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above the cut

Above the Cut: PGA DFS Picks for The Masters (FREE)

Ben Rasa

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DraftKings & FanDuel PGA DFS Picks for The Masters at Augusta National this week with Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth

For the majority of golf fans, this is the equivalent of Super Bowl Sunday with The Masters set to begin. The Masters took place in November late in 2020, but for many that had a different feel than the traditional April placement. The course is going to be much different, and the anticipation couldn’t be higher with so many storylines to break down. Naturally the PGA DFS world is gearing up for Augusta with some absolutely huge contests across the industry. There are a ton of questions to dig into building lineups to take down the most anticipated tournament of the season, so let’s dive into what there is on tap this week for PGA DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel.

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The Course

Augusta National is a par 72 measuring around 7,450 yards and is known for its lightning-fast greens. It is a unique course in that knowing where to hit can be just as important as executing good shots. This is why course history can be so important and one of the reasons older players like Fred Couples or Bernhard Langer still have some success here, as they know each hole inside and out. Wind has been a factor here in certain years, so monitoring weather will be important. Shots gained tee to green will be important as always, but here are a few other key metrics to factor in:

Ball Striking – Look for players that excel at ball striking and can take advantage off the tee as well as with the irons to set up reasonable putts on these quick greens. This doesn’t mean only bombers, as anyone who can execute a few good shots tee to green can be successful at Augusta.

Strokes Gained Around Green/Scrambling/Sand Saves – If the greens are firm, players will have a difficult time landing approaches on the green. That is to be expected, so finding golfers who have solid around-the-green games will be crucial this week. Even more important than finding top performers in that area is making sure most of the golfers in the pool aren’t extremely poor around-the-green players. This will be even more of a factor if the wind is expected to be up, as that will make hitting greens that much harder.

Driving Distance – This does not need to be every player or every lineup, but length will be an advantage even if the course is fast and firm. These par 5’s are more than gettable, and if players choose to be aggressive off the tee, they could have a ton of birdie opportunities on this layout. Total driving is always worth a look, as it brings in accuracy, but guys who crush it off the tee do not need to hit long irons into these holes in windy conditions.

The Masters Field

One of the many things about Augusta and The Masters that is unique is the field size, which stands right now at 88 players. This is like a mix between a standard PGA Tour event (100-plus) and a WGC (65-ish). This does, however, have a cut like a standard event, with the top 50 players making the weekend. Historically The Masters had a 10-shot rule allowing anyone within 10 shots of the lead on Friday to survive, but they removed that last year.

The field is absolutely loaded, but the depth is an issue because of the 88 players to choose from. Defending champion Dustin Johnson leads off pricing, followed by Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau. Naturally the talent doesn’t stop there, and there are world-class players all the way into the $7,000 range this week. The bigger issue is the bottom end, which is littered with amateurs and former Masters champions with lifetime exemptions. This makes going to the very bottom a dangerous proposition, and that will be a major storyline in lineup construction this week.


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What to do about the 2020 November Masters?

One of the biggest benefits of The Masters is that the course isn’t a rotational. That is nice for players who are regulars at this event and have all the experience they’ll ever need, but it also helps gamers know what it takes to succeed. This course has been played under various conditions in April, from the extremely difficult due to wind and rain to the extremely gettable where birdies are everywhere. Even within that range, the April data gives us certain conditions, so the big question is how does the November 2020 Masters factor in?

Last November featured a soft course where Johnson broke the course record at 20 under par en route to the victory. That speaks to how gettable the course was at that time and how much easier the greens were. Golfers were able to get away with bad shots, and that changed the entire profile of the tournament. Around the green was mitigated, as greens-in-regulation rates were elevated. There was a quote in a Golf.com article from Rahm that sums it up nicely. He said to Sebastian Munoz, a first-time competitor during a fourth-round pairing in November, “I pretty much told him anything you learn today, this week, forget about it because it will never play like this again, period.”

One of the edges this year will be people overrating what they saw in November and incorrectly applying the wrong skillset to this tournament. Poor around-the-green game will be exposed unlike what happened five months ago. That is not to say cross off that leaderboard, but backing a guy because he excelled in November is a dangerous proposition.

PGA DFS Picks: The Masters

Top Priced: Rory McIlroy $10,400 DraftKings, $11,300 FanDuel

Each big name has their own storyline, and although Rahm has the fewer questions marks, Rory McIlroy is more appealing. First off, he is projecting to be the lowest-owned player in the $10,000 range by Awesemo’s projections. McIlroy’s form certainly hasn’t been up to his standards, and the win drought dating back to 2019 is far too long for a player of this caliber. However, his recent struggles are overblown, with McIlroy missing two cuts in recent weeks due to an ice-cold putter. At Genesis he lost 4.3 strokes putting and dropped another 6.4 on the greens at the Players.

McIlroy has seen Augusta plenty of times and knows the intricacies. When he’s dialed in, he should take apart these par 5’s. The risk profile is more than most of the guys he is next to in pricing, but he has tournament-winning upside. If willing to roll the dice up top, McIlroy at around 10% ownership is a steal.

Also considering – Jordan Spieth (Mega Chalk), Jon Rahm

Mid-Range Jason Day $7,500 DraftKings, $9,800 FanDuel

Although he doesn’t have a green jacket, Day has proven in the past he has what it takes to handle Augusta. He has finished runner-up before and had made eight straight Masters cuts before missing last year in November. The questions about health and form are valid, but he still has the game to handle what could be a difficult version of Augusta. Day historically is a world-class around-the-green player and putter, and that should pay dividends this week. The putter hasn’t cooperated at times in 2021, and at The Players he lost 7.7 strokes with the flat stick.

That ice-cold putting performance masked what was a fantastic ball-striking week for Day and limited his finish to 35th. Day has gained off the tee in every event in 2021 and is a reasonable price tag due to his play being inconsistent. That said, the opportunity cost is high due to a lot of playable guys in the same salary range.

Also considering – Paul Casey

Lower Priced: Matt Wallace $6,400 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel

The ability to dip into the lower ranges this week is limited due to there being just 88 players in the field. This forces the lowest price ranges to be occupied by a lot of players who realistically have no chance of getting in the mix. That is not to say ignore the entire range, but be careful. There are, however, a few guys that stand out, and Matt Wallace is coming in red hot off a third-place Valero finish.

It has been an up-and down 2021 for Wallace, with a few missed cuts to go along with a few top-20 finishes on the PGA Tour, but his game seems to be trending upward. He was absolutely fantastic at Valero, gaining 15.3 strokes tee to green, which is more than good enough to usually win a tournament. His putter was just neutral, and that probably cost him, but this was a welcome sight for a player who has struggled at times this year.

Wallace missed the cut in 2019 here and was 46th in the 2020 version. With his game trending upward and the fast and firm conditions probably being a benefit, he is a solid buy at a $6,400 price tag.

Also Considering – Joaquin Niemann, Brian Harman


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*Ben Rasa (aka Jazzraz)* has been involved with sports and numbers for quite some time dabbling in the poker world , sports wagering and of course finding a home in the DFS world. While he enjoys playing NFL, NCAAF and NBA he has found his best advantage on the links with PGA and the Euro Tour. Jazzraz focuses on GPPs and uses a analytical approach to try and find pricing inefficiencies as well as trying to go against the grain to find those under owned lesser know players that can make the difference in giant field tournaments. You can contact Ben by emailing support@awesemo.com.

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