The first major of the season is upon us! The Masters is here and so is some huge tournament action on Draftkings. This week sees the first million dollar fantasy golf prize being handed out as well as the first live final qualifier for Draftking’s World Fantasy Golf Championships in September at the Deutsche Bank Championship. If you’re not playing fantasy golf yet this is a great week to start and we have some tiered picks to help you make your rosters.
The course this week is Augusta National. It is a par 72 that plays between 7400 and 7500 yards. Augusta National features some of the sweetest greens and fairways you will ever lay your eyes on, but also some of the most treacherous. It has major undulations and sharp edges on the greens that drive player’s nuts and knowing how to deal with Augusta’s intricacies will be one of the key factors to success this week. Augusta was lengthened in 2002 and now plays quite long, except for the four par 5’s which remain reachable in two shots by many players. Since the re-creation long hitters have tended to thrive at the course.
This week you need to keep close watch on some key stats. First, as already mentioned both driving distance and par 5 scoring will be vital to success here. Players who have had success at Augusta have typically dominated the par 5’s as they present the only true scoring opportunities on the entire course. Second, putting and scrambling around the greens is of the utmost important. A player simply cannot have success at Augusta without being at least somewhat consistent with his putter. For that reason I’ve chosen to look at 3-putt avoidance to identify players who will be able to deal with Augusta’s fast and sloping greens.
Finally, experience must be given extra weight this week. Augusta is such a unique course that players who understand its nuances will typically be better equipped to deal with what lies ahead for them during the week. An interesting stat to support this claim, not since 1979 when Fuzzy Zoeller won has a player won this event on his first trip to the course.
DRAFTKINGS “MASTERS” LINEUP PICKS
Top Shelf (10k and above)
Jason Day (11200): Jason Day seems almost too a good fit for the green jacket this weekend. Having endured numerous injuries the past couple years Day has really had a strong start to 2015 and comes to Augusta healthy and ready to compete. Day has past finishes of 2nd and 3rd at the Masters and has made no bones about his desire to win this tournament, even going as far as calling it his career goal. Day is long (top ten in driving distance) and also is a great scrambler, something that will come in handy on Augusta’s tough greens. Day is one of my personal co-favorites to win this event and think he has a very shot of taking home the green jacket.
Dustin Johnson (10500): My other co-favorite and the man I ultimately think will be wearing the green jacket on Sunday is Dustin Johnson. Johnson has been a new man since his return to the game early in 2015. He won on the incredibly difficult Doral course and also came close to winning at the equally tough Northern Trust Open. Johnson’s ball striking and distance have been phenomenal and he now ranks first in both strokes gained tee to green and driving distance on tour. Given that Augusta favours long hitters and those who can score consistently on par 5’s Johnson’s game seems to set up perfectly for the win this week. I think he’s turned a corner mentally since his return and seems ready to contend and win the sport’s biggest events, which I think he will do come this Sunday.
Second Tier (8000 to 9999)
Patrick Reed (9300): I’ve given lots of thought to Patrick Reed this week, more than any other player. Ultimately I think Reed is just too good to ignore at his price on Draftkings. Reed has only played Augusta once, last year, and missed the cut. But if you take history out of the equation Reed has shown that his superb short game and putting make him an ideal fit for Augusta National. Reed also works the ball right to left on most of his tee shots which makes him a natural fit for Augusta. I’d recommend rolling the dice with Reed and ignoring his past history this weekend. He’s proven recently that he can compete with the world’s best week in and week out and I expect he will do so once again this week at Augusta.
Jimmy Walker (8900): Given that he has won 5 times in the past two years Jimmy Walker has to be considered one your best value picks on the board this week. Not only is he priced under 9000 but he also ranks well in several different categories of importance for this week. He hits it long, high and scores very well on the par 5’s. In his last event at the Valero Texas Open, Walker also ranked first in strokes gained putting, and quite frankly if he putts this weekend like he did there he might be pulling on the green jacket come Sunday. I like Walker in all formats this week, he’s priced too well not to use.
Hideki Matsuyama (8100): Matsuyama is another great young player that sometimes simply gets forgotten about since the American media is so focused on other players. Matsuyama has many ideal qualities that make him a perfect fit for Augusta, the first being his good play on par 5’s (he ranks 13th on tour) and his great play tee to green (he ranks 3rd on tour). Matsuyama already has a win on the PGA tour which came at another tough course, Muirfield Village, which was actually styled after Augusta National, another good omen for his chances here. I think Hideki might upstage some of the more talked about young players this weekend and end up being one of the best plays in DFS golf as well.
Third Tier (6000 to 7999)
Louis Oosthuizen (7600): Oosthuizen comes into this event off a missed cut, which is not ideal but has too many other factors going in his favour for me to leave him off my list. Oosthuizen is priced very well at 7600 considering his past form and past history at Augusta. In 2012 Oosthuizen finished second in a playoff to Bubba Watson and last year, playing largely with a bad back finished 25th after being one of the first round leaders. Outside of last week Oosthuizen has looked impressive in 2015. He challenged for the lead at Bay Hill and also finished 6th at the tough Doral. Tee to Green, Oosthuizen is one of the best in the business and if his putter gets hot this week he could easily outperform many top players priced above him on Draftkings.
Ian Poulter (7400): When you look at a players past history at the Masters, few have a more consistent record than Ian Poulter. In 10 trips Poulter has only failed to play the weekend once. Even better is the fact that Poulter comes into this year’s edition perhaps playing the best golf he has in years. Poulter has been in contention numerous times already on tour and given his course knowledge I expect him to once again be around the leaders. At 7400, I think he makes for a great value play, one that could really pay off this weekend.
JB Holmes (7200): Like almost everyone else this week, I am suggesting you get at least some exposure to JB Holmes. Holmes has been on an absolute tear so far this season and could easily have three wins already in 2015. Holmes ranks near the top in driving distance and strokes gained tee to green. And like former winners Fred Couples and Angel Cabrera, Holmes has the length and ball striking to simply overpower this course. Even though Holmes has only played Augusta once—landing a top 25 finish—given his recent form it’s hard to see Holmes not competing this week. Given his insanely low price and potentially high ownership in all games, I think he’s someone you need to seriously consider for some rosters this week, even if you plan to fade him in your main lineups.
Ryan Moore (7000): Ryan Moore is a player I just have a good feeling about. Moore is approaching his mid-thirties and for all intents and purposes might be in the middle of his most consistent season on tour. Moore has yet to miss a cut so far this season and also registered a win at the CIMB classic back in the fall. Given that many players tend to have their best results at Augusta when they reach Moore’s age I could also see this year as being Moore’s time to contend in the majors. Moore has not finished better than 13th at the Masters, but he has shot some low rounds on the course before. I like Moore to build on that knowledge and his excellent play thus far on 2015 to hopefully land your DFS team a high finish.
Chris Kirk (6800): Kirk has had a miserable year by his standards thus far but showed a glimmer of form recently at the Valero Texas Open where he finished 8th in tough conditions. Kirk is a streaky player, but I feel like his game sets up almost perfectly for Augusta. He plays a draw on many of his shots (which helps off the tee on many holes) and carries a great wedge game. Last year Kirk finished 20th on his first visit to Augusta mainly due to his ability to score on the par 5’s where he was an astounding -12 for the week. Kirk can stay with the best in the game when his putter gets hot and for this reason I’m willing to chance him in my lineups this week as his salary makes him a great cheap option.
Ryan Palmer (6600): There’s a lot to like about Ryan Palmer and there’s even more to like when you see how cheaply priced he is. Palmer has great distance (6th on tour) and also likes to work the ball from right to left which can be a huge plus at Augusta. Palmer has arguably been playing the best golf of his career the past year or so and he is near the top of almost every statistical category I have looked at this week. He tied for tenth here in 2011 and I would argue given his recent form could improve on that finish this week.
Bottom Feeders (under 6000)
Morgan Hoffmann (5600): I am not a fan of many players under 6000 on Draftkings, however, I am slightly intrigued by Morgan Hoffmann. Hoffmann will be making his debut at Augusta National this week but carries many traits that might make him a good fit. He hits it long off the tee and tends to score very well as a result on the par 5’s. Additionally Hoffmann tends to play his best in the biggest and toughest events, as was evidenced last year in the Fedex playoffs where he placed very high in multiple events. Hoffmann has played great as of late and barely missed out on his first win at Bayhill two weeks ago. I think he’ll show up this week in good form and will possibly surprise a lot of people with some strong play.
Look for the players who you think have the mettle to breakthrough on this legendary course and provide your fantasy team with the goods for a great payday. Look for the best blends of experience, form and savvy when creating your teams. And most importantly, have fun! A million dollar first prize will be given out and you get to be part of the action.