86th Masters Tournament – Preview

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86th Masters Tournament

Augusta National Golf Club

Augusta, Georgia

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Yards (per official scorecard):7,510
Par:72 (36-36)
Greens:A-1 Penn Bentgrass; 6,486 square feet.
Stimpmeter:Tournament speed (approximately 13 feet and better).
Second cut:Ryegrass at 1.375 inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards44/6 (in play on Nos. 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16).
Architects:Dr. Alistair MacKenzie and Bobby Jones (1932).
Course Record (last):63; Greg Norman, 1996. 63; Nick Price 1986.
Tournament Scoring Record:268; Dustin Johnson, November 2020.
2021 Purse:$11.5 million; $2.07 million and 600 FedExCup points (winner).

Notes:

  • Field of 91
  • Top 50 and ties play the weekend.
  • Harris English (injured) and Phil Mickelson (sabbatical) qualified but are not playing.
  • 18 past champions.
  • 15 players making their tournament debut.
  • 6 amateurs in the field.

Previous Winners

YearWinnerScoreComment
2021Hideki Matsuyama-10First green jacket; defeated Will Zalatoris by a shot.
2020Dustin Johnson-20First green jacket. First November Masters. Tournament scoring record 268.
2019Tiger Woods-13Surely you remember all this…
2018Patrick Reed-15Fourth consecutive first-time major champion crowned at AGNC.
2017Sergio Garcia-9Defeated Justin Rose in a playoff. 0-73 in majors before this week.
2016Danny Willett-5First green jacket. Round of his life (67) on Sunday in blustery conditions; Joins Nick Faldo as the only Englishmen to win.
2015Jordan Spieth-18First green jacket. First player ever to get to 19-under par in spring; only fourth wire-to-wire winner.

Facts and Figures:

Lowest Rounds – 2021 Spring:65; Justin Rose first round leader. 66; Tony Finau Round 2; Jon Rahm Round 4.
Back-to-Back Champions:Jack Nicklaus Nick Faldo Tiger Woods
Multiple Champion(s) Entered under 50 years of age:Tiger Woods Bubba Watson
First Time – TOUR:Danny Willett, 2016. Charl Schwartzel, 2011.
First Time – EventFuzzy Zoeller, 1979.
Oldest winner:Jack Nicklaus, 46, 1986.
Youngest winner:Tiger Woods, 21, 1997.
Odd Fact:Only 3 winners since 2011 had won a major previously.
Odd Fact II:Hole No. 14 is the only one on the course without a bunker.

OAD

Last Time – Valero Texas Open

THE CHOICE: Abraham Ancer РPRE TOURNAMENT WD

Replacement: Corey Conners – T35

Nothing like a 67 on Sunday to crawl into T35!

If that doesn’t sum up my season I’m not sure what will.

Having Kuchar (T2), Hadwin (T4) and Woodland (T8) from the group eases my pain.

Your pain is your pain.

Warm Blankets: The guys who should. Safe selections that will help maintain leads. Opinions on why or why not for this event or save for later.

Jordan Spieth: Defending champions always poke their heads into these especially when you have the Texan pedigree as Spieth does. Rolled in here last year as he was starting to bubble and cruised to victory. Bit quieter this year, especially in his last four on TOUR but I’ll point out was runner up at Pebble Beach so he’s not arriving searching for answers. It’s here, Augusta National or Colonial for me. I better get it right! One bullet dodged, T35.

Rory McIlroy: With Quail Hollow on the docket plus two majors in the next seven weeks, I’m not sure I can pull the trigger IN THIS FORMAT this week. He’s played the event once in 2013 and didn’t seem to mind the conditions as he finished second after closing with 66. Trying to shake it up before attempting another run at the career grand slam? There you go! S T Ruggle at the moment. MC should have him flushed and reset for Augusta National, right?

Hideki Matsuyama: IN A VACUUM, he’s the fit here. Fantastic tee to green, Par-5 scoring, great short game, patient, etc but is he healthy? Read for yourself. In this format, there is no need to shove square pegs in round holes. Contrarians, rejoice! Here’s your angle this week! Vacuums are for carpets, not fantasy golf. Hardly a surprise he wouldn’t jeopardize a “regular” week before his Masters defense. WD.

Corey Conners: When current form meets course form! Pounded GIR at Austin Country Club and does the same here. Absolute birdie machine over his three visits and owns the tournament record. T14 in defense last spring after waiting a year shows the spotlight didn’t bother him much either. He should be a VERY popular pick this week. See above. Popularity has NOTHING to do with this format. In fact, I’d rather fade the “mainstream” but I didn’t take my advice this week. We all live and we all learn. Hopefully. T35.

Matt Kuchar: Some will argue he should be in the Spicy, fine, I hear you and won’t argue too much. If the “old” Kuchar is starting to find form, he’ll be a very valuable commodity as winter is turning into spring. No Match Play last week after T16 at a difficult Valspar suggests he’s rested and ready. He’s also never MC here in nine visits. If you’re leading and need a break, this might be the angle, especially in an event that produces interesting winners. Make it 10-10 and his chance to win on Sunday is a perfect example of HOT GOLF IS HOT GOLF. He’ll be back on this list for RBC Heritage where he has a massive HFC angle. T2.

Spicy: This might be a week for sending out an “unknown” and saving a start. You just might get lucky. Or MC.

Gary Woodland: T6 last year in his first visit since 2015 should be surprising considering his strength tee to green. Only hiccup during the Florida Swing was 78 in Round 2 at THE PLAYERS after T5-T5 Honda-Bay Hill and T21 Valero. Yep. In his second visit he also sniffed around the lead on Sunday before settling for T8. Something is brewing here as it’s his third top 10 in his last five starts.

Maverick McNealy: Too many cuts made in a row to count! Excels on difficult courses with difficult greens and this week EASILY qualifies.  Might be in my back pocket for Hilton Head… As pointed out by THE COMMISH, I’ve already burned McNealy (Pebble Beach) but that doesn’t mean those of you who have him on your radar shouldn’t be paying attention. Keeps flashing while T35 doesn’t inspire, his 67 on Saturday in less than perfect conditions keeps my attention.

Adam Hadwin: Hard to ignore T7-T9 at Valspar/THE PLAYERS as those were not easy to play events! At the Oaks Course he’s posted more rounds of 82 or worse than 60 so yeah!  Like THAI HOT for the Canadian as he posted four rounds under par concluding with 67 to pick up… ANOTHER TOP 10. I see you CLEARER, fam (T4)!

Charley Hoffman: Yeah, I know. It hasn’t been much of anything this winter. He went thru the WD/MC early in 2021 as well before righting the ship. His record here is immense and if anything is going to break him out of his funk, the Oaks Course is the remedy.  

The remedy is the experience
This is a dangerous liaison
I says, the comedy is that it’s serious
Which is a strange enough new play on words
I say the tragedy is how you’re gonna spend
The rest of your nights with the light on
So shine the light on all of your friends
When it all amounts to nothing in the end

Right. MC. Thanks Jason Mraz.

Si Woo Kim: Led after 54 holes in 2019 and was T23 here in 2021 so yeah. Loves a bit of Bermuda and working the golf ball plus he’s been shoveling cuts into the bank account since missing at Shriners.  Bit volatile? Perhaps but T26 or better five times in eight tries since 2022 began suggests he’s close. Another very solid paycheck (T13) as he just continues to embrace a consistency we haven’t seen before. Be aware.

3 AM at the Blackjack Table: Caution is thrown to the wind. Maybe not the best for this format but what the hell, right? Might throw these in if you’re in need of a miracle.

Jhonattan Vegas – T18, Brendan Steele – T48, Ryan Palmer – T48, Alex Smalley – MC, Kramer Hickok – MC, Nate Lashley – T18, Curtis Thompson – MC

Spotter’s Game 2022

2022 EventsGolferPlaceTotal $$
    
Sentry Tournament of ChampionsMarc LeishmanT10188,000
Sony Open in HawaiiKeith MitchellT7227,812
The American ExpressSeamus PowerT14119,700
Farmers Insurance OpenJon RahmT3445,200
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmMaverick McNealyT3343,548
WM Phoenix OpenHideki MatsuyamaT8248,050
The Genesis InvitationalPatrick CantlayT3364,000
The Honda ClassicSungjae ImMC0
Arnold Palmer InvitationalRory McIlroyT13228,000
THE PLAYERS ChampionshipDaniel BergerT13327,222
Valspar ChampionshipKeegan BradleyMC0
WGC – Dell Match PlayPaul CaseyT6041,000
Corales PuntacanaEmiliano GrilloMC0
Valero Texas OpenCorey ConnersT3541,925
    
Total Events: 14Top 10: 4MC: 3      $1,974,457
    

This Week – 86th Masters Tournament

Hills, length, lightning greens, patrons, first cut, no running, pimento cheese sandwiches, merch, No. 11 and 15, No. 3, No. 13, No, 17. Tiger Woods.

Better be able to hit it, find GIR and handle the putting/chipping. Throw in moxie, nerves, patrons making noise and Tiger. Breathing, resting, firing on all cylinders.

No phones.

No video boards.

Experience pays.

THE CHOICE: Jordan Spieth (+2200)

From the first time he set foot on the property it appeared that he was raised on these greens and made for the pomp and circumstance of the occasion. His chapters, PLURAL, in the record book might not be as many pages as Tiger Woods but his story here since 2014 has covered all of the bases.

So close. So far. Everything perfect in 2015. Podiums.

His problem this spring has been getting putts to the hole and determining green speeds. All of that should go out this window this week on the best greens on the planet. Not many, if any, putt these any better than Spieth.

As for his tee to green game, that’s the least of his worries. Plenty long, he’s back to his early days on TOUR in painting GIR. He led the field last year with 56 of 72. He’s circled more than 20 birdies three times including the tournament record of 28 in 2015.

Those of you heading a different direction will be reminded that he’ll be right back at the top of the list at Colonial, if he’s in the field, which he should be.

Warm Blankets: The guys who should. Safe selections that will help maintain leads. Opinions on why or why not for this event or save for later.

Cameron Smith (+1600): Wonderful converging trend as he’s pocketed back-to-back top 10s here (3 in 5 visits) and has won twice in 2022 (Sony, THE PLAYERS). Magician on and around the greens and has plenty of room to move it off the tee. Looking to join Adam Scott as the only Australian green jacket recipient.

Dustin Johnson (+1600): 63 in the final round at THE PLAYERS, final four at Match Play sounds like somebody is warming up. The halcyon days of bachelor/bachelorette parties are in the rear view and now it’s time for business. Streak of top 10s busted last spring at five straight. I’d expect him right back in the mix again this year.

Justin Thomas (+1200): Hanging with LARGE CAT the last few years should have his confidence around here at an all time high. The weakness, if you can call it that, is the putter but not many hit it better on approach. Only finish in 2022 outside T20 was his defense at THE PLAYERS. This will be his seventh attempt, just slightly over the average of six for winners.

Xander Schauffele (+2200): The last two spring editions he’s posted 25 and 19 birdies and hit the podium both times. His track record in majors is stunning and  is just missing one element: a win. Full bag, fantastic disposition, and has no problem going about his business.

Brooks Koepka (+2000): Something is brewing here and this is an event to grab his full attention. Bristling at Tiger Woods questions in his press conference was fantastic to see. He’s made it no secret that he prefers difficult courses in difficult conditions. If the wind dries out the course on the weekend and gusts pick up, he’ll be licking his chops. Most importantly he’s healthy.

Spicy: This might be a week for sending out an “unknown” and saving a start. You just might get lucky. Or MC.

Jon Rahm (+1100): Never a fan of the betting favorite here unless his last name was Woods. I wasn’t inspired by what I saw at THE PLAYERS and Match Play is just that. In a vacuum he should never lose with the way he hits it but it seems his focus is a bit distracted by his baby and the another on the way! 3 more majors, FedExCup, WGC event, Memorial, you’ll have time to wait for him to heat up if you don’t think this is the week.

Scottie Scheffler (+1600): The Sun thinks he’s hot right now! With three wins in five he’s approaching “Tiger Levels” of ridiculousness. While not there yet, he’s won at  TPC Scottsdale, Bay Hill and Pete Dye’s Austin Country Club. Those are three stunningly different layouts compared to each other and he’s conquered them all. Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas both showed up with three wins in 2016. Danny Willett won the event. Making his third appearance (T18, T19).

Shane Lowry (+3500): Feels like he’s been in this column plenty in 2022! Already has a major in his closet so that’s crossed off the list and golf is the focus. Another who is hitting it great and won’t mind a bit of elements if it comes to that on the weekend. Making his seventh start he should have the week, practice and game plan figured out by now.

Rory McIlroy (+2000): Will the eighth time be the charm? He told Amanda Ballionis this morning that if he wins great, if not, he’s at peace with it. Maybe that’s exactly the attitude he needs. He’s also suggested the MC last week helped him get it sorted out on the range Saturday and Sunday. Nobody shows up here playing like shit or lost. Everyone has found something.  IN THIS FORMAT he might make the most sense at Quail Hollow. Again.

Tiger Woods (+4500): This number wildly varies depending on where you look so find the biggest one possible if that’s your angle. Tiger has divided everyone into two camps this week: No way and DUDE HE’S NOT HERE FOR THE CHAMPIONS DINNER AND TO SOCIALIZE.  I’m in the latter. Getting the golf ball where he wants it to go isn’t the problem. He could putt here blindfolded and contend.  Does he have the stamina to handle this week? He’s told you the answer by showing up. He didn’t stroll into flat Bay Hill and “try”. He’s gone to Mount Everest instead.

3 AM at the Blackjack Table: Caution is thrown to the wind. Maybe not the best for this format but what the hell, right? Might throw these in if you’re in need of a miracle.

Adam Scott (+4500): Winning your FIRST one in your 40s is rare (Mark O’Meara, 41 in 1998) but adding to the collection isn’t.  Leaning on a former winner, veteran ball-striker who has cashed in 12 straight isn’t the craziest theory on the board. The spicy angle is he hasn’t hit the top 10 since 2017. With four top 10s from seven events in 2022 I’m not hoping he finds form this week.

Tony Finau (+4500): Not crazy about this price but he’s 3-3 in the spring here, all in the top 10.

Tyrrell Hatton (+5000): Super super super putter making his sixth appearance and trying to crack the top 20 for the first time. Too many consistent results this season both here and in the Middle East to completely omit.

Marc Leishman (+7000): Streak is at five straight and T5 last spring in his ninth visit doesn’t push me away. No buzz in his direction except from my boss Ben Everill but he knows his countrymen better than most.

Max Homa (+10000): Anybody who wins Riviera and Quail Hollow goes in here. Big ballparks need big hitters. The putting stats for the winners here aren’t as dominating as you think. NOBODY fakes it tee to green.

WHAT ABOUT???

You have questions, it appears, and I’ll give you MY angles, answers

Let’s just go down the board, ok?

Collin Morikawa (+2000): I’m still skeptical of his chipping and putting but surely that will improve as he learns more here each year.

Viktor Hovland (+2000): See above. Both stripe it but handling these speeds and undulations is the deal breaker.

Patrick Cantlay (+2200): MC-T9-MC in his last three spring editions keeps me scratching my head.

Will Zalatoris (+3300): Only Danny Willett and Charl Schwartzel have made this their first PGA TOUR victory. They also both won in their second attempts, just like Zalatoris is trying to do. All four rounds of 71 or better last year will have people drooling.  The number above is a bit steep for me.

Bryson DeChambeau (+4000): Since he remarked this should be Par-67 for him things around here have gone a bit sideways. Best finish is T21 as Low Amateur in 2016. Shows up this year with a hip deal and a Hamate bone thingy and says he’s only 80 percent.  I don’t even have to dig into his lack of form.

Hideki Matsuyama (+4000): I was high on him heading to TPC Sawgrass and since that WD everything has turned upside down. Tried giving it a go last week at Valero but his neck/back wasn’t up for more than one round. Only Jack, Sir Nick and Tiger have defended and that club should be closed for another year.

Louis Oosthuizen (+4000): He’s cranked out eight straight paydays here but none of them in the top 10. Saw his name on the WD list at RSM and his best finish this spring is T14 at TPC Scottsdale and the next best T30. Never won the USA.

Daniel Berger (+4000): Tough lay down here but it’s a tough event. Good news is OAD fans can pick him up at Colonial or TPC Southwind where he’s raked before. Sticking a win ticket on him at 40-1 isn’t ridiculous if you’re not breaking the bank.

Sam Burns (+4000): Only recent winner in the 40-1 group who is healthy, he defended his title at Valspar but is making his first appearance here.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (+4500): With seven top 12s in his last 11 worldwide the Englishman is in flying form. He’s cashed in six straight here with T7 2016 the best of the bunch. Will try to join Faldo and Willett in the green jacket club. He’ll be rooting for firm and fast on the weekend. He’s first SG: Total and 4th in scoring.

Joaquin Niemann (+5000): Flat stick and wedges aren’t the highlights of his bag and those are a big deal this week. Another year of experience won’t hurt for the Riviera champ of 2022.

Corey Conners (+5000): Consecutive top 10 finishes and his only MC from four visits is when he was an amateur. Interesting he’s long than Berger but has better recent form (third at Match Play) and better recent course form. Will look to join Mike Weir as Canadian winners.

Russell Henley (+5500): First appearance since 2018 but his last two here are T11 and T15. Never cashed a top 10 in a major from almost 30 tries. Georgia kid, UGA alum and playing steady golf. Metrics are fire. Might need to break that majors mojo with a nip on a top 10.

Paul Casey (+6000): Last we saw of him was WD from Match Play after a back deal.  Not enough reward for this risk in a field like this.

Sungjae Im (+6600): T2 in November, 77-80 in spring.

Tommy Fleetwood (+6600): Best is T17 in 2018; always seems to hang around until he doesn’t.

Abraham Ancer (+7000): Two tries and two paychecks here but I wasn’t crazy about his pre tournament WD last week before a home game.

Bubba Watson (+7500): If you go, hopefully you get the ALL of the all-or-nothing here.

Patrick Reed (+8000): Three top 10s in his last four suggests this price might have value. Nothing inside the top 25 in 2022 outside of Sentry suggests it might not. I lean course form.

Justin Rose (+8000): Sitting at No. 56 in the OWGR should tell you what you need to know. T25 or better here in every appearance since 2008.

Sergio Garcia (+8000): Nothing before, nothing after his 2017 win.

Billy Horschel (+8000): Form isn’t the issue but his best at ANGC is T17 from seven previous visits. Super putter and bags plenty of GIR. Interesting.

Si Woo Kim (+9000): Playing solid golf and is trending here with a best T12 last spring.

Gary Woodland (+9000): Definitely taking a flier here as he has racked up three top 10s in his last five and will be playing his 10th Masters. T24 is the best of that bunch, all the way back in his first visit in 2011.

Funny Money:

Kevin Kisner (+12500): Top 20.

Robert MacIntyre (+12500): Led the field in birdies on debut last year with 21 and cashed T12.

Sepp Straka (+20000): Striped it Honda, first timer.

Keita Nakajima (+35000): Low am.

Bernhard Langer (+75000): To make the cut.

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