Lee Westwood, Daniel Berger, Jason Day, Justin Rose and Hideki Matsuyama will be among the notables reviewed in Tuesday’s Fantasy Insider.
If you’re open to connecting what is accepted as normal with the most predictive professional golf tournament, then the Masters is for you. Even when it was contested in November, it fulfilled the two true outcomes in the sport. Champion Dustin Johnson was a recent winner upon arrival (three times, in fact) and he wasn’t a debutant at Augusta National. Indeed, the easiest trivia question involving the tournament has retained the same answer for over four decades because 1979 Masters champion Fuzzy Zoeller remains the most recent of the three first-time participants in tournament history to prevail.
In contrast to the 26 first-timers in the November edition, there are only six in this week’s field, and only three of them are professionals – Robert MacIntyre, Carlos Ortiz and Will Zalatoris. Certainly, each has the talent to make noise, but none should be expecting to have Johnson slip the green jacket over his shoulders on Sunday.
There’s a valid argument that DJ’s tournament-record of 20-under 268 five months ago deserves an asterisk. There’s an equally strong argument that it doesn’t. Augusta National wasn’t as speedy in the fall and the construct of the tournament required modifications to complete it in four days. On the other hand, he won by five, in part by leading the field in greens in regulation (averaging 15 per round; no one else averaged more than 14 per) and par-4 scoring. He also co-led in par-3 scoring, ranked T6 in par-5 scoring and finished fourth in scrambling. He was in a zone at the time, and the course helped reveal him as a worthy champion. Cancel the asterisk.
Still, the jury remains out on whether Augusta National will continue to yield a scoring average lower than par. In the last edition in April in 2019 and in November of 2020, the field beat 72 both times. It hadn’t done that even once since 1992. Fairways and greens were easier to hit, but the conversion percentage of those chances also has increased.
While weather impacts every tournament, Augusta National has a SubAir system that it, ahem, masterfully controls. It’s not a well-kept secret, nor is it a secret at all, but it’s still an underrated component to regulate scoring and green speeds that are not publicized.
Rain is all but guaranteed to fall at some point during the tournament. The threat tends to be greater in the afternoon due to daytime heating, and all the way through Saturday. High temps will hover around 80 degrees. Wind could cause pause on Thursday, but ground level is so protected by the topography and mature trees that, once again, experience in it will be the most valuable club in the bag over some shots.
For the third straight edition, Augusta National tips at 7,475 yards, but this is just the second consecutive time that the new cut rule is in play. Only the low 50 and ties at the conclusion of 36 holes will advance. The previous provision that also included all golfers within 10 strokes of the lead at the midpoint was eliminated in 2020.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
* – Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.