
“. . . he can be included in the tour’s hottest golfers without a second thought.”
Rickie Fowler ($10,900) – I almost put him in the love section, as I really, really like Rickie Fowler at the Masters this year. However, there’s one minor detail, he is going to be very highly owned. As such a popular golfer, with his litany of top 10s over the course of the last 3 months he can be included in the tour’s hottest golfers without a second thought. As the 5th ranked golfer in my model, I will be loading up Rickie in a lot of my lineups despite his popularity.
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Justin Rose ($9,900) – This feels a bit like a no-brainer, but Justin Rose has a phenomenal history at Augusta having never missed a cut dating back to 2003, and he’s under $10k. With the likelihood of him finishing top 10, I’m happy to roster him in a big percentage of my lineups. Like I mentioned, my biggest concern is that he will be a very popular selection and his ownership will likely be high, so he is a fade for me in large tournaments.
Brooks Koepka ($8,100) – Koepka is a golfer who is well known as one of the few golfers on tour who combines long distance off the tee, short iron accuracy, and the ability to putt at a high level. His game sets up extremely well for Augusta, and he has the talent to win here which is going to have to be a major consideration when building lineups if you want to find yourself at the top of a GPP leaderboard the week of The Masters.
Charley Hoffman ($6,400) – While I am not ordinarily a big advocate of rostering Charley Hoffman, it’s hard to ignore the fact that he is on a run in which he has made 5 straight cuts, and his finish position has trended upward as we near The Masters. In two appearances at The Masters Hoffman has a top 30 and a 9th place finish, and with top 10 upside at under $7k, Hoffman will be a strong value consideration for me.
Golfers I Hate
Adam Scott ($11,900) – Scott is going to be a tough fade for me because he clearly has some serious upside at Augusta, but I can’t roster every golfer and at some point we’re all forced to make a choice. That being said it’s likely my strategy this week will be to include at least some ownership of all the higher priced golfers because they all have the potential to win at Augusta, so he will still make his way into a small percentage of my lineups.
Phil Mickelson ($10,500) – As painful as it feels, Phil Mickelson is on the hate list this week, as I expect his ownership to be absolutely massive. Phil is the definition of a course horse at Augusta, but that’s fairly well known even among those who aren’t closely following the PGA Tour. With Phil’s popularity, I prefer not to be a part of the masses if Phil would happen to miss the cut in back-to-back showings at his favorite event.
“. . . his history at Augusta is full of missed cuts and poor finishes.”
Sergio Garcia ($8,400) – Don’t be tempted by the fact that Sergio’s price is under $9,000, his history at Augusta is full of missed cuts and poor finishes. Even with Sergio being one of the more skilled golfers in this price range and an incredibly consistent golfer, I still don’t believe the risk is worth the reward in this case.
David Lingmerth ($7,000) – Lingmerth is a golfer that will find his way into my lineups often throughout the course of the PGA Tour season, but as a first timer at Augusta, I won’t be targeting him this week. While there have been a couple first timers to do well at this event, they happen to be two of the more recent number 1 ranked golfers in the world, and I don’t think Lingmerth falls in the same category.
Angel Cabrera ($6,500) – It is going to be very tempting to want to pencil Cabrera into your lineups at such an inexpensive salary, but despite his solid event history here, I am not going to be considering him this week. His ownership is going to be incredibly high based on his storied history at Augusta, and for that reason I will be fading him.
Do you have questions about golfers who aren’t in this article? Get more weekly analysis and answers to any of your questions by following me on Twitter @BradMessersmith