The Masters Tournament is being played back-to-back as the second and third majors of the six on the schedule for the 2020-21 PGA Tour season. Dustin Johnson claimed his first Masters title at Augusta National Golf Club in mid-November and returns as the betting favorite and top-priced golfer at DraftKings as he attempts to win his second green jacket in just five months. Below, we look at the 2021 Masters and make our DFS picks for DraftKings, along with a course preview, key stats, and lineup-building strategies.
Johnson has remained No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking since winning the 2020 Northern Trust as his second of three PGA Tour victories last year. He won the European Tour’s Saudi International earlier this year but has largely unimpressive results in four events on American soil since. He fronts a field that includes each of the top 55 golfers in the OWGR as of March 28. Tiger Woods, 67th in the OWGR, won’t participate following a February car accident. Brooks Koepka, No. 11 in the world, is still scheduled to tee it up following knee surgery.
Patrons will return to the grounds of Augusta National GC in a limited capacity after none were allowed at the fall Masters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The course: Augusta National Golf Club
After Johnson won by five strokes at a record 20-under par in November, Augusta National should be expected to play considerably tougher. Only one of the previous nine champions shot better than minus-15 and four of those finished at minus-9 or worse. The re-planted Bermuda fairways will play firmer and faster, as should the Bentgrass greens.
It’s these greens which most famously guard against low scores at ANGC. The multiple tiers, false fronts, and severe breaks can frustrate even the most experienced of those in attendance. In addition, water is a predominant hazard on five holes on the back nine; tight pine tree-lined fairways protect the front nine.
The course measures 7,475 yards and plays to a par of 72; elevation ranging from 160-310 feet can make it feel much longer. Scoring must be done on the four par 5s with each of them playing below par in the fall and historically. Only two par 4s, including the 350-yard 3rd, played below par in November; six of the par 4s play to 450 or more yards and each of them scored above par. Two of the four par 3s scored below par in the fall but no aces were recorded in 2020.
Key stats to consider for your 2021 Masters DFS picks
The extensive course history of ANGC provides a reliable golfer profile even without Strokes Gained data available. SG: Off-the-Tee, with an emphasis on distance over accuracy, is essential. SG: Approach and SG: Around-the-Green should be next up in your Masters model.
Scoring needs to be done on the par 5s (Par 5 Scoring) and trouble needs to be avoided on the long par 4s (Par 4 Efficiency: 450-500 Yards). Bogey Avoidance, 3-Putt Avoidance, and Scrambling also help us target those best-suited for dodging damaging high scores. Long-term success putting on Bentgrass greens can be considered but as more of a tiebreaker.
A debutant still hasn’t won the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, but 2020 first-timers Sungjae Im and C.T. Pan both had top-10 finishes without patrons in November. The reduced crowds provide better sightlines and reduced roars to make life easier for those making their first Masters appearance.
Other Masters trends to consider include:
- The pre-tournament favorite hasn’t won the Masters since Woods in 2005.
- No one has gone back-to-back as Masters champion since Woods in 2001-2002.
- All but two of the last 14 champs were inside the top 30 of the OWGR at the time of their win.
- Twelve of the last 13 winners had previously finished inside the top 30 in a Masters appearance.
Masters lineup-building strategies
The main key of most DFS golf contests is to get all six of your golfers through the cut and into the weekend. In larger tournaments like the $4M Fantasy Golf Millionaire which features 473,065 entries, the standards are raised by a considerable margin. You’re looking to roster six players who can finish inside the top 10, including the winner, while also balancing salary and ownership.
It’s usually best to spend as close as possible to the full salary allotment when building a DFS lineup. The DraftKings algorithm is extremely accurate in judging player value and the more you spend, the better your chance of success. In such a large-field tournament, however, one of the best ways to create a unique lineup is to spend below the salary threshold. This helps widen your range of players to choose from and avoids landing on some of the more popular salaries as roster fillers.
Once your lineup is constructed, it’s wise to check with a site like FanShare Sports to get a sense of projected ownership. The star-studded nature of the Masters field naturally helps disperse ownership, especially at the top, but even shaving a few percentage points while rostering a similarly talented golfer can be highly beneficial. Of equal importance, it can help you pivot off of overly popular value plays. A low-cost flier can lose their value if they’re in an overabundance of lineups and fall short of expectations.
Finally, use the DraftKings Sportsbook betting odds as an important tool. DFS salaries and ownership can be more heavily impacted by recency bias when being released just over a week before the tournament. The betting odds have been posted since mid-November and frequently adjusted based on player performance. View the odds as a more accurate judge of implied win probability.
2021 Masters DFS picks
Top Tier: $11.5K – $8.5K
Bryson DeChambeau $10,800
There’s value in DeChambeau at third by both DFS salary and the betting odds. He was the pre-tournament favorite in November following his commanding US Open victory. He also enters in top form off of a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and a T-3 finish at The Players Championship
The No. 5 golfer in the OWGR leads qualified golfers in SG: Off-the-Tee this season, and he’s tied for first with a par 5 scoring average of 4.39. He cited illness for his disappointing T-34 finish in the fall but now has a tournament of experience while playing ANGC with his added distance.
Rory McIlroy $10,200
McIlroy is overpriced while sitting 12th in the OWGR. He’s sixth by the betting odds and fifth by DFS salary. The hope is the former long-reigning world No. 1 will be a contrarian play with much lower ownership than he usually has when attempting to complete the career grand slam.
He recently changed swing coaches amid a stretch of play that has seen him miss the cut in two of his last three non-WGC events. He’s still fourth among qualified golfers in SG: Off-the-Tee and 14th in SG: Tee-to-Green.
Brooks Koepka $9,200
Koepka, who’s 11th by DFS salary but ninth by the betting odds, is heavily discounted among concerns over his recently-repaired knee. Those (valid) concerns will temper expectations for the four-time major champ who opened with the sixth-best odds in mid-November.
Koepka tied for seventh at the 2020 fall Masters but missed the cut in each of his next three events on the 2020-21 PGA Tour season before winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He was a co-runner-up against all this same top competition at the WGC-Workday Championship before taking time off due to injury. Like with McIlroy, take advantage of the unusually low ownership and trust he’s allowed enough time to recover from surgery.
Daniel Berger $8,500
Berger will play in his first Masters since 2018 after failing to qualify in time for the 2020 tournament. He has played here three times with a top finish of T-10 in his 2016 debut and has never missed the cut.
He has soared from as low as No. 152 in the OWGR last January to No. 15 coming into the 2021 Masters. Still, he’s a slight value with the 18th-highest DFS salary but a share of the 11th-lowest odds. He’s averaging 0.68 SG: Putting per round on the 2020-21 season and is top 21 on Tour in par 5 scoring and bogey avoidance.
Mid Tier: $8.4K – $7K
Matthew Fitzpatrick $8,100
Fitzpatrick leads the golf world with 2.56 strokes gained per round on the average Tour pro over his last 20 rounds. The Englishman has three top-10 finishes in five PGA Tour events this year. He +4000 by the betting odds but is just 22nd by DFS salary while ranked 16th in the world.
He’s seventh on Tour in par 4 efficiency from our key distance and is averaging 0.66 SG: Putting per round.
Sergio Garcia $$7,900
Garcia, 41, is second on Tour behind DeChambeau in SG: Off-the-Tee for the season. He’s third in par 5 scoring average, 25th in bogey avoidance, and 15th in scrambling. Putting remains a weakness, but he had success on these greens in 2017 and is sixth among the true competitors this year with 52 rounds played at ANGC.
Justin Rose $7,200
Rose is still a respectable 41st in the OWGR despite going without a win since the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open. He withdrew from both the Arnold Palmer Invitational (mid-round) and Players Championship (pre-tournament) due to injury, but he tied for second at the European Tour’s Saudi International earlier this year. His iron play and ball-striking are still his strengths, and he has averaged 2.24 strokes gained on the field per round over 54 rounds at Augusta National.
Matthew Wolff $7,100
Wolff returned to play at the WGC-Match Play after missed time due to injury that started with a withdrawal from the WGC-Workday Championship. He’s still 23rd in the OWGR but 36th by DFS salary. His play around-the-green has been sloppy this year, but he’s averaging 0.79 SG: Approach per round and is well above average with the flat stick.
Value Tier: $6.9K – $6K
Marc Leishman $6,900
Leishman, 39th in the OWGR, enters Masters week at +15000 to win the tournament, but he has been as low as +6600 since the odds opened. The 37-year-old Aussie tied for 13th in November and has two top-10 finishes in eight career appearances. He has been erratic off-the-tee but is gaining 0.44 strokes per round on approach.
Carlos Ortiz $6,500
Ortiz won the Vivint Houston Open in the fall swing against considerably weaker competition. He has stayed hot since and is up to 47th in the OWGR. He’ll make his Masters debut and looks to follow suit of the likes of Im and Pan from the fall.
Only 11 golfers are averaging more strokes gained on the average pro over their last 20 rounds. He’s tied for 10th in par 5 scoring, 21st in par 4 efficiency, and 13th in both 3-putt avoidance and bogey avoidance.
Ryan Palmer $6,500
Palmer is among the most experienced at Augusta National in this bottom pricing tier outside of the past champions. He finished 10th in 2011 and will make his first appearance since a T-33 finish in 2015. The 27th-ranked golfer in the world is fifth on Tour in par 5 scoring and T-23 in par 4 efficiency. He’s tied for 27th in bogey avoidance and is 23rd in scrambling.
Mackenzie Hughes $6,300
Hughes is back to No. 51 in the OWGR following a Round of 16 exit from the match play. He’ll make his first appearance at ANGC since a missed cut in his 2017 debut. An expert putter, he’s second on Tour in 3-putt avoidance while also tied for 23rd in par 5 scoring. Trust the world rankings, as he’s the top-ranked player this deep in the pool.