It’s finally here, Happy Masters week everyone! Not much of an introduction is needed as the first major of the year is considered by many as the best tournament of the year because of the venue and its iconic layout so we will jump right into the course breakdown:
Augusta National: Par 72, 7,475 yards. Augusta is known for its wide fairways, elevation changes, slick and undulating greens, and pristine conditioning. The only major change in the layout from last year is an additional 40 yards of length added to the par four 5th that will now measure 495 yards. That is a good lead in to mentioning that this course is truly a bombers layout with fairways that are 10% easier than the PGA Tour average to hit. Every par four with the exception of the third hole measures at 440 yards or longer and every par five is reachable in two. This provides big hitters with the advantage of being able to hit shorter irons into to the 14 two shot holes and allows them to be more aggressive with their targets, taking on pins that players hitting less lofted clubs from further out do not have the luxury of firing at. In addition, the dispersion patterns tend to be much smaller the closer the approach shot is stuck from which is key to keeping yourself out of trouble on or around the greens. The greens at Augusta see three putts at nearly twice the rate as other venues played during the year as the size and undulation of the greens is not done justice when watching the event on TV. This also makes getting up and down more difficult so it is important that players not only hit the greens, but hit them in the right places as we often hear players and caddies state that hitting the right quadrant of each green based on the days pin placement is essential.
In terms of stats, strokes gained off the tee will be my most heavily weighted stat due to the wide fairways, short rough, and increased length that has been added on to the course players that are long off the tee will have a clear advantage and this will be amplified if there is some moisture on the ground. It’s much more difficult to hit a specific quadrant of a green repeatedly over four days when your approaches are being hit with a 5 or 6 iron and compared to the bombers who will be hitting 8 and 9 irons so it’s hard to understate the importance of being long off the tee at Augusta. Also critical this week will be the ability of players to hit the right areas of the green as the slope and speed of the greens will make birdies difficult to come by and three putts a real possibility for those who are out of position on the greens. Lastly, you will want to target players who can score on the par fives as all four are very gettable and every par made will be losing ground to the field.
Here are our top stats to consider this week:
- Strokes Gained Off the Tee
- Strokes Gained Approach
- Par Five Efficiency
- Three Putt Avoidance
- Birdie or Better Percentage
The Masters has the smallest field of any of the four majors at 87 golfers. Of the 87 there will be around 20-25 players, comprised of past champions over 55 and amateurs, who we can say are not legitimate contenders to win. This leaves us with approximately 50 – 60 rosterable golfers for DFS purposes. The cut rule this week will be low 50 golfers or all players within 10 strokes of the lead after 36 holes. This tells us two things. 1. It is imperative that you get all six of your golfers thru the cut in order to cash in any GPP and most likely any cash game as well. 2. In order to secure a high finish in any GPP you’ll likely need to roster the winner as well as multiple other players who finish in the top ten. Because of this we will also need to hunt for some upside in addition to cut makers at every roster spot. With that said, let’s get to the picks. Here are three targets for your cash game / single entry tournament (GPP) lineups on DraftKings:
Upper Mid-Range – Tommy Fleetwood – $9,200
You’ll see a theme here in this week’s article plays as all three players have been showing red hot form on their approaches, an attribute I feel should pay dividends this week as the trick Augusta greens require you to be extremely precise as a missed green in the wrong spot or hitting a green in the wrong quadrant could create a likely bogey or three putt, while hitting your spots will provide a makeable birdie opportunity as a reward. I will start it off with Tommy Fleetwood, who has been one of the best mid to long iron players in the game over the past year and also has the distance off the tee to compete at Augusta. I don’t believe the moment will be too big for him as he booked top 20 finishes in the first three majors of the year in 2018 that included a T17 at the Masters. Starting a roster with Fleetwood is a great way to go if you are taking the balanced approach in cash games as it allows you to roster another 2-3 players in the $8K and up range without taking too much risk at the bottom of your roster.
Mid-Range – Hideki Matsuyama – $8,700
Hideki has been in a groove recently from tee to green as he has gained an average of 8.7 strokes per event over his last six when it comes to his play off the tee, on approaches, and around the green. The only thing holding him back are his struggles on the green but we could be seeing this trend reverse as he finally gained strokes putting at the PLAYERS. Hideki has also had a solid record at Augusta and has not putted poorly relative to the field here historically. This is a great spot to hop on board as we want to make sure we are there when the flatstick comes around. I’m also optimistic given the control he has been showing on approaches will provide him with plenty of birdie opportunities to help build his confidence on the slick Augusta greens early in the week.
Value – Matt Kuchar – $7,900
Given his current form and history at Augusta National it seems like a misprice that we see Matt Kuchar at $7,900. Although he doesn’t fit the bomber narrative, he has finished in the top 10 here in four out of his last nine Masters starts. Also, his iron play as of late has been on another level, gaining 7.5 strokes on approaches at the PLAYERS and 8.6 strokes on approaches at the Valero en route to a 7th place finish.
How we did last week:
Cash/Single Entry Article Plays:
Jason Kokrak – T7
Jim Furyk – T23
Luke List – MC
Optimal Sports Subscribers Core Plays:
Adam Schenk – T33
Jason Kokrak – T7
Jim Furyk – T23
Luke List – MC
Ryan Moore – 3
Nick Taylor – T52
Last Week’s DraftKings Double Up Contest Result: Win
2018-2019 Season Double Up Record: 15-7
Record in Double Ups Since 1/1/18: 40-17
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