Last season we reviewed how Masters rookies have performed at Augusta. Aside from updating the information to include 2016 results, we have included amateur players in our data sample to reflect more accurately the overall performance of players who are seeing Augusta for the first time.
The last rookie winner of The Masters was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. The only other rookie winners were in the first two Masters events ever held. While first-time players do not win at Augusta, that doesn’t exclude them from providing solid value for DFS purposes. Their lack of documented course history might even help to suppress their ownership, which Pro subscribers can review in our DFS Ownership Dashboard shortly after the Masters starts.
How First-Time Players Have Performed at The Masters
Using the PGA Trends tool, we can query the Masters performance of players (from 2014 to 2016) who had no course history:
The results aren’t encouraging: Rookies hit their salary-based expected points only 39.7 percent of the time, averaging a Plus/Minus of -11.48 DK points.
2016 Masters Rookie Performance
In 2016, 20 players made their Masters debut: 11 of 20 (55 percent) made the cut with an average finish of 29th.
|Player||Finish||Shots Off Lead|
2015 Masters Rookie Performance
In 2015, 18 players made their Masters debut: Eight of 18 (44 percent) made the cut with an average finish of 37th.
|Player||Finish||Shots Off Lead|
Round Scoring Averages — Rookies vs. Rest of Field
Below is a breakdown of the round scoring, with all rookies (2015 to 2016) in one segment and the rest of the field in the other. The stroke differential between the two groups suggests the impact that unfamiliarity with the course may have on the rookies:
|Rookies||Rest of Field||Stroke Diff.|
Generally, the rest of the field has performed better than first-timers in every round.
The 2017 Masters Rookie Class
There are 19 first-time players competing this week in the Masters. With an average salary of just over $6,800, some of these Augusta rookies could be strong value plays.
Last year, Bryan Mears posted a study breaking down the predictive stats for Augusta, based on salary tier. For all the players in our rookie sample, Recent Greens in Regulation proved to be the most predictive:
|Player||DK Salary||Vegas Odds||Recent GIR|
|Si Woo Kim||$6700||0.3%||49.3%|
|Billy Hurley III||$6400||0.2%||62.5%|
Rookie Profile: Jon Rahm
At $8,600, Rahm has the sixth-highest DraftKings salary ever for a Masters rookie (since 2014). Below is a chart of all Masters rookies with DraftKings salaries of at least $8,600:
|Player||Year||DK Salary||Actual Pts.||Finish|
|Player||Year||DK Salary||Implied Pts.|
Using the Trends tool, we can query Rahm’s performance for the 15 courses where he has played for the first time:
In these tournament, Rahm has averaged 86.33 DK points, for an incredible +27.05 Plus/Minus with an 86.7 percent Consistency Rating. That type of production is amazing.
Rostering Masters Rookies
The takeaway here is that while first-time players (almost) never win The Masters, they do perform similarly to course veterans. Their lack of course history could help to make them contrarian plays — but the other key performance indicators for this course, like Recent GIR, should be considered heavily when you’re building lineups in our Player Models.
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