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DraftKings PGA: Masters Tournament

Len Hochberg

Hochberg covers golf for RotoWire. A veteran sports journalist, he contributes to Sports on Earth and was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years.


THE MASTERS

Purse: $10M
Winner's Share: $1.8M
FedEx Cup Points: 600 to the Winner
Location: Augusta, Ga.
Course: Augusta National Golf Club
Yardage: 7,435
Par: 72
2016 champion: Danny Willett

Tournament Preview

Well, here we go. The 81st Masters. The most anticipated week in golf. It should be noted right off the bat that fierce weather could have a big impact on the tournament and, thus, lineup selection. But it's also imperative to note that this Masters will begin with a somber moment on the first tee Thursday morning, when Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will hit ceremonial first tee shots and Arnold Palmer won't. This is the first Masters since the four-time champion passed away in September, and technically the first Masters ever without Palmer, who was born in 1929 before the tournament debuted in 1933. Four-time champion Tiger Woods will be on hand, but only for the Champion's Dinner as he misses the tournament for the third time in four years.

Now, on to who will be playing. The field is set at 94 this year, and any golfer priced $6,400 or less will not be recommended, eliminating from consideration 17 players who have almost no chance to even make the cut. When the bottom of the pool is this poor, it's hard to roster top-priced guys and still stay within the confines of the $50,000 salary cap. Jordan Spieth is $11,500, Dustin Johnson is $11,300, Rory McIlroy is $10,600 and Jason Day is $10,200. Johnson has won three straight events to wrest control of the No. 1 ranking, and the only reason Spieth costs more than him is because the Masters prices came out before Johnson's last win at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Any of the top three most expensive players could be the most-owned, and Day will likely be an afterthought for most gamers given the season he is having.

No rookie has won the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, but don't be misled. It's not uncommon for first-timers to have great weeks. Just last year, Daniel Berger tied for 10th and Emiliano Grillo and Rafael Cabrera-Bello tied for 17th, so we won't discount rookies because they're green. We will, however, eliminate golfers playing poorly coming in – it's almost impossible to find your game at Augusta, the third toughest track on Tour last season. The course is long, but with minimal rough it's at first difficult to see what makes it so hard. Course management is hard to learn here, even for veterans. Reaching the green in regulation is paramount, as the greens feature run-offs into collection areas -- at least when balls don't run off into water. That brings scrambling into play and, as always, putting – more in the Champion's Profile below. One thing no statistical data can measure is the pressure a golfer feels at the Masters.

Now for the weather, and there's a lot going on. There is a 100 percent chance of thunderstorms for Wednesday, softening AGNC and potentially lengthening a course that already plays longer than its listed yardage. This figures to cost golfers more practice time -- rain already limited Monday's course time -- and could perhaps even force the cancellation of the Par-3 Contest. Rookies and others with minimal Augusta experience will miss valuable prep time. You want more weather? You got it. Strong, gusty winds out of the north are forecast for the first two days, meaning this Masters will almost be like two tournaments, where one set of skills (think: ball striking) will be paramount to make the cut before "regular" conditions are expected on the weekend. One more cheery thought for the golfers: The wind will make the hardest hole on the course, and second hardest on the entire PGA Tour last year, even harder. Part of Amen Corner, the 505-yard, par-4 11th known as White Dogwood played more than a half-shot over par in benign 2016 conditions.


Key Stats to Winning at Augusta (in order of importance)

• Scrambling
• Greens in regulation
• Putting average/strokes gained putting
• Ball striking (especially first two days)


Past Champions

2016 - Danny Willett
2015 – Jordan Spieth
2014 – Bubba Watson
2013 – Adam Scott
2012 – Bubba Watson
2011 – Charl Schwartzel
2010 – Phil Mickelson
2009 – Angel Cabrera
2008 – Trevor Immelman
2007 – Zach Johnson

Champion's Profile

If the wind is what forecasters think it will be, some potential champions are bound to not even get a weekend chance; they will miss the cut. Last year, Danny Willett sure was a surprise victor, but a look at his stats shows he did just what he had to do to win: sixth in GIR, 1st in scrambling, 13th in putting average. Since Phil Mickelson's third Masters triumph in 2010, every winner but one has finished top-6 in GIR, every winner but one has been top-10 in scrambling, every winner but one has been top-15 in putting average. Even poor putter Bubba Watson had success on the greens, finishing 11th in PA during his first Masters win, 12th in his second. The wind will hurt strong ball strikers the least (ball striking is the combination of total driving and greens in regulation). GIR numbers certainly will take a hit in the first two rounds, putting even greater emphasis on scrambling.


DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

Tier 1 Values

Jordan Spieth - $11,500 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 7-1)

Spieth isn't the favorite and he shouldn't be the top guy on the DraftKings board. Dustin Johnson is and should be. On the other hand, someone with a win and two runners-up in three trips down Magnolia Lane surely knows what he's doing. Spieth is third on Tour in GIR and sixth in PA. Spieth surely isn't playing as well as Dustin Johnson, but if there ever was a horse for this course, it's him. Would it surprise anyone if Spieth wins another green jacket?

Dustin Johnson - $11,300 (6-1)

Johnson is going for four wins in a row, and the first three have come in top-flight fields (Riviera and two WGCs). It's not like we need to say anything else, but how about this: Johnson is first on Tour in GIR, 10th in ball striking, 21st in scrambling, and even 29th in SG:P. He finished fourth last year, sixth the year before, and he's significantly better now. would it surprise anyone if he wins his first green jacket?

Hideki Matsuyama - $9,900 (20-1)

Matsuyama has hit some speed bumps his last few starts, but he was T7 last year at Augusta, solo fifth the year before. A great ball striker (ranked 15th), Matsuyama is 28th in GIR and 20th in scrambling. He has managed to contend at the Masters without being a great putter, though he's improved this year.

Rickie Fowler - $9,300 (20-1)

With almost 20 percent of the field personas non grata we're avoiding the cheapest guys, which means it will be hard to field a lineup with the most expensive guys. Fowler and even Matsuyama look very enticing. Fowler missed the cut last year, but was not playing well at the time. He was T12 and T5 the two years before that, and now, Fowler is playing his best golf in a couple years. He's third in scrambling, sixth in ball striking, T9 in SG:P, and 20th in GIR.


Tier 2 Values

Justin Rose - $9,200 (20-1)

Rose may have the best Masters track record of anyone who's never won it: six top-15s through the years, including runner-up to Spieth in 2015. The Englishman has good-but-not-great numbers: 53rd in ball striking, 55th in GIR, 59th in PA, 64th in scrambling. Still, that takes a backseat to his course history.

Phil Mickelson - $8,700 (20-1)

Wild Phil Mickelson playing in wild wind; what could possibly go wrong? Answer: a lot. Mickelson remarkably is toward the very bottom of the ball-striking and GIR lists -- in the 190s, and there are only 213 guys to consider -- but Mickelson is playing decently and knows the course better than anyone. He is third on Tour in putting average, superb for anyone, much less a 46-year-old. The only concern is whether he will be able to showcase it on the weekend.

Louis Oosthuizen - $8,100 (50-1)

Oosthuizen famously finished second to Bubba Watson in 2012. He also has top-25s the past three years, with last year’s T15 being his best result in that span. The South African is 28th in ball striking, 55th in GIR. He's also 47th in scrambling. Intangibly, there is just a sense that Oosthuizen knows what he's doing at Augusta National.

Paul Casey - $7,800 (40-1)

Casey was T4 last year, T6 the year before. His odds suggest his DraftKings price is too low, so we'll take it. Casey is a sterling seventh on Tour in scrambling, which explains his success at the Masters. He's also 21st in ball striking and 34th in GIR.


Tier 3 Values

Daniel Berger - $7,300 (60-1)

Berger did not play like a Masters rookie last year, tying for 10th in his debut. He's 16th in scrambling, 19th in SG:P, 59th in ball striking and is coming off a solo fifth at last week's Augusta dress rehearsal at the Shell Houston Open.

Shane Lowry - $7,300 (125-1)

Lowry is a premier ball striker (fifth in GIR, 15th in total driving), which could serve him well in all the bad weather. This is his third go-round at Augusta, missing the cut in 2015 but improving to T39 a year ago. Lowry also was in the thick of things at last year's U.S. Open and, while he came up short, it's an experience he could fall back on this week.

Bill Haas - $7,200 (80-1)

Hass has never missed a Masters cut, 7-for-7, including top-25s the past four years. He is the No. 1 scrambler on Tour this season, plus he's 19th in GIR.

Russell Henley - $7,200 (80-1)
Henley was the last man into the field and has a game well-suited for Augusta. He's sixth in SG:P, eighth in ball striking, 16th in GIR. This will be his fourth Masters, and he's improved every time, from MC in 2013 to T31 in 2014 to T21 in 2015.


Long-Shot Values

Marc Leishman - $7,100 (60-1)

Leishman has been a mixed bag here through the years, and actually more bad than good. He tied for fourth in 2013 but otherwise has three missed cuts, including last year. However, the big Aussie is playing perhaps his best golf ever, winning at Bay Hill last month and then making the Round of 16 at the Match Play. He has a terrific short game: third in SG:P and 14th in scrambling. He's a so-so 69th in ball striking.

Jason Dufner - $7,100 (125-1)

Dufner is a terrific scrambler (15th), he's putting quite well (25th in PA) and he stands a decent 86th in GIR. Factor in driving, and he's 54th in ball striking. Dufner missed the cut two of the past three years, but he's a better golfer now. He notched top-25s in 2012 and '13.

Kevin Kisner - $6,900 (100-1)

Kisner has gotten his game back on track this season, tying for second at Bay Hill a few weeks back. He performed admirably in his debut Masters last year with a T37 result. Kisner is 38th in scrambling, T46 in SG:P. He's only 90th in GIR, but his driving brings his ball striking to T60.

Adam Hadwin - $6,900 (80-1)

Fresh off getting married, Hadwin returns to golf. While he has never played the Masters before, he's well equipped to succeed even as a rookie. Hadwin is second in scrambling, fifth in PA, seventh in SG:P and T44 in GIR. He notched his maiden PGA Tour win a month ago and followed it up a week later with a T6. He's far and away the top option among the sub-$7,000 golfers.

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