The big one on the golfing calender and a perfect time to get involved in DraftKings for the first time if you haven’t already. The $4m Fantasy Golf Millionaire event contest costs $20 to enter, but as the title suggests, the winner will take home $1m.
Don’t be too sad if you fail to win either, 2nd place gets $250,00, 3rd $100,000, 4th $60,000, 5th $40,000 etc, the payouts go on, you can even make $10 profit if you finish between 23603rd – 48733rd.
Onto the golf side of things and how you are going to contend for those top prizes. The same rules apply every week, 6 golfers, $50,000 salary cap and you need to find not only the winner of the Green Jacket but most probably two or three others that make up the top-10 also, due to the smaller field this week (field confirmed at 90).
Let’s look at the course details and key trends this week, in order to find the best suited players across the board.
The Course (Augusta National):
Hosted event since inception 1934
Ranked 14/52 for difficulty in 2015 (even with Spieth shooting -18!!)
Par 5 scoring – You have to take advantage of the longer holes here. Even Zach Johnson (who won at +1 in 2007) was -11 on the Par-5’s that week, and he is one of the shorter hitters on Tour, and is clearly a player that broke the trend of big hitters winning at Augusta. His 3-shot strategy on those holes that week won him the event. In more recent years Watson was -8 on the par-5’s in 14′ and Jordan Spieth was -12 last year.
Par 4 performance – The par-4’s are not generally scoring holes and as aforementioned, players need to take advantage on the par-5’s, because of this it may come down to damage limitation and I want to find the players who have been solid and avoiding bogeys on par-4s throughout the season.
Bogey Avoidance – See above.
Course experience – No player since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 has won this event on their first look. Even if a player missed the cut on their first look, they at least have now seen the course and I do not expect this trend to buckle this year. It is also worth noting that not one player making their Masters debut in 2015 finished inside the top-20 (Bernd Wiesberger highest placed at 22nd).
As stated earlier, to have any chance of winning that $1m top prize you need to make sure you hit with your Elite Pick ($10,000+) and that one guy you pick from that 8-man grouping needs to win the Green Jacket.
If you take two from the Elite group (not advised) you do not need to look at anyone in the High-End bracket ($8,000-$9,900) as you simply cannot afford them. You need to have players from the top in mind who you think will win and the build a team around one of them, in each of your line-ups. For example if you really like Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott this week, then have one team that features McIlroy and another that features Scott as your headline selection and then go from there.
The Mid-range ($6,800-$7,900) is so important this week, as you still need the picks in this range to be able to crack the top-10. There is still hope for those in the Good up-side bracket as well ($6,700 and below) as both Hunter Mahan ($6,700) and Charley Hoffman ($6,400) finished inside the top-10 last year, whilst Angel Cabrera (T22) Ernie Els (T22), Kevin Streelman (T12) and Mark O’Meara (T22) all finished inside the top-25 and are all available for $6,500 or less.
Now I am not saying roster these guys, Mark O’Meara is another year older and last year was the first time that he had even made the weekend, let alone got near the top-20 since 2005, but it shows it can happen.
Realistically you are going to need the winner, two or three in the top-10 and the others in the top-20/25. The winning line-up last year had – Jordan Spieth (132.5 points, 1st), Phil Mickleson (112.5 points, T2), Justin Rose (112.5 points, T2), Russell Henley (84 points, 21st), Charley Hoffman (83 points, T9), Kevin Na (80.5 points, T12).
Here are the leading players in each category, with my personal picks in bold.
Elite picks ($10,000 +):
Rory McIlroy ($12,500) – Not won State-side since May last year, which really isn’t that bad, but whilst Spieth and Jason Day have been winning around him, he has not been able to get over the line. Injury obviously dictated his season last year and he’s not out of form, but with question marks over his putting in particular I am not prepared to break the bank and put the most expensive player in the field in my line-up this week.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 scoring – T6, Par-4 performance – T12, Bogey Avoidance – T19
Jordan Spieth ($12,300) – It seems like an age ago since Spieth won and that’s because we became accustom to him doing it so often last year, however he doesn’t look at the top of his game at this moment in time. He just finished T13 at the Shell Houston Open after a disappointing final round, one that ended with a double-bogey. There are too many question marks for me at such a big price, and he is not in the same form he was this time last year.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 scoring – T55, Par-4 performance – T4, Bogey Avoidance – T53
Adam Scott ($11,900) – Adam Scott is the first of three players I am going to use as my first pick. Scott has been in tremendous form over the last 7 weeks, winning back-to-back at the Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac just a week after finishing 2nd at the Northern Trust Open. Even after his two wins, Scott still managed to finish 12th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He didn’t get it going at the match-play but I can overlook that for now. His last five starts at the Masters read 38-14-1-8-2, so he has a clear affinity with the course and as a previous winner of the Green Jacket he’ll come into this week full of confidence. As always it seems as though there are still question marks over the putter but his two recent wins must have put them at bay for the most part and he looks in good shape.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 scoring – 1st, Par-4 performance – T26, Bogey Avoidance – T10
Jason Day ($11,600) – The new favourite with the bookmakers this week and for good reason. Day has won on his last two starts, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC Match-Play. After taking this past week off, Day will hope to head into the week with a clean bill of health and capitalise on his great course history so far in order to claim his second major title. He withdrew in 2012, but apart from that he has finished 2nd, 3rd, 20th and 28th at Augusta National. He finished tied 2nd with Scott behind Schwartzel in 2011 and 3rd when his compatriot, Scott won in 2013 so the two seem to spur each other on and there’s no reason why these two Aussies can’t dominate at Augusta this year and maybe even go head-to-head down the stretch.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 scoring – T20, Par-4 performance – T31, Bogey Avoidance – T41
Bubba Watson ($11,400) – My favourite this week in betting and fantasy and I am all in on Bubba winning his third Green Jacket in five years. Watson struggled the year after his first Masters win back in 2012, finishing 50th in 13′ and then again finished 38th last year after winning in 14′ so his time has come back around to perform again. He finished 2nd at Doral in 12′ and 14′ before he won here, and he finished 2nd again this year, hopefully it’s a sign! With a win already under his belt this season, I feel like he’s very much in perfect shape to win again here and a lot of my hopes rest on his shoulders.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 scoring – T3, Par-4 performance – T19, Bogey Avoidance – 5th
Other players above $10,000: Rickie Fowler $10,900, Phil Mickelson, $10,500 and Dustin Johnson $10,200. I have placed these all in bold as you can actually include these alongside Day or Watson if you take a chance on some cheaper players, and they are all capable of winning or going close at their respective prices.
High-end picks ($8,000-$9,900):
Justin Rose ($9,900) – Rose can be your second pick in your team behind that top guy and you can still make a respectable team, he could also be viewed as a legitimate #1 pick in your team. If you take him first you leave yourself an average salary of $8,020 for your next six players, which would give you a team full of a very solid players who are all capable of posting a top-10. What you have got to decide is A) Can Rose win? and B) If you are unsure, can the others? If you believe he can, which I do, he is a great player to start with. You can pick four other players from this bracket and just one player at $6,500 or below in your team, which is a huge plus. Rose is heading to Augusta under the radar and as far as I can tell he is never a particularly popular pick on Draft Kings. Last year when Rose came 2nd (his 3rd top-10 in his last 8 starts at Augusta) he was owned by just 3.5% of players in the millionaire maker contest, a very low ownership.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 Scoring – T3, Par-4 performance – T54, Bogey Avoidance – T31
Henrik Stenson ($9,600) – Stenson has elevated his game again in recent years, although always a fine player he seemed to kick into another gear in order to win the FedEx Cup play-offs however I still don’t think he is going to win at Augusta. There are plenty others that I would take over him to win at Augusta, including many at a lower salary and as a result I have no interest in plugging him in my line-ups. He’s probably good for a top-20 finish and he can of course contend if everything goes his way but he seems too pricey from me, when realistically I don’t expect him to finish inside the top-5. At time of posting, Stenson just finished runner-up to first-time winner, Jim Herman at the Shell Houston Open, his 8th 2nd place finish worldwide since his last win in Dubai back in November 2014.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 scoring – T14, Par-4 performance – T31, Bogey Avoidance – T55
Charl Schwartzel ($9,400) – Schwartzel is a former winner of this event but I feel like that has inflated his price too much. He’s in good form this year however I am not convinced he is actually that suited to this event. He started the day four behind Rory McIlroy in the final round in 2011 however he chipped in at the first for birdie and then holed his second shot from the fairway for eagle on hole 2. This put him in for a tie for the lead with McIlroy until he bogeyed the 4th to fall one behind and he maintained the same score until the final four holes. He went on to birdie all of his remaining holes a feat unprecedented in the 75 year history of the event and he took advantage of Rory unravelling at the end. It feels a lot like he was just hot at the right time as his next-best finish is 25th. In his 6 starts here he has finished 1st, 25th, 30th, 38th and missed the cut, ignoring his win to a certain degree these are not the sort of results I want from a $9,400 player.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 scoring – T69, Par 4 performance – T31, Bogey Avoidance – 30th
Hideki Matsuyama ($9,100) – A winner already this season, as he held off Rickie Fowler in a play-off at the Phoenix Open on Super Bowl weekend, Matsuyama will be looking to build on his T5 finish last year and get into contention. Matsuyama has actually made four appearances here and his 5th placed finish last year is his sole top-20 at the course (next best 27th), however he was an improving player when he finished well here last season and after adding his 2nd PGA Tour title, the belief will be there more than ever before that he can get it done at a major championship. He has now finished T19 or better in all four majors, with top-10’s at Augusta, the Open Championship and the U.S Open, so he definitely has major pedigree and I think he is one of the better options in this range. A 1-2 start of Rose and Matsuyama in your line-up would leave you with an average of $7,750 left to play with four players to pick, so you can add some other real contenders this week, if you go with these two as your top guys.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 scoring – T31, Par-4 performance – 8th, Bogey Avoidance – T33
Louis Oosthuizen ($8,800) – Before this past week, Oosthuizen was looking like an automatic selection in terms of betting and fantasy but after finishing runner-up to Jason Day in the Match-Play it looks as though the amount of golf he played that weekend caught up with him. He shot +6 over the first two days at the Houston Open and may well have benefited from a rest as opposed to teeing it up again. Despite going close at this very course (lost in a play-off to Watson in 2012), like his compatriot, Schwartzel he has never been convincing here. In seven starts at Augusta he has missed four cuts and added finishes of 19th and 25th to his 2nd place finish. A lot with Oosthuizen depends on his health as he is well known to suffer with injuries on a regular basis and with him battling right the way to the final in the match-play and then playing two round in Houston I am slightly concerned he may have played a bit too much golf heading into the week. For me I would have been a lot happier if he took this past week off but he’s not one to rule out and I may still yet add him into a line-up or two, I am just not excited about him right now.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 scoring – T199, Par 4 performance – T116, Bogey Avoidance – 131st
Other players available in this range: Branden Grace ($8,600), Brandt Snedeker ($8,500), Sergio Garcia ($8,400), Patrick Reed ($8,300), Jimmy Walker ($8,200), Brooks Koepka ($8,100), Danny Willett ($8,000). I am happy to include all of these players in bold in different line-ups I believe these are all capable of at least making a top-10 and I also think most can win here too, a big plus at their respective prices. I backed Jimmy Walker last week at 100/1 to win here, and I really like him to go well and Patrick Reed must always be considered when 50/1 + for any event.
There are now too many players to select in both remaining categories (Mid-range $6,800-$7,900 and Good-upside $6,700 and below) so I will just highlight the players I am using from each.
Mid-range picks ($6,800-$7,900):
Zach Johnson ($7,600) – A previous winner of this event and now a two-time major winner after winning last year’s Open Championship at St. Andrews. He told everybody he couldn’t win at St.Andrews and then beats Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in a play-off to do just that. Augusta isn’t the ideal venue for him, due to his lack of length off the tee however when he won in 2007 the bad weather levelled the playing field and he won with a score of 289 (+1) the tied highest in Masters history. He was -11 on the par 5’s that week, playing them strategically as three-shotters and he knows how to play his way round this course. He finished 9th here last year and also has another top-20 but other than that it is a mixed bag of results for him here. This is why you can get him at $7,600 and with his great run at the match-play fresh in our minds as well as the 5th placed finish at Bay Hill, he certainly looks value to me here.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 scoring – T31, Par-4 performance – T54, Bogey Avoidance – T41
Bill Haas ($7,500) – Although he’s never placed in the top-10 at a major (a crazy stat for someone of his calibre), he looks a very solid pick to finish in the top-20 (has done so in his last three starts here) and he is only getting better here. He finished 26th here on debut in 2010 then finished 42nd in 2011 and 37th in 2012 however since then he has trended in the right direction. Haas finished 20th in both 13′ and 14′ and then finished 12th last year, his tied best finish in a major (also finished T12 at 2011 PGA Championship). In 2014 he was actually leading the Masters after round one, when he shot -4 however a +6 second round put to swords any chances of him winning that week, although he recovered well to secure that top-20. He’s had four top-10’s this season, including a runner-up finish at the Valspar and also made it into the knock-out stages of the match-play after a 3-0 start to the week.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 scoring – T69, Par-4 performance – T38, Bogey Avoidance – T10
Other than these a notable mention can go to Ian Poulter ($7,200) who does some good things at Augusta, with six top-20’s in last eight starts here (including three top-10’s) and he also finished 3rd in his last start in Puerto Rico. He is so inconsistent at the moment but he loves major championships especially the Masters and we all know he doesn’t exactly lack confidence, making him worth a second look.
Good-upside ($6,700 and below):
Bernd Wiesberger ($6,500) – The Austrian finished 22nd on debut here last year and certainly has the power off the tee to contend. He has just finished T27 at the Shell Houston Open, so he has found some form in America when it matters. He’s one of the better players when in-form on the European Tour and is not at all frightened to mix it with the best. He peformed admirably at the 2014 PGA Championship, trailing 54-hole leader and eventual winner McIlroy by one shot at the start of round 4 however a final day +3 round saw him slide down the leaderboard. This to me just proves he has the game to get in the mix and if he can improve on his 22nd place finish here last year he will be every bit worth that $6,500 price tag.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 Scoring – T190, Par-4 performance – T38, Bogey Avoidance – 65th
Charley Hoffman ($6,400) – Last year’s suprise package, Charley Hoffman strikes me as a bargain at $6,400. He has finished 9th and 27th here on two starts and has finished 33rd, 17th and 11th in his last three stroke-play events, so I feel like he is in good enough form to make another run here at Augusta National. He was solid for the first three days last year, sitting 2nd behind Spieth after 36 holes and 4th after 54 holes, hanging around long enough to make an impact on the event. His final round 74 was his only over-par round of the week but he would have taken great heart from that week and should be confident of another strong showing this week.
Ranking in key stats: Par-5 scoring – T134, Par-4 performance – T132, Bogey Avoidance – 149th
Other notables in this range: Chris Kirk ($6,700) – On two starts at Augusta, Kirk has finished 20th and 33rd which is solid enough and he looked in good form at the the Match-Play before being beaten by an in-form McIlroy. Up and down season so far, but may be worth plugging into a line-up or two at a cheap price. The other one I like at a bargain price is Smylie Kaufman ($6,000) – My obvious reservation is that this is his debut in this event but I like him to finish the week as Top Debutant and if he can finish inside the top-25 he’s worth the small outlay if you want to go top-heavy on your team and take a chance on some cheap alternatives.
It is important not to get too caught up in this stats listed as some of these players have made limited starts on Tour still this season, however they are a good guideline for some of the PGA Tour regulars. Course form cannot be ignored, so make sure you check your players’ history before slotting them into your line-up as you cannot afford and missed cuts this week.
That is all from me from a fantasy perspective but my betting preview will follow Monday evening as well and after writing this, I have well and truly got the Masters feeling! Good luck to you all next week!