The start of the major season kicks off this week in Augusta, Georgia.
For DFS sites, that means a huge boost in prize pools and demand in golf contests.
What are the basics we need to know about the slate?
First, it's a field of 87 golfers (small).
From there, the top 50 and ties, or anyone within 10 of the lead, will make it through the cut (relatively high percentage).
If you say the bottom 10 golfers have no chance of making it through the cut then we should expect most golfers to have at least a 65% chance of making it through the cut.
With a higher rate of getting 6-of-6 golfers this week, hole-by-hole scoring potential becomes that much greater. You should really focus on the golfers that shine birdie-or-better percentage, particularly on par 5s which is where most of the scoring comes from this week, but can also handle the tough challenge that Augusta National presents.
Let's recap the weather then look at a few angles for the week ahead.
Thursday (R1): Sunny with a high of 82 degrees. SE Winds at 6-to-12 MPH.
Friday (R2): Cloudy with a chance of light showers (40%). High of 84 degrees. SW Winds at 10-to-15 MPH.
The course is getting a good soaking of rain today (Tuesday) but should have some time to dry out on Wednesday. Sunday brings another strong chance of rain and heavy winds likely to come along for the ride. It could be a hold-on-for-dear-life type of finish.
As for a tee-time draw bias, we shouldn't be too focused on that since the field is so small. They all go off within a four-hour window. Friday looks to be the windier of the two opening rounds but there doesn't appear to be a clear window where one wave will have an advantage.
The best part about season-long leagues is the draft. You don't get that same rush with normal DFS contests but there is hope still. 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.
Rafa Cabrera Bello (72.49 Projected Pts): The Spaniard has lost strokes putting in five of his last six rounds at Augusta National. He's generally been weaker when taking on courses with fast greens. Looking at his starts on greens with a stimp over 12 feet, RCB has finished 50th or worse in 12 of his last 25 starts. When you compare to his baseline, he's roughly two shots worse on fast greens, over the course of four rounds.
Francesco Molinari (70.47 Projected Pts): The Italian hasn't taken a huge leap in strokes gained numbers but his results have been remarkable over the last year. For that reason many are considering Molinari one of the favorites this week. I would hesitate with that move as he enters with nothing better than T19 in seven visits to Augusta National and has finished 50th or worse in 3-of-7 events. It's possible he sets a new personal best this week but I will let others take that chance.
Louis Oosthuizen (60.91 Projected Pts): The South African had a rough introduction to Augusta National. He missed the cut in his first three visits then nearly pulled off the impossible when he nearly won the next year. It would have been quite the feat to going from MCx3 to WIN. Since that close call, he is 6-for-7 at the Masters with five of thouse doubling as top 25s. With a good gameplan for the course, I like his chances to exceed his projected value.
Sergio Garcia (55.65 Projected Pts): The noted ball-striker has finished top 20 in four of his last seven trips to ANGC. He will be fully focused this year as he attempts to atone for his blowup hole at Firethorn last year. I grade him out as a top-25 caliber play but his projected points put him outside the top 50. Give him a bump.
The season has started off with a lot of bermudagrass, poa annua, and overseeded bermuda in terms of grass types. This week the field will see bentgrass greens which some golfers have been waiting for. Let's see who plays well on this surface type.
Looking at sample-adjusted performance on bentgrass 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 (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
Having just read an article by 15th Club, the top three putters (in this week's field) at ANGC over the last four years have been Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Rose. They sit at #1, #2, and #4 in overall performance on bentgrass greens since the start of 2014.
Charles Howell III: The Augusta native is making his first visit to the Masters since 2012. It's been a long drought but he arrives with career-best form. He's already close to setting a new personal best in terms of single-season earnings. Pretty impressive for someone that has just printed money over the course of his career. CH3 arrives in the bargain bin across the DFS industry but he's collected top 30s in 5-of-8 visits to the Masters. When you consider his current form I would expect that to be 6-of-9 by week's end with potential for a new personal best (previously T13 in 2004).
Best of luck in all your contests this week!