How fortunate are we as golf fans? For a second time in about five months, we are being treated to yet another Masters. The Masters is back in its traditional April slot, meaning it will likely play much firmer and faster than it did in November, which is the early word from the grounds at Augusta National.
This is one of the most well-known courses in the world, so we’ll dive right into the correlated stats per my regression model at RickRunGood.com.
The strongest correlator for success over the years has been driving distance. In fact, there is only one course on the PGA Tour where driving distance has been more important over the years, so I’m weighing that very heavily this week. Birdies or Better percentage, too, is huge at Augusta—there’s only two other courses where that stat is more important. You’ll also want to look at strokes gained/off the tee and SG/total to help identify who will play well this week—plus all the course history you want to pile into your modeling.
Let’s take a look at the players I’m playing—and fading—this week in every price range in Masters DFS contests.
Price range: $9,000+
High Upside: Bryson DeChambeau ($10,800 DraftKings | $11,900 FanDuel)
DeChambeau clearly didn’t have his best stuff in November at the Masters, struggling to make the cut and eventually finishing T-34. He attempted to use his driver to bring Augusta National to its knees and the course didn’t work out. But since then, DeChambeau has opted for a driver than he can control more frequently while still enjoying his distance advantage over the field. If he’s able to set himself up off the tee this week, his result might look more like his trips to Bay Hill (victory) and TPC Sawgrass (T-3).
Safest Option: Jordan Spieth ($9,400 DraftKings | $10,900 FanDuel)
Fresh off his victory in Texas, Spieth has injected himself right back in the mix on a weekly basis. Last week’s victory was a culmination of great play for three months. He’s posted six top-15 finishes in his past seven starts and now heads back to Augusta National, his happy place. In his first five trips to the Masters, his worst finish was a T-11 including two runners-up and his 2015 victory.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Tony Finau ($9,100 DraftKings | $10,700 FanDuel)
Finau’s recent results are concerning, but the way he’s playing is a brighter red flag for me. He missed the cut at The Players then failed to make it out of the group stage in the WGC-Match Play. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, he’s lost a total of 8.92 strokes to the field over his past five rounds alone. While the Match Play data is a bit wonky due to the nature of match play, Finau was horrendous off the tee and lost 2.71 strokes putting for the week. He will need a significant turnaround if he wants to contend this week.
Pick To Win: Patrick Cantlay ($9,800 DraftKings | $11,100 FanDuel)
There’s been a strong trend of recent winners who have been excellent from tee to green in the weeks and months leading up to the Masters. For example, no one was better than Dustin Johnson from tee to green in the 90 days leading up to his 2020 victory. The same can be said for Jordan Spieth in 2015 and four of the past six winners have ranked inside the top 10 on tour in that stat leading into their victory. If you follow that trend, the man who stands out is Patrick Cantlay, who has gained 1.70 strokes per round from tee to green since Jan. 1. That’s the best mark of anyone in this field.
$8,000 to $9,000
High Upside: Daniel Berger ($8,600 DraftKings | $10,300 FanDuel)
Berger is usually identified as a golfer with a “high floor” thanks to his ability to gain strokes in all four major categories. However, it’s that “high floor” that also provide a high ceiling for the No. 15 player in the world. He’s seemingly always within arms reach of the leader, and it takes just a single hot round for him to assert himself. He’s won twice in his last 19 starts, not something many of his peers can say.
Safest Option: Viktor Hovland ($8,700 DraftKings | $10,600 FanDuel)
Hovland was bounced quickly from the Match Play, but is in the midst of a stellar stretch of golf that has resulted in six top-10 finishes in his past 10 starts worldwide. Augusta National requires you to be in position off the tee and attack with your approaches. That’s right in Hovland’s wheelhouse as makes his first appearance at the Masters as a professional. He was the low amateur in 2019, finishing T-32.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Hideki Matsuyama ($8,300 DraftKings |$10,200 FanDuel)
There’s something “off” with Matsuyama, but I can’t put my finger on it. And the fact that I can’t put my finger on it is a problem, because that means he’s struggling in a different area nearly every week. When you’re looking at his price, you would hope he’d find himself within the top 10 when the dust settles on Sunday. That’s a feat he’s only accomplished once in his past 17 starts.
Pick To Win: Matt Fitzpatrick ($8,100 DraftKings | $10,100 FanDuel)
You might not know it, but Fitzpatrick is one of the best golfers in the world right now. If you take every golfer’s last 50 rounds, it’s Fitzpatrick who has the fourth-best SG/total average, behind only Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele and Dustin Johnson. That great play has resulted in a T-9 at The Players, T-10 at Bay Hill, T-11 at the WGC-Workday and a T-5 at the Genesis. Those are his last four stroke-play events, which is just a staggering run of excellent golf.
$7,000 to $8,000
High Upside: Sergio Garcia ($7,600 DraftKings | $9,400 FanDuel)
The 2017 champion rolls into Augusta looking like vintage Sergio. That means he’s absolutely striping it off-the-tee and with his irons. In fact, Garcia has gained strokes from tee to green in 16 of his past 18 tournaments. Of course, the putter will always determine his fate, but if he can find an average putter week, he’ll likely find his name near the top of the leader board.
Safest Option: Adam Scott ($7,600 DraftKings | $9,600 FanDuel)
Another past champion playing well leading in the Masters! Scott hasn’t missed a cut in 13 starts worldwide and is coming off one of his better finishes in that stretch, a T-13 at the Honda Classic. Scott gained 7.17 strokes on approach at the Honda Classic, his best approach week in over two years, per the RickRunGood.com database. Scott opted to skip the WGC-Match Play, so he’ll definitely be well-rested as he tries to rekindle his magic at Augusta National.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Will Zalatoris ($7,300 DraftKings | $9,200 FanDuel)
I am so incredibly bullish on Zalatoris and think it’s just a matter of time before he’s a huge star. My problem is that Augusta National has a history. And that history has shown that first-timers can have a difficult time. There are so many angles and nuances that you learn in years of experience—most debutants simply lack the prerequisite knowledge.
Pick To Win: Paul Casey ($7,700 DraftKings | $9,900 FanDuel)
Remember that stat from above about how important SG/tee to green has been to winners at the Masters? Well Casey, along with Cantlay and Collin Morikawa, are the only golfers in the field who have averaged at least +1.50 strokes per round from tee to green since the start of the year. That metric doesn’t even include Casey’s victory on the European Tour in February, so by all accounts, his number is even better than that. He’s earned three top-10 finishes in his past six starts at Augusta National.
$6,900 and below
High Upside: Phil Mickelson ($6,600 DraftKings | $8,400 FanDuel)
Okay, I’ll bite. The metrics are actually favorable for Mickelson for the first time in a long time. He has gained strokes on approach in four of his last five starts, something he hasn’t done since February 2019. He missed the cut last week but it was really all thanks to one hole, making a 10 on the par-5 18th hole. If he’s ever going to find the magic, it’ll be here at Augusta National in his 29th trip. Of course, he’s a three-time winner with 15 top 10s here.
Safest Option: Brian Harman ($6,800 DraftKings | $9,100 FanDuel)
The last time we saw Harman, he was going nuclear on Bubba Watson in the Match Play, eventually falling in the Elite 8 of that event. The start before that, Harman finished T-3 at The Players and he has missed just one cut in his past 20 starts. This is his first trip to the Masters since 2018 (T-44), and he’ll look to keep that hot play this week.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Gary Woodland ($6,700 DraftKings |$8,500 FanDuel)
If you simply look at the leader board, it might be easy to think Woodland is “back” after his T-6 finish at the Valero Texas Open. However, if you look deeper, you’ll see that he gained 4.90 strokes/around the green, which counted for the majority of his gains from tee-to-green. If that wasn’t enough, August National has had his number over the years: Woodland has missed the cut in four of his last five trips.
Pick To Win: Ryan Palmer ($6,500 DraftKings | $8,000 FanDuel)
There’s always one salary that seems way off and this week, that’s Ryan Palmer. He’s been one of the most valuable fantasy golfers on the PGA Tour for nearly 18 months, and he’s contended in some of the biggest events on the planet. Just in the last year he has a runner-up at the Memorial, T-4 at the Zozo, fourth at the TOC and a T-2 at the Farmers.
MORE MASTERS 2021 STORIES FROM GOLF DIGEST:
• Masters 101—Everything you need to know about the major
• How to watch the Masters on TV and streaming online
• The entire 2021 Masters field, ranked
• How to win a green jacket in 7 simple steps
• Our 13 best bets to win the 2021 Masters
• 50 defining moments in Masters history, ranked
• The complete changes to Augusta National
• When should a past champion call it a career at Augusta?
• 9 famous Masters myths—separating fact from fiction
• The most memorable rules issues in Masters history
• At Augusta, the jockeying for position begins with practice rounds
• What a limited-patron Masters will look like this week
• What’s it like to play at Augusta National as a guest
Rick Gehman, 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.