Anyone who’s listened to the Playing The Tips Podcast knows we love to bet golf. So this week is pretty much Christmas in April. With so many props and matchups posted across the gambling world, let’s run down the ones we’re personally investing in. — Peter Jennings (DFS pro/FantasyLabs co-founder) and Drew “The Sleeze” Stoltz (former Web.com Tour player)
The Schwartzel Shorts
Daniel Berger -128 over Charl Schwartzel
Kevin Kisner +127 over Charl Schwartzel
We’ve been shorting Schwartzel (pictured above) all season to much success. The former Masters champ hasn’t shown any signs of life the past year. Need proof? In his five PGA Tour events this season, his highest finish is 48th. His ball-striking has been putrid his last two times out: 55.6% GIR at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and 54.2% GIR at the Valspar. Oh, and Schwartzel has only broken 70 once in 14 rounds, shooting a 69 in Mexico City on a course the pros were eviscerating. Augusta National isn’t the place you go to find your game. Getting Kisner at plus-money is an absolute steal.
The Tiger Props
Top 10 finish (EVEN)
Top 5 finish (+250)
We’re bullish on Tiger this week. The progression he’s made in his game since the Bahamas has been striking. He really struggled with some basic short-game stuff in his debut, but that’s changed recently. His chipping and putting looked incredible at the Valspar (second-place finish) and damn near everything looked on-point the next week at Bay Hill (fifth).
The way Tiger is talking has changed, too. His confidence is fully back, and he expects to win again, which huge. He knows this golf course better than probably anyone in the field and should be around the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday.
A Pair of Top 20 Bets
Patrick Cantlay Top 20 finish +250
Kevin Chappell Top 20 finish +400
Love Cantlay this week. He’s one of the best players in this field in terms of par-5 scoring, and his elite ball-striking skills will serve him well. He’s not the best putter, but we’ve seen plenty of players who are worse with the flat stick contend at Augusta.
Chappell’s game is tailor-made for Augusta from tee to green. He hits a mile — and straight. His Long-Term Driving Distance ranks up among the likes of Bubba Watson and Jon Rahm. The one thing that’s worrisome: Chappell will throw some 3-putts on the board if he’s not feeling it on the greens. But the dude hasn’t missed a cut since last November. High-upside play.
Fading the Fader
Tommy Fleetwood -115 over Alexander Noren
Before we dive into Noren: Both of us were really excited to hammer all kinds of Fleetwood bets this week … until he got paired with Tiger in the first two rounds. Terrible draw for a really promising player. It doesn’t doom Fleetwood’s chances, but as Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas alluded to at Riviera, playing with Tiger is such a disadvantage. After he hits, fans are scrambling to the green. After he putts, fans are scrambling to the next tee. It presents lots of challenges, but at least this week, the patrons will be a little more well-behaved compared to, say, Phoenix.
This bet is just as much of a fade of Noren as it is a buy on Fleetwood. Noren got a good tee time draw (more on that later), but this course sets up terrible for his ball flight (almost exclusively left-to-right). It’s really hard for right-handed players who hit it that way to contend at Augusta (just ask Martin Kaymer). Plus, Augusta is known for giving righties a ton of lies where the ball is above the player’s feet. That’s a super awkward shot for someone who fades the ball.
Jennings: Some DFS Thoughts
I’ll be heavily invested across all forms of DFS, maxing out entries in DraftKings’ Thunderdome competition ($5,300, six entries) and the Millionaire Maker (150 entries at $20 a pop). The Thunderdome is my favorite DFS event of the year because its payout structure is really flat. Nineteen percent of the field gets paid, with $200K going to the winner, $150K to second place, $100K to third, $60K to fourth and $40K to fifth.
The Millionaire Maker has a much steeper drop-off: $1M to first and $150K to second, so I’ll be looking to employ a super contrarian strategy with my lineups. A few tips for anyone entering: 1) You don’t want to have a duplicate lineup. The easiest avoid that is by setting your salary max to 99.9% when building lineups on FantasyLabs. 2) Focus on birdie-makers and guys who are a little more high variance. Remember: This is the easiest tournament on Tour to make the cut at, so you don’t have to worry about that as much this week.
A few interesting players from a DFS perspective:
Justin Rose: He’s a favorite in literally every single one of his matchup props on Bookmaker.eu, so he’ll be a very chalky play in DFS as the ninth-most expensive golfer in the field. I’ll be using him in lots of cash-game lineups. He’s still in play for me in the Thunderdome, and a complete fade in the Millionaire Maker.
Matt Kuchar: Same boat as Rose. Kuch will be really heavily owned.
Dustin Johnson: Love DJ this week. He’s the best player on Tour at 3-putt avoidance, a key stat at Augusta. Plus, he’s a total bomber. This course is perfect for him. I expect DJ to be one of the least popular studs in the Millionaire Maker because of his price (highest-priced golfer in the field). Roster construction is going to make him more of a contrarian play than he should be, given his talent level.
Bryson DeChambeau: He’s my sleeper this week because of his elite par-5 scoring. He’s averaging 4.43 strokes per par 5 this season. He’s only $6,900 on DraftKings.
Bubba Watson: I fully expect Bubba to be a chalk play this week, given his two wins here and his recent form. I’ll be fading him in the Millionaire Maker.
A Word About the Weather
It’s forecasted to be much colder in the morning on Thursday compared to the afternoon. Just as an example, the first hole could play 30 yards longer for the folks teeing off early in the morning. That’s a big advantage for guys like DJ, Rose, Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and, yes, Noren (as mentioned earlier). The wind is supposed to die down in the afternoon on Thursday, too.