It’s November and it’s Masters week.
That’s not a statement we’re familiar with, but such is 2020. The field is at 92 players, with two COVID-related withdrawals from Joaquin Niemann and Sergio Garcia. Garcia hits particularly hard, as we haven’t had a Masters Tournament without Sergio since 1998.
Even without Sergio and Niemann, the field is predictably loaded with talent. The field was set in early 2020 in anticipation of a usual April tournament, so players who have moved into the top 50 in the world this year are also absent. These players are Daniel Berger, Viktor Hovland, Ryan Palmer, Harris English and Mackenzie Hughes. We’ll almost certainly see all five of those golfers in April 2021.
With a November Masters, one of the big storylines will be how the change in seasons affects the golf course. It’s been a wet November in Augusta, and there are reports that the grass is longer and the course is more wet and muddy than it plays in April.
Without firm fairways, players who generate distance off the tee could gain an even greater advantage than normal, and that’s a crucial stat we’re looking at this week. According to our model, that doesn’t bode well for defending champion Tiger Woods as he goes after a sixth green jacket.
Augusta National is probably the most analyzed course on tour. Everyone has their favorite and least favorite holes. It’s a par 72 that can play into the mid 7,400s with tree-lined fairways and angles designed to make the best tour players decide between taking on bunkers or water and laying up.
One of the big features of Augusta National doesn’t show up in the stats: There are no greens books. Without greens books, golfers don’t have the numbers that so many rely on to read the greens, and must instead use their experience and eyes.
PICK TO WIN
Distance? Check. Course history? Check. Strong recent form? Check. While the conversation is understandably about how Bryson DeChambeau might “break” Augusta this weekend, Rahm has been playing some of his best golf in 2020 and has been in and out of the world’s top spot. He’s played in all of the top tournaments, and still has some of the most impressive relative-to-field statistics on tour. He’s above-average statistically in Fairway %, Driving Distance, Putts per Round, Putts per Green in Regulation, and Greens in Regulation.
This gives Rahm a massive advantage at courses like Augusta, which have historically favored golfers with length off the tee and a well-balanced rest of the game. Our model gives him a 6.8% chance of winning this weekend.
|Si Woo Kim||57.5||298.6||28.4||1.72||65.3||58.8|
MID-TIER PLAYERS WHO COULD CONTEND
Another long-hitter with good course history, Watson has rounded into form nicely over the past few months. Now he appears poised to play well at one of his favorite courses. With two wins and a top-five finish at Augusta, Bubba is coming off consecutive top 10s at the CJ Cup and the ZOZO Championship – two tournaments that also featured some of the best players in the world.
He averages just over 308 yards off the tee and hits it as high as anyone, which is important on a potentially muddy course. He’s also historically been better with his putter at Augusta. We give Bubba a 3.5% chance of taking home a third green jacket.
We featured Scott last week ahead of the Houston Open. After missing a tournament due to a COVID diagnosis, Scott came out firing on Thursday and Friday, gaining 2.7 strokes off the tee through two rounds while averaging 328 yards per drive. On Saturday, however, he spent the round hitting provisional tee shots after finding himself incapable of finding fairways. He ended up losing an incredible 4.3 strokes off the tee in Round 3 while shooting 4-over par and falling out of contention.
If Scott can replicate what we saw off the tee in the first two rounds last week, we could be talking about him in the same breath as Rahm and DeChambeau heading into this weekend.
Our model loves Casey this week. Like Bubba, he’s a spectacular ball-striker, hitting almost 63% fairways at over 305 yards per drive and hitting almost 70% of greens. His short game is always the biggest concern, but he’s played well at Augusta in the past with five top-five finishes in 13 appearances.
With cooler temperatures and significant moisture this weekend, we could see an advantage for some of the European guys, and Casey is the longest hitter of the group.
LONGSHOTS WHO COULD SURPRISE
Playing in his first Masters, Kokrak is coming in on fire. He’s only missed the cut once in his last seven tournaments, and in the six times he’s made the cut, his worst finish has been a tie for 17th. Those tournaments include the ZOZO, CJ Cup (winner), U.S. Open, BMW Championship and Northern Trust. They all featured the best players in the world.
Kokrak averages almost 308 yards off the tee and hits 69.5% of greens. His putting has always been the concern, but in his last four tournaments he’s gained more than five strokes on the green three times.
Playing in just his third Masters, Conners fits our mold of players who are long off the tee and hit a ton of greens. The main reason Conners isn’t up on the same level as Casey and Bubba is his ridiculously bad putting. Conners ranks in the bottom five in putts per round in the whole field and he hasn’t gained any more than 2.6 strokes on the greens this year while losing more than two strokes four times.
A mainstay on the Euro tour, Perez averages over 305 yards off the tee and hits almost 68% of greens. He’s just 23 years old and has only played a handful of times with the best players in the world, but he did almost crack the top 20 at the PGA Championship. He also has a history of success in Scotland, finishing tied for 14th at the Scottish Open in October. If the course ends up cold and soggy, Perez has some valuable experience.
FAVORITE DRAFTKINGS GPP PLAYS
There are 31 players we’ve identified as good plays in this field. With a short field and so many good players at the top, the key to winning in DFS this week will be identifying the lower-priced players who aren’t going to sink your lineup.
There are only five players over $8,000 who we do NOT like this week: Tiger, Collin Morikawa, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth. For the most part, they just aren’t long enough.
Players under $8,000 who we like are:
Scottie Scheffler ($7,800)
Justin Rose ($7,700)
Shane Lowry ($7,300)
Billy Horschel ($7,200)
Cameron Champ ($7,200)
Jason Kokrak ($7,000)
Erik van Rooyen ($6,900)
Si Woo Kim ($6,800)
Corey Conners ($6,600)
Lanto Griffin ($6,500)
Victor Perez ($6,500)
Lucas Glover ($6,400)
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