This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
Winner's Share: $1.98M
FedEx Cup Points: 600 to the Winner
Location: Augusta, GA
Course: Augusta National Golf Club
2020 champion: Dustin Johnson
A Masters tournament twice a year? We'd like to say we could get used to that. But no. Once a year is the proper way to go. That's not to say this second Masters in five months won't be a fantastic one-time treat. And not that this or any Masters needs any more juice to capture our attention, but Jordan Spieth winning on Sunday for the first time in almost four years ratchets up the anticipation and adds yet another compelling storyline.
So here we go: It's Masters Week.
Dustin Johnson blew the doors off a patron-free Augusta National last November, taking advantage of very soft conditions amid unusually warm autumn temperatures to secure the green jacket at a record-breaking 20-under-par. You can be sure that Fred Ridley and Co. do not want that to happen again, and early indications from the golfers on site indicate this could be the fastest and firmest Masters in years. So even though this is a course that runs nearly 7,500 yards and plays around 7,700 or 7,800, it will take a lot more than sheer length to be crowned the 85th Masters champion.
Not only will Johnson be battling a far tougher golf course, he'll also be looking to buck history. There have been only three repeat champions in the past six decades – Jack Nicklaus in 1965-66, Nick Faldo in 1989-90 and Tiger Woods in 2001-02. Further, only twice in the past 15 years has a defending champion so much as finished top-10, with Spieth the last to do it as runner-up to Danny Willett in 2016.
World No. 1 Johnson heads a field of 88 that features the top 58 golfers in the world rankings. There are also eight "legacy" champions and three amateurs. We ranked all 88 in the Majors Value Meter. Some of the storylines of note include Spieth – now officially back on his game – looking for another green jacket; Bryson DeChambeau trying to bludgeon Augusta as he did Winged Foot; Rory McIlroy attempting to complete the Career Grand Slam; Brooks Koepka giving it a go just three weeks after knee surgery; Phil Mickelson teeing it up for the 29th time and second as a 50-year-old; and four of the top 10 golfers in the world seeking their first major: Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Tyrrell Hatton and Patrick Cantlay. All of that will unfold with a limited number of patrons in attendance. Conversely, Woods will not be able to play after being injured in a February auto accident, and Rickie Fowler did not qualify after playing in every major over the past decade, bringing to an end his streak of 41 consecutive appearances in major championships.
Augusta National is usually a bear, though it was more tame in November with warm weather and little wind. It's only the 11th-hardest track in 31 played so far this season. Length is an incredible advantage, especially if the forecast for rain pans out. That said, golfers better bring their short game, as things get very dicey around the hole. There are only 44 bunkers on the entire course, but the bentgrass greens are pretty dastardly all by themselves. They are average in size at 6,500 square feet, but lightning fast at about 14 on the Stimpmeter with undulations and run-offs, enough to frustrate poor putters and Augusta first-timers – and second- and third-timers. The hardest holes tend to be the 500ish-yard par-4s, and the past two years those were Nos. 5, 10 and 11. There is water on five holes.
So, how should you construct your DraftKings lineups? Let's start with trying to find the winner. He usually comes from way up high. In the past 21 years, beginning with 2000, the winner was ranked top-12 in the OWGR 15 times. There's only one prior winner in the top 12 this time around, and that would be Johnson. First-timers tend to have a tough time, but this year there are only six: Will Zalatoris, Carlos Ortiz, Robert MacIntyre and the three amateurs. As we always see, some pretty big names are lower-priced, falling all the way into the $7,000s. There is definitely some value deep on the DraftKings board. This would allow you to take a five-figure guy, or even two, and still fill out your lineup with quality, Masters-proven golfers.
Weather-wise, this bears watching for lineup construction: It looks like rain will develop late Thursday into Friday. That's also when it will be windiest before subsiding on the weekend. Temperatures should be in the high 70s to low 80s all tournament. It's still too early to know if the weather will offer an advantage to one wave of tee times or the other, but you should be sure to check the conditions closer to lineup lock.
Key Stats to Winning at Augusta
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.
• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation
• Strokes Gained: Around the Green/Scrambling
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee/Driving Distance
We mentioned above that in this century, 15 of the 21 winners have been ranked top-12 in the world coming in. Among the past 10, the only outliers were Reed at 24th and Schwartzel at 29th. In the past 10 Masters, every winner but two finished top-6 in the field in greens in regulation. Reed, at 21st, and Schwartzel, at 19th, were again the two outliers. Johnson and Woods were first in GIR the past two years. Only three – Woods, at 47th; Reed, at 16th; and Watson, who was 15th in 2012 – finished outside the top 10 in scrambling . And only one – Watson, who finished 28th in 2014 –has been outside the top 15 in putting average. With little rough on the course, golfers are free to let it fly off the tee. If the rain really leaves its mark, the course will play longer, more greens will be missed and scrambling could be an even greater factor than usual. When it comes to putting, it's perhaps more important to avoid three-putts on the speedy greens than it is to make one-putts. You can really make up ground on the par-5s. Johnson went 11-under on the par-5s in his win last year. Woods won at 13-under, and nine of those strokes came on the par-5s. Reed won at 15-under with a whopping 13 of those strokes coming on the par-5s. The par-5s on the back-nine, Nos. 13 and 15, are usually the two easiest holes on the course. But they are also where dreams of winning a green jacket can end. If we're talking about who can win, we're almost surely talking about a longer hitter. But that doesn't mean a shorter hitter cannot contend or contribute to a quality DFS lineup. As always at Augusta, there is one thing no statistical data can measure: the pressure golfers feel come Sunday.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Bryson DeChambeau - $10,800 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 12-1)
DeChambeau is the No. 3 guy on the DraftKings board. Defending champions have struggled so we're skipping Dustin Johnson ($11,500). Jon Rahm ($11,000) is a first-time father so we're concerned about his readiness. DeChambeau arrived last year ready to annihilate Augusta but had weird health issues, including dizziness. He has played Augusta three times as a pro without so much as a top-25, but we think that will change. He's coming off a recent win at Bay Hill and a tie for third at THE PLAYERS. DeChambeau is ranked first on Tour in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Tee-to-Green, and 15th in Approach.
Justin Thomas - $10,600 (12-1)
There are three guys priced higher than Thomas on the DraftKings board. Fun fact: There were four guys priced higher than Johnson last November. Thomas has played Augusta five times and improved every year, going T39-T22-T17-T12-4. That's a pretty good trend. He's also ranked third on Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach. His win at THE PLAYERS last month showed he's past everything he dealt with early in 2021.
Rory McIlroy - $10,200 (18-1)
McIlroy famously hasn't won the Masters, the final piece he needs for the Career Grand Slam. But he sure has come close, and often, with six top-10s in the past seven years, including a tie for fifth in November. McIlroy has been far from his best so far in 2021, but he still finished top-10 at both the WGC-Workday Championship and at Bay Hill. His "B" game is still good enough to land a top-10. Through it all, he's ranked third on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee.
Tier 2 Values
Jordan Spieth - $9,400 (12-1)
This was a no-brainer pick even without his win last week. Spieth's recent play, combined with his course history here, is a powerful combination. The wide-open fairways and minimal rough at Augusta help negate the weakest part of his game. And his short game is just what you need to win the Masters. Spieth is ranked top-25 on Tour in both SG: Approach and Around-the-Green.
Patrick Reed - $9,300 (30-1)
Reed tied for 10th last year and of course won it all in 2018. Recently, he won at Torrey Pines and added another top-10 at the WGC-Workday Championship. Like Spieth, Reed doesn't hit the ball super far. But he's always capable to otherworldly chipping and putting. He's ranked first on Tour in SG: Putting.
Lee Westwood - $8,800 (50-1)
Westwood won't win – he never wins majors, and this will be his 85th. But the 47-year-old knows his way around this course, with two runners-up, six top-10s and 10 top-25s through the years. He's coming off a pair of seconds at Bay Hill and THE PLAYERS that moved him back inside the top-20 in the world.
Tier 3 Values
Cameron Smith - $8,200 (40-1)
Australians have done well at Augusta – Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, even Greg Norman. Add Smith to that impressive list after he tied for second last year, his second top-five in four Masters starts. He set a record last year for shooting all four rounds in the 60s. That won't happen this year, but he's shown he can navigate Augusta no matter the conditions. Earlier this season, Smith was fourth at Riviera, T11 at the Workday and T17 at THE PLAYERS. He is ranked top-25 on Tour in both SG: Approach and Around-the-Green (just like Spieth is).
Paul Casey - $7,700 (50-1)
Casey has five top-10s and eight top-25s at the Masters through the years, though last year was not one of them. It was a largely disappointing 2020 for the Englishman. In 2021, he won at Dubai, then added top-5s at Pebble Beach and PLAYERS that sandwiched a top-10 at Bay Hill. He's ranked 17th on Tour in SG: Approach.
Louis Oosthuizen - $7,500 (60-1)
His runner-up to Bubba Watson in 2012 is his lone Masters top-10. But he has top-25s in his half of 12 visits to Augusta. He also has top-25s in almost half his career majors, 21 of 47. He was third last year at the U.S. Open and 23rd at Augusta. Oosthuizen is also on form with a tie for 11th at Phoenix and a tie for sixth at the Workday. Oosthuizen is ranked an elite top-10 in both SG: Around the Green (ninth) and Putting (third).
Justin Rose - $7,200 (100-1)
Rose has not played since withdrawing from Bay Hill with a balky back, so this pick does not come without risk. It also comes with tremendous upside. He has top-25s in a whopping 12 of his 15 Masters, including five top-10s, one of which was that runner-up to Sergio Garcia in 2017. Even last year, not playing especially well coming in, Rose tied for 23rd.
Matt Kuchar - $6,800 (100-1)
Kuchar has such a great track record here: three top-5s and eight top-25s in 14 starts. Still, three weeks ago he would not have been a pick. But he made it to the semifinals at the Match Play, beating Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner along the way, then tied for 12th last week at the Valero.
Ryan Palmer - $6,500 (200-1)
Remarkably, this is only the sixth Masters for the 44-year-old Palmer, and his first since 2015. But he is playing so well in 2021 that it's hard to turn away, especially at this price. Palmer has two top-5s and finished 17th in each of his past three starts, including THE PLAYERS and last week at the Valero. He is ranked 16th on Tour in greens in regulation.