The Masters is one of the most unique fields of the year. The regulars on the PGA TOUR take a lot of pride in just getting an invite to Augusta as simply having a solid year doesn’t ensure attendance. Winning a PGA TOUR event, being a top 50 player in the world or having a big finish at another major — or making the Tour Championship field — are usually the only ways in. That is unless, of course, you have already won the tournament, then you have an invitation back for life.
The field this year looks set at 92 players, with 16 past champions in the field and 26 first-timers teeing things up. With COVID-19 pushing this event back on the schedule, there are actually quite a few high-ranked players missing out on the event this year. Daniel Berger (13th ranked in the world) didn’t get an invite and neither did Harris English (33rd) or Viktor Hovland (23rd). All three men were ranked outside of the top 50 when the final cutoff occurred in the spring.
While those players will be missed, the good news is that there are no major injuries to report for 2020 as Brooks Koepka ($9,700; knee) has recently returned back from injury and looked fine competing last week in Houston. As always, there could be breaking news anytime regarding COVID-19, so make sure you check in on the DK Live app periodically this week or by following DK Live on Twitter at @dklive.
One final note for DFS purposes: The cut line for this event is also unique. The cut still takes place after Friday, but only the top 50 plus ties will play the weekend. Getting all six of your golfers through the cut line will be especially crucial this week as over 50% of the actual field will get a chance to play the weekend.
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Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia
Par 72, 7,400-7,500 yards depending on setup
Augusta National was built on the site of an old tree sanctuary and every one of its holes has a name associated with its natural surrounding (usually a tree, bush or flower, how quaint!). At its most basic, Augusta is a standard par 72 course that has four par 5s, four par 3s and 10 par 4s. However, there truly isn’t anything standard about the setup of the holes or the course. Augusta is one of the hilliest tracks on Tour and the elevation changes and slopes mean experience playing the course can really pay off. The slick bentgrass greens offer up their own challenge too, and missing an approach here on the wrong side of the green can often bring big numbers into play.
The course was redesigned back in 2002 to catch up with modern technology and now plays quite long, but has still seen winning scores ranging all the way from +1 (Zach Johnson in 2007) to -18 (Jordan Spieth in 2015). In 2016, poor weather really affected scoring as Danny Willett won at just 5-under-par, while the course has played somewhat neutral the past two years with winners posting 15- and 13-under-par scores.
As far as the individual holes go here’s a brief breakdown of what will await the player’s this week:
- Par 5s 550-600: 2
- Par 5s 500-550: 2
- Par 4s over 500: 1
- Par 4s 450-500: 5
- Par 4s 400-450: 3
- Par 4s under 400: 1
- Par 3s over 200: 1
- Par 3s 150 – 200: 3
Augusta’s par 5s are often the “action holes” where you’ll see most of the birdies and some eagles. All of the par 5s are reachable in two and can yield Eagles to those who hit two quality shots coming in, which makes huge swings possible on Sunday. This is where elite ball-strikers can take advantage and past champions like Bubba Watson ($9,000) and Tiger Woods ($9,100) have made their living killing these holes over time. Solid driving of the ball and mid-to-short iron play is essential on these holes and the longer par 4s.
The true teeth and test of this course, however, lie in par 4s, and there are six that range over 450 yards in length. There are no true “birdie holes” among the 10 on the course — although long drivers like Bryson DeChambeau ($11,200) could certainly change that for 2020 — as even the short par 4 No. 3 challenges players with a wicked green contour, and it often yields as many bogies as birdies during the week. The par 3s can be taken advantage of, but require fearless shot-making and these holes (specifically No. 12) are often where we see a huge mistake by one of the leaders on Sunday.
2020 Outlook: The good news is that it doesn’t appear like temperatures for this week will be all that cold. Highs for all four days are firmly in the low-to-mid 70s which should keep things relatively pleasant. The bad news is that there is a lot of rain expected this week. Starting Tuesday, the course is expected to get drenched and Thursday has rain and T-storms in the forecast for most of the morning and mid-afternoon. It is possible things start to clear up Friday afternoon, though, and the Friday afternoon wave could see the best weather of the first two days. The weekend still has the possibility of rain, but mostly just cloudy skies in the forecast. Expect a wet course that may play longer than normal due to the lack of roll and slightly cooler temps.
Last 10 Winners
2019—Tiger Woods -13 (over Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele and Dustin Johnson -12)
2018—Patrick Reed -15 (over Rickie Fowler -14)
2017—Sergio Garcia -9 (over Justin Rose playoff)
2016—Danny Willett -5 (over Jordan Spieth and Lee Westwood -2)
2015 – Jordan Spieth -18 (over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose -16)
2014 – Bubba Watson -7 (over Jordan Spieth -5)
2013 – Adam Scott -10 (over Angel Cabrera playoff)
2012 – Bubba Watson -12 (over Louis Oosthuizen playoff)
2011 – Charl Schwartzel -14 (over Jason Day and Adam Scott -12)
2010 – Phil Mickelson -16 (over Lee Westwood -13)
- No player has won at Augusta on their first attempt since Fuzzy Zoeller back in 1979.
- Since 1996, only one player has won the Masters after missing the cut here in the previous year. (Patrick Reed in 2018)
- Seven of the past eight winners of this event have ranked 36th or better in par 4 scoring in the year of their victory. (*Danny Willett did not play enough tournaments to be ranked)
- Eight of the past 11 winners of The Masters ranked 19th or better in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green in the year of their victory.
- Each of the past five winners had recorded AT LEAST a T5 placing on the year already (Five of the past six had recorded a T2 or better) prior to winning the Masters.
Winners Stats and Course Highlights
Tiger Woods (2019)
Previous five starts coming into 2019 (T5-T30-T10-T15-T20)
Greens in Regulation—80.56%
Par 5s – 8-under par
Par 4s – 1-under par
Par 3s – 4-under par
· Tiger played this course in traditional fashion last year, taking advantage of all of the easy par 5s while just holding water on the par 4s.
· He also had brilliant iron play, hitting over 80% of the greens for the week, which perhaps was an underrated story.
· His solid irons also led him to a great week on the par 3s, as they tend to be some of Augusta’s toughest holes. So playing them well under-par likely made the difference for him.
· Tiger didn’t overpower Augusta, he simply played smart off the tee and let his irons and putter do the work for him, very similar to how players like Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed have found success here recently.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
Dustin Johnson +900 and $10,000
Justin Thomas +1250 and $10,700
Rory McIlroy +1400 and $10,200
Tony Finau +3300 and $8,800
Patrick Reed +3000 and $9,200
Tiger Woods +4500 and $9,100
Bubba Watson +3300 and $9,000
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Jordan Spieth (best finish: win-2015, T2-2016, 2014 T3-2018): Spieth has accomplished more in six starts at this event than most will accomplish over their entire golfing careers. He’s placed second here (twice) and won the event by tying the scoring record of Tiger Woods (-18) in 2015. In 2018, he shot a brilliant 64 in the final round to vault him into solo third place. His form may not be great, but don’t ever doubt his mastery of this course.
2. Tiger Woods (best finish: win-2019, 2005, 2002, 2001, 1997): Woods broke a long dry spell at Augusta last year by notching his fifth green jacket. The win capped an epic comeback and may have acted as the final act on a great career. His course history is unmatched here, but his recent form suggests he’s likely not worth paying up for. It’s cool to look at all those wins though
3. Rory McIlroy (best finishes: T4-2015, T5-2018): Rory may not have a win at Augusta, but he’s been through the wringer here as far as experiences go. He was the leader going into the back nine in 2011 before he slid to T15 and also went off in the final pairing in 2018 before losing out badly to Patrick Reed. He’s finished T10 or better here in five of the past six seasons and seems likely to break through at this event one day.
4. Dustin Johnson (best finish: T2-2019, T4-2016): Johnson has been inching ever closer to a green jacket in the past few seasons. Last year marked his best-ever finish at Augusta, as a Sunday surge left him just one shot short of getting into a playoff with Tiger. Now sporting the best form of his career, seeing DJ grab a second major seems very possible.
5. Rickie Fowler (best finishes: 2nd-2018, T9-2019): Fowler has compiled an excellent record at Augusta over his career. Rickie has now finished T12 or better in four of his past five appearances at this major with a career-best second-place finish coming in 2018 when he came up one shot short of chasing down Reed. There’s no discounting his recent form — which is terrible — but perhaps for one week he can shake off the yips and put together a solid week for DFS players.
Cash Games: There’s little doubt that Dustin Johnson ($10,000) is a near must-play in these formats. DJ’s price got depressed a bit after a COVID-19 layoff, but he proved he’s still in top form last week with a T2 finish at the Vivint Houston Open where he also finished second in SG:TTG stats. He’s too cheap as the fifth-most expensive player on DK. Further down, you could also make a case that Hideki Matsuyama ($8,700) is also slightly underpriced given his consistency of late. He’s fifth in SG: Total at Augusta over the past five years. If you’re looking for value, Shane Lowry ($7,300) should also be on the radar, as the Irishman was in contention recently at the BMW PGA Championship in Europe and was a solid T11 last week. The likes of Louis Oosthuizen ($7,900) and Tony Finau ($8,800) can also be considered here.
Tournaments: It’s likely the ownership of the top players will be pretty flat due to pricing, so looking below them for lower-owned players may be key. Tyrrell Hatton ($9,400) will be playing Augusta for just the fourth time and has never finished better than T44, which may make people skeptical enough to stay away. He’s in top form right now though, posting a T7 last week in Houston and had a win last month in England. Paul Casey ($8,000) hasn’t done much in between, but his performance at the year’s first two majors has been terrific. He has multiple top-6 finishes at Augusta and his wealth of Open Championship experience to draw on the weather could play to his favor here. Other targets for this format include the likes of Jason Day ($8,400), Lee Westwood ($7,200-see below), Brandt Snedeker ($6,900) and Matt Wallace ($6,800).
1. Justin Thomas ($10,700, Recent finishes: T2-T12): Thomas comes into this event off of a near miss at the ZOZO Championship. The American finished T2 there and gained +5-strokes putting. Thomas hasn’t finished worse than T12 in his past four starts and was T8 at the last major, the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
2. Jon Rahm ($10,500, Recent finishes: T2-T17): Like Thomas, Rahm came up just short at the ZOZO Championship, landing himself a T2. The Spaniard played excellent there, gaining +10-strokes TTG but simply couldn’t sink enough putts to keep up. He has three top-5 finishes now in his past five starts — including a win at the BMW Championship two months ago.
3. Tyrrell Hatton ($9,400, Recent finishes:T7-T28-T3): Hatton maintained his solid form last week when he landed a T7 at the Vivint Houston Open. The Englishman finished T3 at the CJ Cup a few events back and also won the BMW Championship last month. He’s in as good of form as anyone right now and looks to be peaking at just the right time for Augusta.
4. Bubba Watson ($9,000, Recent finishes: T4-T7): Watson is playing excellent golf right now. The two-time Masters champion finished T4 and T7 in his last two starts at the ZOZO and the CJ Cup, where he was in beast mode in the tee to green department, gaining +11 and +7.9 strokes TTG at those events, respectively. He’s someone who could challenge the top-5 players this week.
5. Patrick Cantlay ($9,600, Recent finishes: win-T28): After a long stretch of middling finishes, Cantlay looks like he’s finally put everything together as he comes in off a win at the ZOZO Championship in his last start. The American gained +2 strokes in every major category at the ZOZO and looks like his game is as sharp as ever heading into his fourth Masters.
MY PICK: Xander Schauffele ($9,800)
Schauffele is one of the few elite players that have yet to take home a title in 2020. It hasn’t been from lack of opportunity though. The American has arguably been the most consistent player on the planet since the restart, playing 13 times since the Tour began its revised schedule and landing five finishes of T6 or better in that span. Schauffele’s game has been so consistently good that he hasn’t finished outside of the top 25 now in any of his past 11 starts and landed runner-up finishes in two of his past four starts coming in. His bevy of close calls does call to mind the run-up of form in past major winners, too, as the likes of Patrick Reed (2018 Masters) and Gary Woodland (2019 U.S. Open) both had similar run-ups prior to their major titles.
Schauffele is certainly ready to win a major, as he’s now finished T10 or better in seven of the 14 major championships he’s entered. His work around and on the greens has evolved to the point where he’s now one of the best scramblers in the game and ranks sixth in both SG:ATG and PUTT stats in the field over the past 50 rounds. With the course playing soggy and conditions less than ideal, it feels like Schauffele’s stellar all-around game will have more impact this week and his busy and fruitful lead-in means he’ll also be better prepped for whatever Augusta does end up throwing at the players this week. While players like Dustin Johnson ($10,000) and Justin Thomas ($10,700) all possess slightly more firepower than my pick, with the course likely to play sloppy this week, short games and simple grit could perhaps become more of a factor. I like the chances for Schauffele — one of last year’s runner-ups at this major — to get things done this week.
MY SLEEPER: Lee Westwood ($7,200)
Westwood comes into this year’s Masters pushing 47 years of age. While it may seem silly to target players who are only three years off from qualifying for the Champions Tour, Westwood really hasn’t been showing any signs of slowing down of late. The Englishman has been busy for most of 2020 and will have made starts in eight of the past 11 weeks coming into this major. He actually grabbed a win in Abu Dhabi early in the year on the European Tour against a decent field and posted a solid T13 at the U.S. Open in September, which marked his first U.S. start since the COVID-19 restart began.
From a recent form perspective, it’s hard to do much better than Westwood at this price, as he’s now finished inside the top 20 in six of his past eight starts. The experience factor is also huge here, as we’re getting a player who has racked up six top 10s at the Masters over his career and been in contention numerous times, finishing runner-up at Augusta in both 2016 and 2010. The rain and sloppy course will bring lots of unknowns, but for a player with a ton of Open Championship experience and success, who also excelled here in poor conditions back in 2016, you would have to think the rain and a sloppy course might actually work in his favor. In the low $7K range, look for Westwood to post a solid week here and potentially be a huge difference-maker in GPPs this week on DraftKings.
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