The time has finally come. Alex here, and I am back with my DraftKings PGA Sleeper Picks for the first major of the season, The Masters. Before we dive into my Masters picks, I want to quickly recap my sleepers from last week at The Shell Houston Open. Ollie Schniderjans struggled and let me down by missing the cut, but Jhonattan Vegas and Jason Dufner were great finishing T15 and T12 respectively. Now onto Augusta. My favorite major of the golf season takes place at the darling of all golf courses, Augusta National, which is a par 72 that is 7,435 yards long. Danny Willet is the defending champ, finishing at -5, edging out Jordan Speith and Lee Westwood by three strokes. The -5 winning score was mostly a result of the very high winds that effected this course last season. With just a little rain possible Thursday and Friday this year and wind not looking like a huge factor at the moment, I would expect the winning score to be somewhere between -10 and -15 this time around.
Bombers can always have an advantage here especially if the course ends up being a little damp. Now that doesn’t mean shorter hitters can’t do well here, I just think added distance of the tee will be a boost for any player competing this week. How these players do off the tee is obviously crucial, but the most important thing here at Augusta, is sticking as many of these greens as possible. Just look at the last five winners, who have all ranked inside the top six in greens hit for the tournament, with average greens in regulation percentage of 71.2%. As in any golf event, putting will be important, but these bentgrass are so fast and difficult that I think it kind of levels the whole field out. We should still target players who can putt well, but an average putter can win this event, as we have seen with players like Bubba Watson and Adam Scott over the last five years. As I said above, I think we will see lower scores this year, so players who rank well in birdie or better percentage and bogey avoidance seem like the preferred options. The holes these players will do most of their scoring on is the four par fives here at Augusta. Last year was a rare case with Willet finishing at even par overall on the par fives that week. The four previous Masters winners, shot an average of 8.25 strokes under par on these four par fives.
So with all of this considered, the main stats I will be focusing on for this year’s Masters are, strokes gained tee to green, strokes gained approaching the green, greens in regulation percentage, strokes gained putting, par five scoring, birdie or better percentage, and bogey avoidance. Additionally, we also need to consider course history and overall pedigree when picking our players. It is a huge advantage to have played here at Augusta before, but I think there are a few first timers this year that can’t be ignored at their DraftKings salaries, specifically John Rahm, Tyrell Hatton, and Adam Hadwin. (below) Lastly with this being the smallest sized field of all the majors, with 94 golfers playing, there is a different type of cutline in effect, with the top 50 and ties making the cut and also any player that is within ten shots of the lead playing the weekend. So good luck everybody and if you want more picks for The Masters, check out Geoff’s DraftKings picks through this link and Keegan’s betting picks that will be posted soon. As always if any of these picks help you win or if you need any advice let me know on Twitter. @Hunta512.
If you want help with PGA research for DraftKings check out the best fantasy tools out there at FantasyLabs.com
Adam Hadwin: (6,900) Hadwin has been one of my go to guys all season and I am not going to let his lack of course history pull me off him now. It is scary to think about playing someone who has never competed here at Augusta, but Hadwin has just been too good this season to be priced at $6,900, no matter the strength of the field. Outside of the obvious names, Hadwin has been one of the better players on The Tour this season, sitting in 5th place in The FedEx Cup standings, making 10/11 cuts total, 7/7 in the new year, including a 2nd place finish at The Career Builder Challenge, a 6th at The Arnold Palmer Invitational, and an excellent win at The Valspar Championship.
His stats are also very impressive so far this season, ranking 34th in strokes gained tee to green, 27th in strokes gained approaching the green, 7th in strokes gained putting, 44th in GIR percentage (70.1%), 72nd in driving distance (293.6 yards), 34th in par five scoring, 18th in birdie or better percentage, and 1st in bogey avoidance. The #1 overall ranking in bogey avoidance is a huge stat for him this week at Augusta where just the smallest mistakes can cost a player their whole week. It’s hard to predict his ownership with him being an Augusta rookie, but right now Fantasy Labs currently has him projected for a decently low ownership level of 9-12%. I hope this ends up being true, because at only $6,900, Hadwin will be one of my most heavily owned players of the week.
Bill Haas: (7,200) Haas’s low projected ownership of 5-8% (via Fantasy Labs), is insane when factoring in his recent form and course history. He isn’t going to win, but there is no way he should be this low owned at his cheap price. This season he has yet to miss a cut, with seven top 25s, two top tens, and a 3rd place finish at last week’s WGC Dell Match Play in Austin. His history at Augusta is also is excellent, never missing the cut in six tries, with five finishes of T26 or better, and a T12 in 2015.
He isn’t the longest hitter ranking 133rd in driving distance at 287.2 yards, but his game is solid top to bottom, ranking 16th in strokes gained tee to green, 22nd in strokes gained approaching the green, 19th in GIR percentage (72.2%), 81st in strokes gained putting, 34th in par five scoring, and 50th in birdie or better percentage. Just like Hadwin, he also has been a player who has stayed out of trouble all year, ranking 2nd in bogey avoidance this season. He isn’t the sexiest play, but his chances of making the cut and finishing inside the top 25, make him one of the safest cheap plays on the board.
Russell Henley: (7,200) Henley is obviously a hot player right now just picking up a win last week at The Shell Houston Open, but he is still a player who is expected to go overlooked with his low projected ownership level of 5-8%. (via Fantasy Labs) This is most likely just because he was one of the late adds to DraftKings pricing, with him just receiving entry to The Masters with his win last week, but either way this is a great opportunity to attack a player who has nice upside at a cheaper salary. Even before his win last week, he was on a nice run, making 8/9 cuts, with six top 25s, and two top ten finishes.
His current stats also set up perfectly for Augusta, ranking 30th in strokes gained tee to green, 36th in strokes gained approaching the green, 6th in strokes gained putting, 16th in GIR percentage (72.49%), 36th in driving distance (299.9 yard), 26th in par five scoring, 16th in bridie or better percentage, and 17th in bogey avoidance. This is going to be Henley’s fourth time playing in The Masters, missing the cut back in his first full time season on The Tour in 2013, but making the cut in his last two appearances, including a T31 in 2014, and a T21 in 2015. He has improved every time he has played here and in this current form Henley has a great shot of posting his best Masters finish yet.
Also Consider: Tyrell Hatton, Kevin Kisner, Lee Westwood (He is an elite GPP play with the idea he will be lower owned after missing the cut last week), Jhonattan Vegas, Berhard Langer (call him too old, but Langer is still a quality player at his age, who just needs to make the cut at this price), Matt Kuchar, Mathew Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Ross Fisher, and Jason Dufner.