Russell Henley played his way into the Masters field with an impressive final round 65 on Sunday. But, that’s all the time I want to spend on the Shell Houston Open because it’s Masters Week. Masters Week is one of my favorite times of year for many reasons. This year, the Masters gives us our first crack at a Millionaire Maker in PGA DFS.
The Masters is played at Augusta National, a Par 72 course that plays just over 7,400 yards. The length of Augusta does put a premium on driving distance but it isn’t just strictly for bombers. In the last 10 years, the winner has placed 7th in greens in regulation and scrambling. The Masters can be won a variety of ways off the tee. Phil Mickelson led the field in driving distance one of the years he won while Zach Johnson was 57th in driving distance the year of his win. Since 2003, the winning score has only gone to double digits under par on five occasions. Birdie or better is important, but avoiding big numbers at Augusta for 4 straight rounds is more important.
The Clear Studs ($9,500+)
Dustin Johnson ($11,300) is coming in as the hottest golfer on the planet. He’s won the past three events he has started. Those three events also happen to be the three strongest fields of 2017. Johnson has always been one of the best drivers on Tour but has improved dramatically in ball-striking over the past year. It’s very difficult to poke holes in his game, but everyone knows it and he will be highly owned this week.
Jordan Spieth ($11,500) is more expensive this week because of his impeccable resume at Augusta. He’s made three starts in the Masters and has yet to finish worse than runner-up. If Augusta plays like a second-shot golf course, there aren’t many better golfers in the world than Spieth.
Speaking of elite ball-strikers, Rory McIlroy ($11,500) is in this price range this week as well. He has the long iron play to be accurate on the long Par 4s that Augusta is famous for. There’s no way to fit the three top players in a lineup so I think that McIlroy could go slightly under-owned in this range.
It will be interesting to see where Henrik Stenson ($9,500) lands in ownership this week. It’s no secret that he’s struggling a bit with his game of late. He’s had two missed cuts, a withdrawal and a 7th place finish in his last four starts. Getting Stenson right this week could be the key to a GPP win.
Mid-Tier Guys ($8,000-$9,500)
Rickie Fowler ($9,300) is coming off of a solid performance in Houston. He fell short, but he is towards the top of the class in this tier. Fowler’s approach game and Par 5 scoring should allow him to compete.
This tier of salary also features former winners. Adam Scott ($8,800), Phil Mickelson ($8,700) and Bubba Watson ($8,400) have all won at Augusta before. Adam Scott missed the cut in Houston this week and hasn’t done much in the last few weeks to inspire confidence. Mickelson comes in with the best form of the previous champions in this range despite his relative struggles last week. He hasn’t missed a cut since September, doubt we see him miss the weekend here. Watson is a bit of an enigma this year. If there were bonus points for different color balls, he’d be mashing this year. Unfortunately, they don’t. Watson has only finished three of his last six events.
Brandt Snedeker ($8,000) is a guy to target for his course history here. Snedeker has played this tournament nine times and has only missed two cuts. He has three top ten finishes, including a 3rd place finish, on his resume at Augusta.
Value Plays ($7,000-$8,000)
This range also features some past winners. Danny Willett ($7,800) was last year’s champion in a year where scores didn’t go as low as usual. Charl Schwartzel ($7,900) also finds himself in this range six years after his Masters triumph. Zach Johnson ($7,400) has also won here in the past. Johnson’s scrambling this year could help him make the cut but I’m not sure how low he can go at this point in his game.
Tyrrell Hatton ($7,600) is playing in his first Masters tournament this week. Usually that’s a knock on someone at Augusta, but it’s hard to argue with the season he’s putting together so far. Hatton hasn’t been outside of the Top 25 in an event he’s played since last September. He’s currently 13th in strokes gained: off the tee, 6th in strokes gained: approach, and 1st in strokes gained: putting.
Alex Noren ($7,500) is currently the 10th ranked golfer in the OWGR but it seems like he goes under-owned in most tournaments. It is his first start here, but his skill on and around the greens should give him a chance to compete in 2017.
Bargain Plays of the Week (Sub-$7,000)
Soren Kjeldsen ($6,500) is my bargain play of the week. The last time we saw Kjeldsen competing was in Austin at the WGC Match Play event where he went on a run all the way to the quarterfinals. He’s played the Masters three times in his career and has finished as high as 7th. If you’re going to pay up for the Jordan Spieths and Dustin Johnsons, you’ll need to find salary somewhere.
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