Connect with us

Tour News

Fantasy Cheat Sheet: The Masters

Published

on

I wish I were writing this column from Augusta National, sitting on Hogan Bridge, watching the babbling waters of Rae’s Creek below and listening to birds amongst the flowering trees and azalea bushes.

Alas, I am not. I do, however, have high definition television and a window I can open to let some semblance of spring in while the immaculate 12th green gets pelted with approach shots. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Masters week! So, let’s break down the nuances of the par-3 contest and practice rounds in this week’s edition of Risk, Reward, Ruin.

OK, I’m kidding. That would be some degenerate fantasy gaming right there, but I’m not exactly going to deafen your excitement.

What we do have is a Masters without Tiger Woods. I almost can’t believe it’s happening after such a successful year last season. But this week is not just about Tiger, and if you follow the PGA Tour a lot, you know how many truly exquisite golfers are in the field. So many that if this week were a “Tiger or the field?” scenario, the majority would take the field.

What will matter this week is experience at Augusta, emotional maturity to handle the unforgiving nature of a major tournament and Amen Corner, and a game that’s in tip-top shape. And a dose of luck, but to whom that will dispense remains a mystery until the appropriate jaw-dropping time.

This past weekend, Lady Luck smiled on rookie Matt Jones at the Shell Houston Open, while simultaneously kicking Matt Kuchar square in the flowering crab apples. Jones snagged an invite to the place where defending Green Jacket wearer Adam Scott nailed down the first Masters win for an Aussie. Kuchar was left to digest yet another 54-hole collapse.

So let’s dig into some… wallaby? I really don’t know the cuisine of Australia or what can be imported. Who cares, it’s Masters week! And this is a major edition of Risk, Reward, Ruin.

RISK

In a major, the line between champion and also-ran is extremely thin. It’s about holding an even temperament for four days, for saving par at a crucial juncture, for knowing the difference when to play safe or make a go at a flagstick. Augusta National only amplifies those intricacies within a round of golf. There’s a bevy of talent in this field and being a Risk isn’t a slight, but it should be your own personal moment to evaluate whether you should attacking the pin or just get safely on.

Phil Mickelson

That Mickelson played well at the SHO was a great sign for his fans and for TV ratings, especially with Tiger out. Lefty is now the main media focus for the week and his game seems suited now to a made cut. After that promising T12, Mickelson gets to take aim at winning a fourth Green Jacket (2004, ’06, ’10). Last year was his worst result in a while at The Masters (T54), but his experience and swing set up perfectly to maneuver the course one more time, even if he can be erratic at times.

Dustin Johnson

I’m putting Johnson down as a risk this week because of that abysmal first-round 80 in Houston and subsequent withdrawal for the provided reason of a stiff back. Who knows what that was about, but I probably still won’t shy away from using him. His length off the tee will put him in very good approach scenarios. This is still a player with five top-6 finishes this season, including a win. His T4 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship is why everyone looked at him so loftily last week. One bad round can’t entirely dissuade. As for The Masters, he’s 4 for 4 and his best result came last year with a T13. If he can cut down on a few more strokes each round and turn 74s into even-par rounds, he could grab his first major title.

Jason Day

Day has an elite game and is becoming known as someone who contends for majors. But he has a thumb injury that is going to cause a bunch of headaches this week. If he’s 100 percent, Day will be the guy who finished solo third last year and T2 in his debut of 2011. It’s been a disappointing follow-up to Day’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship victory. That’s six weeks without competitive golf for the No. 4 ranked player in the world, who desperately wants to win his favorite tournament.

Harris English

English Masters 2014 Fantasy

A young gun, but a guy who grew up in Georiga and played his collegiate golf just down the road in Athens at the University of Georgia. Of the inexperienced breed, English has the best chance to win of first-time participants, which is backed by his fantasy golf best six top-10 finishes this season. He’s already aced the par-3 12th in an Augusta practice round, and he has two wins on Tour in the last two years, including one earlier this season. Statistically speaking, he leads the Tour in greens in regulation and par-5 birdies, which works well with his driving length and accuracy. Unless his game just completely abandons him, he could be a sneaky pick in some games, especially Yahoo, since he’s in Group C.

Lee Westwood

Why would someone who’s finished in the top 15 the last four years slide into this category? Remember, this is fantasy golf. If you use Westwood, you’re leaving someone else off. In Yahoo leagues, that leaves just one pick left of Scott, Mickelson, Kuchar or 2012 champion Bubba Watson. Can you imagine if Tiger was in the field too? Ouch. All for a top-20? Be honest, you don’t think he’ll win, and I want to stack my lineup with guys I think I can. Westwood’s best finish was a T3 in 2012, yet he comes with the knowledge of his late-tournament collapses.

REWARD

Zach Johnson Masters Fantasy 2014

The cream of the crop, that’s what you want sprinkled into your lineup this week, if not heavily doused in championship pedigree. In terms of gaming, I’m excited by majors, but I don’t view it as a week where you get risky. Because everyone will pick the favorites, you can’t lose ground if you use the chalk. You can, however, try to get cute and really dig a hole. You want chalk this week, and what you can do is try to be smart about who to start in daily leagues. Here’s my top five for this week in no particular order.

Zach Johnson

He already has one Green Jacket in his closet and all he’s done since 2007 is validate what is looking more and more like a Hall of Fame career. He now has 11 career wins, including one this season at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and two other top-10 finishes, including a T6 two weeks ago at the Valero Texas Open. He’s 4 for 6 at Augusta since his win, but he is currently in the peak form of his career. He’s fourth in driving accuracy, 11th in GIR and 11th in scrambling. That’s a nice combination to have this week.

Matt Kuchar

Man, I’m bummed. I had Kuchar pegged as a first-time major winner this week. His play at the SHO validated as much, and then he choked away another big lead and left huge question marks as to whether he actually will win a major. OK, choked may be a strong word because Jones’ 42-yard hole-out chip was awesome, but Kuchar’s errant water shot on No. 18 is the kind of thing that cannot happen at Augusta. That said, it’s still a solo second in a tough field. It’s still a T4 the week before at the VTO. It’s still nine top-10s this year. On top of that, Kuchar finished T8 last year and T3 the year before, and is 4 for 4 since his well-publicized seven-year absence. He’s playing lights out and should be in the top 10. I just hope he’s chasing down the lead as opposed to holding it early. Maybe then he can reach an elite club.

Sergio Garcia

Sergio Garcia Masters Fantasy 2014

In contrast to Kuchar, Garcia played steady all the way through the SHO. Despite his self-proclaimed mental block on winning majors, he’s absolutely capable. Accurate off the tee and a strong putter, Garcia can get the monkey off his back this week and, in the process, eliminate quite a few haters. In limited PGA Tour starts with his European Tour schedule, Garcia has four top-10s, including last week’s solo third. He was T8 at The Masters last year and T12 the year before and has made his last five cuts. He has the best scoring average on Tour this year, hits GIR, is tops in scrambling and has a deft touch with the putter. He’ll be right there this week.

Rory McIlroy

McIlroy left Houston with a good taste in his mouth after a bogey-free 7-under par 65 on Sunday. We all know about his shankapotamus hook into the ground around Butler Cabin, which set up a triple-bogey on No. 10. In all, he lost seven strokes in just 12 holes. His final-round 80 dropped him 10 strokes behind winner Charl Schwartzel. Lost in that is how a young man led by one with nine holes to go. Now McIlroy is back with a renewed focus, better swing and tons of recent success. Three top-10s, including a playoff loss at The Honda Classic and his T7 last week are great signs that the No. 9 player in the world is ready to add a Green Jacket to his collection of two major championships.

Adam Scott

Adam Scott Fantasy Masters 2014

The No. 2 golfer in the world has done nothing since last year’s Masters win to suggest that he can’t win consecutively, which hasn’t been done since Woods did it in 2001-’02. He’s coming off a solo third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his fifth top-10 this season. In addition to last year, Scott finished T8 in 2012 and T2 in ’11. He should be in every lineup this week and for good reason.

RUIN

There are 97 golfers in the field this week. It’s fairly easy to pick out five names who just won’t contend, but you need to look beyond that to those names that appear tempting yet could get you in trouble in a hurry. For that reason, they are ruin. Here’s five I’m staying away from this week.

Jordan Spieth

While Spieth will be making his debut just as English is, I’m a bit wary as to how ‘s played the last four tournaments he’s been in. His scoring average has been high despite very scorable courses. This is especially true with a missed cut last week at the SHO. That is particularly worrisome as you wonder if he just struggled with green speed and what not. The Masters will put him through the ringer and just like last year’s U.S. Open and PGA Championship did, when he missed the cut in both. And statistically, he’s struggling a bit tee to green. Spieth has the talent, he just needs a bit of seasoning.

Matt Jones

Matt Jones Masters Fantasy 2014

No Shell Houston Open winner has won the Masters the week after, even though the course has been generally seen as prep for Augusta National’s slick greens and collection areas. So Jones must enjoy the $1.1 million payday that came with his first Tour victory and the subsequent kiss of death. I’m sure he’ll manage. That said, he is a rookie and making his first trip to the hallowed grounds. I’m sure there will be nerves at Augusta and emotionally he may be out of whack.

Angel Cabrera

This might shock some, and I am very well aware of Cabrera’s track record at Augusta, as well as majors in general. I’m very well aware two-time major champion Cabrera battled Scott in a playoff last year. In addition to his 2009 win, Cabrera has a solo seventh finish in 2011 and has made his last eight cuts at the event. However, he missed six of eight cuts this year. Compare that with the two he missed last year heading to Augusta. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe if he gets put in Golf Channel’s Group 4, I’ll use him, but I view him more as a non-factor this year at age 44.

Jimmy Walker

Jimmy Walker Fantasy Masters 2014

Already the mid-season PGA Tour player of the year, Walker has made four cuts since his last win, but has mixed in some high rounds to push him further down the leaderboard. That could be problematic this week as he also gets his first look at the immaculate artistry that is Augusta. Has not done well in previous major championships and the unknown is scary with him. Better options to choose from out there.

Luke Donald 

Donald has never won a major. Donald at one point was the No. 1 player in the world. That seems oxymoronic, doesn’t it? Donald has always been buoyed by lesser wins on Tour and backdoor top-10 finishes. He finished in the top three in his debut year of 2005 thanks to a little fire lit under him from a screaming patron. Maybe Donald should hire that guy to berate him more, because he just seems unexcitable. He was T24 at the SHO and has two top-10s this season with no missed cuts. He’s just been average as his No. 27 OWGR suggests. He’s 6 for 8 since his debut and has a T4 and a T10, but generally is back away from the limelight.

As always, you can find me on Twitter @bricmiller if you want to talk about the Masters, the Masters or anything else about the Masters. It’s Masters week, ya’ll! Good luck!

This week’s picks

Yahoo!

Group A: A. Scott (S), P. Mickelson)

Group B: Z. Johnson (S), R. McIlroy (S), J. Day, D. Johnson

Group C: S. Garcia (S), C. Schwartzel

(Last week: 189 points; Spring segment: 189; Spring rank: 4,172; Season points: 2,182; Full Season rank: 1,208 – 98th percentile)

PGATour.com

A. Scott, Z. Johnson, R. McIlroy, S. Garcia

(Last week: 286 points; Season: 3,909; Rank: 3,618)

Golf Channel

Group 1: A. Scott

Group 2: Z. Johnson

Group 3: L. Westwood

Group 4: M. Leishman

(Last week: $233,584; Season: $7,545,189; Mulligan: $28,666; Rank: 6,758 of 35,535)

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Brian Miller is a sports writer of over eight years and his work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, Miami Herald and Tallahassee Democrat. He's a fantasy golf nut and his golf novel will be published in spring 2014. You may find him on Twitter @bricmiller.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Sharkhark

    Apr 13, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Wow I changed my Jordan pick based on this fantasy advice thank god I went against it to at least pick Bubba.
    I am going to use opposite of your picks next year. You said avoid Spieth and Bubba risky and to pick Michelson Zach etc that all played bad

    • Brian Miller

      Apr 13, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Glad it worked out for you. My job isn’t to give you picks, it’s to give you information on players so you can make your own judgments. I said (in comments) Bubba could contend, but he’s been erratic. That’s a true statement and he did contend. I said Spieth has the talent but needs seasoning. Another true statement. As it stands, in my league of 18, not one picked Spieth and only one had Watson. The one who had Watson won the week and I came in second, and this despite every single person having only 3 starters available for the weekend. It was a rough week for the chalk, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to select them. Thanks for reading.

  2. Pingback: golf channels blog post | golf channel

  3. Pingback: golf channels news | golf channel

  4. Pingback: The Masters Fantasy Golf Picks | Fantasy Sports Locker Room

  5. MJ

    Apr 8, 2014 at 9:14 am

    No Bubba Watson? He has played well this year.

    • Brian Miller

      Apr 8, 2014 at 11:13 am

      He has, which is a good sign. That little hiccup at the API, I didn’t like. I felt the allergy excuse for his 83 was a weak way to justify a bad round. His issue is always one of focus. Aside from 2012, his Masters results aren’t good. He can contend, but he’s too erratic to predict one way or the other what kind of golfer shows up. And in Yahoo A, I can’t in good conscience choose him over Scott, Mickelson, Kuchar or even Snedeker.

  6. Jadon

    Apr 8, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Thanks for the write up Brian, always fun to read this every week. Quick question; what are your thoughts on Patrick Reed this week? I thought for sure I’d see him somewhere under risk or ruin

    • Brian Miller

      Apr 8, 2014 at 11:16 am

      Thanks for reading! As for Reed, if I had to slot him, he’d be a Risk this week, he just didn’t make the cut. Confidence bordering on cockiness in a Masters debut could be a rude awakening. Same logic for MJ’s question above: lots of proven golfers in Yahoo A this week, all well ahead of Reed. Would I be surprised if he makes a run into the top 10? Not at all, but I’m looking to pick winners this week and that lines up with some other names. If you want some less talked about options, I like Snedeker and Justin Rose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tour Photo Galleries

Wedge Stamping Caviar: Have More Fun Edition

Published

on

Pop open a tin of the finest beluga, GolfWRXers… In all seriousness, it’s less jelly-like substance, more richness of intrigue than salt-cured roe at Wedge Stamping Caviar as we present to you some of the finest instances of hammer-and-stamp work on the PGA Tour.

In this initial serving, we’re mining photos from October and November at PGA Tour stops, including the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, the Cadence Bank Houston Open, and the RSM Classic.

So grab your mother-of-pearl spoon and dig in — with restraint, please.

The traditional K.I.S.S. stamping on a BV proto: first and last initial, demonstrated here by Andrew Landry. Bonus points for the bounce angle (8) stamp.

When your last name is something imposing/interesting, you’re definitely stamping it on your wedge as Cole Hammer has done here in a “University of Texas” colorway.

Simple, perfect stamping for Xuewen Luo. 

Patrick Cantlay is still rolling with a SM7. Ultimate K.I.S.S. to stick with a previous generation wedge with stamped initials. Bent loft (47 degrees) is a classy touch. 

Excellent #perspective on Kevin Roy’s 54-degree Vokey.

Anytime a custom grind wears off the loft number, it’s caviar. Lovely patina on Woodland’s Wilson, too. 

Another favorite motif: Tiny initials pattern (as demonstrated by Palmer Jackson). 

The Webb Simpson traditional. Maybe the longest-serving stamping on Tour. 

Not a stamping on Akshay Bhatia’s Jaws Raw, but we’ll serve it up anyway for reasons immediately discernible to the seasoned palate. 

 

 

Your Reaction?
  • 34
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP2
  • OB0
  • SHANK2

Continue Reading

Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2022 RSM Classic

Published

on

GolfWRX was live this week from the RSM Classic in Sea Island, Georgia, for the last event of the 2022 calendar year.

We saw a few pros testing some 2023 prototypes — Jason Dufner in Cobra Aerojet woods — and got a look at a few potential new putters from Toulon.

We have: Eight general galleries. 12 WITBs — including some lefty love for Akshay Bhatia — and a ton of putters for your perusal.

Check out links to all our photos below!                                           

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

Your Reaction?
  • 15
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

Equipment

Photos from the 2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open

Published

on

GolfWRX was on site this week ahead of the 2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course.

The year is winding down, but the wraparound 2022-2023 season is just getting underway, so players are poised to do a bit of tinkering ahead of January equipment launches. To that end, we got an in-hand look at Justin Rose’s new prototype “JR” irons. We also spotted new shafts from KBS and Mitsubishi as well as new grips from SuperStroke.

Check out all of our photos below.

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

See what GolfWRXers are saying in the discussion thread.

 

 

Your Reaction?
  • 13
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK2

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending