Folks, we have arrived. It’s Masters week.
The best players in the world are again at Augusta National, some who have been on site since this past weekend. It’s the first April playing since Tiger Woods’ victory in 2019, and the golf course looks spectacular. Let’s take a look at the field.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson is, of course, here. His champions dinner menu is set, and it looks spectacular.
Joining DJ, unexpectedly to be honest, is Brooks Koepka. Brooks is only a few weeks removed from surgery on his right knee. Only time will tell how healthy he actually is, but if he’s feeling good, this field better watch out.
Rory McIlroy’s attempt for the career grand slam is once again upon us. This will be his 7th try, and hopefully, his last. I feel really good about our guy this week.
Jon Rahm just announced the birth of his first child on April 3rd, which for him is a win-win. He had the kid, now he can go play Augusta. Coming into the tournament he said on multiple occasions that he would leave the tournament if his wife was to go into labor. Now, that is out of play.
PLAYERS Champion Justin Thomas comes into the week in good form. He’s improved his finish at the Masters every single year, culminating with a solo 4th back in November.
2015 Champ Jordan Spieth will look to join a short list of players who have won the Masters after winning their previous start. The last one to do it, Phil Mickelson in 2006.
Augusta National Golf Club
There are so many things you need to do well at Augusta National. It’s one of the few courses in the world that truly tests your entire game. But, let’s start with approach play.
In the last 5 April Masters, the field leader in SG: Approach has an average finishing position of 1.8. So I guess you could say it’s important. Of the players with 10 or more rounds at the Master since 2015, only 1 player has averaged a full stroke or more on the field in approach play. Jordan, fucking Spieth. (Stat from Justin Ray).
In 2019, Tiger gained 57% of his strokes in approach. In 2015, Jordan gained 49% of his with iron play.
Driving distance plays at ANGC. Shorter hitters have won here before, ex. Patrick Reed, but shorter clubs into these greens is always going to be an advantage. If a shorter hitter was to win, it’ll be because of their short game – again, ex. Patrick Reed.
Putting, with experience
You need to be a good putter, but I also think you need to have seen these greens before. Experience at a course like Augusta National goes a long way.
(Data Golf has Driving Distance as the highest ranked stat)
Data Golf Information
Course Fit: 1. Stadium Course, 2. Accordia Golf Narashino CC, 3. Country Club of Jackson.
For the people, like myself, who are unfamiliar with those golf courses, a comparison I love is Riviera.
Trending (of the players in the field): 1. Matthew Fitzpatrick (Last 3 starts: T19, T9, T17), 2. Patrick Cantlay (T15, MC, T17), 3. Daniel Berger (T35, T9, T17)
% Chance to Win: (Baseline, Course History and Fit): 1. Jon Rahm (9.1%), 2. Bryson DeChambeau (7.6%), 3. Dustin Johnson (7.5%)
Twilight 9 Best Bets
Aside from picking a winner or a long shot Top 10, it’s really hard to find good value at the Masters. Small field, best players in the world, it’s tough. That being said, we’re going to get a bit frisky with our picks this week, some of them being in the +200 and up range.
Side note, going back to 2012 when Bubba Watson won the Masters. He was the 18th ranked golfer in the world when he won. Since that year, no one who has won that Masters has been a lower rank than that. Even when Danny Willett won, he was the 12th ranked golfer in the world at the time. So we’re looking for a Top 20 player to win this week.
Top 30 – Max Homa (+125)
I had to find a nice value bet to start the card with, and this is it, our guy. Max played fantastic golf at the WGC Match Play, but was unable to get to the sweet 16. Aside from a missed cut at the Players, Max has only 1 start since the November Masters where he finished outside the Top 25. He’s been one of the most consistent players on TOUR for 6 months, and got his first experience at the Masters in November (MC). This time I don’t think he’ll be as “star-struck” of Augusta National, and he’ll be all business.
Over his last 24 rounds, he’s 8th in SG: Approach, which again, is incredibly important at Augusta. In that same span, he’s 9th in SG: Putting, and 9th SG: Total. If he finds a lot of fairways…Max could make a lot of birdies. I also said earlier that I love Riviera as as course comparison to Augusta. His last 2 starts at the Genesis, 5th and 1st.
Top 30 Kevin Kisner (+175)
It’s Augusta, it’s Kevin Kisner, they just work well together. He missed the cut in November, but when you think about it, it makes sense. It was the lowest scoring Masters ever, and when it becomes that kind of golf tournament, especially at a longer golf course, Kiz is going to have trouble keeping up. Before that, in firm and fast conditions, he had back to back Top 30s.
In his last 24 rounds, he’s 9th in SG: Putting, which is no surprise. With the April conditions, Kiz should benefit in some run out in the fairways, shortening his approach shots – and when he has wedges and short irons, he can shoot really, really good scores. Also, this week is a bit of a home game for him, he lives 20 minutes down the road.
Top 10 – Justin Thomas (+140)
Every time he’s played in this tournament, his finish has gotten better. T39, T22, T17, T12, 4th. The more he’s seen the course, the more he loves it.
In his last 24 rounds, he’s 3rd in SG: Approach, 9th in ball-striking, 8th Tee to Green, and 6th SG: Total. He’s also a better putter on bent grass, ranking 24th in his last 24 rounds.
Top 10 – Rory McIlroy (+175)
It’s that time of year again, when I have to talk myself into thinking Rory is going to win the Masters. I bet on my guy every, single, year. That will not change this year. He’s going to win.
It’s no secret he’s been struggling. Struggling so bad that he hit into someone’s pool at the Match Play. But I think his game is in a better spot than a lot of people think.
After his match with Ian Poulter, where he got smoked, Rory played really good golf. He went on to beat Lanto Griffin 4&3, and to tie Cameron Smith on Friday. His putter is looking a lot better, and his short game was money in Austin. But that takes us to the driver. He’s struggled a bit with hitting fairways, but last week on the show I mentioned a minor swing change that I saw down at the WGC, his swing looks a bit more upright.
He played his best golf from this position. He won the PLAYERS in that spot, the API, the Canadian Open. And to be honest, I think the change has a lot to do with his new coach, Mr. Pete Cowen. And in that same breathe, especially with a week or so off to get it dialed in, I think his wedges are going to be a lot better. That’s what Cowen is most known for, wedge play – which just so happens to be the area of his game where Rory struggles the most, guessing that isn’t a coincidence.
Stats to back up Rory.
Many people bring up iron play struggle. He’s gained over 1.5 strokes on the field in 4 out of his 6 starts this year.
According to Fantasy National, Rory, over his last 24 rounds, is 15th in SG: putting when playing on lightning fast bent greens (that’s Augusta).
Only once in his last 7 visits here did Rory finish outside the Top 10
In his last 24 rounds, Rory is 2nd is SG: TOT at Augusta National.
An opening 69-71 to start his week would be a fantastic start for Rory.
Top 10 – Collin Morikawa (+275)
At Augusta, it’s always good to bet on the best iron player on TOUR. We haven’t seen much of Collin in 2021, but he has a few Top 10s early in the year, and a win at the WGC at Concession. On top of the iron play, in his last 24 rounds, he’s 21st in SG: OTT.
Even though he can struggle on the greens, according to Fantasy National, Bent is Collin’s best putting surface. He also plays some of his best golf when the conditions are tough. He made the cut in November but finished T44. I think with his iron play, ability to hit fairways, and now with some experience under his belt, Collin could make a run at the jacket. We already know he can win big tournaments, i.e the PGA Championship.
Top 20 – Jason Day (+138)
In his last 24 rounds at Augusta National, Jason Day is 7th in SG: TOT.
He missed the cut back in November, but before that, hadn’t finished outside the Top 30 since he WD’d in 2012. That stretch included 2 Top 5s, most recently a T5 back in 2019 (the last time it was in April).
His SG: APP number isn’t great on the year, but over his last 12 rounds its been much better. We all know he can putt his ass off, and that will always play at Augusta.
Cover via Masters.com