DraftKings PGA: The Masters

DraftKings PGA: The Masters

This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.

THE MASTERS

Purse: $11.5M  
Winner's Share: $2.07M  
FedEx Cup Points: 600 to the Winner  
Location: Augusta, Ga.  
Course: Augusta National Golf Club  
Yardage: 7,475  
Par: 72
2019 champion: Tiger Woods

Tournament Preview  

Finally, seven months later than originally scheduled, it's the tournament unlike any other in the year unlike any other. Welcome to the Masters. We will see Augusta National as we've never seen it before – in autumn and without fans. We will also see something many of us thought we'd never see again: Tiger Woods entering as the defending champion. Tiger's pursuit of major No. 16 is one of the myriad storylines that always envelop Masters Week. This year, there are more than usual.

Most notably:

  • How will Augusta National play differently in November instead of April?
  • How will the lack of fans not only affect the golf and the golfers, but the way we watch the tournament on TV?
  • Can betting favorite Bryson DeChambeau overpower Augusta the way he bludgeoned Winged Foot less than two months ago?
  • Can Dustin Johnson win another major?
  • Will Rory McIlroy finally complete the career grand slam?
  • Is Brooks Koepka back?
  • Can Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele or Patrick Cantlay win their first major?
  • Can Phil Mickelson, now 50, become the oldest Masters champion ever?

From listening to the players at the beginning of the week, the biggest change for them will not be the time of year but the lack of fans. The weather is unusually warm for Georgia this week, making it feel more April-like, albeit without all the colors of springtime. Rain is in the forecast basically all week, which would further lengthen a track that arguably plays closer to 7,700 yards. With no fans in attendance, not only will the vibe be totally different but so will sightlines. Players could end up taking shots from spots they'd never been in before. Without the stands, without the ropes, they will have to get used to things just looked different. Maybe that will take only one day for them to adjust. We don't know. And neither do the golfers.

There are 92 of them in this, the 84th Masters. That's after the COVID-related withdrawals of Joaquin Niemann and then 2017 champion Sergio Garcia. The field includes six amateurs and seven "legacy" champions from before 2010 who no longer play on the PGA Tour. Sure, Bernhard Langer of Fred Couples could make the cut – and they both did the each of the past two years – but we're basically looking at 79 guys. With the top-50 and ties making the cut, the vast majority of those "regular" golfers will play all four rounds, probably a bigger percentage than in any other tournament on the PGA Tour calendar. So even if you see all six of your guys make it to the weekend, that won't be enough. You need to do better.

So how do you construct your lineup? Let's start with trying to find the winner. He usually comes from way up high. In the 20 years beginning with 2000, the winner has been ranked in the top-12 OWGR 14 times. But ... no one currently in the top-10 in the rankings has ever won the Masters. That's the second year in a row that's happened, and we believe it's the only two times in the OWGR era, which dates to 1986. Patrick Reed at No. 11 is the highest-ranking former champion. (For those of you into this sort of thing, last year Woods at No. 12 was the highest-ranking former champ). But ... and there's another but ... the inclement weather could bring more of an outlier into play, such as in 2007, when then-unheralded Zach Johnson emerged.

There are a whopping 26 first-timers this year, and no newcomer has won the Green Jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. That's not to say one can't and won't play well. Don't dismiss then unilaterally. You need six guys to fill your lineup, and a newbie can and has been a valuable chip. Masters rookie Thomas Pieters tied for fourth just three years ago. One other lineup-related factor to consider is that some big names invariably will be lower priced, falling into the $8000s or even high $7000s. There definitely will be value deep into the DraftKings board.

Now, on to the course. It's usually a bear, but perhaps this year even more so with all the rain in the forecast. Length is an incredible advantage. That said, the golfers better also bring their short game, as things get tougher closer to the hole – again, maybe even more so this year. The Bentgrass greens are average size (6,500 square feet) but lightning fast, maybe up to 14 on the stimpmeter. With the many greenside run-offs and collection areas, short-game specialists can make a dent on the leaderboard. Besides Zach Johnson, shorties Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler have also thrived. Augusta very often is among the top-5 hardest tracks of the year. But last year it was much milder, only the 16th toughest. Last year's three hardest holes naturally were three 500ish-yard par-4s – in order, 5, 10 and 11.

Weather-wise, in a word: rain. Showers or thunderstorms are in the forecast every day from Tuesday onward, likely further accentuating the advantage the longest hitters have. It will still be warm, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 60s. Not much wind is forecast.

Key Stats to Winning at Augusta 

The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.

• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation
• Strokes Gained: Around the Green/Scrambling  
• Strokes Gained: Putting  
• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee/Driving Distance  

Past Champions

2019 – Tiger Woods
2018 – Patrick Reed
2017 – Sergio Garcia
2016 - Danny Willett  
2015 – Jordan Spieth
2014 – Bubba Watson
2013 – Adam Scott
2012 – Bubba Watson
2011 – Charl Schwartzel
2010 – Phil Mickelson

Champion's Profile

We mentioned above that in this century, 14 of the 20 winners have been ranked inside the top-12 in the world coming in. Among the past 10, the only outliers were Reed at 24th and Schwartzel at 29th. In the past 10 Masters, every winner but two have finished top-6 in the field in greens in regulation (Reed, 21st and Schwartzel, 19th). Woods was first in GIR last year. Only three have been outside the top-10 in scrambling (Woods 47th, Reed 16th and Watson 15th in 2012). And only one has been outside the top-14 in putting average (Watson 28th, 2014). With little rough on the course, golfers are free to let it fly off the tee. If the rain really leaves its mark, the course will play longer, more greens will be missed and scrambling could be an even greater factor than usual. With putting, it's perhaps more important to avoid three-putting on the speedy greens than to make one-putts. You can really make up ground on the par-5s. Woods won at 13-under and nine of those strokes came on the par-5s. Reed won at 15-under with a whopping 13 of those strokes coming on the par-5s. The par-5s on the back-nine, Nos. 13 and 15, are usually the two easiest holes on the course. But they are also where dreams of winning a Green Jacket can end. If we're talking about who can win, we're almost surely talking about a longer hitter. But that doesn't mean a shorter hitter cannot contend or contribute to a solid DFS lineup. As always at Augusta, there is one thing no statistical data can measure: the pressure a golfer feels on on Sunday.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS

Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap

Tier 1 Values

Jon Rahm - $10,500 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 10-1)
We don't like that there is so much attention on Bryson DeChambeau ($11,200) and that he is bringing so much attention on himself. Justin Thomas ($10,700) is curiously No. 2 on the DraftKings board. So we start with Rahm, though we even question his position at third. His major results this year have been mediocre, but Augusta is better suited for game, as driving accuracy is less critical. He tied for ninth last and fourth fourth the year before. A longer-playing course should increase his chances, too.

Dustin Johnson - $10,000 (10-1)
Maybe Bryson DeChambeau would've been the top guy on the DK board no matter what, but Johnson at fifth? The thinking here is that since these prices came out last week, he had yet to return from a positive COVID test and his health was a bit unknown. Johnson showed in finishing co-runner-up at Houston on Sunday that he's largely fine. He was runner-up to Tiger Woods last year here, giving him a fourth straight Masters top-10. He was T2 at the PGA in August and T6 at the U.S. Open in September. For goodness sakes, he has two wins and three runners-up in his past six starts. Sure, he has his troubles actually winning majors, but no one else in the top-10 of the world rankings has ever won a Masters either. This price is a bargain.

Xander Schauffele - $9,800 (16-1)
Schauffele has never won a major, and he hasn't won anywhere in almost two years, but he's in the conversation as often as anyone. He shared runner-up last year at Augusta and he was just top-10 at the PGA and U.S. Open, giving him seven top-10s in 13 career majors. He can deliver so consistently because there is no weakness in his game. Winning this week would surprise no one.

Patrick Cantlay - $9,600 (25-1)
Cantlay was oh-so-close to golfing immortality a year ago, but in the end it was Tiger Woods who added to his own greatness. Cantlay had the lead with three holes to go, only to bogey 16 and 17 and wind up T9. He won his last time out at The ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP and was in position to win the Shriners before that until a startling Sunday fade. He's been doing better than over the summer in large part because of his play around the greens, something that will be paramount this week. He also hits it plenty far off the tee.

Tier 2 Values

Bubba Watson - $9,000 (40-1)
It's always a little dangerous to get too excited over the mercurial Watson, but his Masters record cannot be disputed. While it's been six years since he won his second green jacket, he tied for 12th last year and for fifth the year before. Further, he's played well for much of the year and rides top-10s at the CJ Cup and ZOZO Championship into Augusta. If the course plays longer than usual, as it appears it will, we'd like Watson even more.

Tony Finau - $8,800 (30-1)
Finau has finished top-10 in almost half of his career majors – eight out of 17 – including both of his trips to Augusta. He tied for 10th two years ago and for fifth last year, when, if you'll recall, he did so on a dislocated ankle suffered during the Par-3 Contest (thankfully for Finau, there's no Par-3 Contest this year). He also finished top-10 at both the PGA Championship and U.S. Open over the summer. Could Finau actually get that long-elusive win this week? Probably not. But at $8,800, he doesn't have to.

Matthew Wolff - $8,500 (50-1)
Picking someone who's never played Augusta is no sure thing. But Wolff's price is moderate and he's finished top-5 in both his career majors. That's right, he had never played in one before tying for fourth at the PGA and finishing second at the U.S. Open. With the course expected to play very long this week, Wolff showed at Winged Foot that he can bomb-and-gouge with just about anyone.

Jason Day - $8,400 (40-1)
Of all the guys who repeatedly are on the first or second page of the leaderboard, Day is the cheapest. He tied for fifth last year, giving him four top-10s in nine Masters. He has 16 top-10s in 39 career majors. And he's done all that with some big weaknesses in his game, notably his iron play. It speaks to the rest of his game and how he can think his way around a golf course.

Tier 3 Values

Paul Casey - $8,000 (80-1)
Casey has not had a great year – hence his price being $1,000 cheaper this year than last. But his few good tournaments have been the harder ones with the best fields – both majors, the WGC-Mexico and the BMW Championship. He was runner-up at the PGA in Augusts. In 13 career Masters, Casey has eight top-25s and five top-10s. But he did miss the cut last year.

Louis Oosthuizen - $7,900 (60-1)
Oosthuizen has a knack for elevating his game in majors, as evidenced by his solo third at the U.S. Open two months ago. That was his eighth career top-10 in majors to go along with 20 top-25s in 46 starts. He's sneaky long for a little guy, but what we really like this week is his short game. And he's a very affordable price.

Cameron Smith - $7,300 (100-1)
Australians have done well at Augusta – Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, even Greg Norman. Smith has not missed a cut in three tries at Augusta, one of them being a tie for fifth in 2018. He arrives with six top-25s in his past seven starts, including a tie for fourth at the ZOZO Championship. He's been getting the job done with scrambling and putting.

Lee Westwood - $7,200 (150-1)  
Time and again we've seen older guys with years of Masters experience continue to succeed at Augusta. They just know how to play the course. Westwood, now 47, has not been back since 2017, but that's when he added his 10th top-25 in 18 tries. He was even runner-up the year before. This will be his 84th career major, nearing a record for most major starts without a win. We're not expecting a win, just a very favorable return on $7,200.

Long-Shot Values

Ian Poulter - $7,000 (200-1)
Poulter withdrew before Houston Open citing a back injury, but it was precautionary and he appears fine this week. He's missed only one cut in 14 Masters, with eight of them being top-25s, including last year's tie for 12th. Poulter has also finished in the top-12 in his past three worldwide starts.

Erik van Rooyen - $6,900 (250-1)
South Africans have a strong history at Augusta. Gary Player and Charl Schwartzel have won, Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen have come close. You don't need anything near that good for only $6,900. This will be Van Rooyen's first Masters, but he's been in six other majors and never missed a cut, with four of them being top-25s. He has three top-25s in his past four worldwide starts, including last week at a pretty tough Houston Open track.

Zach Johnson - $6,800 (200-1)
Johnson has had a bit of a resurgence of late – if that's what you can call climbing from the mid-200s in the world rankings to 125th right now. He's made six straight cuts with four of them being top-25s, and two of those doubling as top-10s, including an impressive T8 at the U.S. Open. Overall, he's made 11 of his past 13 cuts in majors.

Francesco Molinari - $6,700 (125-1)
A week ago, we would not have put Molinari's name in this place, or any place, for that matter. But he surprisingly tied for 15th at the Houston Open, showing his well-rounded game for the first time in more than a year – it was only his second start since golf stopped in the spring. He even was hammering his drives, elevating to more than 300 yards on the weekend. For sure, picking Molinari is a gamble, especially given how things ended for him last year at this tournament. But such a big percentage of the field will make the cut and the upside here is significant.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Len Hochberg plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DK: Bunker Mentality.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Hochberg covers golf for RotoWire. A veteran sports journalist, he contributes to Sports on Earth and was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years.
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