The first Major of the year is finally upon us as the top golfers in the world ascend to Augusta National Golf Club to play The Masters. Many memorable moments have happened here over the years from Jack Nicklaus’ last Major win, Greg Norman choking away a few victories, Freddy Couples keeping his ball dry on hole 12, Tiger’s miraculous chip in on 16, and Jordan Spieth’s first Major win last year. There will be plenty of excitement for both golf fans and DFS players. Speaking of DFS, DraftKings will be crowning their first PGA DFS millionaire of the year, so this is a huge week. Let’s get on to it.
Only the Top 50 golfers and golfers within ten strokes of the lead after the second round will make the cut. This sounds like it will make for a tough week but only around 90 golfers are playing The Masters this year, so less than half the golfers will miss the weekend. Because of this, being more aggressive in your approach to picking golfers for your DraftKings team could be the way to go, even in cash games. The high priced studs usually perform well so having a couple of 10k and up guys could be a good strategy to have in cash games. Going with this approach means that you are going to have to find at least a couple of under 7k golfers who will make the cut and over perform. Stars and scrubs lineups are usually reserved for GPP play but with this field, finding good golfers under 7k is a bit easier and using the stars and scrubs approach in cash games could be the right move. When it comes to GPP lineups you are going to need four to five guys in the Top 10, the winner, and all six make the cut to have a chance at taking these huge GPPs down this week. Picking “cut makers” should be avoided when making GPP lineups and finding value plays with a lot of upside and maybe more risk is going to be a good way to build your GPP lineups.
Augusta National Golf Club is a 7,435 yard par 72 with four par 3s and four par 5s. Off the tee golfers will see tree lined fairways with above average width, bunkers in landing areas, and light-ish rough. The rough length has grown through the years but it is not that troublesome. The fairways should be playing firm and has some slope. Water will also be in play on a few holes. On approach shots golfers will see greens that are above average in size but that is misleading. There are so many slopes and contours on the greens that they will be playing much smaller. Golfers will have small aiming points on approach shots to actually get the ball close. Most greens are shaped like a bowl along the edges and have little to no rough surrounding them so many balls will be left in collection areas around the greens which are always tough to get it up and down from because of the firmness and quickness of the greens. The greens use bent grass and will be fast with a stimpmeter rating of 13.5 or greater. Bunkers and collection areas surround almost every green with water surrounding a few holes.
Looking at the course description above and trends for the course the last few years, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats, current form, and course history to select golfers for my DraftKings lineups this week.
Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P) which is a key stat every week. Since I am writing this on Sunday night the stats I’m using do not take into account the Shell Houston Open.
Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G):
SG:T2G is an important stat every week but based on trends it seems even more important this week at The Masters. In the last 12 years at Augusta National, 36/42 (86%!!!) golfers that finished inside the Top 3 have finished inside the Top 65 in SG:T2G for the specific year they finished Top 3. 30/42 of these same golfers finished inside the Top 50 in SG:T2G for the specific year they were in the Top 3. This correlates with the fact that the higher priced golfers usually perform well here because the best golfers in the world usually have very strong tee to green games.
Birdie or Better % (BoB):
Since 2000 38/55 golfers that finished Top 3 or better were inside the Top 60 in this stat for the respective year they finished Top 3. This is not the US Open. A lot of birdies will need to be made to compete.
Good Drive % (GD%) with a focus on Driving Distance (DD)
GD% combines drives in the fairway with greens in regulation on missed fairways. I like this stat on courses where hitting the green is tough. Augusta definitely falls into that category. Since the lengthening of the course about a decade ago, bombers tend to have an advantage here and that should not change this week.
Par 5 Scoring (P5):
The par 5s at Augusta are not easy by any means but eagle and birdie opportunities should still be prevalent. Since 2000 38/55 golfers that finished Top 3 were inside the Top 60 in par 5 scoring for the specific year they finished Top 3. Looking at trends, par 4 scoring (P4) seems important as well, so I will be peaking at those stats also.
High End Picks ($9000 and up)
*** Raphael Cabrera-Bello will be in the field at The Masters. He has not yet been added to the list of players on DraftKings as I’m writing this on Sunday evening. He is playing the best golf of his life right now and since he is a late add, his ownership might not be that high. I definitely could be wrong about this but I’m hoping that I’m right because I will be using him at any price.
Adam Scott ($11,900):
Scott comes in as my #1 ranked golfer overall and he’s #1 by a wide margin. His current form is great, his course history is great, and his key stats are far superior than anyone else in the field. He’s 2nd in SG:T2G, 1st in BoB, 1st in P5, 11th in DD, 6th in GD%, and 44th in SG:P. Scott and Jason Day are my two favorites to win and both will be very highly owned. I don’t care, I’ll be using a bunch of both these golfers. (GPP and cash)
Jason Day ($11,600):
Day is the only golfer who can match Adam Scott in current form. These two guys are playing better golf than anyone else for the last few weeks. He has a couple of Top 3 finishes here in the past and I would not be surprised at all if he was wearing the Green Jacket on Sunday. There were reports of him having the flu this week but I won’t be paying too much attention to that since he has proven he can still win even at less than 100%. (GPP and cash)
Phil Mickleson ($10,500):
All of these first three golfers should be very highly owned but I don’t care. Using 3-4 chalk plays and differentiating yourself in the lower price ranges could be the play this week in GPPs. Phil has been playing some of his best golf in years and all his tweaks and changes in his game the last 6 months have seemed to work. It’s time for all that hard work to pay off and do well in a Major. His key stats are solid. He’s 6th in SG:T2G, 10th in BoB, 11th in P5, and 12th in SG:P. Phil is also an elite scrambler and we’ve already seen his skills around Augusta in the past. He’s a multiple winner here, has shot under par in 18/26 rounds this year, and has three Top 5s and five Top 13s in seven events. He really loves playing Majors and usually brings his A game to Augusta, especially if his current form is good, which it is. (GPP only and cash)
Justin Rose ($9,900):
Now we start getting to some golfers in this price range that I like a lot and think will be under owned. I think Rose will fit that bill. He hasn’t had the recent success like the other guys in this high end range and I think recency bias will lower his ownership. He actually comes in as my #2 golfer overall this week. He has had a solid season so far with just 1 MC and no finishes lower than 17th in his other 6 events. He finished 2nd last year at The Masters and has great stats for the course. He’s 9th in SG:T2G, 16th in BoB, 5th in P5, 16th in DD, and 6th in GD%. He has stated in interviews that he will be focusing his game for Major play and I think if his putter gets hot, he has a good chance at a victory this week. (GPP and cash)
Charl Schwartzel ($9,400):
Schwartzel won a couple weeks ago at the Valspar Championship and that’s helpful this week since the last two Masters winners had a win before they won the Green Jacket. He is a former winner here and with his game trending up and his possible low ownership, I like him as a GPP play this week. He could be last year’s Justin Rose who was only 4% owned in the Milly Maker and finished 2nd. (GPP only)
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Commentary based on DraftKings strategy and scoring.