The Masters DFS Preview: Course, PGA DFS Model Plays & Much More

Welcome to Masters Week! This is not just one of the best weeks of PGA DFS, but one of the best weeks of DFS in general. I’m going to set the stage by giving a brief overview of Augusta National, followed by what I believe to be the most important skill sets (emphasis on “sets”) required of the 89 players in the field to contend. We’ll conclude with a few of my favorite DraftKings tournament plays with this modeling in mind. Let’s dive in to our The Masters DFS preview.

The Masters DFS Preview

The Masters Course

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Augusta National is a par-72, 7,555-yard track with the standard four par 5’s and four par 3’s. It’s filled with drastic elevation changes, super-slick bentgrass putting surfaces, and swirling winds that can wreak havoc on unsuspecting approach shots. Additionally, it’s a golf course with so many nuances on-and-around the green, one of the main reasons for such strong correlation between Masters experience and success at the event (#1 most predictive course history according to DataGolf).

But for all the teeth Augusta National has, there is one very obvious difference between the course set-up here and a typical week at the average PGA TOUR stop: the lack of rough. The “second cut” as the Green Jackets refer to it is set at just 1 3/8”, allowing for bombers to get away with murder at times. And with rain in the forecast for Thursday, length may be even more of an advantage for this year’s edition of the tournament.

So with those thoughts in mind, let’s start grouping what I’ll be prioritizing in my model as the most important skill sets to help us bring in the big bucks at golf’s first major of the year!

Lindy’s Skill Set Priorities for The Masters DFS (Ranked By Importance):

  1. SG: Tee-to-Green
  2. Par 5 Scoring
  3. Proximity to the Hole from 175-200 Yards

Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-GreenIt's time to provide our Masters DFS preview by showcasing PGA DFS model plays, highlighting the course and so much more.The all-encompassing SG:T2G stat leads the way for me this week, which combines everything that is not a putt into a single number. We’ll get more granular as we go, but it’s worth emphasizing just how silly Scottie Scheffler ($12,000) is in the graphic above.

He’s nearly a full stroke better per round tee-to-green than Xander Schauffele ($9,900) in second place, which is a larger gap than exists between Schauffele and Stephen Jaeger ($7,100) who’s all the way down at 23rd (0.846). This is a historic pace that has not gone overlooked by golf diehards and casuals alike, which will likely lead to the 2022 Masters champion being the highest-owned player in the field by a considerable margin.

Let it be known, there are two massive difficulties when modeling this week compared to other weeks on the PGA TOUR: 1) Augusta National provides no official Strokes-Gained data for The Masters Tournament, and 2) the presence of the LIV Tour players who — you guessed it — also have no official Strokes-Gained data to compare against their PGA TOUR counterparts. That’s where we’ll have to get a bit creative, combining “box score” results from LIV with past results here at Augusta National to make more “who knows ball” takes on the best plays.

Need further proof we need to delve into the LIV guys whether it’s difficult or not? Check out four of the top five from the 2023’s rendition of the Masters:Jon Rahm ($11,200) didn’t depart until the beginning of 2024, but the point remains: we need to add some context to what’s been going on over there. And that job begins with Joaquin Neimann ($9,600) for me, who has won two of the five LIV events played in 2024.

He also competed in three DP World Tour events and one Asian Tour event in the past six months, finishing within the top five of each and every one of them. He’s never faired particularly well in his four trips to Augusta — T16 is his best result — but his current form combined with excellent 2022 SG:T2G marks at the end of his PGA TOUR career has him second overall in this metric for me entering this week.

Par 5 ScoringIt's time to provide our Masters DFS preview by showcasing PGA DFS model plays, highlighting the course and so much more.

Surprise: Scottie Scheffler leads the way here yet again, but at least we’re getting to the headache that is Wyndham Clark ($10,000) for me this week. With four reachable/attackable/need-to-make-birdie-able par 5’s on property at Augusta National, the ability to take advantage of these holes is of utmost importance.

There’s been some length added to each in recent years, most notably 35 yards tagged onto Hole 13 in 2022 and a mere 10 yards added to Hole 2 here in ’24. So when you factor in his length, long-iron precision, elite putting, and par-5 scoring ability, Clark looks like an exceptional course fit here at The Masters.

Just one problem: he’s never actually played in The Masters. The 2023 U.S. Open champion finds himself on property for the very first time, and I mentioned earlier how tightly correlated performance at Augusta National is to course history. There hasn’t been a first-time winner at The Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, and first-timers have a notorious time breaking through.

The other three players atop par-5 scoring here are ironically not my favorite talking points: Erik van Rooyen ($6,600) has at least been to the Masters once but is coming off back-to-back MC’s in his past two events, while Nick Dunlap ($6,500) is ranked all the way down at 86th in SG:OTT amongst the 89 players in the field over his past 24 rounds. And don’t even get me started with Patrick Cantlay ($9,400) and his post-Ryder Cup slump, posting just one top 10 in seven events in ’24 with a broken iron game to boot.

But if we extend par-5 scoring leaders down to the next 15 names, I am very, very intrigued:

Will Zalatoris ($9,200) has gone 2nd-T6 in his only two Masters appearances, Sam Burns ($8,100) is an eternal click of mine at big events due to his driver/putter combo, Shane Lowry ($8,000) checks all the recent form boxes, and Akshay Bhatia ($7,200) is fresh of the heels of some historically good golf in San Antonio this past weekend that got him the last spot in the field. In fact, there are too many talking points amongst these names — not to mention some par-5 mashers amongst the LIV Tour players — but the aforementioned four in this paragraph are some of my favorite clicks.

Proximity to the Hole from 175-200 YardsHonorable mentions to Strokes-Gained: Around the Green and Driving Distance, which would be the fourth and fifth skill sets I’d highlight for importance this week. But with so many long-iron shots with drastic elevation changes awaiting players this week, emphasizing accuracy in the 175- to 200-yard range is something I’m a big fan of (note: will also be emphasizing 200- to 225-yard proximity as well).

Weird to see Collin Morikawa ($8,400), who’s lost with the irons in three straight events, still within the top five of this statistic. Approach is his calling card, however, and with back-to-back Top 10’s at Augusta National the past two years, he’s worth tracking the ownership of as it’s bound to be low.

Another pair of first-timers in Nicolai Hojgaard ($6,700) and Austin Eckroat ($6,300) have me freaked out here, as exposure to more Scheffler means potential exposure to them for differentiation. Cameron Young ($8,500) looks like the safer bet, although the putter can disappear at any given moment. And Adam Scott ($7,100) is a former winner here due to this type of iron play, but he’ll need to shore up the ball striking as he’s been extremely reliant on a hot putter of late (didn’t think I’d ever write that about him but here we are).

The Masters DFS Top Model Plays

Below are my current top plays this week based on a heavier weighting towards the criteria above. All listed ranks next to the statistics are their overall rankings in that metric for the 2024 PGA TOUR season, not relative to the field.

Note: LIV players and first-time Masters debutants got slight downticks due to lack of data, but I will be addressing that and more in Wednesday’s Stokastic Sims + Skill Sets article!

Scottie Scheffler ($12,000)

SG:T2G — 1st
Par 5 Scoring — 1st
175-200 Proximity — 38th

Hideki Matsuyama ($9,000)
SG:T2G — 3rd
Par 5 Scoring — 26th
175-200 Proximity — 38th

Tony Finau ($8,600)
SG:T2G — 6th
Par 5 Scoring — 6th
175-200 Proximity — 43rd

Si Woo Kim ($7,100)
SG:T2G — 4th
Par 5 Scoring — 20th
175-200 Proximity — 53rd

Lucas Glover ($6,300)
SG:T2G — 9th
Par 5 Scoring — 146th
175-200 Proximity — 47th

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Hopefully our early The Masters DFS Preview column, which continues our PGA DFS series, was found to be helpful.

Eric Lindquist hails from Sioux Falls, South Dakota (yes, that’s the one with Mount Rushmore). A steady diet of three SportsCenters a day at an early age led to his obsession with sports, one that 30 years later is paying dividends for him as a successful DFS player and sports bettor. Despite over half a million dollars in net career earnings, he’s most passionate about helping others achieve their financial goals, an energy you can witness on the daily in his current role as a host and analyst at Stokastic. He’s a former Division I golfer at Iowa State, wishes he was a former Minnesota sports fan, and is a proud father to a 100-pound Bernese Mountain dog named Duke that wishes he could just eat people food instead of the crap he and his wife feed him on the daily.

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