The Masters. Magnolia Lane. Green Jackets. Gold Jackets. We are less than 24 hours from the first tee ball flying.
As Scott Rogowsky might say, "It's time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Let's get this show on the road."
The bulk of our tournament prep should be complete, but let's go over a few last-minute tips before finalizing our DFS rosters...
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Heading to Augusta, Georiga, wind and temperature are the two elements we are most focused on. The SubAir system will handle any precipitation thrown its way.
Wednesday: Showers and Thunderstorms possible. Unlike last week in Houston, this isn't a big deal.
Thursday (R1): Chilly (but sunny) with calm winds. High of 68 degrees.
Friday (R2): Mostly sunny with temps warming up to the high 70s.
Weekend: Some rain in the mix on Saturday. Depending on which forecast you look at it will either come smack dab in the middle of R3 or else it will come last in the evening and not affect play at all. Sunday is nice, but again cool, with a high of just 66 degrees.
Last week in Houston we saw pre-tournament rains soak the course and allow less-than-stellar ball-striking to thrive. There was one shot by Poulter in particular where he chopped out of cabbage from outside 150 yards yet still got the ball to hold the green with just one hop after the initial landing. That won't be the case this week at Augusta National since the greens will be firm and fast and the SubAir system will ensure they stay that way.
Winds don't look to be a major factor until the weekend.
The biggest weather element this week will be cold temperatures. It's not bitterly cold like the year Zach Johnson slipped on the green jacket but sub-70 temperatures should lead to the ball flying a little shorter all week. Reaching the par 5s in two won't be a sure thing for a lot of golfers. This might give a slight boost to the shorter hitters since more golfers will be forced into playing a few more par 5s as three-shot holes.
Looking at stats since 2014, here are the top 10 golfers in the field when it comes to recording "go-low rounds" in sub-70 degree weather:
Another way to look at this would be to look at tournaments played in an average temperature under 70 degrees: Farmers Insurance Open, THE CJ CUP, WM Phoenix Open, Genesis Open, Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Open Championship, and RBC Heritage. Golfers that consistently play well in those events might also take well to these cooler conditions in Augusta, Georgia.
If you're anything like me then you have fallen in love with Daily Fantasy Sports but probably came from a season-long background. The one thing I miss about season-long leagues is the snake drafts. DRAFT has come along to fill that void and I'm having a lot of fun playing in their weekly golf drafts.
The first place to start is to build your pre-draft rankings for the week. I will point out a few golfers I think are overvalued in the raw rankings and a few that are undervalued in the raw rankings.
Tiger Woods (39.56 Projected Pts): I'm not sure how the projections are produced but this one is way off. Similar to Golf Channel's fantasy format, they continue to underprice Woods which I'm sure is based on his long-terms stats which may factor in performance from a few years ago. The 2018 Tiger deserves to at least be inside the top 20 in pre-rankings this week.
Tommy Fleetwood (43.32 Projected Pts): One of the best ball-strikers on the planet, he deserves a big boost up from his raw pre-ranking. The Englishman missed the cut in his Masters debut last year but he's finished T2 at a WGC-Mexico and T4 in a U.S. Open, he's not scared of the spotlight once he gets into contention.
Rory McIlroy (68.15 Projected Pts): Checks in at the 18th-highest projected golfer. That's really low for a golfer that has cracked the top 10 in each of his last four visits to Augusta National. On top of that, McIlroy is also a golfer that generally outproduces his finishing position because he racks up birdies and eagles in bunches. That is especially true on a par 72 like ANGC that yields a high rate of eagles.
Hideki Matsuyama (80.51 Projected Pts): He checks in as the fourth-highest projected golfer. That wouldn't look completely out of place if he were in form and fully healthy. However, he's been nursing a wrist injury for some time now. Given his time off, I'm not too scared of his wrist actually being hurt still. Instead, it's the lack of competitive reps that leads to rust. That's not something I want to take a shot on with my first or even second pick this week.
Jon Rahm (80.82 Projected Pts): The Spaniard is an elite talent that will surely pick up a few majors before his career is over. However, he enters this week having lost strokes on approach in four straight starts. It's certainly possible that he's gotten in sync during his pre-tournament prep but that's not something I'd want to risk with my first pick this week.
Patrick Cantlay (75.90 Projected Pts): Making his second career start at Augusta National, Cantlay makes for a decent sleeper pick this week but not someone I'd want as a part of my core. In the pre-rankings he sits ahead of guys like Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, and Rory McIlroy. Cantlay is not someone that usually blows away the field in any round but instead chips away a few strokes at a time. That steady play makes him worthy of a look this week, but I would drop him down my pre-draft rankings about 10 spots, personally.
After seeing a lot of poa annua, bermuda, and overseeded bermudagreens early in the season, these golfers will be faced with bentgrass greens this week at Augusta National.
Looking at performance on courses with bentgrass greens since the start of 2014, the top 15 performers on a per-round basis looks like this:
Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement on bentgrass greens (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
Recommendation: A few names that pop on both lists are: Rickie Fowler, Paul Casey, Matt Kuchar, and Marc Leishman. All four of these names should be given a close look this week. Will Leishman be able to handle the Tiger pairing? He has in the past, gaining 7.83 strokes over the field in two previous rounds played alongside Woods.
Charley Hoffman: Arriving with top 20s in two of his last three starts, Hoffman is rounding into shape just in time to take on one of his favorite venues. "I feel good. I’m a very visual person; visually, it fits my eye. The greens, I don’t know why it is, I like to see putts that break. Just it feels good when I’m on the greens and on the tees and hitting shots into the green. I don’t know if it just makes me focus a little bit more out here, but I definitely feel comfortable on this property." His results here back that up. He was the first-round leader here last year. He was T2 after R1 back in 2015. He's produced top 30s in all four trips to Augusta National. I would expect more of the same with plenty of birdie and eagle chances on the par 5s. A good plug-in value option across the DFS sites.
Best of luck in all your contests this week!