DraftKings PGA: The Masters

DraftKings PGA: The Masters

This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.

The Masters 

Purse: $11M  
Winner's Share: $1.98M  
FedEx Cup Points: 600 to the Winner  
Location: Augusta, Ga.  
Course: Augusta National Golf Club  
Yardage: 7,475  
Par: 72 
2018 champion: Patrick Reed

Tournament Preview  

The Masters is the most anticipated tournament of the year, whether it's real golf, fantasy golf, daily fantasy golf, whatever. To paraphrase, it is a tournament – nods to Jim Nantz – unlike any other. Not only is it a small field – only 87 players will compete this year, slim even for Augusta standards – but there are perhaps 15 to 20 golfers who have little shot at making the cut, much less winning. We'll address them in a bit. But by focusing on the remaining 65-70 golfers, and taking into account the top 50 and ties make the cut, along with those within 10 shots of the lead, a larger percentage of players will play four rounds this week than just about any other on the PGA Tour calendar. So even if all six of your guys make it to the weekend, that won't be enough. You need to do better. 

For now, let's focus on the top, and there's an interesting phenomenon here: No one currently in the top 10 in the world rankings has ever won the Masters. That seemingly has never been the case in the history of the OWGR, which dates to 1986. No. 12 Tiger Woods is the highest-ranked former champ. Incredibly, it's now been 14 years since Woods last won at Augusta, in 2005. Can he still win? Sure. Will he? We don't think so (but hope we're wrong). There are just too many top guys, and the depth atop golf has never been broader. The two favorites are Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, both of whom have done just about everything at Augusta but win. McIlroy, trying again for the Career Grand Slam, has finished in the top 10 five years running. Johnson did that three of the past four years, missing only in 2017, when he incredibly had to withdraw the morning of the tournament after falling down a flight of stairs. The third betting choice is world No. 1 Justin Rose – yes, he reclaimed the top spot from Johnson just this week – and he was runner-up twice in the past four years. Really, a case could be made for any of those three guys, the top three on the DraftKings board, to anchor your lineup. We will put all three in the Value Picks below, but that's not especially helpful all by itself, so we promise to rank them in order of our preference. Woods is No. 4 on the board, which seems a little high, but is not outrageous. Keep in mind that in the past 19 years, since 2000, the winner has been ranked in the top-12 of the OWGR 13 times. Patrick Reed was one of the aberrations, ranked No. 24 a year ago. We'll delve deeper into what it takes to win in the Key Stats and Champion's Profile below. 

There are 15 first-timers this year, and notoriously, 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. Many gamers will dismiss them, but you shouldn't just because of that. You need six guys to fill your lineup, and a newbie can and has been a valuable chip. Two years ago, Thomas Pieters tied for fourth in his maiden Masters. 

There's another wrinkle that makes Masters week unlike most others in the DFS universe: DraftKings released its prices weeks in advance instead of the usual three days, and thus some numbers might look a bit off. DK actually did a pretty good job of it this year, and no one really seems priced inordinately high. But there are two or three that stand out as too low: the $6,700 attached to Kevin Kisner and the $6,400 for Lucas Bjerregaard, numbers that didn't take into account either golfer's great week at the WGC-Match Play. Kisner has never finished better than last year's T28 in three Augusta visits; Bjerregaard, the big-hitting Dane, is set for his first Masters. Expect both guys to have high ownership. Bjerregaard may have lost a bit of luster by missing the cut by a lot last week at the Texas Open, but that was almost to be expected after perhaps his finest week ever as a pro. Francesco Molinari, who finished third at the Match Play, might also be low at $8,600, but not as starkly as the other two. 

Now, on to the course. It's usually a bear, but this year even more so. They added 40 yards to the par-4 fifth hole, boosting it to a beastly 495. So the total distance is up to 7,475, but Augusta plays even longer. Length off the tee is an incredible advantage. That said, the golfers better also bring their short game, as things get tougher closer to the hole. The greens are lightning fast and, along with the many greenside run-offs and collection areas, short-game specialists can make a dent on the leaderboard. Two of note have been Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler. Still, the top of the leaderboard last year was filled with big boppers: There were McIlroy, Johnson, Bubba Watson and Tony Finau, and even Reed ranked sixth in the field in driving distance. Augusta very often is among the top-5 hardest tracks of the year. But last year it was a bit milder, only the seventh toughest. And in a couple of instances in the past decade it's actually been relatively benign, only the 15th hardest in 2011 and 14th in 2015. 

Okay, let's go back to those bottom 15 to 20 golfers. It would be easy to dismiss them all. But the last three years, four golfers from among the aging ex-champs and amateurs made the cut. Both Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer tied for 38th a year ago – in fact, both made the cut in three of the past five Masters, though they aren't getting any younger. Want to take a stab at an amateur? Most years, at least one makes the cut, including Doug Ghim, who tied for 50th last year, Bryson DeChambeau, who tied for 21st in 2017. The top amateur in the field is No. 3-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway. He's the reigning U.S. Amateur champ who attends Oklahoma State. But all of the 15 to 20 guys basically are a dart throw. Proceed at your own risk. 

Weather-wise, we can describe the forecast for the 83rd Masters in one word: rain. There are thunderstorms predicted for the beginning of the week, then again on Friday and Sunday. That has a number of ramifications. One, it will make the course play longer, further benefiting the biggest hitters. And two, newcomers looking to learn the course may see their practice time cut short. Otherwise, high temperatures will be around 80 all four days. 

Key Stats to Winning at Augusta  

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

• Driving distance/strokes gained: off the tee 
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach  
• Putting average/strokes gained: putting  
• Scrambling/strokes gained: around the green  

Past Champions  

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
2009 – Angel Cabrera

Champion's Profile  

We mentioned above that in this century, 13 of the 19 winners have been ranked inside the top-12 in the world coming in. Among the past 10, Reed was 24th, Schwartzel was 29th and Cabrera was a real outlier at 69th. In the nine Masters played this decade, every winner but two has finished top-6 in the field in greens in regulation (Reed, 21st, and Schwartzel, 19th). Only two have been outside the top 10 in scrambling (Reed, 16th, and Watson, 15th in 2012). And only one has been outside the top 13 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. On the greens, it's perhaps more important to avoid three-putting on the speedy surfaces than to make one-putts. You can really make up ground on the par-5s. Reed won at 15-under, and 13 of those strokes came 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 end, with a total of 15 double bogeys or worse at both holes last year. 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 Sunday. 

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)  

Tier 1 Values

Rory McIlroy - $11,600 (Winning odds at golfodds.com as of Sunday night: 8-1) 
Here we go again. In search of the Career Grand Slam for the fifth year in a row here. Five top-10s in a row at Augusta. McIlroy agonizingly couldn't get the job done last year while paired in the final group with Patrick Reed. He's been having trouble in final groups. He won THE PLAYERS last month from the penultimate pairing, and we don't think that's a coincidence. McIlroy leads the Tour in both strokes gained: off the tee and tee to green, and he's even 24th in SG around the green. But the pressure on McIlroy at Augusta has been and will be enormous. Will he win? If he's able to block out the noise, we expect him to be right there come Sunday afternoon.

Dustin Johnson - $11,300 (10-1) 
Here we go again. No, Johnson's history isn't quite the same as McIlroy's, but almost. He's finished top-10 three of the past four years, and the only miss was when he withdrew in 2017. We all know about Johnson's long game. He's also 29th in strokes gained: around the green and a near-elite 13th in SG putting. Will he win his first Masters? If he plays his best all four days, it will be tough for someone to top him.

Justin Rose - $10,800 (12-1) 
Here we go again ... with one more guy. Rose has finished in the top-14 five years running, with two runners-up, arguably a better recent course history than McIlroy and certainly better than Johnson. We still can't believe Sergio Garcia, and not Rose, won that playoff two years ago. The Englishman has not done much since winning at Torrey Pines almost three months ago, but he's barely played. He's teed it up just four times, one of them a T8 at THE PLAYERS. With his rock-solid tee-to-green game, plus rankings of seventh in scrambling and 34th in strokes gained: putting, Rose is ready. Will he win? Hey, he's not the No. 1 player in the world for nothing.

Tiger Woods - $10,500 (14-1) 
Of course, the greatest course history of anyone in the field belongs to this guy. We can make a joke and say it's ancient history, as it's been nine years since his last win. Woods has played Augusta only twice in the past five years, tying for 32nd last year. He still has the length to contend, ranking 44th on Tour in driving distance. Woods is also ninth in strokes gained: tee to green, 16th in SG approach and sixth in SG around the green. That means it will all come down to putting (ranked 74th). Will Woods win? We answered that above. But that doesn't mean he won't deliver for your lineup. 

We'll rate the above foursome in this order: Rose, McIlroy, Johnson, Woods. But the golfer we like more than anyone else is the next guy ... 

Tier 2 Values

Rickie Fowler - $9,700 (16-1) 
Fowler was runner-up last year. He's been top-12 four of the past five years. He won in Phoenix two and a half months ago. He was second at The Honda Classic a month later. He's sneaky long off the tee, ranked 32nd in driving distance. He's the best putter in the field among the prime contenders (we don't put Jason Day in the top echelon). Is this Fowler's time? It might very well be. 

Tommy Fleetwood - $9,200 (20-1) 
Fowler is the only good putter in this tier. Beginning with Fleetwood, if any of these guys could putt, they'd be in the $10,000 range. Fleetwood is ranked top-6 in both strokes gained: off the tee and tee to green. What not too many people may know is that he's fifth – FIFTH! –in scrambling. This is just the Englishman's third Masters. He missed the cut two years ago but rebounded with a T17. 

Paul Casey - $9,000 (30-1) 
Casey was a better golfer at age 40 than he was at 39, and now he's better at 41 than at 40. Even when Casey wasn't at this level, he was coming up big at Augusta, with top-6s from 2015-17 before "slumping" to a T15 last year. A winner just a few weeks back at the Valspar Championship, he also was runner-up at Pebble Beach (store that away for the U.S. Open) and third at the WGC-Mexico. Casey is ranked top-14 in both strokes gained: off the tee and tee to green, and 27th in SG around the green. An amazing Casey factoid: Despite being a so-so putter, nine of his last 16 Augusta rounds have been sub-70 – not simply under par, but under 70. 

Hideki Matsuyama - $8,700 (30-1) 
Speaking of poor putting ... Matsuyama went 5-T7-T11-19 here the past four years, and he notched that solo 19th despite being slowed by a wrist injury earlier last season. He is so strong getting from Point A to Point B, ranking top-3 on Tour in both strokes gained: tee to green and approach. His wedge game is so underrated, as he's second on Tour in scrambling. 

Tier 3 Values

Xander Schauffele - $8,500 (40-1) 
Schauffele tied for 50th in his first Masters a year ago. He returns well equipped to do far better. Schauffele has finished top-6 in three of his seven career majors, including T6 and T3 in last year's U.S. Open and Open Championship. He opened 2019 with a win at the Tournament of Champions, and followed that up with top-25s in five of his subsequent six starts. Schauffele has well-rounded numbers: 16th in stroke gained: tee to green, 13th in SG approach and 19th in SG putting. Plus he's 35th in driving distance. That will get the job done more times than not. 

Louis Oosthuizen - $8,100 (40-1) 
Oosthuizen is is terrific form, he's got a bunch of high finishes at the Masters, and he's healthy. That pretty much checks off all the boxes. The South African has not matched his 2012 playoff loss to Bubba Watson, but he finished top-20 three of the past four years, playing at least part of the time with a balky back. In the past four months, Oosthuizen has a win and a runner-up, plus a third, fourth and fifth. Aside from a ranking of 23rd in scrambling, none of Oosthuizen's stats really stand out. But when you've been a top-5 machine, that counts more. 

Patrick Cantlay - $7,700 (60-1)  
Cantlay is very solid in most areas. He is really long off the tee, ranking seventh on Tour in driving distance. He's top-25 in every strokes-gained category except around the green (33rd) and putting (87th). While Cantlay missed the cut a year ago in his first Masters as a pro, he's starting to show a propensity to play well in the biggest tournaments. He tied for 12th in the Open Championship last year, and he finished top-10 in three of the past four WGCs. 

Brandt Snedeker - $7,200 (100-1) 
The mid- to low-$7,000 range was a real conundrum. There are a bunch of guys who could/maybe/possibly do well. We're talking Henrik Stenson, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick. Pluses and minuses on both sides of their ledgers. Not a long hitter in the bunch, which doesn't exclude them from our considerations but is a concern. All that could be said for Snedeker, too. But he has a preeminent short game – fifth in strokes gained: around the green, 11th in SG putting. He's played the Masters 10 times, missed only two cuts and notched five top-25s, two of them top-10s, and really had a chance to win both them. Snedeker didn't even qualify a year ago, so that should provide some extra impetus this time around. 

Long-Shot Values

Matt Wallace - $7,100 (150-1) 
This will be the 28-year-old Englishman's first Masters. After missing the cut in his first three majors, Wallace impressively tied for 19th at the PGA last year. He arrives having played frequently in North America: two WGCs, THE PLAYERS, Bay Hill and the Honda, finishing no worse than T40 with a best of T6 (Bay Hill). Wallace is ranked 24th in driving distance, 37th in strokes gained: tee to green, 15th in SG around and 45th in SG putting. We don't think Wallace will be overwhelmed by his first visit to Augusta. 

Charles Howell III - $7,000 (100-1) 
Another patron of the Fountain of Youth, the soon-to-be 40-year-old returns to his beloved Augusta in his hometown for the first time since 2012. Beginning with his win at the RSM Classic, Howell has made 10 straight cuts with eight of them being top-25s. He's ranked second in greens in regulation and 14th in strokes gained: putting, and is also top-50 in driving distance. 

Keith Mitchell - $6,800 (150-1) 
Mitchell has cleared a number of hurdles this season, showing few signs of being intimidated. He won the Honda Classic, tied for sixth the following week at Bay Hill and at the WGC-Match Play won a round-robin match against Ian Poulter. Of course, playing in your first career major is another level of intimidation, and Mitchell likely has never seen anything like the greens he will encounter this week. But we're banking that the rest of his game – 10th in strokes gained: off the tee, 23rd in SG tee to green – will carry him into the weekend. 

Charley Hoffman - $6,800 (100-1) 
This isn't a snap judgement – we really liked Hoffman even before he finished second at the Texas Open, we really, really did! This is what we had written: The former mullet-man is now 42. He has played Augusta only five times, yet he's been top-30 in all of them, including T12 a year ago. Six of his 20 career Masters rounds have been sub-70. That's some serious course history. On the other hand, Hoffman has seen his world ranking plummet since a year ago. We really can't look at his stats because, well, they're awful. But Hoffman has suddenly found some form, beginning with a tie for 18th at the Valspar Championship last month.

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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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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