Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: $4M Fantasy Golf Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Semifinal Entry] (PGA)
The Masters is upon us and so is one of the most unique fields in golf, as 91 players will tee it up this year at Augusta. While that may seem small for a major championship, the battle just to get in makes it all that more special. Winning a PGA event, being a top-50 player in the World or having a big finish at another major — or making the TOUR Championship field — are generally the only ways in for a pro; unless, of course, you have already won the tournament, then you have an invitation back for life.
The field this year also could see some last-minute changes. The big news, of course, is that Tiger Woods is now at Augusta and has been practicing. Woods has tweeted himself that he’ll be a game-time decision this Wednesday:
“I will be heading up to Augusta today to continue my preparation and practice. It will be a game-time decision on whether I compete.” via @TigerWoods on twitter
There is other injury news to keep track of, too. Bryson DeChambeau has made two starts since an early season injury kept him sidelined for multiple weeks, but he hasn’t looked great in either of his starts. Hideki Matsuyama (neck) and Abraham Ancer (undisclosed) also withdrew from the Valero Texas Open last week. Both are expected to play this week, but they will have an extra wild-card element to them in DFS.
Speaking of wild cards, this year’s field will also feature an abundance of first-timers. Unlike last year, when we only had six players making their debut at this event, there’s 19 debutants in the field this year. Last week’s winner, J.J. Spaun got the final spot, but the most notable first-timer is Sam Burns, who has won three times in the last 14 months on the PGA TOUR. Recent winners like Tom Hoge and Talor Gooch will also make their first visit down Magnolia Lane this week.
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 and ties will play the weekend (the old 10-shot rule no longer applies). Getting all six of your golfers through the cut line will be especially crucial this week since over 50% of the actual field will get a chance to play the weekend.
Augusta National Golf Club—Augusta, Georgia
Par 72, 7400-7500 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). At it’s 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 the PGA 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, 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 it has still seen winning scores ranging all the way from +1 (Zach Johnson 2007) to -20 (Dustin Johnson in 2020). The course played much tougher last season, with Hideki Matsuyama taking home the win at just 10-under par, and we have a somewhat cool and windy forecast for this weekend, which will likely keep scores closer to the 10-under mark once again.
As far as the individual holes go, here’s a brief breakdown of what awaits the players 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
There has been a couple of changes to the course this year. The par-4 11th hole and par-5 15th hole have both been lengthened. The 11th has also had its fairway widened but been toughened in areas around the green to make bailing out a less viable option. It now stretches to 520 yards and is likely to play as the toughest hole for the week. The 15th was already a classic risk-reward hole with a huge moat surrounding a skinny green, but the added length to 550 yards will make the tee shot even more crucial this year and beyond.
Augusta has seen winning scores range from 5-under to 20-under over the past six years, and tougher conditions have often led to more long-shot winners. Hideki Matusyama went off at 40-1 last year, and in 2017 and 2016 — when the winning score stayed well below 10-under-par — we saw long-shot winners prevail, as well.
More of a premium on bogey avoidance and tee-to-green play could be something to consider in 2022 since Green-in-Regulation percentages are likely to be much lower again — especially compared to what we saw in November 2020 — and more in line with what we saw in 2021.
2022 Outlook: The weather for the 2022 Masters looks like it will impede any lower-scoring affairs from breaking out. Highs for the first day will be in the mid-70 degrees Fahrenheit range, but cool temperatures are in store for later in the week, and it’s only expected to be around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit for the final two days of the event. Cool weather will be accompanied by wind, as gusts of 20 mph are expected to be constant on the final three days. Cut day (or Friday, as the normies call it) could be the most brutal, as the wind is expected to approach 20-25 mph in spots in the afternoon. This forecast means this event has all the signs of a grind-it-out, slug-fest environment where the winning score stays under double-digits. Watch the wind forecast, as a wave advantage seems likely to develop, with Friday afternoon players potentially absorbing the worst of it.
Last 10 winners
2021—Hideki Matsuyama -10 (over Will Zalatoris -9)
*2020—Dustin Johnson -20 (Sungjae Im and Cameron Smith -15)
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)
*Played in November
- No player has won at Augusta in 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 2018).
- Ten of the last 13 winners of the Masters ranked 19th or better in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green in the year of their victory.
- Six of the past seven winners had recorded at least a T5 sometime in the four months prior to Augusta — six of the last eight had recorded a T2 or better — prior to winning the Masters.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
Hideki Matsuyama (2021)
Lead-in form (T30-MC-T18-T15-MC)
- Strokes Gained: Tee to Green Rank: 2nd
- Strokes Gained: Tee to Green Rank: 4th
- Strokes Gained: Tee to Green Rank: 4th
- Greens in Regulation—70%
Par 5’ – 11-under-par; Par 4s – even; Par 3s – 1-over-par
· Like Dustin Johnson in 2020, Matsuyama destroyed the Par 5s in 2021, grabbing three eagles on them for the week while shooting 11-under on those holes alone.
· Matsuyama had a strong GIR% compared to the field but also excelled around the greens, ranking fourth in Strokes Gained: Around the Green.
· Strong tee to green play is still what you want to be targeting here. Four of the last five winners have now gained +12.1 or more strokes tee to green for the week; however, a near equal amount of success for top finishers at this venue the last few years has been split between Approach and Around the Greens.
· A firm, hard course and tougher winds/colder weather should mean more missed greens and dial up the importance of short games.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
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 DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Jordan Spieth ($9,800; best finish: win-2015, T2-2016, 2014 T3-2018, 2021): Spieth has placed second here twice and won the event in 2015 by tying the then-scoring record set by Tiger Woods (-18). In 2018, he shot a brilliant 64 in the final round to vault him into third place. Last year, he again finished strong (T3) and led the field in GIR%. Spieth will need to find his putting stroke, but if he does, there’s no one better suited for this course (outside of prime Woods).
2. Dustin Johnson ($10,500; best finish: win-2020, T2-2019, T4-2016): Johnson absolutely tore apart a watered-down Augusta in November, missing just 12 greens in regulation for the week on his way to breaking the scoring record. He’s done well at Augusta in tougher conditions, as well, and was in contention late in 2016 when the winning score was just five-under-par. He showed well at the windy PLAYERS Championship and looks ready to contend again.
3. Cameron Smith ($9,900; best finish: T2-2020, T5-2018): Smith has seemingly mastered Augusta over the last few seasons. Possessing a slick short game, he finished runner-up at this event in November of 2020 and was T10 last year in April. The confidence boost he’s shown to start 2022 has been jarring, and with past experience of being in contention at this venue, the sky does seem to be the limit for his potential.
4. Brooks Koepka ($9,400; best finish: T7-2020, T2-2019): Koepka has been under-the-radar dominant at this event. He narrowly missed getting in a playoff in 2019, shooting an opening round of 66, and shot four rounds of 70 or better here in 2020 while coming off a knee injury layoff. A knee injury also wrote off his chances at this event last season, but he’s produced three top-20 finishes already in 2020 and looks ready to make a move in majors once again.
5. Rory McIlroy ($10,000; best finishes: T4-2015, T5-2018, 2021): McIlroy may not have a win at Augusta, but he’s been through the ringer here as far as experiences go. He was the leader going into the back nine in 2011 before he slid to T15, and he also went off in the final pairing in 2018 before losing out badly to Patrick Reed. He’s finished T10 or better at Augusta in six of the last eight seasons and likely won’t have much pressure coming off a missed cut from last week.
1. Scottie Scheffler ($11,000; Win-T55-Win): Scheffler has had a dream start to this season, which has seen him grab three wins in the last two months. He’s finished top 25 in two Augusta appearances and has won in tough conditions already this year.
2. Sam Burns ($8,600; Win-T26): Burns rates out tops in strokes gained total stats over the last six events. He grabbed his third PGA TOUR win two starts ago at the Valspar and has five top-10 finishes and two wins in his last 11 PGA TOUR starts.
3. Matt Fitzpatrick ($7,700; T5-MC-T9): Fitzpatrick will likely be a popular value target this week. He has been playing great golf and has finished top 10 in four of his last five PGA TOUR starts.
4. Justin Thomas ($10,300; T3-T33-T6): Thomas nearly grabbed a win in his last stroke-play start at the Valspar, missing a playoff by one stroke. He gained +9.7 strokes ball-striking at that event and looks primed to take on an elite field this week.
5. Gary Woodland ($6,900; T8-T21): Woodland has shown more consistency early in 2021, landing three top-10 finishes in his last five starts. His approach game has been terrific of late, gaining him +2.0 strokes or more in four of his last five starts.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Thomas and Fitzpatrick look like good chalk
Justin Thomas ($10,300) has the kind of consistency we’re looking for in our top players. He’s gained strokes on approach in over 12 events on the PGA TOUR and has flashed a better short game of late, gaining strokes ATG in his last four starts. Thomas also has experience to fall back on this week, as he’s finished top 25 at this event in each of the past four years. Matt Fitzpatrick ($7,700) brings similar form and consistency to this event. While he doesn't have the higher-end ball-striking skill of Thomas, he’s great at avoiding big numbers and should be helped by tougher conditions. He finished T7 in tough conditions in 2016 and hasn’t missed the cut at this event in five straight years. Other potential cash game targets this week include Cameron Smith ($9,900), Shane Lowry ($8,800), Si Woo Kim ($7,100) and Gary Woodland ($6,900).
Tournaments: Brooks and Niemann potentially overlooked in GPPs
I already wrote about Rory McIlroy ($10,000 - see below), but Brooks Koepka ($9,400) sets up as a potential lower-rostered play in the $9K-range to target in the Milly Maker, as well. Koepka has a few missed cuts on his card this year but has also been in contention twice and has been solid with his best weapon (the driver) of late. He should like the tougher conditions on tap for 2022. Joaquin Niemann ($8,200) has also played extremely well to begin the season. He grabbed a huge win at Riviera and has proven to have the kind of short game able to handle Augusta, gaining strokes ATG in seven straight events. His lack of high finishes at Augusta should keep ownership lower. Other potential GPP targets for this week include Louis Oosthuizen ($8,900), Tony Finau ($8,100), Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($6,700) and Sepp Straka ($6,600).
MY PICK: Rory McIlroy ($10,000)
It’s been a strange lead-up for McIlroy, who took the WGC Match-Play off so he could focus more on his prep for Augusta — only to show up and play horribly for two rounds at the Valero last week. While it wasn’t great from an optics standpoint, the bigger picture is what matters, and McIlroy has put together a strong six-month lead-in going into this event. A win at THE CJ CUP came last November, and he’s followed that up with more decent play both overseas and on the PGA TOUR, where he grabbed T10 and T13 finishes at Bay Hill and Riviera.
McIlroy’s lack of recent results also bely an approach game that’s seen him gain over +2.0 strokes in his last two starts before Valero and a short game that has looked as refined as ever, producing positive strokes gained on the field now in eight straight starts. From a golfing standpoint, he’s looked more focused since the Ryder Cup last fall and has been a par-5 machine throughout his career — a trait which has seen him grab six top-10 finishes at Augusta since 2014. If anything this week, the missed cut at Valero should work to free up some of the pressure as attention gets moved to other favorites — and it’s also worth noting three of McIlroy’s last six wins on the PGA TOUR have come after missed cuts. He’s my favorite target in big GPPs, where his low sentiment after last week and long-term form work to create a nice pivot at $10K off the chalkier plays in that range.
MY SLEEPER: Ryan Palmer ($6,500)
From a DFS standpoint, Palmer was actually quite solid at this event last season, finishing T34 while compiling two eagles and 16 birdies, which was the 14th-most in the field. That’s the kind of scoring that can make a sub-$7K player uber-valuable in larger-field GPPs where sub-10% rostership is hard to come by. Palmer will undoubtedly bring us that coveted lower rostership and sets up as a potentially great pivot in those larger fields. He’s coming off a T48 at the Valero but shot 10-under through his first two rounds and gained strokes on approach in each of his four rounds (+3.1 for the week).
Palmer’s putter ultimately let him down on the weekend at TPC San Antonio, but he struck the ball better than he had in over a month last week, and his game looks primed to again take advantage of Augusta’s easier par 5s. Like our main pick, the veteran is still one of the most consistent off the tee players in the field (has gained strokes OTT in six of seven starts), and he’s played well at this venue in the past, grabbing a T10 way back in 2011. Look for Palmer to build on his fast start from last week and potentially be a sneaky DFS play who could end up as the sub-$7K player to roster in big-field GPPs — especially if his putter shows up on the weekend.
Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: $4M Fantasy Golf Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Semifinal Entry] (PGA)
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