The Masters

A tournament that needs no introduction, it is finally Masters week.  Fantasy golf degenerates get to welcome the casual fan into our sphere, and it will be one of the rare weeks where there is a “public” in golf betting.  I hope to capitalize on the additional prop offerings as well as fading some overpriced players due to public love.  Buckle up for one of the best weeks of the year!

PODCAST LINK:

The Field

The field is officially listed as 91 players including 49 of the top 50 in the OWGR.  The cut is the top 50 and ties, so well over half the field will play the weekend.  Of the 91 players, 8 do not play on TOUR and only qualify due to past champion status.  Additionally, 6 are amateurs, so I will be viewing this as functionally a 77 person field.  

There are 14 professionals making their debut at Augusta this week, and there is a 0.0% chance I play any of them to win outright, and likely will avoid all together, as there has only been one first-time winner at Augusta,  This leaves 63 players under consideration this week. 

Additionally, there are some notable names who are dealing with injuries.  Paul Casey, Bryson DeChambeau, Abe Ancer, defending champion Hideki Matsuyama, and most notably Tiger Woods will all be eliminated from consideration this week due to injury concerns.  I will likely look to fade Bryson and Hideki in matchups and if the price is right, to miss the cut.  By eliminating these five, that brings the field for my purposes down to 58 players.  

Over the last 10 years, all 10 winners have been inside the OWGR Top 30, with an average ranking of 13th, and sans Charl Schwartzel, every winner has been below 50-1.  Simply put, this is not a week to burn money on long shots.  The cream rises to the top at Augusta National.  

The 3 articles linked below do a great job breaking down the profile of a Masters champion and narrows down the field to roughly 15-20 potential winners.

https://www.thelines.com/masters-odds-golf-preview-pga-tour-tiger-woods-sports-betting-promos-2022/

https://betting.betfair.com/golf/us-masters/us-masters-2022-betting-tips-10-year-trends-point-to-270322-719.html

https://www.rotoballer.com/pga-dfs-the-seven-deadly-sins-the-masters/1008010?=teeoff

The Course

There is no course on TOUR with a higher past performance correlation than Augusta National and in my opinion, there is no other course in which past experience and institutional knowledge are more important.  The greens are among the hardest on tour and require deft touch and creativity; around-the-green performance will be critical this week.  Additionally, the 7,500 yard Par 72 course has four Par 5’s, so driving distance and Par 5 scoring is also very important.  I am looking to target players who can grind out pars from difficult positions while taking advantage of the scoring opportunities on the Par 5’s.

Augusta is a true test of golf, requiring distance, accuracy, creativity, and touch.  It is not a place where the ‘bomb and gouge’ strategy is tenable, and it is impossible to win without a strong performance on and around the greens.  

I will be emphasizing the following statistics in my handicapping this week.

Course History and Experience

SG: Around-The Green

Ball Striking

Driving Distance

Par 5 Scoring

3-Putt avoidance

Tiger Woods:

Tiger is back in action this week and all of America, including myself, will be cheering for The Big Cat.  Bookmakers know this, and have set his odds below 100-1.  Please do not bet Tiger Woods this week in any considerable fashion.  While it is Tiger Woods and he is always a threat to win, especially at Augusta where he is 21/21 with 14 Top 10s, he was unable to walk a golf course 6 months ago, and was nearly dead 13 months ago.  Pick a charity to donate to instead. If you decide you must back Tiger, throw $5-10 so if he were to be in contention on Sunday, you aren’t forced to choose between cheering for Tiger or your bankroll. 

I do not believe he will make the cut but will not fade him in any way because he is Tiger Woods.

PICKS TO WIN (Top-Tier):

Rory McIlroy (+1800)

Rory will be looking to complete the historic career grand slam and I believe that all of the media hype around Tiger will help ease the pressure on him this week.  He is the perfect fit for Augusta and is Dave Tindall’s pick to win (see article above).  His form has been trending up and he has won twice in the last year.  I love that he used last week at the Valero as a pseudo practice round, and love it even more that he missed the cut, thus likely deflating his price.  Very few in the field have more experience at Augusta than Rory (14th appearance), and I think this is finally the time that he gets it done.  I will be playing him across the board.

Patrick Cantlay (+2000)

I am very bullish on Patty Ice long-term and it is only a matter of time before the reigning Tour Champion is a major winner.  His course history at Augusta is rather unimpressive, but he statistically models out very well and I am hoping that he has learned from his past failures at Augusta.  After watching him out-duel Bryson at the BMW and then Rahm for 4 days straight at East Lake, I don’t think there is a stage too big for Patrick Cantlay.  He is the best player in the RickRunGood strokes gained database over the past 12 months and I fully expect him to be in contention on Sunday.  I will bet Cantlay to win and to Top 10 as I am slightly scared off by his poor course history but think he has either a very good week or fails to threaten.  His upside is too good to pass up.  

Cameron Smith (+2500)

This is a stale outright number that I bet prior to his win at The Players, but a Cam Smith Top 20 wager might be my favorite play of the week.  Since 2021 began, Cam is 23/27 with 15 Top 20s, 11 Top 10s, and two wins.  He out-dueled Jon Rahm for 18 holes at Kapalua to start the season and then had one of the more impressive rounds I’ve ever watched in his Monday victory at the Players.  Cam is legit and has all the confidence in the world, and there is no one on earth with a better short game right now.  

He is now headed back to ANCG where the Aussie is 5/5 with three Top 10s, including a runner-up finish in 2020.  I am not sure I can advocate for a wager at the current outright number of 16-1, but I will be deploying what some may call a “whale play” on his Top 20 number.  

Scottie Scheffler (+4000)

This is another stale outright number that I bet prior to his maiden victory at the Waste Management, but what a stretch it has been for the Texas Flood.  Scottie went from winless to the #1 ranked player in the world in just eight weeks, reeling off three victories in his last five starts.  Like Cam, I will be targeting Scottie as a Top 20 wager.  In his two appearances at Augusta, he has finished T17 and T18.  I used to refer to Scottie as the “poor man’s Koepka” due to his high finishes in elite fields, but now that he is #1 OWGR, it is time to retire that nickname.  In his 12 starts across major and WGC competitions, Scottie has an average finish of 10th.  He has never finished outside the Top 20 in a major.  I will continue betting him blindly.  

Xander Schauffele (+2700)

At some point, Xander is going to win a major.  In 19 major appearances, the X-Man has finished in the Top 20 12 times and the Top 10 nine times.  In his last three starts at Augusta, the Olympic champ is T3-T17-T2.  His game is perfectly suited for Augusta as he led the tour in par five scoring last year and possesses an extremely competent short game.  His current form is also encouraging, and I know that Xander will be on the front page of the leaderboard on Sunday, it’s just a matter of whether he can finally get the win.  I will be max wagering on the X-Man to finish inside the Top 20.

PICKS TO WIN (Mid-Tier):

Tyrell Hatton (+6100)

The Mad Hatter has been on a tear of late, rising to 16th in the world.  Most causal fans probably aren’t very familiar with the Englishman, who plays a lot in Europe, but that is perfectly fine with me.  In his last nine starts, Hatton is T16-T9-T6-T4-T28-T2-T13-T21-T9.  That is seven Top 20 finishes and nine made cuts.  He fits Tindall’s aforementioned mold of a Master’s Champ, and I believe he may just be able to emulate his countryman Danny Willett this week.  I am encouraged by his T18 at Augusta last year and think he is worth a dart above 50-1.  Love him on DraftKings as well.

Marc Leishman (+7000)

I bet Marc at the very stale number of 125-1 at Circa a few months ago and still like him at his current price.  The Aussie has four Top 13 finishes at Augusta and is an elite wind player, which appears likely to be a factor this week.  He usually plays strong in majors and is sort of a gut play for me.  A DFS staple at $7,300 on DraftKings as well.

Others to Consider: Viktor Hovland (+2500), Matthew Fitzpatrick (+4500), Louis Oosthuizen (+7000), Robert McIntyre (+11000)

PLAYERS TO FADE:

Hideki Matsuyama

As I mentioned this being one of the few weeks of the year where the general public bets on golf, I think Hideki is going to be a very popular pick amongst the casual fans.  Very few follow golf on a week-to-week basis and likely don’t know his current injury issues.  The defending champ withdrew after a disastrous first round at the Valero last week, and in my opinion, should have never even teed off after withdrawing from the Wednesday pro-am.  He is clearly not 100% and I have little confidence he is going to be by Thursday.  At absolute bare minimum, you are getting a free roll on his health at an inflated number due to Hideki being the defending champ.  I will be very interested to see who he is available against in matchups.

Bryson DeChambeau

I don’t usually believe in curses, but Bryson may be forever cursed at Augusta.  DeChambeau infamously referred to the course as a “Par 67”, yet has never cracked the Top 20 in five attempts.  I don’t believe he possesses the around the greens play to win at Augusta, and also do not believe he is anywhere close to 100% health at the moment.  He looked erratic and uncomfortable at the Valero, and I do not think Augusta is the spot for him to get back on track.  

Kevin Kisner

Kiz is a public darling and an extremely likable dude…just not very good at Augusta.  One of things people like most about him is his brutal honesty about his game.  He will tell the media he has no chance of winning, but that they still pay pretty good for finishing 30th.  He has described Augusta as a place that he is “behind the 8 ball before getting to the first tee”, conceding that he has little to no chance to win.  The former Georgia Bulldog is 4/6 at Augusta, missing the cut in both 2020 and 2021, and has never finished inside the Top 20.  His price may also be slightly inflated due to his runner-up finish at the match play.  Easy fade if given the right matchup.

THE “SICKO SPECIALS”:

Corey Conners (+6000)

Corey is always one good putting week away from a win, and is one of the only players I would consider above 60-1.  I think there is an argument to be made that the difficulty of the greens helps neutralize his ineptitude inside 50 yards, with the angle being that because they are hard for everyone, many typically good putters will struggle, thus giving Conners an edge with his superior ball striking.  Conners was T10 in 2020 and T8 last year, and is fresh off a 3rd place finish at the match play and a bogey-free round of 67 Sunday at the Valero, giving him some momentum for this week.  Again, if his putter can just be tour average (a big ask), Conners should threaten to contend once again.  

Russell Henley (+5000)

Russell Henley will not win this golf tournament.  I am not sure I will ever bet him to win another golf tournament.  With that being said, he is my favorite DFS play of the week and an absolute steal at +160 to Top 20.  Henley is a native of Macon, Georgia and played his collegiate golf at the University of Georgia.  After missing the cut at his debut in 2013, Henley has made four straight cuts, finishing T31, 21st, T11, and T15.  He models out extremely well statistically and is 11/11 this season, with eight Top 25 finishes. Henley is a notorious choke artist, hence the sicko special designation, but I like his odds to have a good enough week to get our Top 20 tickets to the window.

FINAL CARD:

Outright:

Rory +1800 (0.18U)

Cantlay +2000 (.12U)

Cam Smith +2500 (.12U)

Vik Hovland +2500 (.12U)

Xander +2700 (.12U)

Scottie Scheffler +4000 (.12U)

Hatton +6100 (.05U)

Conners +6600 (.045U)

Louis +7000 (.07U)

Leishman +12500 (.04U)

Sergio +13500 (.04U)

Lowry +20000 (.02U)

T10:

Cantlay +200 (0.3U)

Hovland +200 (0.3U)

(Only playing their upside)

T20:

Xander -102 (.75U)

Rory -110 (.75U)

Cam -119 (.75U)

Scottie -125 (.75U)

Henley +165 (0.375U)

Hatton +175 (0.375U)

Conners +165 (0.375U)

Leishman +215 (0.375U)

Na +295 (.25U)

Macintyre +325 (.25U)

Matchups:

Niemann +108 o Hideki (0.5U)

Hatton +101 o Hideki (.25U)

Xander -130 o Zalatoris (.25U)

Fitzpatrick -117 o Zalatoris (.25U)

Props:

Keita Nakajima top amateur +150 (0.3U)

Niemann +4000 FRL (.04U)

Conners +4000 FRL (.04U)

Henley +4000 FRL (.04U)

Rose +6000 FRL (.04U)

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