The Masters 2020
Greetings fellow golf enthusiast and welcome to this weeks edition of the Fantasy Golf Sommelier for The Masters. I can't believe I just typed that. What the hell is going on. It's F'in November. I mean, can you imagine if I told you at this exact time last year that I would be publishing your "favorite" DFS article, but it would be in November, for the Masters. You folks would have been messaging DB immediately to have me committed as soon as possible. Here we are though, in this crazy year that is 2020 and I'm about to give you my plays for the Masters. If you've followed along with the Masters twitter and social media feed you would notice though that they haven't skipped a beat. They've embraced this year and as the narrator says in this promo video, "Rough winds don't shake a tradition this strong, The Masters is perennial." 2020 sucks in so many ways, but it's also become a year where, to be honest, we should be thankful for. I for one am. Our lives have changed but not necessarily for the worse. I think and hope for the better. How can you not appreciate the little things even more in 2020? How can you not forget the precious extra time you've had with your kids, your spouse, family, or hell, just yourself? The world was moving too fast, but this stupid virus slowed it down, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
One of the many things I love about wine is that it's used often to toast the good things and moments of this world. Toasting is an age old tradition that stands the test of time, just like the Masters. So in this wild and crazy year that his 2020, I thought I would give you my personal and favorite "Masters Memories You Can Toast To". The picture above is of my dad in the famous Augusta National wine cellar so I'll start going way back with a couple of my dad's favorite memories from his childhood. There's a couple here that really stood out to me. First is that back then (1950's and 60's) you used to be able to get away with several things that just wouldn't happen today out at ANGC. For instance, one of his favorite memories as a child was sitting with his best bud on the Sarazen bridge at 15 eating a sandwich and dangling his feet in the water. What a feeling that must have been watching all those great golfers in such a child like and careless way. One of his other favorite memories growing up was getting a ride home from the king himself, Arnold Palmer. Yes, I said that correctly. Arnie freaking Palmer. My father was at a friends house who's parents lived just behind #1 Green off Berkman's Road. They also happened to be friends with Arnold and his wife Winnie who had come over for a visit. When it came time to leave Arnie asked if my dad (11 or 12 years old at the time) needed a ride home. Thankfully he had the foresight to agree to this, and my father ended up getting a ride home with a legend in his corvette. How can you not toast to those great memories!
Growing up in Augusta with a passion for golf at a young age, especially during Masters week, can make you want to pinch yourself to make sure it's real sometimes. I have so many memories I can recall, but for me a few stuck out as my favorite toast worthy moments. One of the earliest I can remember is riding around with my mom and brothers giving out gift baskets from the Junior League of Augusta to the past champions in the field. We dropped baskets off with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player amongst many which is itself unbelievable to think even happened, but the memory I'll never forget is when we got to Ray Floyd's house. His wife ushered us in and said we could just wait on Ray to come out so we could deliver personally to him. Well, god love him, ole Ray had just showered and decided to come out in nothing but his boxers to greet us. So yeh, I've seen Ray Floyd half naked. Not sure that's a feather in my cap but it happened.
Just a few more and we'll get on to the picks. I think the first moment I really felt the incredible drama also of the Masters was being in the crowd when Larry Mize chipped in to win the 1987 tournament. It was unreal. I had never heard a crowd roar like that in my life. I got to experience my favorite golfer growing up in Freddy Couples win a Masters from the front row on 18 in 1992 as well which was almost equally as incredible. Man that dude had and still has swagger like no other. My buds and I even started the whole "Freddy, Freddy" chant that you can hear as he walks up 18 to complete his victory. I was also in the gallery as well on 18 when Tiger Woods won his iconic first Masters in 1997. It was an amazing moment that you could just feel transcended the game of golf and sports in general as it happened. It's harder these days with the real job and family to get out to the tournament as much as I used to, so the memories come in different ways now. I just enjoy the time I get out there. My favorite moments now are when I get the pleasure of accompanying someone out for their maiden visit to ANGC. The look in their eyes is all I need to feel like I'm a kid again experiencing my first time for just a brief moment. I truly hope everyone reading this is lucky enough to get an invite or win the the ticket lottery at some point so they can create their own Masters memories to toast too. Believe me, the place never disappoints.
I'll end with this. In that Masters promo video I referenced above, the narrator saying "Greatness realized without thunderous applause is no less great" is one of the most fitting quotes I can ever equate to this year and the Masters. So many people have rose to the occasion. They've done it silently, proudly, and with love, compassion, and selflessness. In the end though, we'll all come out on the other side of this hopefully with a different perspective. At least for this week, us passionate golf fans get a reprieve from Covid and the real world. A sports sabbatical if you will, given to us by the playing of the 2020 Masters. The greatest sporting event on this planet. Let's all raise a glass to that.
Ok, that's all I got this week so cheers, happy drinking, and let's get into some fine plays for The Masters.
As always, we are going to use the classic Wine Spectator 100 point scale for the picks (think of it like a confidence factor):
- 95-100 Classic: a great wine
- 90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
- 85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
- 80-84 Good: a solid well-made wine
- 75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
- 50-74 Not recommended (or a very shitty wine)
So, here we go, let’s saunter on down into the Sommeliers’ cellar of fine golf plays for the week…
Brooks Koepka - $9,700 – 96 Points
If DraftKings could have a "redo" on pricing this week I have a feeling BK would be just a tad bit pricier after showing some solid form last week in Houston. We'll see where ownership goes but I think Brooks will still be somewhat lower owned than he should be and makes for a Great Fantastic GPP play. He's made the cut every year since 2015 (skipped 2018 with an injury) and is coming off a T11 in 2017 and a 2nd place finish last year where he had a great look to actually tie Tiger on his 72nd hole. Looking at his last 24 rounds on FNGC, Koepka is also checking the box in Strokes Gained Approach (2nd), Ball Striking (5th), Driving Distance (18th), and also putts well on bent greens (15th in the field over his last 100 rounds). While Bryson may be the favorite, I think Brooks would love to come in and just throw up a big old middle finger at the narrative and steal the show at the Masters.
Webb Simpson - $9,300 – 94 Points
I'm gonna stay on the top shelf and go with Mr. Simpson who I think makes for a great play this week in your PGADFS cash and tournament lineups. Webb has just been a solid contender almost every week on tour and has a great track record here at Augusta with 3 top 30 finishes in his last 5 starts with a T5 just last year. Webb might not be the longest driver of the ball in the field this week but he can more than hold his own and still ranks in the top 20 in Strokes Gained off the Tee. He's just another box checking machine also in Strokes Gained Approach, Ball Striking, Par 5 scoring, and also putts extremely well on bent historically. All said and done I think Webbster should be a lock in your player pool this week.
The $10 Wine Special | Priced like a sutter home, plays like a caymus!
Cam Smith- $7,300 – 90 Points
I want so badly to hop off the Cam train this week but something just keeps drawing me back for the Aussie. It's like that marginally good wine that you have a love hate relationship and you just can't help going back to it every now and then. Cam has been playing some solid golf though recently with 3 straight top 25 finishes including a T11 at the CJ Cup and a T4 the following week at the ZoZo in what were very strong fields. Smith is known for having a terrific short game, but he also top 10 in the field in Par 5 Scoring, Top 30 in Approach, and also putts well on Bent (18th in the field). Throw in pretty good course history with 3 straight cuts made with a T5 in 2018 and I think Cam is a fine play in your tournament lineups.
Justin Harding - $6,300 – 88 Points
Well since I stayed up on the top shelf with my first two plays, your FGS is gonna slip on down to the cheapest bottom shelf guy I can and give you one Mr. Justin Harding. The South African is making his 2nd ever start here at Augusta, but his first went pretty damn well with a solid T12 finish last year. You're not going to see much as far as recent stats are concerned with Harding, but he did finish T38 last week at Houston, and has been very solid on the European Tour this year with a 3 top 15 finishes this year and 14 of 21 cuts made. If you look also at year to date stats on the European Tour, Harding is top 25 in Approach, and also checks the box in Scrambling. Justin is a risky play for sure, but if you need dirt cheap guy to round out some of your tournament lineups, I think you give him a shot based on his upside potential.
Pop the cork & let it breathe
Paul Casey $8,000 - 92 Points
I'm pretty sure Casey got mentioned briefly in either our PGADFS show or the betting show this week, but he still just seems to be the guy no one is talking about. Casey has a real shot to contend almost anytime he tees it up at the National and with current projected ownership of less than 10%, I think he's a fantastic tournament play. I know his last 3 starts haven't been all that great, but let's not forget it wasn't that long ago before Casey had a shot at winning the PGA Championship, and also had a respectable top 20 at the US Open on a very difficult course. Casey's track record at ANGC is also pretty damn good with 4 straight top 15 finishes before a fairly inexplicable missed cut last year. Bentgrass greens are by far Casey's favorite and best surface, and he's no slouch off the tee ranking 15th in the field in Driving Distance. I'll just say this, I hope no one else discovers this fine vintage and we get to enjoy playing Mr. Casey all to ourselves this week.
boone's farm fade of the week
Tyrrell Hatton - $9,400 - 80 Points
I know what all 10 of you avid readers are thinking. The FGS never gets it right when he fades the Hat. I hear you people, but I'm still fading him anyway so you can all go pound sand. Yes, I do realize Tyrrell is in fantastic form lately. I also realize he's probably having his best year on tour, but that's still not going to stop me from playing a higher owned Hatton that has pretty bad course history at Augusta for a guy priced in this range. In three straight starts at the Masters, he's got a missed cut, a T44, and a T56. That's just not all that appealing to me and despite his great iron play lately, Tyrrell is 67th in the field in Scrambling and bent greens are historically his worst surface to putt on.