Masters 2020 picks: The reasons why Rory McIlroy won’t win (again)
Millions, if not billions of dollars, will be at stake this week. We’re not just talking about the large Masters Tournament purse—consider all the Masters pools, fantasy entries and bets being wagered around the world. It’s a beautiful thing, plus, in the United States, all of this is legal now (if you’re wagering legally in one of the 19 states where state-sanctioned sports betting is currently operational, of course), so we can talk about it! We're here to give you the picks you need.
You need to be making informed decisions. There’s so much predictive data out there—ignoring it would be like neglecting to study before a big exam. Thankfully, we have the best group of experts in golf handicapping assembled to help deliver the answers for you. Consider this your best study guide before the test—available for free! This week, like every week, we have an anonymous PGA Tour caddie giving his picks; Pat Mayo of DraftKings and Mayo Media Network, who picked five winners in this column last season; Brandon Gdula of FanDuel/numberFire, who nailed six champions successfully; Rick Gehman, one of the best data scientists in golf and founder of RickRunGood.com, who contributes a weekly DFS picks column for Golf Digest; Lee Alldrick, of FanShareSports.com, who picked three winners last season and just went on a 7-for-7 matchup streak in this column; and us two jabronis—Powers picked Bryson DeChambeau to win the U.S. Open (28-1 odds), so we know a thing or two, too.
Take advantage of some of the opportunities out there to win a few bucks on the 2020 Masters. Having an added rooting interest in the major unlike any other just adds to the fun—especially when you win. Read on to see who we like this week at the Masters.
Masters 2020 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions (Odds from DraftKings)
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Bryson DeChambeau (7 ½-1) — Golf is a lot harder than just bombing it as far as you can. I’m still not convinced Bryson is one of the top-five players in the world with a wedge or an iron in his hand, which made me hesitate before locking this in. But I just think back to how he looked with those clubs at Winged Foot, and it’s hard to make a case against putting my money on this bulked-up beast.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Bubba Watson (33-1) — The two-time Masters champion enters with his best form in years—his best tee-to-green form in years, at least. Over the past three months Bubba is second in approach, sixth in driving and 16th around the greens. And we know the distance isn’t going to be an issue. All Bubba needs to do is putt fairly well. Please, Bubba. Statistically, he’s been Dustin Johnson without the putting as of late.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Brooks Koepka (17-1) — As someone who lets the data do the talking, I have to disregard the numbers a good bit when looking at Koepka, whose long-term form is not as appealing as the other golfers’ at the top. However, Koepka’s knee injury has bogged down his stats for a while, and he looks to be over that. Koepka ranks second in this field in strokes gained/approach over the past 24 rounds, via FantasyNational.com, which is crucial for success at Augusta. He is also 33rd in strokes gained/off the tee, but he made a mid-tournament swap to his old driver at the Houston Open. After that, his final two rounds of strokes gained/off the tee data would rival Bryson DeChambeau’s recent averages. That’s pretty wild. We know Koepka has the length, has the irons, and has the putting to make a statement this week.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Justin Thomas (13-1) — Victories by Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau have allowed Thomas to fly under the radar despite having a victory of his own at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Since that win, eight starts ago, he’s finished inside the top 5 on three separate occasions, including a T-2 in his last start at the Zozo Championship. We know that Thomas is elite with his irons, but most people don’t realize how good his short game is. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, Thomas leads this field in both strokes gained/approach and strokes gained/around the green since the restart in June.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Tyrrell Hatton (25-1) — I really love this pick. Hatton has been playing so well—winning three times in his past 16 starts, at big events (BMW PGA, Arnold Palmer, Turkish Airlines). It feels very similar to Danny Willett entering the ’16 Masters. Hatton is third in my FantasyNational.com model (behind JT and Rahm)—ranking first in Birdies or Better over the past 50 rounds, fifth in strokes gained/approach; fifth in good drives gained; sixth in three-putt avoidance; fourth in proximity from 200-plus yards. There is so much to like—I’m willing to overlook his historically awful numbers at Augusta (losing a combined 15.1 strokes in three appearances here).
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Patrick Cantlay (28-1) — To me, this is easily the best play of the guys at 30-1 or lower on the board. He just won the Zozo, finished eighth at the Shriners two weeks prior and seems to be very hungry for his first major. If you recall, Cantlay was at 12 under on the 16th tee at the 2019 Masters, needing just one birdie on his final three holes to force a playoff with Tiger Woods. He promptly went bogey-bogey, eventually tying for ninth. The game is good, the (limited) course history is good, and, perhaps most importantly, he’s in a very good place mentally entering the week. All signs point to Patrick for me this week.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Thomas (13-1) — JT’s performances at Augusta are trending in the right direction. He has improved every year and finished 12th last year. More improvement is expected this year judging by his incoming stats. Per Fantasy National, he ranks third in the field in strokes gained/tee-to-green over the past two months and second for Opportunities Gained. There is a case for a lot of the favorites, but I think the best one can be made for JT.
Results from last season: Golf Digest's betting panel is looking for back-to-back winning projections at the majors, with Christopher Powers nailing Bryson DeChambeau (28-1 at the U.S. Open). Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel correctly picked Patrick Cantlay at the Zozo Championship (30-1), giving our panel two outright winners this season, following up an unbelievably successful 2019-’20 season in which we predicted 14 winners. Collectively on outright winners, top-10 bets and matchups won and lost, our panel went up 225.30 units (the equivalent of being up $2,253 if you wagered $10 on all of our bets) last season. Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!
Rick Gehman joined the Golf Digest "Be Right" podcast to give his DFS and handicapping analysis and best bets for the 2020 Masters. Have a listen above—and be sure to subscribe to the "Be Right" podcasts wherever you get your podcasts!
Masters 2020 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (odds from DraftKings)
Caddie: JT Poston (250-1) — These odds just seem ridiculously high for someone playing as well as Poston. He’s also fourth in strokes gained/putting in this field and first in three-putt avoidance. He can hit his irons on a string, too, and he’s racking up some quietly strong finishes—a third at the Sanderson, a T-20 at the Houston, plus four straight made cuts. If this is a live ticket in your pocket on the weekend, you’ll be feeling amazing.
Mayo: Cameron Smith (90-1) — Nothing like a popular sleeper pick to lose all your money on! (See Sam Burns last week…) Fresh off a T-11 and T-4 in stacked fields of basically the same players at the CJ Cup and Zozo, Smith is one of the highest ball-flight players on the planet. If the conditions are as soggy as projected, the Aussie isn’t going to have an issue attacking these pins, and he won’t lose as much distance off the tee as usually with his elite hang time on drives. Notched a T-5 at Augusta two years ago too.
Gdula: Adam Scott (50-1) — Betting longshots for outrights at the Masters doesn't translate to the biggest ROI, but we have a solid number on Scott that balances value and actual win equity. The 2013 green jacket winner ranks 17th in strokes gained/approach over the past 50 rounds and is a neutral bentgrass putter with a long history of success at Augusta (five top-10s and 10 top-25s over 18 starts).
Gehman: Jason Kokrak (100-1) — Kokrak notched his first career victory at the CJ Cup a few weeks ago and followed it up with a solid T-17 at the Zozo the following week. Those two events are just the exclamation point on a great stretch of golf for Kokrak. He’s earned six top-20 finishes in his past seven starts. He’s one of the longer hitters on tour, which should come in handy this week.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Matthew Fitzpatrick (66-1) — The odds drift is real for Fitzpatrick, who was as high as 35- to 40-1 at the PGA. This is such a bettable number. Fitz is first in good drives gained and strokes gained/putting over his past 50 rounds, sixth in greens in regulation gained and 12th in strokes gained on par 5s. It’s all about avoiding the big numbers for him. He rates out eighth in my model, so there’s serious value with the talented Englishman.
Powers, Golf Digest: Paul Casey (80-1) — There are a number of longshots I love this week (Louis Oosthuizen at 60-1, Lee Westwood at 100-1, Matt Wallace at 200-1, to name a few), but ultimately I landed on Casey as my favorite longshot. The Englishman has been quiet since his runner-up at the PGA Championship, failing to post a top 10 in his next seven starts. But he did tie for 17th at Winged Foot, marking his 10th top 20 in a major since the 2015 Masters. In 13 starts at Augusta, Casey has five top 10s, three of those coming inside the top six. This year, he ranks fourth in strokes gained/tee-to-green in the majors, trailing only Matthew Wolff, Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau. At 43 years old, Casey only has so many more chances to capitalize on good form and pick off the elusive first career major. Let’s hope he does so this week, so some of us can capitalize on this 80-1 number.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Sungjae Im (100-1) — Im disappointed last week, but his game is so well suited to Augusta that he is worth backing again this week. He ranks in the top 10 in the field for both strokes gained/tee to green and Opportunities Gained over the past two months, per FantasyNational.com
Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Phil Mickelson (100-1) — This is just for all my old-school readers out here, who might see this number, remember he won on the PGA Tour Champions, and be enticed by the number. Don’t be. I’d vow never to caddie again if Phil wins … that’s how confident I am.
Mayo: Rory McIlroy (14-1) — Just look at all the favorites and their numbers and results since the restart. One of those résumés stands out, in a big way: Rory McIlroy. The irons have just been brutal compared to every other player in his odds range. Eventually, you would have thought we’d get a break on his lofty odds every week, but it just hasn’t happened. I can’t do it for that price.
Gdula: Hideki Matsuyama (30-1) — Hideki’s coming off a runner-up finish at the Houston Open, and he did it with great tee-to-green data, but he also finished 10th in strokes gained/putting, which is very abnormal for him. You’ll need to putt well at Augusta to make the most of your tee-to-green game. The price fell far too low here on Hideki with just about everyone else near him in play.
Gehman: Brooks Koepka (17-1) — The major-championship narrative is strong with Koepka, coming off a T-5 last week in Houston. That finish in Houston could be viewed as Fool’s Gold, however. Koepka gained 6.36 strokes putting in Houston and tacked on another 1.78 around the green. When you add them together, it becomes the third-best “short game” week of his career, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. That feels unsustainable, and now Koepka odds have shortened too far for me.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Bryson DeChambeau (7 ½-1) — Don’t get me wrong, I think Bryson is rightfully the favorite. But this is simply too difficult of a tournament to win to make anybody this big of a favorite. As our Rick Gehman put so well in our “Be Right” podcast this week, Bryson has almost the same odds to miss the cut (+550 at DraftKings and FanDuel) as his outright odds (+750). That’s just screaming value—as Bryson opens up the possibilities for outcomes this week.
Powers, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (14-1) — I'm a huge fan of Rory McIlroy. Part of this is putting the reverse maloik on him, so he finally finishes off the career grand slam. But the data is not in Rory's favor. Per Rick Gehman's RickRunGood.com database, Rory has gained only 0.11 strokes on his approach shots in his past 48 rounds. That's slightly above tour average. Even if he hits it as far and efficiently as Bryson, if you don't hit it close from those spots, it doesn't matter. I'll gladly take it on the chin if Rory figures it out at Augusta, but he hasn't done that in his career, and the evidence isn't pointing to him figuring it out now.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Bryson DeChambeau (7 ½-1) — There are too many elite players with real form at the minute for any one player to be as low as this. Besides, DeChambeau has never broken 70 in the Masters.
Masters 2020 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Hideki Matsuyama (-110) over Tony Finau (DraftKings) — Finau’s record at Augusta is impressive at first glance, but it’s just two years. People are hyping him up this week as if he’s Justin Rose with great form. Let’s remember that Hideki has just as good of history—with four top-20s in his past five appearances, also with two top-10s. We saw Hideki get extremely hot on Sunday in Houston. I think he carries that into Augusta.
Mayo: Lucas Glover (-110) over Gary Woodland (DraftKings) — Look, I’m no fan of Glover this week, but now super-skinny Woodland has been dealing with a hip injury for months and has been absolutely brutal when on the course. Maybe he’s better, but until I see it, I’m not buying it.
Gdula: Paul Casey (+110) over Justin Rose (FanDuel) — Casey will have to overcome his 81-73 missed cut at the Masters last year, but it’s not as if Justin Rose is in perfect form. Casey’s ball-striking is significantly better than Rose’s over the past 50 rounds, and their short games are actually about equal. There’s some pretty obvious value on Casey from a statistical standpoint here.
Gehman: Rory McIlroy (+125) over Bryson DeChambeau (DraftKings) — We’ve reached a fever pitch for DeChambeau, driving his odds this low against one of the best players in the world. These two have contrasting styles at the moment—DeChambeau is looking to open up his range of outcomes and take on significant risk to earn significant rewards. McIlroy, despite being average with his irons in the restart, has held a steady floor for the past five months. He hasn’t finished worse than 21st in any of his last five starts. With that floor and the always lurking upside from McIlroy, I’ll take the odds on this matchup.
Hennessey: Jon Rahm (-137) over Brooks Koepka (PointsBet) — This is a smash match-up for me, I’d put some serious weight on this. Since the restart, Rahm has gained the fifth-most strokes overall—won the Memorial and the BMW. And he’s coming off a ninth-place and fourth-place finish at the Masters. Like Rick Gehman said in the section fading Koepka, Koepka gained more than six strokes/putting and another 1.5 on the greens last week. I’d rather lean on the ball-striking stats. Rahm is No. 1 in my model this week—Koepka is 24th, including ranking 75th in this field in proximity from 200-plus yards and 54th in strokes gained/putting over 50 rounds, per Fantasy National.
Powers: Brandt Snedeker (-110) over Lanto Griffin (DraftKings) — I know how well Lanto Griffin is playing well right now, but this is his first Masters appearance. Snedeker, meanwhile, has a ton of Masters experience, nearly winning the green jacket twice. Plus, he has played much better of late. This is purely a play on the Masters veteran over a wide-eyed first-timer.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Dustin Johnson (-110) over Bryson DeChambeau (Bet365) — I have concerns about DeChambeau’s game holding up to winning a Masters. On the flip side, DJ is playing great golf right now. He ranks first in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking and has finished top 10 here the last three times he’s played.
Matchup Results from the Houston Open: Mayo 1 for 1 (Sam Burns (-110) over Aaron Wise); Everyone else: 0 for 1.
Matchup Results this season: Alldrick: 7 for 9 (up 4.22 units); Hennessey: 6 for 8 (up 3.20 units); Mayo: 5 for 9 (up 0.77 units); Gdula: 5 for 9 (up 0.71 units); Powers: 2-2-5 (down 3.09 units); Gehman: 2 for 9 (down 5.18 units); Caddie: 2 for 9 (down 5.27 units).
Masters 2020 picks: Top 10 (odds from FanDuel Sportsbook)
Caddie: Hideki Matsuyama (+280) — Hideki does so many things well. He’s ninth in this field in strokes gained/approach over his past 50 rounds, per FantasyNational.com, he’s stellar in proximity in the key yardages—it’s just about the putter. We saw him pouring in putts in the final round in Houston, so if he can channel that putter,
Mayo: Si Woo Kim (+1200) — Si WOOOOOO is a player with immense upside. Yes, a lot of downside, too. Over the past three months, he’s ranked sixth tee-to-green in this field, and isn’t as short as you’d imagine off the tee. Which is a huge bonus. At his best, he can truly contend with the world’s elite. It just doesn’t happen very often. However, he’s sneakily posted top-25 finishes at the Masters the past two years, so a top-10 is well within range if his putter heats up.
Gdula: Tony Finau (+220) — Finau has two top-10s at Augusta in two tries, and that’s not the end of the analysis, but that’s absolutely promising. Finau just does what Augusta requires: He’s long off the tee, he hits the irons well, and he putts well enough on bentgrass to float toward the top of the board. He’s also quietly finished top-eight at both the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open.
Gehman: Cameron Smith (+500) — The Aussie has been on a stellar run of golf, making the cut in 10 straight events along with six top-25 finishes. Most recently he finished 11th at the CJ cup and T-4 at the Zozo. Now he heads to Augusta National, where he’s never missed a cut and finished fifth two years ago. If things get wet, Smith can shine like he did in similar conditions en route to victory at this year’s Sony Open.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Matthew Fitzpatrick (+500) — I’m backing up that win bet with the top-10. I can absolutely see him surging on the weekend if he’s not already near the leader board.
Powers, Golf Digest: Kevin Kisner (+1000) — Kiz has been on a sneaky strong run since early July. He finished third at Rocket Mortgage, 19th at the PGA, third at Wyndham, fourth at Northern Trust and 14th at the Zozo. His four trips to Augusta National aren’t all that impressive, but he has slightly improved each time (T-37-T-43, T-28, T-21). As he told Golfweek earlier this week, last year’s final round was the first time he felt he could go low at ANGC. He wound up shooting 69, but he claims it could have been a 64. What does this mean for this year? Who knows. But he’s playing well, and he feels like he figured out the course in his most recent competitive round on it. Good combo for a top-10 bet.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Bubba Watson (+250) — You know all about his course history. But the current form is here, too—Bubba ranks first in strokes gained/tee to green over the past two months. I love him in DFS, too.
Top 10 results from the Houston Open: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Mackenzie Hughes (+750); Everybody else: 0 for 1.
Top 10 results from this season: Gehman: 2 for 9 (up 7 units); Powers: 1 for 9 (up 5 units); Hennessey: 1 for 9 (down 3 units); Tour caddie: 2 for 9 (down 3.95 units); Alldrick: 0 for 8 (down 8 units); Mayo, Gdula: 0 for 9 (down 9 units each).
Rick Gehman joined the Golf Digest "Be Right" podcast to give his DFS and handicapping analysis and best bets for the 2020 Masters. Have a listen above—and be sure to subscribe to the "Be Right" podcasts wherever you get your podcasts!
One and Done picks
Gehman: Rory McIlroy — If you would have asked me in March, I would have assured you that McIlroy would be the most popular One & Done pick for the Masters. Now, months later, with mediocre play from McIlroy and the other top players all finding victories, McIlroy becomes a sneaky option. Even with average approach play, his floor is incredibly high and his ceiling is winning the Masters and completing the Career Grand Slam.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Bermuda: Rasmus Hojgaard. Houston: Lanto Griffin.
Hennessey: Tyrrell Hatton — Hatton has been one of the hottest golfers in the world—it’d be a huge surprise to me if he doesn’t contend this week. I’d also say there’s a good case to use Hatton this week … remember, there are six majors this season!
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Houston: Russell Henley.
Powers: Bubba Watson — I don’t have any bets on Bubba this week (yet), so I’ll use him here just to have some sort of rooting interest when he inevitably wins a third Masters. Where else are you going to use Bubba besides Riviera or Travelers?
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Houston: Russell Henley.
By The Numbers:
Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:
64 — The number of measured rounds played by Sungjae Im since the restart. That’s eight more than any other player in this field.
70-1 — The odds for Jordan Spieth to win the Masters. The longest he’s been since his first appearance in 2014.
0.79 — The average strokes gained putting per round for Patrick Reed on bentgrass. That’s 0.25 strokes better per round compared to other surfaces.
78.10 — The average number of DraftKings points scored by Rory McIlroy since the tour’s restart. Xander Schauffele has scored more than that in all but three events in the restart.
MORE MASTERS 2020 PREVIEW CONTENT FROM GOLF DIGEST:
• Masters 101—Everything you need to know about the major
• How to watch the Masters on TV and streaming online
• Ranking every golfer in the Masters field
• Our 13 best bets to win the 2020 Masters
• 50 defining moments in Masters history, ranked
• Never say never—An oral history of Tiger's dramatic 2019 Masters victory
• How Tiger Woods plays every hole at Augusta National
• Can Bryson break Augusta?
• 9 things Augusta National doesn’t want to talk about
• The most memorable rules issues in Masters history
• A completely unscientific ranking of 10 Masters traditions
• The 13 best ‘B characters in Masters history
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.