The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the Fantasy Labs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The Masters is finally here! We’ve waited long enough for this tournament, so let’s just dive right in.
The Masters is a unique tournament since the top 50 golfers and ties — along with any golfer within 10 strokes of the leader after the first two days — will make the cut.
As always, I backtested various metrics in our PGA Models to find out which have been the most valuable at August National. Per our Trends tool, here’s how the top 20% of golfers in various metrics have done at this course (in Plus/Minus valuation).
Historically, this course has yielded averages of 44.98 DraftKings points and a -5.84 Plus/Minus with a 46.2% Consistency Rating to the field.
I’m listing only those metrics that tested positively relative to the baseline:
- Recent Greens in Regulation: +7.88
- Long-Term Par-4 Scoring: +6.10
- Recent Birdies: +6.02
- Recent Par-4 Scoring: +5.77
- Long-Term Birdies: +5.65
- Long-Term Par-5 Scoring: +5.52
- Long-Term Eagles: +4.78
- Recent Putts Per Round: +4.53
- Long-Term Putts Per Round: +4.43
- Recent Adjusted Round Score: +3.64
- Recent Bogeys: +3.40
- Long-Term Par-3 Scoring: +3.34
- Long-Term Driving Distance: +3.29
- Recent Eagles: +3.00
- Long-Term Adjusted Round Score: +2.78
- Long-Term Bogeys: +2.75
- Recent Scrambling: +2.33
- Long-Term Scrambling: +2.26
- Recent Missed Cuts: +1.46
- Long-Term Greens In Regulation: +1.23
- Recent Driving Distance: +1.17
- Long-Term Missed Cuts: +0.23
I don’t give much weight to course history in an average week, but at the Masters, it matters quite a bit. Along with looking at course history, I’ll be weighing an abundance of the FantasyLabs and Strokes Gained metrics.
Among our metrics, par-4 and par-5 scoring backtested near the highest for golfers, which isn’t all that surprising when you consider a lot of the top-tier golfers rank highly in adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s. Given the difficulty of August National, I’ll be putting a premium on excellent ball-strikers and guys with solid approach games.
Moreover, targeting golfers with solid eagle scoring could be one way to build upside into your lineup.
That was all just basically a long-winded way of saying to roster good golfers.
Key metrics to focus on: Par-4 and par-5 scoring, birdie or better scoring, Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
And as usual, I like Long-Term (LT) and Recent Adjusted Round Score (Adj Rd Score) as catch-all metrics.
Best DFS Plays for the Masters
$10,000 and Above (DraftKings Pricing)
Rory McIlroy ($11,600 DraftKings; $12,100 FanDuel) currently has the highest odds to win the Masters, which makes sense considering he’ll enter the tournament with six top-six finishes in his 2019 events. He’s in the best form of anyone in the field with his 66.2 Adj Rd Score over the past six weeks.
McIlroy ranks inside the top 10 in eagles and birdies per tournament, along with adjusted strokes on par 4s and par 5s. In fact, his 0.7 eagles per tournament is a top-three mark.
Rory has also dominated at Augusta in the past, making the cut every year since 2012, including five top-10 finishes. He’s clearly a good play, and rostering him will knock your average DraftKings salary to $7,680 per player. However, the field is strong enough that this won’t handicap your roster much.
Dustin Johnson ($11,300 DraftKings; $12,000 FanDuel) leads the field with his 67.2 LT Adj Rd Score by 0.5 strokes. He also ranks inside the top-two in birdies per tournament as well as adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s. Over his past 50 rounds, DJ also ranks fourth or better in Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee, Tee-to-green, Ball Striking and Approach.
DJ is my favorite play in this pricing tier, and likely the guy I’ll start my cash game roster with if I don’t do a balanced build.
Justin Rose ($10,800 DraftKings; $11,800 FanDuel) is another top-tier golfer who has historically done well at Augusta, posting a top-25 finish every year since 2012, along with four top 10s. You’ll also get a little bit of savings from DJ and Rory without sacrificing much talent with Rose’s 67.9 LT Adj Rd Score. His -2.8 and -5.8 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s are also comparable to them.
Rose has an excellent balanced game, ranking second in Total Strokes Gained over the past 50 rounds, trailing only Rory over that span.
It’s difficult to not mention Tiger Woods ($10,500 DraftKings; $11,100 FanDuel), who is in great form. Over his past 50 rounds, he ranks third in Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. The only aspect he might be struggling is Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, in which he ranks 40th.
However, Augusta has nine par 4s that check in at 440 yards or longer, and four of those have bogey rates above 27%, which are among the highest on the course (per Fantasy National).
Tiger has dominated par 4s from that range, ranking fifth or better in par-4 efficiency on par 4s from 400 yards and longer over his past 50 rounds (Fantasy National). If Tiger can escape those par 4s with minimal damage, he could be in good shape.
Rickie Fowler ($9,700 DraftKings; $11,400 FanDuel) finished second at the 2018 Masters, and he’s made the cut every year since 2012 except 2016. He should be able to capitalize on par 4s with his -2.0 adjusted strokes on par 4s, which is the sixth-best mark in the field.
Rickie has a mixed bag of results this season with two top-two finishes, but also four rounds finishing 40th or worse. However, he’s at least gained strokes on approach in all but two of those events. If I take a balanced approach to builds for the Masters, Fowler will likely be a staple for me.
Tommy Fleetwood ($9,200 DraftKings; $11,000 FanDuel) is always a DFS favorite, and for good reason. His -6.1 adjusted strokes on par 5s is tied with DJ for the second-best mark in the field, and he’s one of the best ball-strikers on tour.
Fleetwood doesn’t have much experience at the Masters: In 2018 he finished 17th and in 2017 he missed the cut. But in 2017 he uncharacteristically only hit 56% of greens in regulation (GIR), which is much lower than his 72.5% Long-Term GIR. He’ll come into this tournament in solid form, ranking ninth in Total Strokes Gained over his past 50 rounds.
Paul Casey ($9,000 DraftKings; $10,800 FanDuel) has three top-six finishes at Augusta in his past four appearances, including a 15th-place finish last year. His 70.2 recent Adj Rd Score isn’t as bad as it appears as the 78 and 74 he shot at the Players is skewing it quite a bit.
He lost -5.0 strokes on approach shots at Sawgrass, but outside of that, Casey has been rock solid, ranking 10th in Strokes Gained: Approach over his past 50 rounds. And his -5.8 adjusted strokes on par 5s is in good company with some of the top-priced golfers.
Hideki Matsuyama ($8,700 DraftKings; $10,600 FanDuel) has been great over the past 75 weeks, averaging -1.1 adjusted strokes on par 4s and -4.5 adjusted strokes on par 5s. He has great course history here, missing just one cut (2014) since 2011. In Deki’s past four appearances, he has four top-20 and three top-11 finishes.
The main aspect holding Hideki back of late is he ranks 57th in Strokes Gained: Putting, but he’s been striping the ball, ranking fourth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, second in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and first in Strokes Gained: Approach over his past 50 rounds.
Francesco Molinari ($8,600 DraftKings; $10,900 FanDuel) doesn’t have many strong finishes at the Masters — his best finishes were a 20th-place last year and 19th all the way back in 2012. Still, Molinari is one of the better golfers in the field with his 68.5 LT Adj Rd Score, and he has some of the highest odds to win in this price range as of writing.
Molinari will fit nicely into balanced builds at his price. Despite the lack of high finishes at Augusta, he’s at least made most cuts here. He also ranks 14th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 19th in 10th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. Molinari won at the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this year, which is one of the longer tracks on tour, and he still gained 5.1 strokes off-the-tee, so I don’t think it’s farfetched that he could compete here as well.
Xander Schauffele ($8,500 DraftKings; $10,300 FanDuel) is also a strong value at this price range. He’s no stranger to competing (and winning) in strong fields, but he does have just one appearance at the Masters. He did at least make the cut, although he finished in 50th.
Overall, Xander would be a solid choice at this price considering he ranks fourth in Total Strokes Gained over his past 50 rounds and boasts a 68.6 LT Adj Rd Score.
Tony Finau ($8,200 DraftKings; $9,900 FanDuel) might be one of the most underpriced golfers in the field. His only appearance at the Masters was last year, and he finished in 10th despite rolling his ankle during the par-3 contest.
Finau’s 68.2 LT Adj Rd Score is the ninth-best mark in the field, but he’s priced all the way down as the 20th most-expensive golfer. He also ranks inside the top 12 in birdies per tournament as well as adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s.
Ideally, I would’ve liked Finau to enter this tournament in better recent form, but he’s still underpriced for a course that fits him perfectly.
Matt Kuchar ($7,900 DraftKings; $9,700 FanDuel) is likely one of the safest plays on the board. Since 2012, he owns four top-eight finishes and has made the cut in every outing over that span. He’ll probably be a popular option. Kuchar’s $7,900 tag is a rather small price to pay for someone with his consistency.
I’m a big fan of Patrick Cantlay ($7,700 DraftKings; $9,900 FanDuel), despite him missing the cut here last year. His 68.4 LT Adj Rd Score is the 12th-best mark in the field, yet he’s the 25th-most expensive golfer. He also ranks sixth in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and seventh in Strokes Gained: Approach over his past 50 rounds.
Rostering Cantlay will come down to how much you weigh talent vs. his course history as he missed the cut here last year but finished 47th in 2012.
Sergio Garcia ($7,700 DraftKings; $10,000 FanDuel) let a lot of people down last year after he carded a 13. If you don’t remember, here’s a refresher.
I’ll likely be headed back to the Sergio well given he ranks eighth in Strokes Gained: Approach and 18th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.
Ian Poulter ($7,600 DraftKings; $9,500 FanDuel) is priced reasonably cheap for someone who ranks in the top 16 in birdies per tournament and inside the top 12 in adjusted strokes on par 5s. Poulter has missed the cut here just once in his past seven appearances, and he hasn’t missed a cut on tour since September.
Gary Woodland ($7,500 DraftKings; $9,800 FanDuel) missed the cut here over his past three appearances, which could potentially depress his ownership. He has some upside as he’s averaging 0.6 eagles and 15.2 birdies per tournament, along with -5.7 adjusted strokes on par 5s.
If you decide to roster Woodland, just watch him from the tee box, then look away once he gets on the putting green.
Over his past 50 rounds, he ranks 11th in Strokes Gained: Approach, fifth in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and eighth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. He just can’t seem to putt, ranking 64th in Strokes Gained: Putting over the same time frame.
Woodland seems to be an excellent fit for this course, and he’s one of the top talents on tour — he just hasn’t shown it at the Masters (yet).
Charles Howell III ($7,000 DraftKings; $8,600 FanDuel) is a strong cut-maker — he’s missed just 12% of cuts over the past 75 weeks. He’s underpriced outside the top 40, but he boasts the No. 22 LT Adj Rd Score.
My only concern is his lack of experience at the Masters. With more than half the players making the cut at this event, it mitigates some the risk with his overall lack of experience here. He hasn’t played here since 2012.
$6,900 and Below
The primary concern with Keith Mitchell ($6,800 DraftKings; $8,500 FanDuel) is that he hasn’t played at the Masters before. But he can pile on birdies at times with his 14.9 birdies per tournament and solid -4.8 adjusted strokes on par 5s. Mitchell has been excellent over his past 50 rounds, ranking 14th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, seventh in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 21st in Strokes Gained: Approach. I’d reserve Mitchell just for tournaments.
Kevin Kisner ($6,700 DraftKings; $8,700 FanDuel) is one of the more consistent players you will find in this range.
Kisner’s highest finish at the Masters is 28th, but he’s at least made the cut in all three of his appearances. He’ll enter this tournament in great form with a 68.1 recent Adj Rd Score, along with ranking 18th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 22nd in Strokes Gained: Approach over his past 24 rounds.
Given Kisner’s consistency, I’d be okay using him in cash games if you need the salary.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more golf coverage!
Note: Strokes Gained data via Fantasy National.
Pictured above: Rickie Fowler
Photo credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports