The best week of the golf season is finally here. The PGA Tour will be heading to Augusta National Golf Club (par 72, 7,475 yards), for our first major of the year, The 2019 Masters. Last season, Patrick Reed took home the green jacket in his first major victory. (-15) Reed was only the second winner over the last five years to crack double digits and Augusta can become a very difficult course depending on the weather. As of right now, it looks like we can expect double digit wind gusts for each of the four days of play, with rain possibly becoming a factor on Sunday. The course should be tough at times and when I am expecting a challenging test, I always believe we should be targeting players who have been avoiding bogeys well recently.
As for the course itself, Augusta National is the most gorgeous golf course on earth. It’s immaculate looks and design are second to none. The fairways are wide and friendly and longer hitters off the tee will have an advantage. Now, that doesn’t mean short players can’t succeed and shouldn’t be rostered, but If juggling between two golfers, I would side with the one who has the extra length. More importantly, we must prioritize strong iron players at Augusta National. Reed and his putter brought him to his first major title a year ago (1st in PPR, but only T21 in GIR), but all of the previous four champs ranked T6 or better in greens hit. All four of the par fives are reachable in two shots and the scoring opportunities these holes present must be taken advantage of. Par five scoring should have a solid weight in your models, but your play on the par fours is equally important, with each of the last three winners at Augusta leading their fields in scoring on these ten holes. The greens are bentgrass and they are some of the fastest and most difficult surfaces on Tour. As I just said above, Reed rolled himself to a victory last year, but we have also seen some very average putters win this major. This doesn’t mean we should completely ignore putting stats, but I don’t believe they are a priority.
Course history is always a huge part to my research on a week to week basis, but it’s more important than ever at The Masters. Players who love this track tend to play well here year in and year out and the golfers who struggle at Augusta rarely ever surprise. So, as you could have guessed, outside of Tony Finau last year (T10) and Jordan Spieth in 2014 (T2), most first timers struggle at this major. A player with high pedigree will win this event and I don’t think it hurts at all to look over a golfer’s full major history when putting them in your lineup. Compared to the other three majors and most PGA events, The Masters presents a smaller field. This year, only 87 players have quailed and the top 50 and ties will make the cut, along with any player that is within ten strokes of the lead. This, and DraftKings’ usual soft pricing for a major, make this an ideal week to take the stars and scrubs lineup approach. @Hunta512.
Rory McIlroy: (11,600)
McIlroy has been the best player in the world so far this season. He hasn’t missed any cuts in seven starts and has posted six straight top tens since his first event of the year. For a more recent sample, in his last three, McIlroy finished 2nd at The WGC Mexico Championship, T6 at The Arnold Palmer Invitational and then won The Players Championship. His stats have been incredible, ranking 1st in SGT2G, SG OTT, and SGT. Additionally, his distance has been excellent (6th in DD) and he has been a dominant scorer. (9th in BOB% and 2nd in DK points in L24 rounds)
McIlroy’s resume at Augusta is also stellar, going 9/10 in cuts, with five top tens, all in which have come the last five years. He needs a green jacket to complete his career grand slam and while he may be the highest owned player in the field, it would be foolish to not have multiple McIlroy lineups this week. As expected, he has the best odds to win (7/1 via Bovada) and these are tied for the best odds to win The Masters since the origin of DraftKings’ golf.
Justin Rose: (10,800)
Rose loves Augusta and will absolutely own a green jacket one day, maybe as soon as this Sunday. In 13 career starts at the major, Rose has yet to miss a single cut and has five top ten finishes. He has contended at each of the last four Masters, with a T2 in 2015 and most notably the playoff loss to Sergio Garcia just two short years ago.
Since then, he has captured six wins worldwide and has moved all the way up from 8th in the world rankings, up to the number one spot, which he still currently holds heading into this year’s Masters. In his last 36 rounds, Rose ranks 3rd in BOB%, 2nd in SGT, 4th in bogeys avoided, and 1st in DK points.
Yes, his recent log may not look the best (MC, T63, and T8th in L3), but Rose should be in the mix to win come Sunday and if anything, his last few starts may slightly depress his ownership.
Tommy Fleetwood: (9,200)
Fleetwood is currently playing tremendous golf and has been for a very long time. He just finished T5 at The Players in his last start and this was his 13th top ten in his last 19 events. Furthermore, he has only missed a single cut in his last 25 starts.
There isn’t a facet of his game that he has been struggling with (7th in SGT2G, 4th in SG OTT, 14th in DD, 9th in GIR, 9th in SGT, 14th in SG on P4s, 14th in SG on P5s, and 4th in bogeys avoided) and last season at Augusta, in his second appearance at a Masters, Fleetwood rebounded from his MC the year before, with T17.
He has been talking this week about how he is now gaining a better “feeling” and “understanding” of Augusta in his third crack at green jacket and Fleetwood seems more confident than ever. He has made seven major cuts in a row, including a runner up last season’s U.S. Open, which was capped off by a final round 63 at Shinnecock Hills. The 13th ranked player in the world clearly has the pedigree to win a major very soon and I think Fleetwood will be in the hunt come Sunday.
Hideki Matsuyama: (8,700)
Matsuyama has been extremely consistent this season (10/10) and has five top 20s in his last six starts. His stats have been great (3rd in SGT2G, 4th in SG APP and 4th in BS in L12 rounds) and Augusta is perfect for his elite ball striking. At the historic course, Matsuyama has only missed one cut in seven tries and has posted finishes of 5th, T7, T11, and 19th the over the last four years.
His odds are strong for his price (28/1, Bryson DeChambeau, who is $600 more, is 33/1) and Matsuyama is one of the top values of the week, that needs to be deployed in all formats.
Tony Finau: (8,200)
Finau didn’t do much at all last week at The Texas Open (T61), but has still made 20 of his last 21 cuts, with 12 top 20s during that time. Plus, as I mentioned above, he shined in his Masters’ debut a year ago (T10) and has a 9/11 record at majors. (six top 20s)
His driver (6th in DD and 8th in SG OTT in L36 rounds) and par five scoring (17th in SG on P5s in L36 rounds) are ideal for Augusta and I am expecting another major top 20 from Finau this weekend.
Matt Kuchar: (7,900)
There is always one standout value for each major and this time around, it is Kuchar. He is just criminally underpriced for how well he is playing this season. He is 10/10 in cuts, has posted four top tens, two of which have been wins. The veteran just posted a T7 last weekend at The Texas Open and has only finished outside the top 28 once in his last nine events.
Over his last 36 rounds, Kuch ranks 6th in SG APP, 3rd in GIR, 11th in BS, 9th in SG on P5s, and 3rd in bogeys avoided. He has a 11/12 course resume at Augusta, with an average finish of 28.3rd place and his odds (40/1 via Bovada) are the best of all the golfers at $8,000 or cheaper. Don’t overthink this one and make Kuchar one of your core plays of the week.
Sergio Garcia: (7,700)
Garcia is another value that sticks out like a sore thumb. The 2017 Masters champ has yet to miss a cut this season (8/8) and has recorded seven top tens in his last 12 starts.
Statistically, he checks most of the boxes I am looking for (5th in SG APP, 20th in SG OTT, 8th in BS, 13th in SG on P5s, and 6th in bogeys avoided) and is 14/20 at Augusta National. This the cheapest Garcia has been all season and the cheapest he has ever been for a Masters.
Ian Poulter: (7,600)
Poulter is always one of my favorite mid-tier targets for majors. He is 12/13 with three top tens at The Masters and has made six of his last seven cuts at major events. He has produced four top tens in his past six starts and has just been a model of consistency over the last year. (25/27)
Poulter’s irons will always be his strong suit (1oth in GIR in L24 rounds), but he has also been scoring very well on par fives. (14th in SG on P5s in L24 rounds) I doubt many DFS players will be on him (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs), making Poulter a very sneaky GPP play that possesses top 25 upside.
Charles Howell III: (7,000)
CH3 hasn’t played at Augusta in seven years, but the man is just too cheap for his cut making ability. In his last 40 starts, he has only missed six cuts. This season, he is 11/12, with seven top 20s, four in which have come in his last five events. His Masters record is a split (1/2), but in that one made cut, back in 2012, Howell held his own. (T19)
Furthermore, his stats have been awesome recently. (19th in SGT2G, 3rd in GIR, 16th in SG OTT, 18th in DD, 10th in SGT, 2nd in SGP, 9th in bogeys avoided, and 9th in DK points in L24 rounds) Although I wish he had more experience at Augusta, CH3 is still a seasoned veteran, that is in great form and expected to come with a lower ownership. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
Charley Hoffman: (6,800)
After a horrible start to the season, Hoffman seems to be turning things around, just in time for Augusta. He had missed seven of eight cuts heading into The Valspar two weeks ago, but posted a T18 at The Copperhead Course and then recorded a runner up finish last week at The Texas Open. This was easily his best week of the season and at TPC San Antonio, Hoffman ranked T14 in greens hit and T4 in par five scoring.
His long drive and strong iron play have helped him to a spotless record at Augusta (5/5), with finishes of T9, T29, T22, and T12 coming the last four years. His game is clearly trending up (10.1 SGT L2, compared -4.7 in previous three) and Hoffman is a risk worth taking at only $6,800.
Kevin Kisner: (6,700)
Kisner holds the best odds of all golfers sub $7,000 this week (66/1 via Bovada) and it is for good reason. This is by far the lowest he has been priced all season, even though Kisner just won The Dell Match Play, has made eight cuts in a row and has finished no worse than T28 in his last six.
He has gained 5.3 strokes per event over his last three starts and ranks 8th in SG APP, 4th in GIR, 12th in SG OTT, 9th in BS, and 6th in SG on P4s during that span. Kisner has made the cut in each of the last three Masters and should again this weekend.
Emillano Grillo: (6,600)
Grillo is never the most exciting play, but it’s hard to ignore him at this low of a cost. He didn’t compete in last year’s Masters, but made the cut in the two prior, with a notable T17 in 2016. These were his first two attempts at Augusta and he is 7/12 at majors overall.
Coming into this week, Grillo has made 15 of his last 16 cuts and has positively gained strokes in seven of his last ten tournaments. Barring a huge blow up, he should be able to make it through the cut and is a nice cheap play that will help you squeeze multiple studs into your lineup.
*Please note that some of these rankings are from Fantasynational.com