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DraftKings Fantasy Preview: The Masters

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Hello, friends.*

This week we have the Masters, an event that needs no introduction. It’s also a time where we are afforded an odd media coverage equation: 104th ranked player in the world teeing it up for the first time in two months > World No. 1 going for the career Grand Slam > Defending champion gunning for (semi-immortalizing) third Green Jacket.

With this special week comes a special set of contests from DraftKings.

The normal $40,000 prize pool is blown out of the water for the first major of the year, as a $3 entry free (or FREE with first deposit) puts you into a $100,000 contest where first place takes home $10,000! (And the top 7,850 positions earn money.)

Enter the competition here!

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If that’s not enough, a $20 entry fee earns you a spot into a $2,200,000 prize pool where the winner gets $1,000,000!! That’s big money, and a finish among the top 24,025 will earn you cash in this contest.

Enter the competition here!

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But now you need the correct roster to cash in. I have my picks that can hopefully aid in that process.

The Course

AugustaNational

Augusta National is an extremely familiar course to any avid fan, and even the casual observer will recognize it.

That is, of course, because the layout hosts the Masters every year, and this ingrained Augusta National knowledge has its pros and its cons.

The upside is that we have been offered a clear picture from media, fans, etc. as to the type of player who wins at Augusta National: A long, high-ball hitter with a dynamite flatstick. Pretty simple model to remember.

Long-held assumptions in golf, though, are sometimes difficult to trust and turn out to be totally incorrect. Despite Augusta’s lengthy Masters history and the profile others have already built up for the layout, I checked in on these assumptions the same way as the last two weeks — compiling data on the top-10 finishers from each of the last five tournaments at the course.

The results didn’t totally speak to the long held Augusta National ideal.

From 2010-2014, long, high-ball hitters did rule the Masters turf as expected, with nearly two-thirds of the sample being classified in the top third on the PGA Tour in either category (or both). Accuracy off the tee was predictably a weak indicator of success at Augusta, as just a third of this five-year group fit in here.

Side note: In 2014, more top-10 finishers were considered accurate than long off the tee. This might be an anomaly or a direct consequence of extremely firm and fast conditions that aided shorter hitters. Something to watch out for with this year’s course getting firm and fast reviews.

Where my findings deviate is from the manic emphasis on putting.

There’s no doubt that work on the greens at Augusta proves vital, but the importance heaped on here is far too much. Just barely over half of my sample were top-third putters, a far cry from the two-thirds advantage of the big and high hitters.

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 11.02.10 AM

And as I touched on last week, an overlooked aspect at Augusta is the all-around game the course can demand. About half of this five-year group had quality short game or approach play, which puts both of these aspects close to the importance of putting at Augusta. And that makes more sense anyway, considering the precision on approach shots and deft touch around the greens that is always talked about when it comes to the Masters.

My modified Augusta model then is a long-hitting, high-ball hitter who has proficiency in most or all parts of the game (putting being the slightly most important).

As Rich Hunt noted in his excellent Masters preview, 22 Golfers Who Can Actually Win The Masters, Augusta National also favors excellent approach players from 175-225 yards due to the greater than average number of shots from that range on this layout.

My sample group concurs, although I would expand it past 225 yards. To be clear, on the approach play portion, good mid- to long-iron players have tended to excel in recent times at Augusta more than good short iron or wedge players.

Six-Man Roster (Last Week: 425.5 points, 6237th of 17240)unnamed-2

  • Jason Day: $11,300
  • Dustin Johnson: $10,500
  • Jimmy Walker: $8,900
  • Webb Simpson: $6,700
  • Ryan Palmer: $6,600
  • Kevin Na: $6,000

As usual, I mostly went after players who were an excellent course fit, but I did wander from that occasionally.

JasonDayMasters

Jason Day is really a no-brainer pick. In two healthy starts at Augusta, he has finished T2 and 3rd, and he easily could’ve won either time. As he is the epitome of the dated “long, high-hitting putter” model, many have fawned over how much the layout suits his game.

My deviation from that model doesn’t mean that Day is less of a fit for Augusta, in fact I think my alteration proves the duo even more compatible. Maybe Day’s excellent putting is diminished in my view, but he also possesses an otherworldly short game and underrated but solid approach play, which syncs perfectly with my more all-around profile. His best approach work tends to be with the wedges, but he’s no slouch with mid- to long-irons.

Johnson, Walker and Palmer also place into this revised formula, with all three being bombing, high-ballers who have solid all around games.

DustinJohnson

Johnson has gone nuclear of late with four top-six finishes, including a WGC win, in his last five starts, and it’s honestly quite baffling that his best showing in five Masters starts is 13th. After all, he’s one of the game’s longest, highest hitters, and as much as he gets lumped in to the bomb and gauge category, his game is of the pretty well rounded sort Augusta likes. Johnson has precious little accuracy off the tee, but is one of the game’s best approach players, especially from mid- to long-iron range. His putting is up-and-down but overall OK, and his only glaring weakness is his short game, which is below average but not abysmal.

With the combo of his recent play and that nice fit, I have trouble seeing Johnson not contending.

As for Walker, he proved his adeptness for the Augusta layout with a T8 in his first go round last year. He’s also played extremely well of late and is quite similar to Johnson. Walker hits it somewhat lower and a tad shorter than DJ and doesn’t quite reach Johnson’s incredibly high approach play standard, but Walker is a much better putter and an average chipper. With all of these Augusta-ready tools, his $8,900 price tag is comically low.

JimmyWalker

Palmer pretty much has Walker’s game except that he airs it at a top-20 rate, above Jimmy’s norm. It’s amazing that he’s slipping through the cracks, especially in light of a career season in 2014, great recent play and a previous Masters top-10.

Simpson’s been kind of under the radar aside from his change to the short putter, which has been disastrous given his 149th place spot in Strokes Gained — Putting. Otherwise, though, he really suits the all-around mold with his above average driving, excellent approach play and really tidy short game. Simpson’s length isn’t overpowering nor are his shots towering, but I think he does enough well otherwise to mesh with Augusta, even if the one made cut thus far doesn’t show it (and he’s subtly in great form with three top-10s this season).

KevinNa

My real wildcard is Kevin Na, who’s certainly a scraper but not too cozy with Augusta’s layout. Putting and short game are the only things that keep him alive, and that’s not enough at Augusta especially as short as Na hits it.

I trust his resolve, though, as well as his recent form (four straight top-20s) to carry him through to a strong Masters showing.

Ultimate Sleeper Rosterunnamed-3

  • John Senden: $6,500
  • Joost Luiten: $6,400
  • Branden Grace: $6,400
  • Charley Hoffman: $6,000
  • Kevin Na: $6,000
  • Geoff Ogilvy: $5,800

A pair of Aussies on this list with past success at Augusta. I expect Senden to build on last year’s eighth-place showing courtesy of sensational tee-to-green play, and if Ogilvy can figure out his putter, he can take advantage of his high ball flight and above average length.

joost-luiten-v

I’m taking a chance on both Branden Grace and Joost Luiten. The former is a considerably smaller risk, with Grace recording two more European Tour wins this year. He hasn’t translated that well over to the U.S. in 2015, but his length will help him at Augusta.

It’s been a rough start in 2015 for Luiten, with zero top-10s in seven events. But I still feel that he will break out at some point this year. Why not in the place he finished T26 in last year in his first showing?

I can’t believe Hoffman is there at $6,000. His form is excellent (consecutive T11s) and he is a direct match with the long, high-ball, all-around player model at Augusta. Why not take him at $6,000?

Alternate Six-Man Roster (Last Week: 381 points, 10593rd of 17240)

  • Henrik Stenson: $10,100
  • Matt Kuchar: $9,600
  • Brandt Snedeker: $9,500
  • Hunter Mahan: $7,200
  • Russell Henley: $6,500
  • Charley Hoffman: $6,000

I don’t really need to explain Stenson, do I? Pretty secure choice. Neither Kuchar nor Snedeker fit the long-hitter designation, yet their all-around games are on point and Snedeker has a higher ball flight than his distance would suggest. Their strong previous records at Augusta help, too.

Henley

Henley played well last week in a T3 in Texas and while Augusta isn’t a terrific fit for him, I think he brings a lot of confidence this week and translates that well.

Mahan is clearly a fit for the course model, and he has appeared very close at times this year to putting everything together. Expect that to finally occur this week.

*Don’t sue me, Jim Nantz!

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Kevin's fascination with the game goes back as long as he can remember. He has written about the sport on the junior, college and professional levels and hopes to cover its proceedings in some capacity for as long as possible. His main area of expertise is the PGA Tour, which is his primary focus for GolfWRX. Kevin is currently a student at Northwestern University, but he will be out into the workforce soon enough. You can find his golf tidbits and other sports-related babble on Twitter @KevinCasey19. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: September 2014

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. matt_bear

    Apr 9, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    your roster with Henley and Hoffman is off to a REALLY good start.

    • Kevin Casey

      Apr 9, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      Haha, indeed it was. Cooled off a bit though because my later guys didn’t do that well, which is weird because Henley and Hoffman were my two lowest priced.

  2. Brian

    Apr 7, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    This is my first time using Draft Kings. I organized a fantasy league for a few years but I kept forgetting when the new season started! Looking forward to some instant gratification (or frustration).

    • Kevin Casey

      Apr 7, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      Haha, well put. It’s definitely a cool format, I find myself having to curb watching my score in live time.

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