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
Daniel Berger T10 6
Kiradech Aphibarnrat T15 8
Rafa Cabrera-Bello T17 9
Emiliano Grillo T17 9
Bryson DeChambeau T21 10
Smylie Kaufman T29 12
Kevin Kisner T37 14
Justin Thomas T39 15
Romain Langasque T39 15
Troy Merritt T42 16
Cameron Smith T55 20
Derek Bard MC
Paul Chaplet MC
Sammy Schmitz MC
David Lingmerth MC
Russell Knox MC
Andy Sullivan MC
Jim Herman MC
Fabian Gomez MC

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
Bernd Wiesberger T22 16
Morgan Hoffmann T28 17
Brooks Koepka T33 18
Danny Willett T38 19
Seung-yul Noh T38 19
Cameron Tringale T38 19
Anirban Lahiri T49 22
Erik Compton 51 23
Shane Lowry MC
James Hahn MC
Brian Harman MC
Brendon Todd MC
Robert Streb MC
Corey Conners MC
Bradley Neil MC
Antonio Murdaca MC
Gunn Yang MC
Matias Dominguez MC

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.
Round 1 75.7 73.2 +2.5
Round 2 73.8 73.8
Round 3 74.8 73.8 +1.0
Round 4 72.3 71.7 +0.5

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
Jon Rahm $8600 4.8% 59.7%
Thomas Pieters $7700 1.6% 62.5%
Tyrrell Hatton $7600 2.4% 64.8%
Alexander Noren $7500 1.1% 58.4%
Hudson Swafford $7000 0.4% 65.7%
William McGirt $6900 0.5% 61.6%
Tommy Fleetwood $6900 1.2% 62.5%
Adam Hadwin $6900 1.2% 70.1%
Curtis Luck $6900 0.3% 50%
Jeunghun Wang $6900 0.4% 60.4%
Si Woo Kim $6700 0.3% 49.3%
Mackenzie Hughes $6600 0.2% 57.9%
Daniel Summerhays $6600 0.5% 57.9%
Brian Stuard $6400 0.2% 62.5%
Billy Hurley III $6400 0.2% 62.5%
Scott Gregory $6200 0.2%
Brad Dalke $6200 0.1% 58.3%
Stewart Hagestad $6100 0.0%
Toto Gana $6000 0.0%

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
Jordan Spieth 2014 $9800 87.5 T2
Harris English 2014 $9500 18.5 MC
Patrick Reed 2014 $8900 19 MC
Jimmy Walker 2014 $8900 73.5 T8
Graham DeLaet 2014 $8800 17.5 MC
Brooks Koepka 2015 $8600 71 T33
Player Year DK Salary Implied Pts.
Jon Rahm 2017 $8600 65.9

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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