Masters 2019: Who will emerge from this crowded leader board on Day 3? Bold predictions and expert picks from our handicappers
Kevin C. Cox
It's tough to imagine a more exciting major-championship Friday than the one we just watched. Tiger Woods thrilled us with long-range birdies and played his final 10 holes in 5-under par to move within one shot of the lead. Ahead of him is a pack of five major champions (Francesco Molinari, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen) and tied with Tiger is Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele. What a weekend it's setting up to be.
For fans, it's a great leader board. For anyone looking to profit on the weekend's events, how do you decipher a leader board that's so loaded? Is there value to be found with the elite talent around the lead? Or is it simply too tough to call a field with such extreme talent at the top? Nonsense, our experts say, there's always a chance to pick on oddsmakers for soft lines. So whether you're looking at the outright betting market, or playing in one of DraftKings' daily showdown tournaments, which allows you to redraft a lineup for a single-day competition, we have you covered.
Following each round this week, we'll be providing our favorite bets of the day from our expert panel—which will include a rotating collection of our weekly panel, including a current, anonymous PGA Tour caddie, thanks to our partnership with The Caddie Network; 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year Pat Mayo; DFS guru and DraftKings contributor Reid Fowler; Columbia University senior lecturer and Ph.D. Lou Riccio, who has used predictive analysis and modeling to forecast winners in golf for decades; and picks from Golf Digest's editors, as well as a selection of picks from The Action Network's staff of experts.
If you tailed along our picks yesterday, you would've found Reid Fowler's call on Francesco Molinari at 25-1 last night on the live outright market. That'd be nice to have! Here's who our experts like tonight:
Round 3 Match-Up: Brooks Koepka (-105) over Adam Scott (Sportsbook)
Adam Scott has looked great through two rounds at Augusta National, and he's proven he can win here. But in Brooks Koepka, you're getting the winner of three of the past six majors at nearly even odds. My odds give Koepka about a +0.7 stroke advantage for the third round, enough to convince me to take this. Koepka's putter has been lights-out in all his major wins, and he had 30 putts on Friday—to go along with a bad double bogey at the par-5 second hole. Clean those areas up, and Koepka would be a favorite in the -130 to -140 range. We like Koepka here. --Dr. Lou Riccio, Ph.D., Columbia University lecturer
Winner: Dustin Johnson (8-1, one stroke behind the lead, Bodog)
I invested my money in Dustin Johnson before the tourney, and even with the cluster of talent all over the leaderboard, I’m still riding DJ. Mainly, because he hasn’t truly played that well to this point. I know that seems counterintuitive, however, he’s only a stroke back with his B- game. The same can be said for Jon Rahm as well, by the way. Outside of a chip-in for birdie on 13 after finding the water, Dustin has consistently just two-putting for pars, yet remains in the final wave for Saturday. There’s been no ridiculous luck streaks in his Masters to this point, which isn’t to say one is coming, but with a bit of luck, even over a nine hole stretch, and he’s way out ahead. Additionally, with the weather looking pretty gusty for the final round, assuming it doesn’t get pushed to Monday, DJ has experienced the most success in damaging conditions of all the leaders. Vintage Tiger was better, and maybe he can channel that, and Molinari is quite good in trash conditions, but they don’t possess the length to reduce some of the difficulty should they veer into the wilderness. If you want a long shot, Gary Woodland is at 3-under and spent his entire round missing short putts. If he can get hot for a day with the putter, he’s apt to have a third round resembling Xander’s on Friday, and he’s currently 100/1. If he can get back into the mix, that number can provide quality hedge equity should he lurk the leaderboard into Sunday. --Pat Mayo, DraftKings contributor and 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year
Winner: Louis Oosthuizen (12-1, tied for the lead, Sportsbook)
In Oosthuizen, you're getting a major champion (St. Andrews) who very nearly won the 2012 Masters (lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson), and you're getting nearly double the odds of others with whom he's tied with at the top of this leader board. My model shows Oosthuizen's odds should be 10.5-to-1, so you're getting slight value here. --Dr. Lou Riccio, Ph.D., Columbia University lecturer
Third-Round Leader: Justin Harding, Round 3 Leader (+3000)
Look, you wanna win even-money or you wanna make some real cash? The least known name on the leaderboard predictably owns the most value -- but this is a great number. (One book had a tremendous number posted last night at 300-1, but that's since been taken down.) Harding, who’s won five times globally in the past year alone, stands at 6-under entering the third round, just one stroke behind a fivesome of leaders. I can understand his price being higher than any of his big-name fellow contenders, but 33-1 seems awfully excessive. Even better: He’s not paired with Tiger or DJ or any other potential intimidator; for as talented as Xander Schauffele is, I don’t think his presence will make Harding too nervous at all. And another thing: If there’s a split at the top, Harding will simply chop the bet. Hell, there could be 10 guys tied for the lead; if he’s one of ‘em, that’s still a 3-1 payout. -- Jason Sobel, Action Network Senior Golf Writer (Click here for The Action Network's favorite bets for Saturday.)
Third-Round Matchup: Matt Kuchar (even) over Phil Mickelson (Sportsbook)
It's tough to fade Phil Mickelson at Augusta National, where he has had so much success in his career. But so has Kuchar. Kuchar's three-under 69 was rather routine, whereas Phil's one-over 73 was an adventure. We saw a bunch of wild tee shots from Phil on Friday, whereas Thursday he was more accurate. I'll take the more consistent Kuchar at even odds here. --Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest associate editor
Winner: Jon Rahm (17-1, currently two back, FanDuel Sportsbook)
Jon Rahm’s two-under 70 was not a pretty round on Friday, far from it. And yet, it was bogey-free and it kept him firmly in contention at five under. How he is still +1400 to win this thing is mind-bottling. Talk about VALUE. Rahmbo grinded his face off all day, making 15 straight pars to close out his round after back-to-back birdies at the second and third holes. And these weren’t easy two-putts, he was making all-world saves from off the planet on some occasions. He got through his shaky day, kept his emotions (somewhat) in check and has positioned himself to make a move on Saturday. Love the Spaniard at his identical pre-tournament odds here. --Christopher Powers, assistant editor
Winner: Bryson DeChambeau (55-1, currently four back, DraftKings Sportsbook)
This might be a surprising pick to some. Sure, the 18-hole co-leader didn't play great today, stumbling to a 75. But Bryson's only four shots back of the lead, and he has the firepower to make up ground in a hurry. With 36 holes left, two rounds in the 60s could put him back up top. 55-1 seems like ridiculously high odds for someone who was around 30-1 pre-tournament. This is a pure value play that anybody should consider before Day 3. --Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest associate editor
Winner: Gary Woodland (100-1, currently four back, DraftKings Sportsbook)
This is a longer shot, so buyer beware. Woodland’s ball striking was fantastic on Friday, but couldn’t cash in on more than a few birdie opportunities leading to a pedestrian one-under 71 on Friday. If he keeps up his ball striking and makes a couple more putts over the weekend, he should have a chance to contend. Over his past six weekends dating back to the 2018 PGA Championship, Woodland is top-five in strokes gained tee-to-green, eighth in birdie or better gained, and is averaging a weekend score of 68.6 so far this season. --Reid Fowler, DraftKings contributor and DFS expert
DratfKings Weekend Showdown Picks:
Justin Thomas ($9,100) -- The weekend showdown gives you a chance at redemption if you rostered Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia or Paul Casey, who all missed the cut and held double-digit ownership in the ‘milli-maker’ contest. Consider rostering Justin Thomas this weekend. He fired off a four-under 68 with three birdies and an eagle on Friday. Thomas is still in the mix, and I’m buying what he said pre-tournament about his mind-set and being more aggressive this week, as opposed to his previous Augusta appearances. He’ll be leaderboard watching and needs to make a charge (again) on Saturday. Thomas ranks top-five in strokes gained tee-to-green, top-10 in DraftKings scoring, and is third in birdie or better gained over his last six weekends in tournament play. --Reid Fowler, DraftKings contributor and DFS expert
Xander Schauffele ($8,100) -- We saw Xander Schuaffele heat up at the end of his second round on Friday, and I'd expect him to continue to fire at pins tomorrow. The 25-year-old might not have the major experience of other players on the leader board. But there are few players who are more fearless. Xander has the firepower to continue making birdies at Augusta on the weekend, so he's someone I'd target in my lineup, particularly at his price. --Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest associate editor
Patrick Reed ($6,900) -- At an extreme discount, you have the reigning Masters champion who is sneakily under par after two rounds. Compared to others in this price point, we know Reed has all the shots at Augusta—it's just a matter of his swing clinking. It appears like he's as close as he has been to figuring it out in months, in some comfortable confines. --SH
Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($6,600) -- Rafa is a really cheap option who could climb up the leaderboard on Saturday. RCB ranks number two in birdies or better gained, but needs to hit his irons and get up-and-down with more efficiency, as he's ranked average in approach and close to dead last in strokes gained/around-the-green over his last six weekends in tournament play. --RF
Here are all the outright odds to win before Day 3:
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