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BlogMasters Preview and Picks

Masters

April 5th – 8th, 2018

Augusta National G.C.

Augusta, GA

Par: 72 / Yardage:

Purse: $11 million (last year)

with $1,980,000 (last year) to the winner

Defending Champion:
Sergio Garcia

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 67 of the top-100 and 49 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings.  The only top-50 player not at Augusta is Brooks Koepka who is hurt and couldn’t play this week

The field includes 23 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2018.   Those players are #1 Justin Thomas, #2 Patton Kizzire, #3 Phil Mickelson, #4 Bubba Watson, #5 Dustin Johnson, #6 Jon Rahm, #7 Justin Rose, #8 Tony Finau, #9 Brendan Steele, #10 Paul Casey, #11 Jason Day, #12 Pat Perez, #13 Brian Harman, #14 Alex Noren, #15 Patrick Cantlay, #16 Chez Reavie, #17 Gary Woodland, #19 Austin Cook, #20 Ian Poulter, #22 Cameron Smith, #23 Bryson DeChambeau, #24 Marc Leishman and #25 Ted Potter, Jr.

Those in the top-25 but not playing are #18 Luke List and #21 Chesson Hadley.

The field includes 20 past champions: Sergio Garcia (2017), Danny Willett (2016), Jordan Spieth (2015), Bubba Watson (2012 & ’14), Adam Scott (2013), Charl Schwartzel (2011), Phil Mickelson (2006, ’04 & ’10), Angel Cabrera (2009), Trevor Immelman (2008), Zach Johnson (2007), Tiger Woods (1997, 2001, ’02 & ’05), Mike Weir (2003), Vijay Singh (2000), Jose Maria Olazabal (1999 & ’94), Mark O’Meara (1998), Bernhard Langer (1993 & ’85), Fred Couples (1992), Ian Woosnam (1991), Sandy Lyle (1988) and Larry Mize (1987).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Master’s field is our performance chart listed by the average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Masters in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Masters.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker North America, Vovada.  They give odds of everyone that is easy to read and find a player.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

 

 

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Masters

Player Houston Open WGC – Dell Match Play Corales Arnold Palmer Valspar Indian Open WGC Mexico Honda Classic Genesis Open Qatar Masters AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Farmers
Justin Thomas
(334 pts)
DNP 4
(120)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
Win
(88)
T9
(15)
DNP DNP T17
(11)
DNP
Alex Noren
(299.33 pts)
DNP 3
(135)
DNP T36
(14)
DNP DNP T14
(36)
3
(60)
T16
(11.33)
DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
T2
(33.33)
Bubba Watson
(295.33 pts)
DNP Win
(198)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP T35
(5)
T40
(3.33)
DNP
Phil Mickelson
(285.83 pts)
T24
(26)
T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP T2
(33.33)
T5
(23.33)
T45
(1.67)
Ian Poulter
(232.67 pts)
Win
(132)
T5
(105)
DNP T41
(9)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T52
(0)
DNP
Patrick Reed
(212.17 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP T7
(55)
T2
(66.67)
DNP T37
(13)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T17
(11)
T23
(9)
Paul Casey
(192.5 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP DNP
Jordan Spieth
(190.5 pts)
T3
(90)
T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP T20
(10)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Sergio Garcia
(187.17 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP DNP 4
(53.33)
DNP T7
(55)
T33
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tiger Woods
(167.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP 12
(25.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(9)
Tommy Fleetwood
(167.17 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T26
(24)
DNP DNP T14
(36)
4
(53.33)
T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Justin Rose
(166.33 pts)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP 3
(90)
T5
(46.67)
DNP T37
(13)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
(165 pts)
DNP T5
(105)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T5
(70)
T68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kyle Stanley
(159.33 pts)
DNP T5
(105)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP DNP T25
(25)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T51
(0)
Matt Kuchar
(155.5 pts)
T8
(50)
T9
(67.5)
DNP DNP T40
(6.67)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP T26
(8)
DNP T62
(0)
T5
(23.33)
DNP
Rory McIlroy
(153 pts)
DNP T36
(21)
DNP Win
(132)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T59
(0)
T20
(10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Kevin Kisner
(151 pts)
DNP 2
(150)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 29
(21)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
(150.83 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP T69
(0)
DNP DNP T3
(90)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Adam Hadwin
(147.17 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP DNP T43
(2.33)
T35
(5)
Brian Harman
(145.5 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP T5
(70)
T33
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Tony Finau
(141.83 pts)
T24
(26)
T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T27
(23)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T6
(20)
Henrik Stenson
(133.33 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP 4
(80)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(131 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T36
(21)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(90)
T29
(14)
T26
(8)
DNP T26
(8)
DNP DNP
Kevin Chappell
(129 pts)
DNP T36
(21)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP T30
(20)
DNP T20
(10)
DNP T8
(16.67)
T31
(6.33)
DNP
Cameron Smith
(128.33 pts)
DNP T5
(105)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T46
(2.67)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(20)
DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
T20
(10)
Jason Day
(126.33 pts)
DNP T36
(21)
DNP T22
(28)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP Win
(44)
Webb Simpson
(121.17 pts)
DNP T29
(31.5)
DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T37
(13)
T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Bryson DeChambeau
(119.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
WD
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T41
(3)
DNP T55
(0)
T5
(23.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Louis Oosthuizen
(117.5 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T16
(22.67)
DNP T30
(20)
T24
(17.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brendan Steele
(116.83 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(30)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP T3
(30)
T29
(7)
Xander Schauffele
(104.17 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(32)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP DNP T17
(11)
CUT
(-3.33)
Patrick Cantlay
(101.17 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T30
(20)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP T35
(5)
DNP T51
(0)
Francesco Molinari
(100.17 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T26
(24)
DNP DNP T25
(25)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T40
(3.33)
T45
(1.67)
Dustin Johnson
(99.67 pts)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP
Branden Grace
(99.17 pts)
DNP T29
(31.5)
DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T30
(20)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP T20
(10)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Masters

Player Houston Open WGC – Dell Match Play Corales Arnold Palmer Valspar Indian Open WGC Mexico Honda Classic Genesis Open Qatar Masters AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Farmers
Billy Horschel
(-17.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T43
(2.33)
T54
(0)
Wesley Bryan
(-13.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Vijay Singh
(-13.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T73
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Martin Kaymer
(-13.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-3.33)
T53
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Satoshi Kodaira
(-10 pts)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Danny Willett
(-5 pts)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Mike Weir
(-3.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Angel Cabrera
(-1.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP DNP
Doc Redman
(0 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 71
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Yusaku Miyazato
(0 pts)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

This week is always my favorite week of the year.  It’s back to Augusta National and getting together with a bunch of old friends.  The golf writing field has been devastated by cutbacks and firings over the years, but it seems that old friends from the golf industry that we don’t see much anymore always find their way back for the Masters each year, so it’s like your college reunion.  Sorry to say that one of the reasons this preview is late is because of all the old friends you run into, takes time away from other pressing issues.

You can see my love for the Masters, going through the gates of Augusta is always unique.  The place is a Shangri-la, a permanently happy land that is isolated from the outside world.  The course is extraordinary in being challenging but very fair, one that adds excitement and rewards for the best.  In the long run, if one were to script the perfect place to hold a championship, Augusta National would be on top of the list for not only the course but the facilities and ability to handle spectators.

Because of this, I hold the Masters in high esteem. Just like Baseball today, this is the opening day of the 2018 golfing season.  Yes, there have been 22 events already played on the PGA Tour and 15 events on the European Tour, which means the season is 40% over but all of those are a prelude to this week.

The year has been great, we have seen the reemergence of Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey to the winner’s circle and trust that Tiger Woods is not far behind.  We have seen Justin Thomas come so close to total domination only to fall flat in the clutch at both the WGC-Mexico and WGC-Dell Match Play.  We have seen Dustin Johnson back in the winner circle, but wonder why he seems so reasonable but never dominates.  We have also seen how good Justin Rose and Jon Rahm can be and wonder if they could go wild and win multiple times in 2018.  And how about Ian Poulter winning last week, gosh he was a fixture inside the top-50 of the world rankings for 13 years between 2002 and 2015, only to drop out because of injury and now is fighting back to regain the magic.

So going into the Masters, the excitement is at fervor pitch.

With that you have lot’s of storylines from Rory going after a major slam, can Phil Mickelson at the age of 47 do the same thing that Jack Nicklaus did when he was 46 in 1986.  People shouldn’t be surprised by the excellent play of Rickie Fowler; he has been close this year, looking to add another victory to his Here World Challenge victory before Christmas.  We also can’t forget some youngsters like Patrick Cantlay, he looked great all last year and finally got the monkey off his back with a win at the Shriners Hospitals. Now on the negative side, you have the story of Hideki Matsuyama fighting back from wrist injuries which have plagued him since turning pro.  We also will miss Brooks Koepka, who suffered a partially torn tendon back in December after winning in Japan.  The U.S. Open champion who has been a big surprise in majors the last couple of years hasn’t played since the Sentry TofC and won’t be at the Masters this week.  We are hoping he will be back in time for the Players Championship next month.

Last we have to talk about the struggle for some like Jordan Spieth, who has been flat with the putter all year, yes he is good but not that great if not putting well.  We also had seen the struggle of Adam Scott, who when he won the Masters in 2013 we all thought he was a possible superstar but has struggled since his last win in Doral two years ago.

The “Buzz” for the week is who will win.  There are 87 players in the field, with 16 Masters rookies.  We all knew about the Masters, rookie jinx.  It’s now been 39 years since Fuzzy Zoeller won and even though the rookie class includes guys that have won in the last year like Xander Schauffele, Austin Cook and Shubhandar Sharma I can say that we will have to wait until next year, I can’t see any rookies winning this week.

We have read all of the stories over the years that say only a dozen or so could win the Masters; I put that number at about 30.  I am writing this on Tuesday looking at a perfect day for golf outside now, but know that heavy thunderstorms will be around tomorrow for the par 3 event and back on Saturday.  One thing that everyone should be happy about is that the forecast doesn’t call for wind, the worst day will be Saturday at 12 mph, but with a 90% chance of rain, the odds are they won’t be playing on Saturday.

So buckle up and get ready for a wild week, the Masters will be exciting again.

Things you need to know about the Masters

This week will be the 82nd edition of the Masters. It has been played every year, except for between 1943 and 1945 when the war suspended the championship.  Every year it has been played at Augusta National, the only major played on the same course each year.

The Masters was conceived by Bobby Jones, who had always dreamed of having a U.S. Open played on Augusta National.  But with the hot summers in June, Jones approached the USGA with the idea of playing the Open at Augusta in April, but the USGA turned him down.  So Jones and Clifford Roberts decided to hold their annual event beginning in 1934.  Roberts proposed that the event be called the Masters Tournament, but Jones objected thinking it was too presumptuous.  The name Augusta National Invitation Tournament was adopted, and that title was used for five years until 1939 when Jones relented, and the name was officially changed.

Course information:

  • August National Golf Club
  • August, S.C.
  • 7,435 yards     Par 36-36–72

While playing championship golf, Bobby Jones had always hoped that one day he would be able to build a championship golf course near his Atlanta home.  Upon his retirement after the 1930 U.S. Amateur, Jones set out to complete his dream.  In the 1920s he met New York banker Clifford Roberts who helped Jones with his vision. After looking at several places, they both decided on Augusta, Ga. as the site because it provided the best weather in the winter months.  They scouted the area for a piece of land that according to Jones plans would utilize the natural shape and slope of the property to build the course.  Jones didn’t want a venue that relied on severe rough as a hazard and hoped that he could find a piece of property that would have a stream running through so that he could build several holes around it for water hazards.  He also wanted to create a championship course that would be playable for the average golfer, one that would use mounds and slopes as hazards instead of sand bunkers.

Also helping Jones and Roberts in their search were Thomas Barrett Jr. He knew of a piece of land in Augusta that he thought would be perfect for Jones’ dream course.  He recommended a piece of property called Fruitlands Nursery.  The land consisted of 365 acres that was once an indigo plantation the family bought in 1857.  The man was Louis Mathieu Edouard Berckmans, who was a horticulturist by hobby.  Along with his son Julius Alphonse, an agronomist and horticulturist by profession, they formed a business in 1858 to import trees and plants from various countries.  It would be the first commercial nursery in the south, and they called it, Fruitland Nursery. Even though Berchmans died in 1883, the business flourished. A great variety of flowering plants and trees, including a long double row of magnolias, were planted before the Civil War, and today they serve as the club’s entrance were on the property.  But Prosper’s claim to fame was that he popularized a plant called the azalea.

Upon Prosper’s death in 1910 the business stop operation and the heirs looked for a buyer.  That buyer came around in late 1930 when Tom Barrett first showed Jones Berchman’s nursery.  Upon seeing the property from what is now the practice putting green, Jones knew he had the perfect land for an ideal golf course.  He told Roberts and Barrett that he thought the ground had been lying there all these years waiting for someone to come along and lay a golf course on it.

An option was taken on the property for $70,000, and it was decided to establish a national membership for the club, and Jones proposed Augusta National would be an appropriate name. Jones also agreed in the planning stage he wanted Dr. Alister Mackenzie of Scotland to serve as the course architect since the pair held similar views. Before coming to Augusta, Mackenzie had designed two courses in California – Pasatiempo and Cypress Point.  Jones played those courses after he failed in the first round of the 1929 U.S. Amateur and fell in love with the courses and MacKenzie’s design.  So that was the main reason he got MacKenzie to help him.

Jones and Mackenzie completed the plans, and the construction started in July of 1931. Unfortunately, Mackenzie died after the construction work was completed, before Augusta National was entirely covered with grass. The course was finished and opened in December 1932 with a limited amount of member play. A formal opening took place in January of 1933.

Since the course opened, it has been changed several times in the 81 years.  In 1934 the tournament nines were different and were changed for the 1935 event.  Also, the grasses have changed over the years between bent and bermudagrass, Today Augusta National’s tees and fairways are Bermuda grass, but they are overseeded each fall with ryegrass.  The greens are bentgrass that gives them their wonderful speed and smoothness.

The average green size at Augusta is 6,150 square feet, which is about the average on the PGA Tour. Water comes into play on five holes on the back side, and there are only 43 bunkers.

Augusta has played terribly over the last couple of years, last year it played at 73.89 and was the 2nd hardest course on the PGA Tour.  The previous year the scoring average was 74.42 making Augusta National the 3rd hardest course to score on in 2016. In 2015 Augusta was the 13th toughest course with a 72.54 average. In 2014 it was second hardest course on the PGA Tour with a scoring average of 73.946, close to two shots over par a round. In 2013 Augusta National was the 4th hardest course on the PGA Tour playing to a 73.412 average playing 1.412 stroke under par.  For a more comprehensive look at the course, look at this course overview done by Masters.Com.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing at Augusta National.

This is based on the most important stats for Augusta National, based on data from last years Masters, and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2018. What we do is take their rank for each stat and then add up the four categories.
The scoring average of the field at Augusta National in 2017 was 73.89, so with par being 72 that means the average score was almost two shots over par, making Augusta National the 2nd hardest course to score on in 2017. It’s also important to see how the weather played a factor, last year’s weather was near perfect but the winds did blow the first two days between 20 to 25 mph, then decreased to 4 to 8 mph for the weekend. The year before the scoring average was 74.42 again because winds were between 10 and 15 mph each of the four days. Now the year before that with good weather but very little wind the course played a lot easier to a scoring average of 72.54 and it ranked the 14th hardest course that year. In looking at the weather for Augusta for this week, I can see a scoring average over par as the winds will be between 8 and 12 mph every day but with rain hampering the tournament on Saturday. It will also be a lot cooler over the weekend, it will be a high of 57 on Saturday and 65 on Sunday.

Now one thing that we have to look at is the claim that Augusta is great for long hitters. That is in part true, hitting it long does have it’s advantage, especially on Augusta’s par 5s. Last year Sergio Garcia showed his advantage as he ranked 6th in driving distance and played the par 5s in 7 under. But in looking at the past champions, it’s mixed with long hitters and short. A perfect example is 2016 and in 2015. Danny Willett ranked 32nd in driving distance while in 2015 Jordan Spieth ranked 52nd. But look at the top-ten for the week, last year only 3 out of 10 while in 2016 5 out of 14 while in 2015 only one of the 11 were ranked in the top-ten in distance, showing that there is more to Augusta than people think.

One thing in looking at the stats, Augusta National doesn’t utilize stroke gain stats which we have been using more of so we have to go back to the old fashion stats. So in looking at the stats for Augusta National, one thing is obvious, the course caters to those that hit lots of greens, can scramble well, can avoid three putts and play well on the par 5s. So these are the four stats we pick for this week’s key course stats.

In looking at Augusta National last year, the course ranked 34th in greens in regulation (59.82). This was the first time in the last six years that the ranking was higher than 16th, in 2016 it was the 10th highest for the year. As for importance last year’s winner Sergio Garcia ranked T-2nd in greens hit.

Our next category is scrambling and last year the course ranked 3rd on tour while Garcia was T-6th. In three-putt avoidance Augusta played 2nd hardest on Tour while Garcia only had one three-putt for the entire week, only one other player had 1 for the week (William McGirt). Our last category is par 5, now for the average field the Par 5 average last year was 4.75 and it was T-10th on tour. Sergio was 7 under for the week which in the scope of things wasn’t that big of a deal as he ranked T-17th. So how did the 16 players that did better on the par 5s fare? Charl Schwartzel played them the best at 12 under and he finished 3rd for the week. Justin Rose who lost the playoff was 9 under, so playing the par 5s are important. Since 1997 every winner has been under par on the par 5s except for Danny Willett who played them in even par in 2016. But if you average out the winners in the last 21 years, they average 8 under so you can see the importance of playing the par 5s well for the week.

So let’s take a more careful look at how the last two champions became victorious. In 2016 Danny Willett was T-6th in greens in regulation, he was 1st in scrambling, T-2nd in three-putt avoidance and 54th in par 5 average.

How about 2015 for Jordan Spieth. He ranked 2nd in Greens in Regulation, hitting 75% of his greens. He was T-10th in scrambling, T22nd in three-putt avoidance and T-4th in Par 5 Scoring. One other important item that won’t be on this list but you should have in the back of your mind, making lot’s of birdies, in 2015 Spieth led that stat making 28 birdies for the week while Willett was T-16th making just 13 for the week.

Again if a person can hit a lot of greens and scramble well on the ones he misses and make a good share of putts, especially in the 4 to 10-foot range he is a can’t miss to not only contend, but possibly winning.

*Greens in Regulation: Stat is a great barometer on how good players manage their games around Augusta National. Every year the players that hit lot’s of greens do well.

*Scrambling: So which course is tough to get it up and down on holes players miss the greens. Since all of the area’s around the greens are mowed short and are left with really hard shots to get it close, scrambling is important. You are not going to be perfect so you have to make sure you can make pars from some tough places

*Three putt avoidance: Augusta has the toughest greens in the world to putt on. They only average 6,486 square feet so they aren’t big or small, but they are sloppy and you can be faced with a lot of ten-foot lag putts. So when you are 30 or 40 feet away it’s really hard to get up and down in two putts and is important.

*Par 5 scoring: This is the one place long hitters do have an advantage on, the par 5s. Three of the four are within reach of the longest hitters and depending on how Augusta sets up the 8th hole, that could be easy or hard. But to win it’s important to do well on the Par 5s.

Players from this year’s field with stats from 2018 Remember this is an international event with six amateurs and lot’s of players that do not play regularly on the PGA Tour, so only 58 of the field of 87 have PGA Tour stats for 2018. One other thing, the Masters is not part of the PGA Tours shotlink program so you won’t see stats like Strokes Gained this week:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

 

Here is a link to the 48 players with stats for 2018

DraftKings tips

Of the 87 in the field, 71 have played at least once at Augusta National in the Masters.  

*Here are the players with the most under par totals at the Masters since 2010:

  • Justin Rose is 28 under in 28 rounds playing 7 years
  • Jordan Spieth is 26 under in 16 rounds playing 4 years
  • Tiger Woods is 26 under in 20 rounds playing 5 years
  • Phil Mickelson is 16 under in 28 rounds playing 8 years
  • Adam Scott is 15 under in 32 rounds playing 8 years
  • Jason Day is 11 under in 25 rounds playing 7 years
  • Matt Kuchar is 11 under in 32 rounds playing 8 years
  • Thomas Pieters is 5 under in 4 rounds playing 1 years
  • Rory McIlroy is 4 under in 30 rounds playing 8 years
  • Fred Couples is 4 under in 26 rounds playing 7 years
  • Charley Hoffman is Even Par in 16 rounds playing 4 years

*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per years played (2 or more starts)

  • Jordan Spieth is 26 under playing 4 years (-1.63)
  • Tiger Woods is 26 under playing 5 years (-1.30)
  • Justin Rose is 28 under playing 7 years (-1.00)
  • Phil Mickelson is 16 under playing 8 years (-0.57)
  • Adam Scott is 15 under playing 8 years (-0.47)
  • Jason Day is 11 under playing 7 years (-0.44)
  • Matt Kuchar is 11 under playing 8 years (-0.34)
  • Fred Couples is 4 under playing 7 years (-0.15)
  • Rory McIlroy is 4 under playing 8 years (-0.13)
  • Charley Hoffman is Even Par playing 4 years (0.00)

Historical ParBreakers

Here is a look at those playing this week and who has made the most eagles and birdies:

 

 

 

 

So it makes sense that the top players on this list are guys that will make lot’s of points this week

 

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Dustin Johnson – $11,400
  • Justin Thomas – $10,800
  • Jordan Spieth- $10,400
  • Tiger Woods – $10,000
  • Rory McIlroy – $9,900
  • Jason Day – $9,800
  • Phil Mickelson – $9,500
  • Jon Rahm – $9,300
  • Justin Rose – $9,200
  • Rickie Fowler – $9,000
  • Paul Casey – $8,800
  • Bubba Watson – $8,700
  • Sergio Garcia – $8,600

I look at this prices, and my first thought is that they are more than fair.  The last thing you hate to see is a couple of guys in the $12,000 and a bunch in the $11,000 range.  Maybe it because the field is shorter, of course, there has to be a scale based on the number of players in the field.  So with the Master’s field at just 87, maybe this is the reason.  Another thing, one of the differences in the Masters.

Only 30 guys have a real chance of doing well, so you are limited in picks, so maybe that is why the prices are lower.  No matter we have to pick six great choices.  Before we start, the cost of the million dollars first place has gone from $33 to $20, so gives you an option of picking more teams.

Common sense says that after what happened in Austin two weeks ago at the WGC-Dell Match Play, you would be careful in picking guys like Dustin Johnson at $11,400, who lost all three of his matches and Rory McIlroy at $9,900, who lost two of three.  As for Johnson, I am not worried about him, he wasn’t feeling well in Austin with the flu, and he is ready to go.  His record is good at Augusta and can do some damage.  Yes, he is a big price, but it’s money well spent.  The same with McIlroy, Augusta National is the best course for his game because of his length off the tee (the same as Dustin), and I can’t see Rory finishing out of the top-10.  Justin Thomas at $10,800 has been on the downhill slide on his roller coaster, played well but hasn’t shown us he can go low at Augusta, take a pass on him.

As for Jordan Spieth at $10,400, sorry but he worries me.  His putter has not been that great which is a big concern.  But everything else about Jordan is confident, he plays well at Augusta National, so you think.  Look at this scary stat on Jordan.  In Jordans first eight Masters round he was 23 under par and shot under par 7 times and was at par once.  But his last 8 rounds haven’t been as grand.  He is just 3 under and was under par in three rounds and over par in five.  So a balky putter and some poor golf in his last 8 Masters rounds give me a lack of confidence in Jordan.  Now I can’t say more good things about Tiger Woods at $10,000.  He reminds me of the time back in 2004 when Google held its IPO on Wall Street.  It didn’t take long for that first purchase price of $85 looked like a bargain, the same with Tiger at $10,000.  I can’t see it; you think it should be more and you have to believe he will be in contention so enjoy the low price.  As for Jason Day at $9,800, he hasn’t played well of late, and in looking at his last 4 Masters, they are respectable, but that’s it.  They aren’t good enough to warrant the investment.  I can see a lot of folks going after Phil Mickelson at $9,500, he is playing well, loves Augusta National and is hungry for another major win.  I would like to see him win another, but hope it’s in a couple of months at Shinnecock Hills, but if it’s this week great.  I will be putting him on one of my teams.  I am passing on Jon Rahm at $9,300, he has shown me nothing but a nasty temper lately, and I don’t think he has the patience to play good enough this week.  Justin Rose at $9,200 is a buy, he always plays well at the Masters and seems to be destined to win.  Will it be this week, who knows but he will give you lot’s of birdies and a top-10.  Rickie Fowler at $9,000 is a no for me, just been playing terrible the last couple of months (for him that is) and worried that Butch Harman won’t be able to straighten it out this week.  Now the meat of your picks comes from the next three guys.  Paul Casey at $8,800, Bubba Watson at $8,700 and Sergio Garcia at $8,600 are low enough at $26,100 that you can pick the three of them and still find three others at an average of $8,000 a player.  Casey and Bubba have won in the last month, they are playing well and seem to shot great numbers at Augusta.  As for Sergio, what can I say but he is a delighted man with a great wife, a new baby girl, life can’t be any better for the Spaniard

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,500 price range, which ones are worth the money?

Thomas Pieters at $8,300 seems like an ok buy, he was T-4th last year, but since his T-5th at Abu Dhabi, he has played alright, nothing significant to write home about but making cuts and making birdies.  Would I take him yes and no, it’s a toss-up.  Hideki Matsuyama at $8,400 looks right, he has been consistent at Augusta the last three years but still worried about his wrist, hold off another month or two and look back at Hideki then.  Alex Noren at $8,100 on the surface seems to be a reasonable price, he has played well this year including making it to Sunday at the Match Play, but I don’t think Augusta is his type, of course, take a pass on him.  Now Adam Scott at $8,000 is a go in my book, he has played well at Augusta since 2011 and for the year seems to be steady.  His numbers for 2018 show that his game has been getting better and if it’s a toss-up for you, then look at his production numbers, they are very good at Augusta with 7 eagles and 115 birdies, so he is a go in my book.  Matt Kuchar art $7,600 is good value, nothing spectacular but he will make the cut and possibly give you a top-10.  Another guy at $7,600 is Ian Poulter, he could do ok, is happy to play this week, and of all his majors, he has played the most consistent at the Masters. Both Kuchar and Poulter’s games are coming around so I would take them.  Another pair to be careful for is Louis Oosthuizen at $7,900 and Henrik Stenson at $7,800.  Both seem to have great track records over the years, but there Augusta numbers are weak, with abysmal performance numbers so take a pass on both of them.  I see some potential with Patrick Cantlay at $7,600 and Xander Schauffele at $7,500.  Both are a leap of faith but I can see both of them play enough and I will have them on my teams.  Again you look at those between $7,500 and $8,500 there is no for sure type of guys to pick, so still, you’re looking at a leap of faith.

Are there any “Bargains” out there?

The big problem of taking those high price guys like Dustin, Rory and Jordan are there aren’t many low price guys to pick.  Daniel Berger at $7,500 seems good, his Master’s production isn’t good but he has been excellent on the PGA Tour, and the price is right.  Think he will play on the weekend, so he is a good pick.  Charley Hoffman and Kiradech Aphibarnrat at $7,100 are good buys, both have played well in the Masters, and both are trending up right now, so they are safe picks.  Ryan Moore at $7,000 is a safe pick, ok numbers and you are just looking for him to make the cut and play well on the weekend.  Kevin Chappell at $7,000 is a safe bet and worth the money.  Has made the cut in every event since Kapalua and in the 8 starts only been outside the top-30 twice.  I also think that Cameron Smith at $6,900 is a grand bargain, His scores from his Master’s performance in 2016 aren’t great, but he did make the cut, and his 2018 numbers are good, take him.

Again Augusta is an unusual place in which we know of about 30 to 40 guys that can play well.  After that it’s not good, so be very careful about choosing someone not mentioned in this piece.

 

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Masters:

Key stat for the winner:

  • There are a few things that all winners at the Masters have in common.  First, its precise ball striking, like a Ben Hogan, length and power like Tiger Woods, deft touch with a putter on the steeply contoured greens like a Ben Crenshaw and the mind and wisdom of a Jack Nicklaus.  All of these are what it takes to win the Masters.
  • Precise ball hitting is a must. With steeply contoured greens you have to position shots to the green in an area that you will set up an easy putt. That’s why players like Nick Faldo and Ben Hogan have five titles. If you look at the champions of the Masters, a poor putter usually doesn’t win.  Being able to avoid three putts is essential.
  • Now, Zach Johnson had six three-putts in 2007 and Bubba Watson in 2012 with four put a dent in our theory about three putts.  In looking further back in history, both Vijay Singh in 2000 and Tiger Woods in 2001 had more in the year they won the Masters than the previous seven champions of the 1990s put together.  That doesn’t mean that we will have a new trend. I will still bet that the winner this year has the least number of three putts of anyone else in the field.
  • To show you how theories don’t work continually, look at the argument that says you have to hit it long to win at Augusta.  Yes, Tiger, Phil, and Vijay hit the ball long, but past champions like Mike Weir, Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O’Meara and Ben Crenshaw could be the shortest hitters on the PGA Tour.  Gosh look at Jordan Spieth in 2015, he ranked 52nd in driving distance at Augusta in his winning year.  No matter what, length is significant, just look at Tiger Woods’ victory in 1997. Being able to reach par-5s with wedges is a considerable advantage over players hitting into the greens with long irons and woods.  But again, theories don’t sometimes work at the Masters. Look at Zach Johnson in 2007. He lay up on all the par 5s and played them in 11 under par.  With dry, firm conditions this year brings in shorter hitters and gives them a chance.
  • Stats are great, but in reality, they don’t mean much when it comes to picking a winner at the Masters.  Since 1993 the only real favorite to win the Masters was Tiger Woods who won it in 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005 and Phil Mickelson in 2004, 2006 and 2010.  How many folks placed a bet on 2016 winner Danny Willett, I would say not many people. Still, players like Sergio Garcia last year, Jordan Spieth in 2015, Bubba Watson in 2014 and Adam Scott winning in 2013 weren’t a big surprise. But nobody would have thought that Bubba Watson would win in 2012, it was a big surprise for Charl Schwartzel in 2011, Angel Cabrera winning it in 2009, Trevor Immelman winning it in 2008 and Zach Johnson winning it in 2007.  Still, in the folklore of Masters champions, some surprise champions include Mike Weir who won in 2003 and Vijay Singh in 2000.  Even more prominent surprise winners have been Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O’Meara, Bernhard Langer and Ben Crenshaw, who came from out of the blue to win.  Still, one thing is certain; you need to have a track record to win at Augusta.  The last time a non-winner on the PGA or European Tour won was back in 1948 when Claude Harmon, father of Butch, won his first and only individual title on the PGA Tour at the Masters.  As the old saying goes, records are meant to be beaten and who knows, maybe a non-winner will surprise us this week, but it’s doubtful.
  • I can say this, look at the top 30 or 40 players off the world rankings.  We hear it all the time how the best players seem to win majors.  If you go off the world rankings, Ben Curtis was 396 when he won the British Open in 2003, and Shaun Micheel was 169 when he won the 2003 PGA Championship.  At the Masters you won’t find that kind of a winner, since 1988 there have been only two Masters champions not in the top-50, #56 Zach Johnson in 2007 and #69 Angel Cabrera in 2009.  Last year Sergio Garcia was 11th, in 2016 Danny Willett was ranked 12th going into the Masters while Jordan Spieth in 2015 was 4th going into the Masters.  In the 28 years of the world rankings, the average Masters champion ranked 13th.  We’ve seen four #1s win and overall 18 of the 29 winners were in the top-ten the week before their victory.  So you can expect someone who is high up the world rankings to win this week.
  • Last experience and wisdom are important, that’s why Jack Nicklaus has six titles. The last player to win the Masters in his first start is Fuzzy Zoeller, who did it back in 1979.  As I said earlier, there are 16 first timers this year, and it’s a stretch seeing one of them winning.  Experience is always important at the Masters so look for a winner being someone with a lot of experience.

Who to watch for at the Masters

Best Bets:

Dustin Johnson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T4 T6 CUT T13 T38 T38 T30

He is the best player in the world and if he plays his best by driving it long and hitting all of his greens he can’t be stopped.

Rory McIlroy

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T7 T10 4 T8 T25 T40 T15 CUT T20

On paper he should win at Augusta National multiple times, a combination of bad luck and not being able to handle the situation is the reason he hasn’t won. I will say this, each time he starts without a win will make the next year harder and harder. He needs to get the Masters monkey off his back.

Tiger Woods

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T17 T4 T40 T4 T4 T6 2 T2 T3

This would be the sports story of the decade and do great things for golf. Can Tiger do it, we think so. Will Tiger do it, we all hope so. He may not have the same game that he had ten years ago, but he is a lot smarter and that could be what it takes.

Best of the rest:

Paul Casey

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
6 T4 T6 CUT T38 CUT T20 T11 T10

This guy is born to play well at Augusta, his game suits the course and even though he doesn’t have the explosive game that Dustin and Rory has, his consistency helps him. The only thing that I worry about is if he can handle the pressure, that has been the questionable part of his game.

Phil Mickelson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T22 CUT T2 CUT T54 T3 T27 Win 5 T5 T24 Win

Another great story that would be the favorite sports story of the month if he can win. Can he, yes he can. Will he, I think he can.

Justin Rose

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
2 T10 T2 T14 T25 T8 T11 T20 T36 T5

Another player like Paul Casey that has a game to suit Augusta and has the consistency shot after shot. Came close last year, I have thought for years he would be a great Masters champion.

Bubba Watson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT T37 T38 Win T50 Win T38 42 T20

Give him comeback player of the year, guess he is now looking to be player of the year. Can he win this week, yes. Can he pull it together, yes. The only thing that I worry about, we have yet to see a Match Play winner also become a Masters champion. But that could change this year.

Solid contenders

Sergio Garcia

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
Win T34 T17 CUT T8 T12 T35 T45 T38 CUT CUT 46

Always hard to defend, yes we have seen Tiger and Nick and Jack do it, but I just wonder if Sergio has it in him to do it. Will say this about Garcia, he is personally in a great place right now and that is something that will play in his favor, don’t be surprised if he wins this week.

Justin Thomas

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T22 T39

Sorry to say I just don’t see it happening this week. He has never seemed a type of player that can do well at Augusta, his past starts haven’t shown us much but you never know, he is a great player and these are the type of players that overcome what has happened in the past.

Adam Scott

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T9 T42 T38 T14 Win T8 T2 T18 CUT T25 T27 T27

A name that isn’t mentioned much, he seems like the time of player that can get off a time machine and do the deed, don’t be surprised to see him have a terrific week.

Matt Kuchar

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T4 T24 T46 T5 T8 T3 T27 T24

Another of those guys who’s game seems well suited to win the Masters.

Long shots that could come through:

Patrick Cantlay

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T47

Kind of guy that can go on to win the Masters, has the game just has to do it.

Xander Schauffele

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

If he can win at East Lake, he can win at Augusta National, right?

Cameron Smith

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T55

Another of those guys with the type of game to suit Augusta, can he win maybe not, but he can make a run at it.

Charley Hoffman

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T22 T29 T9 T27

Has had his Augusta moments so he has shown that he can do well at the Masters.

Not this week:

Rickie Fowler

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T11 CUT T12 T5 T38 T27 T38

Has done well in past Masters and is a type of player that can win at Augusta, just don’t think he is in the right frame of mind. Has been terribly inconsistent, he hasn’t put together four great rounds since he won in the Bahamas back in December.

Jordan Spieth

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T11 T2 Win T2

Normally he would be considered one of the favorites, but his putting worries me and look at his record. It’s a bit Jekyll and Hyde, he played great the first two years breaking par seven of the eight rounds with that one being an even-par 72. He was 23 under those first two years. But after that, in his third Masters’ appearance in 2015 he opened with a 66 but since then he has been over par in five of the eight rounds and is just 3 under the last two years. So I will take a pass on Jordan this year, maybe I am wrong but he hasn’t given me any indication that it will be better

Jason Day

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T22 T10 T28 T20 3 WD T2

Another of those guys that has the game to win the Masters, just don’t think he is in the right place right now to do it. But I thought he was that way before the Farmers and he won there so anything is possible.

Hideki Matsuyama

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T11 T7 5 CUT T54 T27

Has the game to win the Masters, just don’t think he is 100% right now.

Comments

  1. No Spieth?

  2. Jeff, he is there but in the bottom section, “not this week”
    I am just worried about him, he hasn’t given us much to think his putting is any better. I will say this, I never saw the Rory McIlroy win happen and that was because he got some putting thoughts earlier in the week from Brad Faxon and then utilized it during the week and then making everything on the back nine on Sunday. The same thing could be happening to Spieth, maybe at the Champions dinner somebody will give him some words of wisdom that hits home and carry him through, I just don’t know. But I would say take a pass on Jordan.

  3. Hey Sal,
    Do you think Spieth has somehow fixed his putting and is going to run away with this or can you see someone coming out of the pack? If so, who do you like from what you saw through the first 18?

  4. Geoff,
    I can’t say I am shocked over Spieth’s first round 66. He came into the press room after the round and said how hard he had been working on his putting since his early exit from the Match Play and that he felt things coming together last week in Houston. I should of read this, I saw him making some putts, but at the same time saw him still missing putts, so yes I can understand his improved putting.
    At the same time have to remind everyone that in 2016 Spieth was the first round leader and then went on to shot 74-73-73 so anything is possible. Do I think that Spieth will win, to be truthful no and that is because historically it’s so hard to lead after the first round and then win the tournament. In the 81 years yesterday of the Masters only 16 first round leaders or co-leaders went on to win. An even bigger sign on how hard it is to lead and win, in the last 33 years only two players have led or co-led after the first round and won, Trevor Immelman in 2008 and Spieth in 2015. So you can see the odds on Spieth continuing to play well.

    Now for those coming out of the pack, anyone that shot 74 or better has a chance. With some bad weather coming in tomorrow with wind, anything can happen. Today is another perfect day with no wind, I can’t remember the last time there was a Masters with two windless days. I still like Tiger but yesterday’s round did scare me. He needs to play the par 5s better, Christ for only the 5th time in his Masters’ career (79 rounds) he played the par 5s yesterday with no birdies or eagles. Think of it, only five times. This was his problem in earlier tournaments at Torrey Pines and L.A., lack of doing well on the par 5s. Some others I like Matt Kuchar, when he is close early, he tends to stick around. Also watch Phil, after a rough first 11 holes he finished 3 under. You have to also think that Rory will be there, his 69 of one bogey and four birdies was a very consistent round and the type that he can build on. Outsiders and long shots, look for Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman to stick around, don’t think they will win, but be a part of things. Also, Cameron Smith is having a great year and will be around for Sunday. One last thing, still am down on Stenson and Fowler, very surprised at Stenson’s round, it was only his 4th sub-70 round in 41 tries, he has worked hard on being able to draw the ball and playing different at Augusta, it worked on Thursday but he still has 54 holes left. As for Fowler, we have seen his teases all year, playing well on Thursday and Friday but struggling over the weekend, look for that to continue.

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