As Jim Nance says, The Masters is a tournament like no other. For many years, the British Open was revered internationally as the greatest tournament one can win.
However, over the past few decades, the Masters has since risen to a level of reverence equaled by no other. Maybe it’s the green jackets or just the fact the venue doesn’t change locations. Either way, the biggest tournament of the year is upon us.
— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 8, 2021
A storied history
The Masters first began in 1934 and has been one of the four major tournaments since 1966 (whether it was official is very hazy). Due to the difficult nature of the course, exciting finishes, and the overall beauty, the Masters holds esteem that may never be eclipsed by another course in the future.
The last Masters tournament was played in November, due to the pandemic. Under those conditions, the course was definitely not the same as it is in the springtime. Regardless, the course is a different kind of animal.
Due to the pressure of the tournament and the difficulty of the course, this tournament is typically won by experienced, seasoned players. Danny Willett and Charl Schwartzel are the two most unknown guys to win the tournament over the past twelve years. No matter who you choose, just be sure to understand how the history of the tournament shapes the field (more so than other tournaments).
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Trying to follow up a big week
Last week, we put out five picks total. The strategy was low-risk, as it turned out to be our best week of the season (+1100). Thanks to the big week, cashing three of our five picks, we now sit at +3.85 units on the season.
All five of our picks made the cut. Steele finished 77th while Ancer finished 23rd. Our three cashes were huge. Corey Conners (+100) finished 14th. Chris Kirk (+200) finished 6th, closing with a 67 and 68 over the weekend. Matt Wallace was the big one (+1000) finishing 3rd on our T-10 prediction.
This week, we are going to a mixed strategy of moderate-risk picks (six total). We are going with the guys who fit three of the following four criteria this week:
- Good form of late
- Past success at this course
- Tendencies favorable to this course
- Strokes Gained Approach the Green proficiency
All of these picks come from betting lines provided by the DraftKings Online Sportsbook.
Top 20 Finishes – Two players to finish in the top 20
Corey Conners +164
Corey Conners is our NBA Jam pick this week, who just happens to fit all the criteria to be good at the Masters. In 2015, he failed to make the cut in his first Masters. In 2019, he finished 46th. However, in 2020, he finished 10th.
Conners is coming off three top 15 finishes in his last four tournaments. He’s also finished in the top 25 in 10 of 16 tournaments this season. Conners is 13th in the critical “Strokes Gained Approach the Green” category (SGA for short).
Conners is 29 and coming off a top ten Masters finish in November. Is now the time for the 43rd ranked player to bag his first major? It might not be, but we’re banking on him being solid at Augusta, once again.
Will Zalatoris +188
We first went to Will Zalatoris early in the season and it didn’t work out for us. We don’t really hold grudges in this business, so it’s back to Willy Z this week with the metrics on his side.
Zalatoris is 4th in Tee-to-Green percentage and 5th in SGA. Zalatoris is also 172nd in driving accuracy percentage, which really doesn’t matter with the wide-open fairways at the Masters.
Will is only 24 and has never played at the Masters, but he just fits the mold for the perfect player type to have a good tournament at Augusta. Willy Z has finished in the top 28 in his last five tournaments and top 28 in seven of his last eight.
One in Ten – One pick to finish Top 10
Collin Morikawa +275
Collin Morikawa isn’t on most people’s radar coming into the Masters. He recently won the WGC at the Concession, but hasn’t done much else of note this season. He has three top-ten finishes in 11 events this season, but his advanced numbers suggest he should do well at Augusta.
Morikawa is 5th in GIRP, 3rd in tee-to-green, and 1st in SGA. He’s only played the Masters once (2020) but was top 25 going into the final round. After crashing out of the group stage at the match play tournament in Austin, Morikawa took last week off to prepare for the Masters.
I like his chances this week to put together a solid four rounds (and keep him in top ten contention) going into Sunday.
Two Winners – Our picks to win
Jordan Spieth +1200
Spieth may be more of a case of “listen to your heart” than instead listening to reason. He just ended a tournament winless streak dating back to 2017 by winning the Valero Open last week at TPC San Antonio.
The problem is that course isn’t exactly an ideal tune-up for the Masters. Still, we are hoping the mental hurdle of being so cold for so long loosens Spieth up enough for him to return to form to the tournament he so famously dominated years ago.
Hopefully, Spieth has regained the confidence going forward, but what he does have is the advanced metrics to excel at Augusta. Spieth is 23rd in SGA and 206th in driving accuracy (which we’ve stated shouldn’t matter much at Augusta).
Consider the tighter courses Spieth has played this season and how well he’s been overall. The fact he’s 206th in driving accuracy shows just how good he is finishing holes. I want to be on the Spieth bandwagon again, so I can’t pass this up.
Justin Thomas +1050
Justin Thomas is a great dice roll to take home the green jacket. Do you like trends? Listen to this fun trend from JT. Since his first Masters appearance in 2016, JT has finished 39th, 22nd, 17th, 12th, and 4th in that order.
This is like one of those elementary school questions where you are asked, “what’s the next number in the sequence?” Thomas has improved his position every year, and he has the advanced stats to back it up.
He’s 5th in strokes gained total, 3rd in SGA, and 5th in tee-to-green average. JT has nine top 25 finishes this season in 11 events.
Sixth Bet: Justin Thomas +100 to finish top ten
Justin Thomas is as solid of a top ten pick I can remember. I like Thomas’ even odds here to be among the top ten when this thing ends, so I’m all for a sixth bet this week.