Fore Please – The Masters

Patrick Reed returns to Augusta National Golf Club in defense of his first career major victory at last year's Masters.

It is finally here! The unofficial start of spring is upon us with the Super Bowl of golf this week at The Masters from its traditional location in Augusta, Georgia. The course at Augusta National and the history of this event are the most revered in all of professional golf, and with so many of the world’s best coming into this event in great form, the 2019 edition of the Masters promises to be a great one. In this article we will breakdown a few aspects of the Masters that are worth keeping in mind as you begin your lineup construction and research for the start of the event on Thursday morning. As always, stay tuned throughout the week for more content leading up to Thursday’s opening tee shot and carrying you all the way through the final holed putt on Sunday afternoon – more details on that at the end of this article. But for now, let’s start by taking a look at some key information to keep in mind for the 2019 Masters.

The Field

This year’s field is exceptionally small, boasting only 87 players. That is a far cry from the 150+ that we generally see at our regular weekly Tour stops. There are 19 different ways that someone can qualify to play in the Masters, along with an option that the members at Augusta National reserve for Special Exemptions into the tournament (this year they gave a special exemption to Shugo Imahira of Japan.) Despite the many ways that someone can qualify, this event remains one of the most exclusive in golf, much like membership to the course itself. While I won’t get into all of the different ways to qualify in this article, because let’s be honest, I know you don’t care (for the record, Qualification Standard #10 goes to the Latin American Amatuer Champion, who this year is Alvaro Ortiz from Mexico, but I’m sure you already knew that.) With everyone in the Top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings participating this week we are sure to see the best of what professional golf has to offer here at Augusta National.

Cut Rules at Augusta

Another way in which the Masters is different from any other professional golf tournament around the world is in the way that they determine the cut each year (which is the trimming down of the field after Friday’s second round for those that aren’t as familiar with golf.) Most PGA tournaments (which have fields of anywhere between 120 to 156 players starting the event on Thursday) will cut the field down to the Top 70 players after Friday, including ties (so if 7 players tie for the score that is in 70th place after Friday’s round, they all qualify to play the final two rounds on the weekend.) The Masters is different – they take the Top 50 players after Friday’s round to this weekend, with one small twist. If you are outside the Top 50 after two rounds, but are still 10 or fewer shots behind the leader after Friday, you are also invited to play Saturday and Sunday. In a field of only 87 players this means that a huge percentage of the field will be making the cut this year. Lineup construction is critical this week because the value of a 6 of 6 lineup is diminished dramatically because of the large percentage of players making the cut at this event. Just another nugget to keep in mind when selecting your players this week.

Key Stats To Consider

Augusta National is famous for having some the most undulated, fastest-paced greens in the world, so it is no surprise that short game statistics are important heading into the Masters every year. Strokes Gained: Around The Green is a stat that is a little bit misleading sometimes (if you hit a ton of greens you don’t have much of a sample to draw from in your SG: ARG numbers) but it is inevitable that you are going to miss the greens here at Augusta – the players that can best navigate these tricky situations have a distinct advantage over the rest of the field.

In addition to needing a tremendous short game in order to contend at the Masters, players who hit the ball long off the tee have a huge advantage here as well. All but one of the par 4s at Augusta National will require drivers off the tee for even the longest hitters in the field, and while the rough is traditionally a non-factor at Augusta there is definitely an advantage to being in the fairway, preferably long in the fairway. Strokes Gained: Off The Tee covers this situation, so finding players that excel in this area gives them an advantage when it comes to the approach shots into the challenging Augusta National greens.

Finally, because of the undulations on the greens here, being able to control your approach shots is critical to make sure you are on the correct tier of these multi-leveled greens or are able to play your ball down the correct slope to get it close to the hole. Augusta does not provide us with as many strokes gained stats as other tournament hosts across the PGA Tour, but the importance on these stats is well-known. Finding players with the best control of their iron shots (Strokes Gained: Approach) can point you in the direction of the players with the best chance to contend this week.

Pricing Differences: DraftKings and FanDuel

Because of the differences in pricing and salary cap between DraftKings and FanDuel it is impossible to determine which players you are getting the best value on between sites simply by looking at their raw salaries at each place. However, seeing where each player ranks compared to the rest of the players in the field at each site might help us to find some value in a view players this week at each place. For example, the chart below is showing the players in the top half of the field (DFS price wise) that could be considered great values at each site for The Masters. As you can see, Tiger Woods is the 4th most expensive player on DraftKings, but only the 10th most expensive on FanDuel. This may lead us to play Woods more frequently on FanDuel because of the savings we are getting in relation to the rest of the players in the field this week on FanDuel. If you have any questions on the sheet, or anything else for that matter leading up to Thursday’s start, feel free to message me on Twitter (@CoachKrallDFS) or find me on Facebook (CoachKrall Dfs). Here is the chart of this week’s best values at each site:

Course History

Unlike any other course that is played Augusta National is a course that requires a large amount of experiences to play effectively. No first timer at The Masters has won since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 – this speaks to the difficulty that first time players have in Augusta simply because they are not familiar with the course. In addition, bad weather at Augusta National early this week has eliminated much of the practice time allotted to first time Masters participants – another strike against the debutantes in this field. A strong course history means more here than at any other stop in professional golf, so finding the players with a positive track record here can put you on the right track to finding that winning lineup.

For the course history and recent form statistics I must give a huge shoutout to the guys at Fantasy National – the premier golf stats site on the Internet today. If you aren’t a member, consider signing up today! Based on their results database, here are the Top 12 players over the last 5 years in overall strokes gained at the Masters:

Recent Form

I use recent form weekly in my projections to consider which players are posting the best results over the last 5 weeks of play. Any further back than that doesn’t exactly constitute “recent” to me, so I really want to focus on those players that are hitting the ball (and posting great finishes) in a short time span leading up to that week’s event. Here are the players in the field this week with the best recent form (in terms of total strokes gained) over the last 5 weeks heading into The Masters:

I’ll be offering a second article this week, as I do every week, titled “Gaining Strokes” that breaks down my favorite DFS plays for this week’s action. While it is a stuck behind the paywall the great people at Daily Play Action are currently offering a free 30 day trial to try all of our premium content, including access my “Strokes Gained” article as well as a seat at the table as part of our premium Slack chat group. For more information about becoming a Playmaker, check out our page here.

Weather Forecast

To say that this week’s forecast looks less than ideal would be an understatement as storms appear to be in the offering for Sunday. While that is a long way away at this point we could be in for quite the show come Sunday afternoon if this holds. At least the winds are expected to stay reasonable all week until Sunday, but there has been a lot of fluctuation already this week leading up to the event on that front as well. Let’s just enjoy the ride and hope for the best….and pack an umbrella just in case!

Masters Videos Of The Week

We could only be so lucky if we get to witness an iconic call that could make this great montage. In your life have you seen anything like this?

It’s been long established that I’m a total nerd for golf – look at what your reading! But the Ceremonial Opening Tee Shot is one of my favorite traditions of Masters Week. And the 2017 edition, just following the passing of Arnold Palmer, gets me everytime. Did it just get dusty in here?

Enjoy this week – it’s the greatest week of golf we have. If the weather cooperates where you are from get out and play a little bit – spring is here! Hopefully your club has a started that can announce for you “Fore Please! Some 30 handicap hack now driving!” Good luck this week everyone!