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Fantasy Golf Picks: 2023 Masters Picks, Predictions, Rankings and Sleepers

Pat Mayo makes his 2023 Masters Picks while breaking down the field and rankings as well as previewing the course and key stats.

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2023 Masters Picks. Plus, Tim Andercust is in-studio to give out the three most ANDERCURSED players of the week and chat about the LIV TOUR players.

WED UPDATE: Weather, Final Bets, DraftKings Picks/Ownership + $500 in Caash Giveaways

2023 MASTERS — Picks & Preview | Info & Research | Stats/Tools

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2023 MASTERS — DraftKings Picks | Best Bets | Own Projections

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2023 Masters: Field

Field: 89 Players
Cut: Top 50 and Ties after 36 Holes
First Tee: Thursday April 6
Defending Champion: Scottie Scheffler

Now that Jim Nantz is giving up March Madness, The Masters proves we were his true summer friends all along. The year’s first Major is currently at 89 players with one final invitation remaining for the winner of the Valero Texas Open Sunday afternoon in San Antonio.

With the birth of the “elevated events” in 2023, we’ve seen the PGA’s top players square off far more often than we’re used to by this time of year. It’s been great. But The Masters (and all the Majors for that matter) carries even more significance than usual this time around, now that we get the PGA’s best squaring off with their mirror universe counterparts — The LIV TOUR.

Although they no long accrue World Rankings points (aka how you qualify for Majors), it’s still early enough in the process that some LIV players remain qualified based on their performance pre-defection, and some still carry over their eligibility from past Majors. All former Masters champs are in the Augusta field for life, other Major winners have a 5-year exemption and top finishes in Majors a year ago.

Reigning Open Champion golfer of the year Cameron Smith leads the convoy of 17 LIV troops with Dustin Johnson, Joaquin Niemann, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen, Mito Pereira, Abraham Ancer, Thomas Pieters, Talor Gooch, Jason Kokrak, Harold Varner III, Charl Schwartzel, and of course, Phil Mickelson. Since you likely haven’t paid any attention, LIV has played three events in 2023, including the warm-up this weekend in Orlando.

Now, adding these guys into the mix essentially makes The Masters exactly the same as every other year — it’s not like these guys are the Red Army from the 70s — the circumstances certainly do increase the intrigue, though. Imagine they paired Tiger with Phil. They never will (cowards), but this Tiger/Phil provision really should have been a part of the ESPN/Augusta negotiations since they’re airing the early rounds.

While many of the LIV have years of experience at the course, 15 players who have never played a competitive round at Augusta. The debutants — not just the worst name of a deep-south teen-girl group ever anymore: Tom Kim, Sahith Theegala, Taylor Moore, Mito Pereira, Kurt Kitayama, Ryan Fox, Adam Svensson, Adrian Meronk, and Kazuki Higa represent the rookie professionals in 2023. Harrison CROOOOW!(e), Matthew McClean, Alrich Potgieter, Ben Carr, Mateo Ferenandez de Oliveira, and Gordon Sargent comprise the amateur contingent. This is where I’m required to tell you no debutants has donned sports’ highest sartorial honor since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. Not to say all debutants will fail. We’ve witnessed some close calls in recent years, Jordan Spieth, Will Zalatoris, and Sungjae Im were all runners-up in their debuts.

It is well-known that experience is a massive edge in Augusta success, however. It’s a unique course with its massive elevation changes, and there is generally a learning curve for first-time players who need to figure out the weird breaks and angles on the fly, and a lack of green books for the players and caddies makes that engrained knowledge a clear advantage.

To pile on with the lack of reps at the course, you need to beware of the poor recent Masters’ results too. Beyond the outlier that was Patrick Reed in 2018, the past 24 champions not only have played in the event the previous year but also made the cut. After Reed, a fresh-faced kid who looked like he was wearing his dad’s shirt named Tiger Woods was the last winner to miss the cut, then achieve immortality 12 months later. That was in 1997. And, that sweater actually did belong to Tiger, much like wearing an onion on your belt at one point in history, that was just the style at the time. One I lived through and hope never comes back in style. Tiger was also an amateur the year he missed the cut.

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Speaking of Tiger, he’s playing. No idea where his game is at, though. Tiger was last seen in competition at Riviera in February, where he made the cut, but there have been rumors he hurt his back between now and then. Regardless, although the walk with the elevation change may catch up to him, his experience at Augusta National should see him deliver a better performance. Will Zalatoris will also be in the field. Zalatoris missed the end of 2022 with two herniated discs in his back, and most recently withdrew from the Match Play two weeks ago with an illness. Hideki Matsuyama and Tyrrell Hatton are the other two currently under the injury microscope. Both played this week in Texas, Hatton missed the cut but seemed healthy enough while Hideki actually looked quite good, so the neck must be doing better at the moment.

As much as we want to invest in long shots, the Masters is almost always won by one of the elite players. Since 2012, Bubba Watson was the lowest-ranked player to claim victory. Bubba was No. 18 in the world rankings when Charl Schwartzel helped slip him into the Green Jacket. Many think of Danny Willett as the ultimate long-shot since he wasn’t well-known at the time and cashed triple-digit outright win bets for a lot of bettors, but it’s worth noting the Brit was the 12th-ranked player in the world before he hit his first drive in 2016. Willett didn’t just come out of nowhere either; he was just an unknown to the general public.

It’s important to spend a lot of time parsing through the top end of the 2023 Masters board as the winner is almost certainly going to come from that group. If you want to win your bets or a DraftKings tournament, spoiler, you’re going to need to pick the winner. Only immeasurable insights here.

As mentioned, the field of invitees is currently at 89 players and the Top 50 players will make the cut. COVID wiped out the “all players within 10 strokes of the lead” provision at the November Masters and they decided to stick with it. It’s just the Top 50 and ties after 36 holes now. So, over 55% of players are going to make the cut; just because you squeeze all six players in your DraftKings lineup through the cut line doesn’t really mean much if you don’t have a squad of golfers competing for a novelty check.

This tells you the group of past champions and amateurs at the very bottom of the pricing is a trap. It shouldn’t take Admiral Ackbar to clue you into that information. But every year I see people jamming fun Fred Couples in order to construct a super team with their other five roster spots. Avoid the temptation of those salty savings. There’s an issue with them, though. There’s just not enough upside for them to lead your team to victory in one of the large-field DraftKings contests. Specifically the million-dollar top prize tournaments.

Every now and again a Bernhard Langer or Couples will play pretty well, but it’s not as often as you probably remember. And the results are certainly not as good as what exists in your mind movies. The reality would likely make your eyes rain. Langer lurking on the leaderboard was actually in 2016. I know that seems not long ago, but it was seven years in the past. AND he ended up finishing T24 that year. Langer was T29 in the 2020 Masters but still finished outside of the Top 30 in DraftKings scoring. As the past champions are far less likely to generate the necessary birdie streaks and eagles to rise up the DraftKings leaderboard.

If you want to compete for the very top prizes on DraftKings this week you’ll likely need the winner, another two players in the Top 5, another two inside the Top 15 and an outlier player who outscores their finishing position.

2023 Masters: Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Course History
  • Strokes Gained: Off The Tee
  • Strokes Gained: Short Game
  • Driving Distance

Mayo’s Key Stats powered by

2023 Masters: Course

  • Course: Augusta National
  • Yardage: 7,510
  • Par: 72
  • Greens: Bentgrass

2023 Masters: Past Winners

  • 2022: Scottie Scheffler -9
  • 2021: Hideki Matsuyama -10
  • 2020: Dustin Johnson -20
  • 2019: Tiger Woods -13
  • 2018: Patrick Reed -15
  • 2017: Sergio Garcia -9
  • 2016: Danny Willett -5
  • 2015: Jordan Spieth -18
  • 2014: Bubba Watson -8
  • 2013: Adam Scott -9
  • 2012: Bubba Watson -10

2023 Masters: Notes

There’s no need for an in-depth breakdown of Augusta National. If you’d made the leap to search out an article on The Masters, the chances of you knowing the course and even the weird nooks and crannies is above 99%.

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In case you’re living the movie Blast From the Past, but in real life, Augusta National is a Par 72, which plays longer than its 7,510 yards due to the incredible amount of elevation shifts across the course. As there is essentially no penal rough on the grounds, it gives a lean to those who have extra distance on the field. It’s not essential to have the ability to contend in a long-drive contest since history has proven otherwise, but it certainly makes the path to eagles and birdies on the Par 5s less resistant.

There have been changes to three of the holes over the past two years. The difficult No. 11 scraped most of the trees from the right-hand side of the hole and as we saw a year ago, they’ll still prove to be a nuisance. The Par 5 15th was been lengthened by 20 yards which led to fewer players going for the green in two. This year, the easiest hole on the course has been lengthened by 35 yards. No. 13, the bead on the rosary of Amen Corner, will now have a far more difficult second shot. Most of the field, with a good drive (hell, even with a bad one), was able to attack the green in two, generating eagle opportunities. While we don’t know the in-competition impact yet, Bubba Watson mentioned he needed a 3 or 4-iron for his second shot. 13 should remain the easiest hole on the grounds, but seeing some of the eagles evaporate sounds like a good wager.

Again, while distance is a massive advantage, it’s not everything. Gaining stroke with the driver is, however. Even someone like Patrick Reed, not especially known for his driving prowess, was well above his usual baseline at Augusta in 2018. Reed gained +3.35 strokes off the tee. He’d only gained more than that in two starts in the previous two years before the victory (2017 Travelers; 2017 Memorial). Tiger didn’t gain a ton the year he won (+1.51 SG: OTT), but that was enough leverage on the field to make his +9.02 Strokes Gained: Approach number truly matter. If you decide to back one of the non-elite drivers, their irons and short game better be electric all four days.

So far in 2023, the leaders in SG: OTT per round (from measured events) in the field are Scottie Scheffler, Keith Mitchell, Patrick Cantlay, Gary Woodland, and Cameron Young.

— All Stats c/o Fantasy National Golf Club

Difficulty at Augusta tends to vary every year based on the conditions. The impact of damp conditions has lessened over the years because of the filtration system. A lot of courses have a SubAir system under the greens to suck out the water and allow the grounds crew to make the putting surfaces as fast or slow as they want. Augusta has those on each green… and under every fairway, so even if it does rain, don’t expect a long period of time with receptive course conditions.

There are 41 bunkers and six water hazards and a whole lotta pine straw scattered across the grounds. Unless there’s an untimely tree in the way, however, the pine straw isn’t the end of the world. The bentgrass greens are around Tour average in size; the major difference is the wild undulations. These are some of the most hilly and fastest putting surfaces the players will encounter all year. Jon Rahm, Max Homa, Sam Burns, Keegan Bradley, and Aaron Wise have the most Strokes Gained: Putting per round on Fast + Lighting Fast greens over the past 12 months.

— All Stats c/o Fantasy National Golf Club

It’s worth mentioning, the LIV players, old guys, and international tour players don’t really factor into these stats since there is limited or no shot link data from their tournaments.

Course history plays a more significant factor at Augusta than any other course. That’s not anecdotal either. Course history on a week-to-week basis holds very little predictive value at most events, despite the prevailing narrative, but The Masters is an outlier in that regard. How else do you explain the leaders in Par 5 scoring over the past three years: Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, Viktor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama, and Charl Schwartzel. Not the first names that would spring to mind.

Also, look at some courses where there has been crossover success on leaderboards over the year, Quail Hollow appears to have some correlation, as does TPC Deere Run and Kapalua because of the angled fairways, but Riviera CC, with its similar shot shapes from the tee box, unique green complexes and elevation changes, sports a very similar course history crossover to Augusta.

For overall course history, Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas, and Rory McIlroy have the most Total Strokes Gained of players in the field over the past five years. Of the non-olds, Billy Horschel, Tyrrell Hatton, Sergio Garcia, Max Homa, Thomas Pieters, and Gary Woodland have lost the most strokes to the field over that same span.

Trends are more for fun talking points, but it’s worth noting nine straight Masters champions HAD at least two Top 15 finishes in their three tournaments leading into the event before Hideki blew that up two years. Still, ten of the last 11 ain’t bad, and based on that criteria, the winner will be either Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Max Homa, Viktor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, Sam Burns, Cameron Young, Kurt Kitayama, Patrick Cantlay, and JT Poston. It’s probably not going to be JT Poston. Obviously, this does not include LIV finishes, as I think they all come Top 15 every week.

Angel Cabrera (2009) was the last player to place outside the Top 35 in his final pre-Master’s tune-up (MC at the Shell Houston Open. He actually MC’d the two tournaments prior).


If you are new to the Masters, there are a few terms you need to familiarize yourself with to speak the language with those who have been watching for five decades:

Amen Corner – First coined by Herbert Warren Wind in 1958, Amen Corner spans from the second shot at the 11th through the drive at 13. It’s the most famous stretch of holes on the course (in all of golf, really) and its risk/reward potential can create massive fluctuations atop the leaderboard.

Butler’s Cabin – The most noteworthy of the 10 cabins scattered across the grounds of Augusta National. Constructed in 1964, Butler’s Cabin is home to the Green Jacket presentation, where the year’s previous champion bestows the new champion with golf’s highest sartorial honor.

First Nine, Second Nine – At most courses, it’s acceptable to refer to the holes going out as the “front nine” and those coming in as the “back nine”, but at Augusta National it’s a faux pas. Why? Because they’re superior to us mortals.

Friends – All of us, to Jim Nantz.

Green Jacket – The ultimate prize. Winners are presented the Green Jacket on the 18th green after victory, then again in Butler’s Cabin in a separate presentation. It’s so nice, you get to wear it twice.

Magnolia Lane – After passing through the gates, you’ll find yourself heading toward the course, traveling down Magnolia Lane. It’s known for, DUH, a plethora of magnolia trees on both sides of the road that converge to create an exalted vista, producing an ambiance matched only by its wintertime companion: The drive up to the creepy house in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. However, that drive is only recommended for the achromatic enthusiasts among us.

Patrons – Don’t think of using the terms “crowd,” “gallery” or “fans” on the grounds at Augusta. They are patrons, and they shall be on their best behavior.

Tributary – A term usually exclusively reserved for seventh-grade geography classes and maps of inland Scandinavia, there is a tributary that runs off Rae’s Creek by the green on 13.

2023 Masters: Picks

Scottie Scheffler $11,100

There’s going to be a critical decision made in your lineups between the BIG 3 — Scheffler, Rahm, and Rory. While it’s been two decades since there was a repeat champion, Scheffler’s experience and recent form make him the most viable candidate in some time. You know why he can win, so maybe it’s better to list the reasons why he won’t. The putter can be a problem. It reared its ugly head in the semifinals of the match play, gifting the win to Sam Burns. But the difference between Scottie this year and last year during the torrid early season run has actually been he’s not putting nearly as well this year. The ball striking has been even better. If he continues this current level of driving and approach play, if he gets a slightly above-average week from the flat stick, it’s likely curtains for the field.

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Min Woo Lee $7,600

Lee closed 2022 with six consecutive Top 12 finishes and opened this year T2/T13 during the Middle East swing on the DP World Tour. Obviously, his performance at THE PLAYERS Championship stands out to most people. Although he wilted in the final group with Scottie Scheffler and ended up T6, it was a necessary step to true contention at a Major. He’s now been in the pressure cooker, failed, and can now build from that experience. Ditto with his Augusta play. The Aussie was a low debutant (tied with Harry Higgs) a year ago, and while it’s been a rollercoaster for Min WOOOOOOOO since heading over to the United States, the driver has been just as good stateside as it has been worldwide. He’s gained over four strokes on the field off the tee in two of three weighted US starts, and sits Top 10 on the season in per-round driving distance gained.

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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2023 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Podcast of the Year and was a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time.

Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Sports Betting, Daily Fantasy, and Traditional Season Long Fantasy).

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) 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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.