Edge of the Autojohn - The Masters Edition
It is that time of year and in 2021 we are NOT at the beginning of a global pandemic so the biggest tournament in golf will take place on time this season. Expect the unexpected with this late edition because I know most of you have already made your picks for this 4 day golf bonanza where everyone gets excited, even the household pet probably has a favorite. That’s ok though. That’s the way we professional pickers and handicappers like it. The more money in the pot the more money there is to take home on Sunday as one of this exciting field of 84 participants will walk up to the 18th green and make us all that much richer. Not a whole lot else to talk about here and that’s the great thing about the Masters, it sells itself. I will give you my top plays for the weekend in the usual optimized lineup format. However, since we have a large field to work with, I will also give you some pivot plays. This should help the last minute cash game players as well as those of you grinders that will be up all night cramming last minute lineups into the DFS Millionaire tournament so without further adieu, let’s get started!
Optimized Lineup (DraftKings Prices listed):
1) Bryson DeChambeau $10,800
2) Justin Thomas $10,600
3) Jordan Spieth $9,400
4) Ryan Palmer $6,500
5) Lanto Griffin $6,400
6) Zach Johnson $6,300
Listen, if you are not already on board with DeChambeau, I’m not sure I can help you at this point. That being said, there isn’t a harder worker on the tour than DeChambeau and I think this is his weekend to claim his first green jacket. Well let me rephrase. In my mind, he’s the favorite. I think anyone of these plays has a chance to win on Sunday but DeChambeau I think has the sheer will to take down this course that these others don’t possess. Similar to DJ last year and Patrick Reed in ’18, Bryson has the ability to knock this thing down before the weekend gets started. The only thing we have to worry about with him is his putting. Can he make the easy and even more difficult putts Thursday and Friday that could put him on pace to break course records. If not, look for him to be a contender all weekend but at Augusta National, Bryson needs to make the putts to set him apart.
I’m not sure there is a golfer who could make the weekend more exciting than Justin Thomas. His love of the game always makes him a candidate for “most fun to watch” and while Bryson shows everyone how hard work beats talent, Justin Thomas does the exact opposite. Every time I watch this Ichabod Crane out there I believe if there is ever a strong enough wind, he might actually blow away. But the kid oozes talent that the rest of us saps can only dream of and his in in great form after taking down the Players Championship in Arizona and he is looking like he ready to best his 4th place finish from last year and become the World’s New #1 golfer, setting aside Dustin Johnson. As I said before, I believe DeChambeau is the favorite this weekend but I would not be at all surprised to see Justin Thomas get fitted on Sunday and become the new best in the world.
This is what I would normally call my sentimental pick because there are lot of players around his price point that you can make the case for this weekend but I’m going with last week’s winner from the Valero Texas Open. If you are grinding out GPP lineups I would go ahead and make Jordan your main pivot play, meaning work around him for multiple lineups and find value at other price points because I do not see Jordan as anything more than a longshot, even knowing he is the best he’s been in almost five years and knowing that he has absolutely owned this course before as a previous champion. I think he is more likely to just make the cut and then slowly fade away throughout the weekend as many former champions do and at his best this weekend is probably only going to finish top 10. Don’t get me wrong I would love to see him relive the magic and pull out his 2nd Masters championship but I think this field is too dense for him to stay on top for 4 days, even with his general mastery of Augusta National.
This guy starts off my slate of value picks in my “studs and duds” optimized lineup for this weekend but I can tell you this guy is no dud. His price point may imply as such and he has no majors to his name as of yet but with a last name like his, it’s only a matter of time. Ok I maybe exaggerating there and he has no actual relation to the late, great, Arnold Palmer but I digress. If you are looking for value on this slate so you can roster some of the bigger names this weekend, I think this is a good place to start. Ryan has been in good form as of late, finishing in the top 20 his last two starts and has 3 top five finishes going back to last season. Actually the last time he even missed the cut was at the U.S. Open in the middle of the pandemic, so who knows where his mindset may have been. I think just looking at where he’s been recently, you can expect Ryan Palmer to have an outside shot at being in contention on Sunday and finishing in the Top 10.
Another golfer who should have little problem making the cut and showing up for the weekend is Lanto Griffin. He played well at last week’s Valero Texas Open and hasn’t missed a cut since January. He’s played well even in competitive fields as of late as well posting top 25 finishes at the Arnold Palmer, WGC-Workday, and the Farmers Insurance Open. Once again we are looking for guys at a price point that saves us the big bucks for the bigger names on this slate so grab Griffin at $6,400 and watch the money roll in on Sunday when he’s mentioned in that Top 25 and raises the floor of all your lineups.
Now here’s a guy who could surprise the whole field by being in the Top 10 on Sunday and I don’t mind telling you he may be the best value play on this docket. That being said he is also the biggest risk in my optimized lineup so make him your second pivot play for you GPP junkies. He hasn’t made the cut more times than he’s won the Masters but back in 2007, that’s exactly what he did. He’s the perfect example of how course history matters but truly you never know who’s going to win it until the scorecards are turned in on Sunday and that green jacket is put on you by last year’s champion. He’s not in the best of form as of late after missing the cut last weekend but he also has a Top 10 finish last month so while he is a volatile investment for this weekend’s tournament, he may just be the right one. Once again fade ZJ at your own peril, though I will certainly give you some pivot plays for this weekend’s tournament so you can limit your exposure to a potential Top 10 guy.
So now you have my optimized lineup for this weekend but to give you junkies even more of an edge at Augusta this weekend. Here are some of my favorite pivot plays to keep the slots rolling.
Jon Rahm $11,000
Yeah he’s a new father but to dissuade the Danny Willet comparisons out there, Willet hadn’t really made a paycheck up until his green jacket victory. I think Rahm is sitting a little more pretty with his pocketbook at this point in his career and has to wait one more year to win at Augusta. Expect him to be there on the weekend though.
Xander Schauflee $10,000
Always the brides maid and never the bride, Schauflee should easily see the weekend but has too low of a floor at his price point for more than limited exposure.
Patrick Reed $9,300
Not too far removed from his championship 3 years ago, Augusta National has a way of reminding us how good some of its former champions are. Especially when they are in a slump.
Tony Finau $9,100
Has not been in form as of late but has 4 finishes in the top 5 going back to January. As any Finau fan knows, he can catch fire in a hurry.
Viktor Hovland $8,700
Really the exact same resume as Finau but $400 cheaper. Very interesting play this weekend.
Sungjae Im $8,600
This is the biggest play I probably missed on. The South Korean has done nothing but make money since he last missed a cut in November. Tough to say whether or not he will be in contention on Sunday but at his price point, his ceiling is higher than you might initially think and you should have some exposure to him this weekend.
Daniel Berger $ 8,500
He is certainly is in good form as of late after winning at Pebble beach and finishing on the leaderboard at the Players in March. Make sure he sees the light of day in your multi entry GPPs.
Cameron Smith $8,200
A lot of the talking heads are high on this pick after his runner-up finish a year ago. However, I look at his ceiling being more of a top 15 play but he hasn’t missed a cut since January and is in excellent form if you want to have some exposure to him this weekend.
Matthew Fitzpatrick $8,100
Great form, hasn’t missed a cut since last year but doesn’t show up enough in the Majors for me to have anything more than a mention in this one. Maybe the most volatile pick on the slate. High ceiling, very low floor as well.
These are the best pivots in my mind if you don’t want to pay up for more than 1 of the top tier players or any of them for that matter. Good luck to everybody this weekend and make sure to follow me @Ashbrook423 on Twitter for more sports!