Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: The Masters
Fittingly, Tiger Woods held the mantle of reigning Masters champion for longer than any golfer ever, with an additional seven months between the 2019 and 2020 editions (technically the first 2021 edition, but this is confusing enough as it stands). Dustin Johnson will have the shortest reign, and a certain former winner will arrive at Augusta this week with far more fanfare than the world No. 1.
It's been just six months since DJ fired a bogey-free 65 in the opening round and never looked back, going wire-to-wire for the record-setting win. His 20-under for the week was the lowest mark ever, he made the fewest bogeys (four) n the event's history, and he became the first golfer to shoot 65 or better twice in one Masters. Whether the conditions were more favorable in November than in the traditional April slot is up for debate, as Johnson's five-stroke margin of victory showed he was a level above the competition all week regardless of any external factors.
It will be no surprise if the difficulty at Augusta National is intentionally ramped up this week to combat another threat to any records. The 7,475-yard par 72 favors the bold and the strong, with only pine straw and trees to contend with on wayward drives but no rough. Some of the fastest greens on Tour serve as the equalizer for any overzealous bombers who think they can go for a tricky pin location with a long iron in hand.
Augusta has its own unique cut rules with just 88 golfers in the field, which includes any former winner who wishes to play, the 2020 U.S. Amateur and runner up, the 2020 British Amateur Champion, the 2020 Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion, the 2021 Latin America Amateur Champion, and the 2020 U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion. Golfers inside the top 50 or within 10 strokes of the lead make the weekend, but a few amateurs and old guys are almost always on the cutting room floor come Friday afternoon. That means the weekend consistently features most of the best golfers in the world.
Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.
Course and Tournament Info
Course: Augusta National GC
Distance: 7,475 yards
Fairways/Rough: Bermudagrass fairways overseeded with ryegrass / no rough at Augusta, just pine straw
As alluded to above, we can hardly expect any performance approaching Johnson's dominance this week. The last five April editions saw winners at 13-under, 15-under, 9-under, 5-under, and 18-under. Ballstriking is the firm skill you need to survive at Augusta, but a few times each round each golfer will be tested and require a little creativity and native knowledge to escape a tricky spot. The multilayered greens and undulating fairways make for awkward stances on almost every shot after the tee, and there really is no substitute for experience.
So finding a comparison course can be tricky given the uniqueness of the Augusta experience, but we see some overlap at long courses like Torrey Pines South (Farmers Insurance Open, 2008 U.S. Open), Muirfield Village GC (the Memorial Tournament), and Firestone CC (the now-defunct WGC-Bridgestone). Distance and iron play are the defining characteristics across the board.
These stats will be key to success in The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.
|Key Stats for The Masters at Augusta National GC|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Birdies or Better Gained|
|Strokes Gained: Par 5s|
|Course History at Augusta National|
We rely on distance over the broader strokes gained: off the tee, though there's certainly plenty overlap given how advantageous it is to hit the ball further than your opponents. Having a wedge in hand as opposed to a mid-long iron is a massive difference even for the best golfers in the world, and with slick, undulating greens precision on approach is absolutely crucial at Augusta.
Birdies and eagles are out there, and finding pay dirt on the four par 5s is often the difference come Sunday.
As we'll see below, many of the top golfers tend to pop up on the Masters' leaderboard year after year. It makes sense -- strong, small field, with ballstriking at the fore -- but bears further emphasis because this is the only major championship that doesn't rotate courses. The best of the best duke it out (almost) every April, and if a golfer doesn't have a ton of experience at Augusta National they probably don't fit that criteria.
Course History Studs
Johnson had arguably the best Augusta record among those who'd never donned the green jacket before earning his in November, with finishes of T2, T10, T4, and T6 in his four prior appearances before his win.
The man of the hour is one Jordan Spieth, finally back in form off a win at the Valero Texas Open. Spieth has been out of sorts for the past couple of years, and he's finished 46th and 21st the last two trips to Augusta. Prior to that, he was 3rd, 11th, 2nd, 1st, and 2nd, with the 2016 runner up an especially painful collapse on the second nine to yield the title to a charging Danny Willett.
Bubba Watson was a mess here in November despite arriving in good form, finishing 57th after a final round 78, but he has won twice and popped up on the leaderboard with T12 and T5 the last two April editions.
Rory McIlroy played himself back from a Thursday 75 last year to eventually finish 5th, his sixth top 10 in the last seven renewals.
Were it not for Spieth's heroics in Texas, the most buzz would likely be around Jon Rahm, who has three straight top 10s and will arrive at Augusta a new father after he and his wife welcomed a baby boy this weekend.
Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.