Tournament Overview

MASTERS week is here! The most highly anticipated PGA Tour Event of the year is finally here and it has the potential to be an all time great Tournament. All of the world’s top golfers have shown some great form lately and….TIGER IS BACK.

The first Major of the year kicks off in Augusta, GA at the historic Augusta National Golf Club. Unlike the three other majors, The Masters is an invitational event, so the field is much smaller. This year there will be 87 players in the field and the top-50 after Friday’s round will make the cut. Last year’s champion at -9, Sergio Garcia, defeated Justin Rose in a playoff to claim the first Major Victory of his decorated career.

Experience plays a key role in success at the Masters as there have only been 3 first time winners ever. Players will often reference needing to have a good “feel” for the course and that is something that can only be acquired through experience. This is also the strongest field of golfers the PGA Tour will see all year, so the competition is stiff to say the least.

Course Breakdown

Augusta National, the iconic home to The Masters, is a 7,435 yard par 72 with four par 3’s and four par 5’s. The fairways are wide and play fast as a result of the natural slope that Augusta is built on. Despite their width, the fairways are lined with an abundance of pine trees and many strategically placed bunkers result in demanding shots off the tee.

The bentgrass greens are larger than average and play very fast, averaging 13+ on the stimp. Despite the overall size of the greens, they have dramatic slopes and contours that require players to key in on a much smaller target. Having experience at this course is crucial on the approach because being on the wrong side of the pin can lead to an abundance of bogeys. The greens are also known to be difficult to read and require players to tap into their previous knowledge in order to have a good feel for where the ball will go.

Most of the scoring will come on the Par 5’s and length off the tee can be advantageous to players here. Historically the course plays very difficult relative to average, so limiting mistakes on the par 4’s often leads to the most success. The emphasis on experience at Augusta can not be understated.

 

Key Stats

Augusta National does not release their strokes gained statistics, which makes identifying key stats a bit more difficult this week. However there are some common themes that have been identified throughout the years that help when building a model.

As I alluded to above, this is a long course and most of the scoring comes on the Par 5’s. With that being said, it is crucial that players avoid any major mishaps on the par 4’s because the winning score is typically in the high single digits under par.

I have played around with a few different models this week, and have settled in on the one below. I will be looking at this model from many different lengths of time and looking for overlap on players. I will also be weighing course history much higher than I normally would, due to the nature of Augusta.

Much like how the course plays, building lineups and identifying good plays will require more “feel” this week than any other week of the season. This is the strongest field in golf, so the margin between players is much smaller. I will talk more about strategy for the week below, but game theory will outweigh statistics for me this week.

Key Stats:

  • Strokes Gained Ball Striking
  • Strokes Gained Approach
  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Driving Distance
  • Strokes Gained Par 5

Also Considering / Analyzing

  • Strokes Gained Par 4
  • Greens in Regulation
  • Strokes Gained Around the Green

 

 

Fantasy Strategy

There are a couple things that are unique about The Masters, the first of which is that there are only 87 players in the field. The top 50 after Friday’s round will make the cut and play the weekend. This puts the made-cut percentage at just under 60%, which is more than 10% higher than a standard stroke play event. You will absolutely need 6/6 make the cut and most likely you will need multiple guys near the top of the leaderboard to have any chance of taking down a GPP.

You will notice that the DK pricing for this week is very soft, meaning you can make lineups that are completely loaded with talent very easily. That has something to do with the field being so strong and the odds to win be relatively close for a lot for players. It also has something to do with Draftkings enticing people to play more volume. There are a lot of casual golf fans who will fire some lineups for the first time this week because this is the first tournament they will be paying any attention. The GPP’s this week also have a lot larger fields than they would for standard tournaments, so there will be a lot more lineups to compete against.

If you are playing large field GPP’s, you will want to make sure you take the necessary steps to differentiating your lineups. As I mention every week, the easiest way to do so, is to leave some salary on the table. I normally leave anywhere from $100-$500 on the board. The more you leave off the less likely you are to have your lineup duplicated, but you want to make sure you still have a lot of upside with your player selections.

Also, be sure to monitor and utilize ownership projections throughout the week as this may be the single most important thing you can do to gain an edge. With a field this loaded, the margin of skill between payers is much thinner, so going with a lower owned play can lead to much higher upside lineups.

If you are looking for a good indicator of ownership, I like to use Fanshare Sports. Each week they review all the related DFS content they can find and count the number of times a player is mentioned. This is listed as a “tag”. These tags are continuously updated throughout the week and then they release ownership projections on Wednesday nights. This is a really quick and easy way to get a feeling for ownership and popular roster construction for any given week. Finding leverage or pivot plays is crucial for GPP success and the best way to do so is by analyzing accurate ownership projections.

They have a really good promotion going on right now for a free month of their “Pro” membership, sign up through the link below. If you have any questions on how to use the site, feel free to message me on twitter.

Link for free month can be found here

 

Picks

*Disclaimer – these are done early in week and may be subject to change as ownership projections evolve*

$10k+

Dustin Johnson ($11,400) – There is not much that needs to be said here about DJ’s skill and fit. He is one of the top players in the world and an absolute bomber. His game sets up perfect for Augusta. I have a feeling that he may be lower owned than he should be because he is the highest priced golfer and he has not won anything super recently. I love him as a pivot play in this range.

Justin Thomas ($10,800) – JT has been on a tear for the last 18 months and he is definitely one of the best players in the game. Like DJ, he is a bomber and his short game has been very good lately as well. He may be a little bit on the riskier side in this top range, but I fully anticipate seeing his best stuff this week. I am not expecting him to be low owned, but after Jordan Spieth’s good showing at The Houston Open and his track record at Augusta, I expect a lot of ownership to go that way.

$9k

Jon Rahm ($9,300) – Rahm is a world-class golfer with all the skills to win anywhere on tour. I think he is bound to win his first major soon and I could very well see it happening here. Similar to my thoughts on DJ, I think Rahm could go a little under-owned relative to his skill set. You can easily make a case for every player $9k+ to win, so I will be using ownership to make some decisions here for the most part.

Justin Rose ($9,200) – Rose seems to be everyone’s favorite to win The Masters and rightfully so. He has an incredible track record at this tournament and he has been in great form this year as well. I expect him to be 25%+ owned this week and I plan to eat some of that chalk and differentiate elsewhere. He is as consistent as it gets and probably $1,000 too cheap.

$8k

Hideki Matsuyama ($8,400) – Since being cut in 2014, Hideki’s worst finish at Augusta came last year with a T11. He plays this place well every single year and absolutely has the upside to win. It should be noted, he did suffer a wrist injury earlier this year, but he came back for API and showed no signs of any discomfort. He may be a bit on the riskier side since we have not seen great form lately, but he will be a risk I am willing to take, especially if it looks like he will be lower owned.

Alexander Noren ($8,100) – Noren is second in total strokes gained over the last 24 rounds and he has a couple near wins already this year. His recent form and skillset lead me to believe he can be in contention on Sunday. He rates out very well in my model and the thing I like the most is his ability to avoid the costly mistake. The main knock on Noren is his limited experience at Augusta, but I think he has turned a corner this year and I will lean on that.

$7k

Henrik Stenson ($7,800) – Stenson is a tough guy to figure out for this week. If you consider his pedigree combined with his recent form, he is coming in at a significant discount this week. However, if you look at his history at the Masters you will see a different story, with not one top-10 finish in the last 5 years. He does not need to win to pay off this price tag, but he provides that upside and that is exactly the profile you need to target this week. Polarizing play and I understand the fade, but I will be playing him.

Adam Hadwin ($7,200) – Not an overly exciting play here, but I think Hadwin is somewhat safe this week. He has been rating out very well in multiple different models that I have run and he made the cut here last year. I do not have enough conviction to go all in on a chalky Hadwin, but if his ownership stays reasonable I will have some shares.

$6k

Kevin Chappell ($6,900) – I think Chappell’s game sets up very well for Augusta and this is backed up by his T7 finish last year. He is a great ball striker and has plenty of length off the tee, both of which are very valuable at Augusta. Although he struggles on the greens, I do not think putting is nearly as important as you might hear. Chappell has already shown his Top-10 upside and at this price, that is more than you will need.

Brendan Steele ($6,900) – Steele has been rating out very well in multiple models this week. Similar to Chappell is he a good ball striker and has plenty of distance off the tee. He finished T27 last year, and i believe he has top-10 upside. I think he is another relatively safe option below $7k if you need some salary relief.

 

Final Thoughts

This is one of, if not the best week of the year to watch the PGA Tour and play fantasy golf. With all the top dogs playing well, this is shaping up to be an all time great Masters. I cannot wait to watch all weekend long and hopefully have a good DFS sweat as well.

I went a bit more in depth on the strategy for this week above, so be sure to consider what I outlined. I will be firing a bit more than I usually do in my hopeless pursuit of taking down the milli-maker. If I don’t take it down, I hope one of you do!

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @thetipsandyips & @TheGolfFamily. Hope you all have a good week and win some $$$. Good luck and feel free to share your results!

Thanks for reading!

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