2024 Masters Data-Driven Picks: Rory McIlroy & More Bets at Augusta

2024 Masters Data-Driven Picks: Rory McIlroy & More Bets at Augusta article feature image

Via Andrew Redington/Getty Images. Pictured: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks to the second green during a practice round prior to the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia.

The Masters delivers a unique outlook from a statistical perspective after diving into the data, and consequently, you can find my 2024 Masters Data-Driven Picks below.

Part of that answer stems from the fact that it is the only major championship that takes place at the same track annually. It's a bonus to pull 100 years of expected returns from Augusta National Golf Club, with about 20 of those outcomes yielding top-notch statistical expectations after Shot Tracking was added to the equation.

That is not necessarily too dissimilar to other courses on the PGA Tour that have been in the rotation for a while during your run-of-the-mill events. However, the real separating quality that makes Augusta National the most predictable venue on Tour in rollover success rate stems from two main points. 

  1. We get these sub-90-man fields every year that generate about 30% of the participants who always land under one of two issues when looking into past results. Those two answers would be age and inexperience. Only one golfer has ever won this event over the age of 45. That was Jack Nicklaus in 1986 when he won at 46. We have also only had Fuzzy Zoeller win this tournament in his first attempt since 1979.
  2. The latter explanation of first-timers not winning takes us to the second point of why this course demonstrates predictability. Many nuances of Augusta National take time to learn. You will see that with the multiple-tiered putting surfaces, which will produce nearly 60% more three-putts than average, and all the runoff locations on the surface.

You add all those short-game requirements to a wide open facility that generates uneven lies throughout, and that produces this diabolical venue that looks like it can be taken apart with distance but often lures golfers into a trap of being too aggressive. 

Sure, aggression is required to garner high-end potential, but the overabundance of it is why golfers like Bryson DeChambeau have struggled in the past. 

Golfers aren’t going to be able to bludgeon this course for 72 straight holes. Taking your medicine when proper helps to salvage green-jacket hopes. That has always been the Rory McIlroy deterrent of why he has failed to win, in my opinion.

If you haven't already, you can find me on Twitter (@TeeOffSports). There, I provide a link to my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user input 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.

2024 Masters Data-Driven Picks

Every Monday, I take an aggregated total from a handful of books I respect and form a median outright price. None of that suggests you wouldn't be able to find better prices if you shopped around, but that is a total I use to compare against a golfer's outright odds movements.

Those returns indicate where the square versus sharp money has entered the market and shows potential DFS value for those looking to round out their player pool. Let's dive into some of the shifts in the market and see how they line up with the outright bets I discussed on the Links + Locks Masters Betting Preview podcast.

Masters Biggest Market Movers

We do this every week when trying to find sharp versus square movement. More often than not, the activity from the public ends up in a direction that falters for all bettors placing wagers on those golfers to win the event.

My answer here doesn't derive thoughts from within my model. I would have a stronger or weaker stance for some of these players than others, but I think we are ultimately talking about better placement targets from this list than actual win equity candidates.

Books are all over the map with their prices this week because of the competition for last-minute exposure from bettors. We see this every year, where numbers may vary between locations by up to 100+ points on individual names in the space.

You don't have to look any further than someone like Adam Schenk, who is 400-1 on FanDuel to capture the title but only 200-1 at BetRivers. Those discrepancies are going to be pronounced for anyone outside of 100/1 on this board, so be sure to shop around to find the best price you can if you are looking for names deeper down this slate to place a wager on at the Masters.

Unfortunately, the Xander Schauffele price has left the station. I was able to grab that on Saturday at +2200 before this onslaught of money dropped the American into what feels like a range without value left to bet him.

Schauffele's perceived perception when it comes to upside equity usually doesn't garner this sort of support, but it is easy to understand why the movement has occurred when you dive into him ranking first in my model this week for Proximity Over 200 yards in 2024, Weighted Proximity from 150-175 over a two-year running perspective, Expected Par-3 and Par-4 Scoring, Weighted Scrambling and Projected Strokes Gained: Total.

I do think we have lost some of the narrative since this has now drifted into the +1400 territory, but the one target for me out of all those options listed above that I can still find value in backing would be Austin Eckroat to make the cut at -125.

If a debutant is winning, it likely isn't coming from Eckroat, but Eckroat's 11 made cuts in 12 tournaments, victory at the Cognizant Classic in March and 37-spot increase in Expected Strokes Gained Around the Green when comparing his two-year baseline versus only his 2024 stats should give us a nice profile of a golfer who has seen too much overcorrection because of this being his first time playing Augusta National.

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Masters Worst Current Values

My inclusion of Justin Thomas on this list might be a little surprising to some because of his generally strong ability to gain strokes with his short game.

Thomas does project that way again, ranking eighth in this field for Projected Strokes Gained Around the Green. However, my big issue here stemmed from his poor putting grade, which placed him 82nd in this field when recalculating the data to fit Augusta and a Weighted Proximity return of 54th.

I get the upside answer because of his high-end nature playing this course in the past, but I still believe that Thomas' return to excellence may have been premature earlier this season.

Just about any matchup I could find in the space was worth a shot, according to my numbers. I went with the Viktor Hovland over Thomas route.

Masters Outright Picks

I know what I am signing up for regarding my outright card. This public disdain turns any of these wagers into "I told you so" rebuttals when they fail. It is much easier to punch the reduced-priced ticket on a golfer and point toward their past success at the Masters as to why you are paying this built-in tax. That is how value comes into play, though.

It will be difficult to find more of that answer upfront than what we have gotten when diving into Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy (+1200).

I don't even think either are "publicly" disliked figures since they are still attracting a ton of money, but the point remains that this built-in narrative of not being able to win has run rampant in the space. 

Sure, neither likely gets the job done this week since we are still discussing something that has less than 15% implied probability when combing their projections, but the name of the game is value — something we got early in the week on both options. 

I also backed Matthew Fitzpatrick, whose best price is available at +4000 at DraftKings.

We have seen him undergo extensive training throughout the past year to add extra distance to his game. That marginally held him back from starting this season with proper form because he had added a four-gram weight to his driver and had forgotten to remove it for almost a year.

It is a shockingly bad mistake for someone tracking every shot in a notebook meticulously over the last 15 years, but it helps explain the erratic nature he has experienced since his RBC Heritage victory last season.

The data pretty much tells the entire story. Since removing the weight, Fitzpatrick has gained 0.91 strokes off the tee per event over the past six starts. That compares to losing 0.875 in the eight appearances before that. If you are going to give real driving returns back to one of the better short-game and difficult-course players in the world, the sky becomes the limit.

Back-to-back top-10 finishes at THE PLAYERS Championship and last week's Valero Texas Open add to that intrigue, and his combination of quality Expected Driving, immaculate Short-Game returns, an increased Weighted Proximity output for Augusta, and significant risk-reward answers that point in his favor for how aggressive he becomes when in contention.

Too much aggression is the negative answer if you don't know when to rein it in, but his added distance over the past season should give him the perfect skillset to add a second major to his resume.

You can hear a full dive into these plays on multiple Action Network shows I have been on this week. 

  1. Green Dot Daily – Hosted By Charlie DiSturco
  2. Action Podcasts – Hosted By Maria Mariano – Joined By Cynthia Frelund
  3. Links+ Locks – Hosted By Roberto Arguello – Joined By Nick Bretwisch

My Model's Top Projected Win Equity Choices

  1. Scottie Scheffler
  2. Jon Rahm
  3. Xander Schauffele
  4. Rory McIlroy

Best Values To Consider At New Price (Not In Order Of Perceived Edge)

Here would be a few ways you could consider playing this list outside of just outright value:

  1. Harris English T20 +320
  2. Austin Eckroat To Make The Cut -125
  3. Stephan Jaeger Top Debutant +1400
  4. Tony Finau over Justin Thomas -130

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