It’s my hands-down favorite time of year – The Masters. It’s a tradition unlike any other and words strong enough to give me chills. There’s something genuinely surreal and magical about this tournament where mere mortals become gods.
News broke earlier this week that Tiger Woods had played a practice round and was on track to tee it up, further solidifying that he is more than a mere mortal. Woods was in a rollover car accident on Feb. 23, 2021. At the time, there was some question on whether or not he’d lose his leg. At the time, there was little optimism he’d ever play golf again.
We all thought Woods’ career was over and that a near-death experience had punctuated his legacy.
He was an athlete I always looked up to when I was younger. Like most, I lost respect for him when he went through all his issues, but he gained respect my respect as he tried to become a better man and put his past behind him. Seeing Woods return to glory in 2019 by winning the Masters is perhaps my favorite golf moment of all time.
Woods has played in 23 Masters tournaments. He made the cut 22 times and won five times. The only player who won more times than him is Jack Nicklaus, with six victories. So the thought of Woods coming back and now having the chance to match Nicklaus’ win total is something no one thought possible.
If Woods does tee it up with no setbacks, I will be glued to my TV. This has the makings of being one of, if not the most incredible comeback in sports history. If he’s playing, it’s because he believes he can compete. I, for one, will not be the least bit surprised if Woods is making a Sunday run at winning.
Regardless of whether he wins or loses this week, I am beyond excited to see him play in the greatest golf tradition there is one more time.
Onto the Green: The Masters
Augusta National Golf Course Breakdown
• Par 72
• 7,475 yards
• Bermuda Grass
This course needs no introduction. Augusta is iconic, and it’s a true test of skill. You need to have a full tool kit, and the most important tool this week is the brain. Golfers will be tested here. Course IQ is one of the most important things to take into consideration. I like players who have been here a few times and know how the course plays and how to play it.
Aside from knowledge, I’m looking at quality ball-strikers with some short game chops. Bogey avoidance is essential here. Make the par threes and par fours and score on the par fives.
• Strokes Gained (SG)-Approach
• Bogey Avoidance
• Fairway In Regulation (FIR)/ Green In Regulation (GIR)
• Approach From 150-200 yds to Green
The Masters Picks
My picks to win:
• Dustin Johnson or Jordan Spieth
Dustin Johnson ($10,500)
Dustin Johnson (DJ) is a previous champion and has historically done well at this course. He didn’t rate out incredibly well in my modeling, but his game is starting to round into form. He’s been gaining strokes in every category I focussed on this week. He has looked closer to the DJ we all know and love lately, and I believe this may be the week he peaks.
Will Zalatoris ($9,200)
Will Zalatoris is a player I have been on for a long time. Since starting on tour, he has had his ups and downs, but his form has been great recently. He finished second in his professional debut here last year. He rates out in the top five in this field for all of the Ball Striking and SG metrics I looked at. He’s fifth in the field in bogey avoidance, and he scores very well on par fives.
The only concern I have is that he doesn’t always fair well with the flat stick (putter). I hope he finds it this week and performs at least average on the greens. If we get even an on-par putting week, he could be putting on his first green jacket this week.
Russell Henley ($7,800)
Since July of last year, Russell Henley has not missed a cut, and he is coming off of back-to-back 13th place finishes. He is in the top five for every approach metric I looked at. He has an inconsistent putting game, but lately, he has been gaining on the green week after week. At this price this week, he may be popular. But I think he is a great value that I feel confident will make the cut and put up some points along the way.
Other Golfers I like this Week
• Jordan Spieth ($9,800)
• Justin Thomas ($10,300)
• Rory McIlroy ($10,000)
• Brooks Koepka ($9,400)
• Matthew Fitzpatrick ($7,700)
• Tommy Fleetwood ($7,700)
• Luke List ($7,000)
• Kevin Kisner ($6,800)
“Last Call” Dart Throw of the Week
• Tom Hoge ($6,700)
Cheers! Thanks for reading, and good luck this week!
Conor Coughlin (@Cough_DFS)