The PGA TOUR heads to iconic Augusta National Golf Club this week for the Masters. The course is a par-72 measuring at 7,470 yards with bentgrass greens. The winning score here depends on how the wind blows, as we’ve seen Danny Willet win with a score of five-under and DJ win more recently with a 20-under performance.
I’ll be highlighting the best cash game/single-entry plays on the DraftKings main slate, but these players are often great options in any contest type.
My analysis will frequently reference Strokes Gained, a set of proprietary metrics generated by the PGA TOUR using millions of data points to calculate how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. Strokes Gained is now available in the FantasyLabs PGA Models.
There are a variety of Strokes Gained-related metrics, but the six main categories that you need to know include:
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (SG: Off-the-Tee)
- Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: Approach)
- Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green (SG: Around-the-Green)
- Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: Putting)
- Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (SG: Ball-Striking), which is SG: Off-the-Tee + SG: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (SG: Tee-to-Green), which is SG: Ball-Striking + SG: Around-the-Green
For more information on Strokes Gained data and how to use it, check out this article from Bryan Mears on The Action Network, which unpacks each of the above metrics in detail. I also recommend Chris Murphy’s Strokes Gained column after each round of that week’s PGA TOUR event, which highlights golfers to buy and fade, and Matthew Vincenzi’s weekly “Stats That Matter” column, which highlights which Strokes Gained sub-metrics matter the most for a given course. The following players listed are based on DraftKings scoring and pricing.
Jon Rahm ($11,000 DraftKings)
The Masters is very unique in that it’s very hard to qualify for and boasts a very small 88-man field. When you factor in all the old timers and amateurs, it’s virtually a 75-man field with the top 50 and ties making it to the weekend. With that said, I will be treating this event more like a WGC event, as simply having 6/6 golfers making the cut will not be enough. We should be hunting upside in every spot, even in cash.
Rahm stands out to me this week since he can focus solely on golf now as his wife gave birth over the weekend to the couple’s first child. He has elite history at Augusta, posting three straight top-10 finishes, including a solo fourth in 2018. He is extremely long off the tee and is one of the best iron players on earth, so it’s no surprise to see him have success here. The Spaniard ranks 11th in this field in SG: Ball-Striking over his past 12 rounds and if his putter cooperates this week he could be donning his first career green jacket on Sunday evening.
Justin Thomas ($10,600 DraftKings)
JT is up next for me and is just as good a play as Rahm for $400 less. He’s coming off a historic win at TPC Sawgrass a few weeks back and has improved his finishing position in every one of his five trips to Augusta. I like that this will be his sixth Master’s appearance and that he clearly feels more comfortable here with each visit.
Thomas ranks both second in this field in SG: Approach and 10th Tee-to-Green over his past 16 rounds and seems to have found his game at the perfect time. It’s only a matter of time before the 14-time TOUR winner adds more majors to his ledger, and why not start this week at the most historic tournament in golf.
Patrick Cantlay ($9,800 DraftKings)
Cantlay will definitely go under the radar this week with all the hoopla surrounding Jordan Spieth. He’s also priced right in between Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa on DraftKings, two DFS darlings. He’s been relatively quiet of late, missing the cut at the PLAYERS, which was the only stroke play event he’s played since the Genesis back in late February. Prior to that Cantlay had been one of the hottest players on TOUR, posting back to back top five finishes at the Amex and at Pebble Beach.
Cantlay’s Augusta track record is also strong, as he’s gone T-17 and T-9 in his last two trips. His long-term rolling numbers look great, ranking sixth in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green and fourth in total strokes gained, both over his past 24 rounds. Cantlay is a better putter on bent than other surfaces, and I like the price discount we get from the top guys this week without losing much upside.
Paul Casey ($7,900 DraftKings)
The 43-year old has been around forever now and has played Augusta countless times, but he’ll enter play this week in fantastic form. In his last six events between both the Euro and PGA TOUR, his finishes read fifth, 10th, fifth, 12th, first. He’s as locked in as he’s been in a long time and has a very strong track record at this event. Casey posted three consecutive top-six finishes from 2015-18 and the way he’s been striking the ball of late, he should be able to replicate that success this week as well.
The Englishman ranks No. 1 in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green across his past 16 rounds and is a ridiculously cheap $7,900 on DraftKings, making a virtual cash-game lock for me. He’s a really tough fade in any format if you’re attempting to just play the best plays.
Corey Conners ($6,900 DraftKings)
Conners has been on quite the tear, making nine of his past 10 cuts with four top-10 finishes in that stretch. I won’t spend too much time on this one since it’s pretty self explanatory. Conners ranks No.1 in this field in SG: Ball-Striking, No. 3, Tee-to-Green, No. 4 on approach and No. 3 in total strokes gained, all over his past 24 rounds.
He’s made the cut in two of his three Master’s trips with a T-10 back in November. His price tag on DraftKings is egregious at just $6,900 and he will likely be mega chalk, but there’s simply no way you can fade him in cash this week if your goal is to make money.
Sungjae Im ($8,400 DraftKings)
Im is coming off a solo second back in November at this event and feels very comfortable in these loaded field events. He has the statistical profile of someone who should compete in majors, as he’s long off the tee, great with his irons and a strong putter.
He’s now made 20 of his past 21 cuts dating back to the 2020 BMW championship back in August and has 11 top-25 finishes in that stretch. Im is a golf nut and one of the most consistent players on TOUR.
He boasts a very reasonable $8,400 price on DraftKings this week, putting him firmly in cash game consideration
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($8,100 DraftKings)
The Englishman, much like Im, is another elite cut-maker. We’ve seen him play his best golf at tougher courses and he’s made each of his past five cuts at Augusta. His elite short game will keep him in contention almost anywhere, and he’s posted four consecutive top-11 finishes, so he’s coming in hot.
Fitzpatrick ranks 19th in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green and sixth in total strokes gained over his past 16 rounds, and I am willing to bet that in his seventh career start at Augusta he’s ready to seriously contend for his first stateside win. A green jacket would be quite the prize.
Pictured above: Jon Rahm
Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images