HA! As if you aren’t already aware of everything there is to know about Augusta. This will be the 84th installment of The Masters dating back to when Horton Smith first won himself the $1,500 purse in 1934, and every year it has of course been contested at the greatest Golf Course on planet earth: Augusta National. In the spirit of “A tradition unlike any other” I am paying homage to the event’s first winner, and will be stacking my units so that I too will take home $1,500 if any of my outrights pull through.
Speaking of traditions, this is the first Major coverage in the history of thepgatout.com in all its infancy, so I’ll be looking to freshen up the coverage this week. Following this Tournament Preview article, this is a look ahead at the Masters 2021 content schedule:
- Monday – Blood, Sweat, and Tiers: A comprehensive analysis of the entire board, identifying my favorite bets, DFS plays, and fades within each Odds & DFS Pricing Tier
- Tuesday – Draft Kings Milly Maker Strategy Guide: A full breakdown of my DFS GPP approach for The Masters, using ownership projections to identify chalk and leverage plays, game theory strategy to differentiate lineup construction, and players in each pricing range I’m looking to get exposure to.
- Wednesday – Final Thoughts: A full recap of my approach, strategy, and final placed bets for The Masters
I’m pumped, you’re pumped, it’s golf’s Super Bowl week so let the content rain, starting first with the Tournament Preview!
Augusta National Course Specs
- Yards: 7,475
- Par: 72 (4x 3’s / 10x 4’s / 4x 5’s)
- Greens: Bent
- Architect: Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie
- Historic Cut Line: +3
- Comp Courses: Muirfield Village, Stadium Course, Country Club of Jackson, Torrey Pines, Ridgewood CC
- Past Winners: Dustin Johnson (20), Tiger Woods (19), Patrick Reed (18), Sergio Garcia (17), Danny Willett (16)
Normally I’d list off all the past winners, but as is #tradition, all the past winners are here, so that list is almost as long as the non-winners in this 87-man field. Never get too cute with the senior past winners in your lineup; I assure you Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer, and Larry Mize are not going to string a better 4 rounds together than Michael Thompson, Stewart Cink, and Brendon Todd in the same bottom-$6K price range in Draft Kings, so don’t over-think this one.
It is insulting to Augusta National to mention any other course in the same breathe as a comparison, but if we’re looking at courses that require the same profiles to succeed, Stadium Course, Country Club of Jackson, Torrey Pines, and Ridgewood CC each put the same emphasis on Driving Distance, Approach, Around The Green, and Putting. Obviously as a Major, you can’t win if you don’t have a complete all-around game, but what differentiates Augusta from these other courses are the intricacies in reading these Greens and managing the green-side complexes. For that reason, Bogey Avoidance and 3-Putt Avoidance will also come in handy.
Nobody is more protective over the sanctity of their course than the crew at Augusta National, so when Dustin Johnson broke the course record with a -20 and Cameron Smith became the first player ever to record 4 rounds in the 60s last November, we could expect the course to bite back in our next return this week. Early reports indicate the greens are firmer and rolling faster than ever before, so we’ll need to factor in success in similar conditions into our models this week to differentiate from past conditions at The Masters. The last instance we saw of extreme Firm & Fast greens in difficult scoring conditions was at the Memorial last July, which Jon Rahm dominated for a 3-stroke lead diminished by a bogus grounded club 2-stroke penalty. Ryan Palmer, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia, and Matt Wallace also rounded out the Top 10 T2G at Muirfield Village that week and will be worth consideration this time around at Augusta.
- SG: APP
- SG: ARG
- SG: T2G (Recent Form)
- SG: OTT / Driving Distance
- SG: Putting (Bent)
- Bogey Avoidance / 3-Putt Avoidance
- P4: 450-500
- SG: TOT on Firm & Fast Greens
- SG: TOT in Difficult Scoring conditions
- Course History / Prior Masters Experience
Stats To Avoid
No SG data at Augusta means another week without the good old correlation charts unfortunately, so these Key Stats are based on Data Golf’s Course Fit tool, Fantasy National’s Course Breakdown features, and all the historical adages we’ve come to know about success at The Masters year over year. Normally I take a look at some stats to avoid when breaking down a given course, in order to land on some value players whose weaknesses won’t kill them because of what the course demands. That thinking does not apply at a Major Championship like The Masters however, because the course was created in order to reward the “Masters” of the game who excel in all facets.
The first adage about The Masters is that a debutant has not won since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. That doesn’t mean first-timers can’t perform well here – just ask Sungjae Im and his T2 debut finish last November – but you should probably pump the brakes before placing any outrights on the debutants. The non-amateurs making their first appearance at The Masters this year are Will Zalatoris, Robert MacIntyre, and Carlos Ortiz.
Beyond the prior Masters experience qualifier, there are a few other pre-requisites to wear the Green Jacket, looking at the last 10 winners going back to Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Each of the past 10 winners have been ranked in the Top 30 of the OWGR rankings, they’ve recorded a T40-or-better at The Masters previously, and they’ve recorded a T5 or better within the same calendar year. Apart from Patrick Reed in 2018, all champions had made the cut in the previous year’s Masters.
Firm & Fast Greens are the buzzwords of the week for the 2021 Masters. Generally speaking, a firm green is the great equalizer for Approach play, as many great approaches are not rewarded when you can’t get the ball to spin and stop. That puts an even greater emphasis on SG: ARG to scramble for pars. Players with more lofted ball flights will also have an advantage holding firm greens, which favors the longer players off the tee, as they’ll be able to club down for more lofted approaches. Fast greens also tend to generate more 3-putts, making 3-Putt Avoidance especially important this week. The Top 5 players in 3-Putt Avoidance this week are Mackenzie Hughes, Jason Day, Matt Jones, Jason Kokrak, and Brendon Todd. It also takes a particular player to excel at Putting on Firm & Fast greens. Matt Kuchar, Harris English, and Billy Horschel are the top 3 Putters in these conditions, despite all falling outside the Top 20 ranks in SG: P (Total) and SG: P (Bent). The best overall putter in the Field is Sungjae Im, who ranks #1 SG: P (Total), #1 SG: P (Bent), and #5 SG: P (Firm & Fast), and he looks to build on his previous T2 finish here riding a wild streak of 7 consecutive events where he’s gained at least 2 strokes Putting.
Now let’s talk models. I entered all the key stats listed above into my model, put a premium on T2G, GIRs, Approach, ARG, Course History, and SG: TOT in Difficult Scoring Conditions. The results were two Sun Devils leading the way, and Jon Rahm emerging as #1. There was one player who entered the Top 5 of my model by surprise, by way of ranking #2 GIRs Gained, #4 SG: APP, and #6 SG: T2G: Will Zalatoris. As a newcomer who ranks 82nd out of 89 in the Field SG: P on Bent, I won’t be hammering any outrights on Zal, but at $7,300 on Draft Kings, I think I’ll find myself with exposure to him in DFS. Here’s the rest of my model’s Top 10 (with DK pricing):
- Jon Rahm ($11,000)
- Paul Casey ($7,700)
- Tony Finau ($9,100)
- Will Zalatoris ($7,300)
- Justin Thomas ($10,600)
- Dustin Johnson ($11,500)
- Bryson DeChambeau ($10,800)
- Daniel Berger ($8,500)
- Xander Schauffele ($10,000)
- Patrick Cantlay ($9,800)
Gun to my head if you gave me one outright bet on The Masters, it would be on Paul Casey, who currently still stands around 40/1 on most books. Here’s a list of all of Paul Casey’s Stroke Play finishes in 2021: T8, 1, T12, T5, T10, T5. He lost 0.36 strokes ARG at the Saudi International, and has otherwise not lost a stroke in any major stat category (OTT, APP, ARG, P) at any of his events played in 2021. That’s saying a lot for a player in Casey who has battled some major Short Game inconsistencies in recent years, so to see him turn short game into a strength this year is a dangerous sign. He’s also had plenty of strong showing at Augusta over his career, with 7 T15s in his 14 career trips. While he has developed a sort of reputation for choking away Majors, it’s important to remember The PGA Championship at Harding Park in 2020 was Casey’s to win before Morikawa flipped the script, driving the short Par 4 for Eagle to take over the lead. Paul Casey ranks #5 in the field SG: TOT over the last 24 rounds, so you have to feel great about his form at these current odds.
What To Look Out For at the 2021 Masters
It’s been 5 months since The Masters was last contested, and much has changed since then. Dustin Johnson had stretches through February that begged comparisons to Prime Tiger’s dominance, though those have since fizzled out with mediocre showings in his three most recent starts at the WGC Match Play, THE PLAYERS, and the WGC Workday. With the World #1 and defending champion looking human, it opens the door to plenty of storylines for the first Major Championship of 2021.
- Jordan Spieth: Is he really back?!
- Bryson DeChambeau: Can he follow up his disappointing 2020 Masters showing with a return to form?
- Jon Rahm: How will he look after a busy week as a new father?
- The Greens: Are they really as firm and fast as they’re reported to be?
- Quick Turnaround: How different will Augusta National look and play in April compared to last November, and how much of the last event’s results were an anomaly for the off-season conditions.
I have been over-zealous on Masters Futures since last November, and already have 6 tickets open (a couple of which I’d like to return). My current card includes Viktor Hovland (40/1), Paul Casey (45/1), Matt Fitzpatrick (66/1), Francesco Molinari (100/1), Marc Leishman (100/1), and Gary Woodland (100/1). I will be rounding round out my Masters Outright card with one more player in the 20-35/1 range, and will be patiently waiting for the Sportsbooks to court me with Masters Week Odds Boosts & Promos.
And that’ll wrap it up for the The Masters 2021 Preview! There is no shortage of content in Masters Week, so be on the lookout for new articles every day leading into