2023 Masters Preview, Picks: Expert Projections Like Tony Finau, 2 More

2023 Masters Preview, Picks: Expert Projections Like Tony Finau, 2 More article feature image

Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Finau.

Whether you are a casual fan or diehard of the sport, no tournament is more prevalent in its appeal than what we get out of the Masters.

Obviously, Tiger Woods playing helps to raise that excitement level for anyone on either of those two sides of the aisle, but this is the Super Bowl of golf and often delivers a leaderboard made for television.

When we look into the predictive nature of the course, Augusta National is a track that produces highly consistent returns across the board. No first-timer has won this event since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, and it typically takes a few showings to get used to these undulated greens that have multiple-tiered perspectives across all 18 holes.

None of that suggests that someone playing the course early in their career can't find success, but you either have it at Augusta or you don't. And if you fall into that classification of someone who doesn't, it becomes a learning curve to understand the nuances of the property.

Overall, a consistent short game that can limit mistakes will take you a long way, and the ability to be creative has proven to be a necessary quality if you want to find success.

That last answer doesn't quite show in an exceptionally model-worthy fashion, but the good thing for us is that course history does tell part of that answer when we run things to include more weight in that area than you will see from me all season.

If you haven't already, you can find me on Twitter @TeeOffSports. There, I will provide a link to my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user inputs to create custom golf rankings. That sheet is released every Monday, so be sure to check it out and construct your own numbers from my database of information.

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Masters Thoughts

Tony Finau Looks For First Major

Tony Finau has become a little trendy over the past 12 hours, shifting to somewhere between 22-1 to 25-1 at most shops. However, anything you can find over that 22-1 going rate would still have value inside my model.

I have been a massive proponent all season that 2023 will inevitably be remembered as the year that Finau catapults himself onto the national stage by capturing a grand slam. My numbers can't necessarily say they believe he is a top-three favorite (that honor belongs to the expected three of Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm), but what it can say is that he is one of the true long-term advantages on this board if you can number grab a total in that 25-1 range.

I caught a 29-1 on Finau earlier in the week at FanDuel, so you never know what your shop may have posted for odds. Shop around! (As of Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET, the best number was still at FanDuel.)

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Rory McIlroy Has Eyes On Career Grand Slam

It is a tough spot with Rory McIlroy and the odds on the board. My model can get this up to a 14%+ implied win probability (roughly 6-1 being proper) when I run this to include Rory-heavy returns. Still, somewhere in that 7.20-1 range generates a more adequate expectation.

You can find sites that will let you boost this total marginally. I know a handful of people who have been able to get McIlroy into the 10-1 range because of shops fighting for every last dollar, but if McIlroy is ever going to capture the career grand slam, it will come this week.

Augusta is playing softer than it ever has because of all the rain, and the general three-putt problem looks to be a thing of the past when we dive into his 10th-place grade this season for that category.

Those projections start moving him closer to that 6-1 price that I was alluding to earlier, but I think it is one of those situations where patience and shopping around will help land a price on Rory worth taking a shot at for the event. I ended up playing this at an 8-1 price myself and would sign off on anything 7.5-1 or higher if you can't land better.

Buy Tyrrell Hatton | Fade Shane Lowry

We get this two-sided situation here with two players from across the pond.

On the one hand, Tyrrell Hatton's disdain for Augusta National last season has provided this deflation in ownership for DFS sites and enhancement inside the betting board. On the flip side, Shane Lowry's course history generates this projected safety for bettors that they are leaning into for most markets.

However, when you dive into the data, it reaches a point where neither of those two answers will be what they seem.

Lowry has continued trending down my board with each new update I have run. The weighted proximity for Augusta is 27 places below his baseline. His short game has been disastrous this season, ranking 68th from 5-10 feet with the flat stick, 54th in bogey avoidance and 68th in weighted putting, which is before we even talk about an overall scrambling game that is 32 places below his baseline this year.

Let's compare that a golfer who's being ignored because of a few poor comments about the course when he still happened to make the cut, and you can figure one which one I'm backing this week.

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