The wait is finally over. After months of waiting and anticipation, The Tour finally makes it way to Augusta National for our first major of the season, The 2018 Masters. Augusta National is a par 72, that is 7.435 yards long. Last season’s tournament didn’t disappoint, with Sergio Garcia picking up his first major win in a playoff victory over Justin Rose, ending the week at -9. Wind and rain can become big factors in Augusta, but at the moment, the forecast looks pretty solid, with no heavy winds expected and only a chance of some showers on Saturday. If this forecast holds, the winning score should crack double digits this time around. Short and longer players can succeed at this gorgeous golf course, but slightly longer hitters off the tee have had better success in the past.
Your off the tee game is important, but finding the putting surface is far more crucial at this track. If your irons aren’t on, you won’t have a shot at winning the green jacket, with all of the last five winners ranking T6 or better in GIR%. The par fives will be these players best chances to score, so I think targeting strong par five players is pivotal, but I also believe finding players who rank well in par four scoring is equally important, with all of the last five champions ranking in the top five in par four scoring. In fact the past two winners, Garcia and Danny Willet, have both led the field in scoring on these holes.
The bentgrass greens at Augusta National are extremely difficult and fast. This would make you think you need to focus on elite players with the flat stick, but these greens are such a tough test, that it almost levels out the field. Now, that doesn’t mean you should ignore putting stats for this week, I am just pointing out that you don’t need to be the greatest putter to win at Augusta National, as we have seen many average putters win here over the years. Finally, don’t forget that this is a smaller field of players, with roughly 85 players teeing it up. A top 50 and ties cut line is in effect, but also any player who is ten strokes inside ten strokes of the lead will be making it to the weekend.
A larger amount of golfers will be making the cut, making it a fine week to go with the stars and scrubs approach when building your lineups, especially with DraftKings making their pricing very soft, as they usually do with golf majors, to make it more user friendly and more appealing to the average DFS player. 6/6 is still the goal and the more lineups you have with all of your golfers making the cut, the more money you will make. In my opinion, this is the best week of the golf season, so I think we need to take advantage and play fully in cash games and GPPs. With Tiger Woods back and close to full strength, this is one of the most anticipated majors in quite some time. It should be an absolute blast, so sit back and enjoy it while it is here. @Hunta512.
*Please note that I am writing this article before the conclusion of The Houston Open. So, there will be a few new players added to the field and the stat rankings are subject to change.
Xander Schauffele: (7,500)
Schauffele’s 2018 campaign hasn’t been disappointing, coming off a massive win at The Tour Championship at the end of last year, the 24 year old has made 8/9 cuts this season, including two top tens. His game has been trending up recently, finishing inside the top 20 in his last three starts, after missing his first cut of the year at The Farmers Insurance Open back in late January. In these last three events, he has shot under par in 9/12 rounds, while ranking 12th in SGT2G, 9th in SGAPP, 29th in GIR%, 6th in ball striking, 19th in par four scoring, 13th in par five scoring, 13th in BOB%, 9th in bogeys avoided, and 27th in SGP. (via Fantasy National) This will be his first time playing here, which is always a scary thing with Augusta, but I think Schauffele is that elite of an talent that he still shouldn’t be ignored at this price.
He is an excellent ball striker who has been scoring very well on both par fours and fives. Last season was his first full time season as a professional and he made the cut in 2/3 majors, finishing with a T5 at The U.S. Open and then a T20 at The Open Championship. These strong finishes were his first time playing in these PGA Tour events, so he clearly has the pedigree and skills to compete at Augusta. The lack of course history should keep his ownership low, which is excellent news for his GPP stock. I have been on Schauffele since the start of his rookie season and I really think he has the chance to surprise and finish in the top 25 this week.
Charley Hoffman: (7,100)
Hoffman struggled at The Valspar Championship and missed the cut, but he rebounded nicely at The Arnold Palmer Invitational, with a T14. If you forget about his withdrawal at The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Hoffman is 6/8 in made cuts this season, with three top 20s and no finish worse than T41st. For this season, he ranks 21st in SGT2G, 17th in SGAPP, 13th in GIR%, 21st in ball striking, 18th in par four scoring, 8th in par five scoring, 32nd in BOB%, 37th in bogeys avoided, and 46th in SGP. (via Fantasy National)
These stats are solid, but the main reason I am targeting Hoffman is his strong track record at Augusta National. He is 4/4 at The Masters for his career, finishing in the top 30 all four times, including a T9 in 2015. He knows how to work his drive here to find the right spots to approach these greens and his par five game is at a high level this season. I am expecting another made cut from Hoffman and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we saw another top 30 finish at Augusta National from the veteran. He is a rather safe option and the value he presents at this price is hard for me to ignore.
Bryson DeChambeau: (6,900)
When comparing Vegas odds to the player pricing on DraftKings, DeChambeau stands out as a superb value. As of right now, he has 66/1 odds to win, which are the best odds for any player under $7,500 and under this week. (via Bovada) To put this into perspective, his 66/1 odds are the same as Thomas Pieters, who costs $8,300. DeChambeau is always a scary option, just because of his wild tendencies as a player and a person, but he has been much more composed and consistent recently, making his last four cuts, if you don’t count his withdrawal at The Valspar. (back) During this span, including his one round at The Valspar, his stats have been impressive, ranking 3rd in SGT2G, 10th in SGAPP, 19th in GIR%, 4th in ball striking, 17th in par four scoring, 1st in par five scoring, 7th in BOB%, 23rd in bogeys avoided, and 30th in SGP. (via Fantasy National)
He is coming off his best finish of the season, with a runner up finish at The Arnold Palmer Invitational last month. In this start, he was great with his irons, finishing T6 in GIR and he was even better on the par fives, leading the field at -12 on those holes. This will be his second time playing at Augusta National and in his first attempt, he handled the course and pressure very well, finishing at T21st in 2016. His game is at much higher level right now and he has awesome upside considering his price. A top 20 isn’t out of the question and I think DeChambeau is one of the best overall values for this year’s Masters.
Alexander Noren – He has yet to miss a cut this season and he has finished top 20 or better in six of his nine events. He missed the cut in his first time here last season, but I am willing to forget this, with him just being downright underpriced for the way he is playing and being the 14th ranked player in the world.
Brendan Steele – He has made ten straight cuts, dating back to last season. His major history isn’t the best, but he is 1/2 at The Masters, with a solid T27th last season. His missed cut here came all the way back in 2012. He is a completely different player now.
Matt Kuchar – 10/11 and hasn’t missed a cut this season. He is currently T11 at The Houston Open heading into Saturday, but he could end being chalky.
Adam Hadwin – He’s been outstanding, posting three straight top 15s. He ranks 6th in SGT2G and first in SG APP in his last two starts. Last season was his first crack at Augusta National and he finished with a T36.
Russell Henley – 3/4 here, making the cut the last three seasons.
Zach Johnson – He should be lower owned, with him missing the cut three of the last four seasons, but don’t forget that ZJ has a green jacket in his closet. Given he won it in a year that was very different due to the bad weather, but he really has been so good this season, not missing a cut and finishing in the top 30 in seven of his eight starts.