The PGA TOUR is headed to Augusta National for the third and final major championship of 2020. We’ll get a double dose of The Masters in the next few months since the event is scheduled to be back in its normal spot in the 2021 PGA TOUR calendar. A rare fall trip to Georgia will be a special treat for golf fans, so expect another fun week of DraftKings fantasy golf. Unlike the last few fall events, which were held on less familiar courses, this tournament returns to probably the most well-known course in the world, with only the time of year being the unusual twist.
The field is jam-packed with all the top names on the Tour, as usual, unlike some of the lightly attended tournaments this fall. Bryson DeChambeau ($11,200) is the most expensive play in the field and will be looking to claim his second straight major after his win at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Dustin Johnson ($10,000) returned from his COVID-19 illness and finished second last week in Houston and comes in riding a streak of seven straight top-15 finishes, including top 10s at the previous majors. Justin Thomas ($10,700), Jon Rahm ($10,500) and Rory McIlroy ($10,200) are the other options priced over $10K, but there are some great well-known options throughout the top section of the salary structure, including defending champion Tiger Woods ($9,100). Sergio Garcia and Joaquin Niemann were forced to withdraw from the event after testing positive for COVID-19.
Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: PGA TOUR $4M Fantasy Golf Millionaire [$1M to 1st]
The Masters truly deserves its status as “a tradition unlike any other” since it is the only major that doesn’t rotate venue. Augusta National Golf Club opened in 1933 and has hosted this event since 1934 with only a three-year hiatus for WWII causing any cancellations. The course is built on a converted plant nursery which is where the holes get their names, which are usually highlighted on the broadcasts throughout the weekend. From Amen Corner to Rae’s Creek, the course drips with historical and recognizable settings, providing a stunning backdrop that aptly fits the importance of the event.
As far as how the course plays, typically long-driving hitters have an advantage due to the wide fairways and the ability their length provides to drive right over some of the bunkers. However, there have also been some shorter hitters that have won the event with stellar approaches and good putting, so there is more than one way to find success. The course plays as a par 72 that stretches to about 7,445 yards. The greens are known to be some of the hardest on the Tour each season with multiple tiers and breaks forcing players to be very creative. The false fronts on those greens can also lead to wayward approach shots ending up far away from the hole.
Experience at The Masters is a key factor to consider, and no first-time player has earned the green jacket since 1979. Course history is definitely a little more relevant this week and most players have a track record to consider. Putting is key to strong finishes due to the difficult greens, so Shots Gained: Putting and Shots Gained: Around-the-Green are key stats to consider.
The format is a little different than typical PGA TOUR events and has a limited field of 93 golfers for this fall event. Despite the fact that the field is smaller than typical, there will still be a cut after the second round, but the rules are a little different than a typical tournament. The previous rule at The Masters included anyone within 10 shots of the lead, but that has been removed this year and now it is just the top-50 players and ties will play the weekend regardless of how far they are off the lead. The idea is to further limit the number of players playing on the weekend and allow for twosomes, weather permitting.
With so many of the top players in play, you’ll need to choose both your stars and your value plays carefully to put together a strong fantasy golf week. There are some very nice affordable options, who I think can pay off with a good week at a very affordable salary. Let’s take a look at who stands out this week from the options below $7.5K on DraftKings.
Cameron Smith, $7,300
Smith has made the cut in all three of his trips to The Masters in his career, highlighted by a T5 finish in 2018 when he finished six shots back of champion Patrick Reed ($9,200). Smith has also played the weekend at eight straight major championships. The 27-year-old Aussie picked up his first solo PGA TOUR win in January at the Sony Open in Hawaii and will look to bookend his 2020 with big successes. He has been solid all year long and especially dialed in since the restart this summer. Smith finished T4 at the ZOZO Championship at Sherwood in an elite field in his most recent event and has top-25 finishes in six of his past seven tournaments overall.
Most of Smith’s success has been due to excellent work around and on the greens. He does not drive the ball especially long but has been able to gain .931 shots per round putting so far in his 16 measured rounds this season. Last season, he also gained strokes putting and around the green, showing that is definitely the strength of his game. Smith ranks third this season in Par 5 scoring average, and he should especially find success on the four par 5s at Augusta, which are key to posting low scores.
Lee Westwood, $7,200
Throughout his long career as a professional, Westwood has been known for his consistency. The 47-year-old will be playing in his 19th Masters and has typically put together strong results. While he didn’t play in 2018 or 2019 at the event, he finished runner up in 2016 and notched five top-10 finishes from 2010-2017. He made the cut in 15 of his 18 trips to Augusta in his career, including each of his 11 most recent trips. Westwood has 12 career top-five finishes in the majors but has never claimed victory at a major championship.
While Westwood’s prime may be behind him, he still has been playing at a high level lately. He picked up his 25th career European Tour victory in January of this year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which is an elite-field event. More recently, he posted six straight top-20 finishes in PGA and European Tour events during September and October, including a T13 at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. He did miss the cut last week in Houston, but fired a 69 in the second round after a rough 77 in the first round, showing his game isn’t in bad shape coming to this track where he has great history.
Jason Kokrak, $7,000
Kokrak is fresh off his first career PGA TOUR win, which came against a loaded field at the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in mid-October. He will be making his debut at Augusta National, so it would be shocking if he won but not necessarily surprising if he is able to contend. He has played 13 majors in his career and made the cut in eight of his past 10, including a T17 at the U.S. Open earlier this year. Kokrak played very well coming down the stretch last season, with top-15 finishes at the Wyndham Championship, THE NORTHERN TRUST and the BMW Championship, and he has carried that momentum into the new season picking up two top-20 finishes in addition to that win at The CJ Cup where he outdueled Xander Schauffele ($9,800) and Tyrrell Hatton ($9,400) for a two-stroke victory.
Unlike the other options on this values list, Kokrak is known as one of the biggest hitters on the Tour. He was seventh in driving distance in the 2020 season and is 34th on the Tour in his limited action this season while averaging 309.7 yards off the tee. This season, though, he has shown a dramatic improvement in his putting going from -.282 SG: Putting per round last season to 1.546 SG: Putting per round this season over 14 measured rounds. That number ranks him as No. 3 on the PGA TOUR so far this season and shows he has been extremely hot with the flat stick while still offering plenty of length off the tee. If he continues those trends this week at Augusta, there’s a good chance he’ll be high up on the leaderboard Sunday. The risk in rolling with a first-timer is real, but I love the upside that Kokrak offers as a high-upside play this week at just $7K.
Zach Johnson, $6,800
Johnson is a 12-time PGA TOUR champion and won The Masters back in 2007 by two strokes. It’s a little surprising to find such an established option at this salary, especially since ZJ has been in pretty solid form lately. While he hasn’t actually won an event in five years, Johnson has been in contention, even finishing T8 at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot earlier this fall. He also had top-25 finishes at the Sanderson Farms Championship and the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open since the start of the new wraparound season.
In his career, Johnson has played The Masters 15 times and made the cut nine times with two top-10 finishes. He gains almost all his strokes on the field on the greens, where he is routinely among the best putters on Tour. He is in the top 30 in Shots Gained: Putting already this year after finishing 32nd in that stat last season. His excellent putting has served him well at this event throughout his career, and his past success and good form make him a nice value option this week.
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