Yesterday afternoon, I waxed poetic about Augusta National and explained why this week is prime time for you in fantasy golf or in Vegas — today, I give you names.
With Thursday fast approaching, you’ve got some serious decisions to make about your fantasy rosters in the next day or so. Despite the smaller field, there are still 70-ish players with an opportunity this week. Here’s a look at the guys who will put you in the money — and those who won’t.
“It’s an Honor Just to be Here”
The guys in this list are mostly at opposite ends of the spectrum. You’re talking about former Masters champions past their prime and the young, up-and-coming players who could one day be draped in green.
As I mentioned yesterday, players taking an “Augusta victory lap” are out, as are the amateurs and most Masters rookies. Those players are denoted with an “a,” “r” or “c” next to their names.
Hudson Swafford — last week’s winner — makes the list based purely on trends. The only player in recent history to win the week before the Masters and don the green jacket was Phil Mickelson in 2006.
Unless you have to for an office pool or something, don’t waste your time with any of the following:
Billy Hurley III (r)
Si-Woo Kim (r)
Daniel Summerhays (r)
Tyrrell Hatton (r)
Jeung-hun Wang (r)
Brian Stuard (r)
Larry Mize (c)
Mark O’Meara (c)
Sandy Lyle (c)
Mike Weir (c)
Vijay Singh (c)
Ian Woosnam (c)
Trevor Immelman (c)
José María Olazábal (c)
Brad Dalke (a)
Curtis Luck (a)
Scott Gregory (a)
Toto Gana (a)
Stewart Hagestad (a)
Okay — that was the hard part. Now, here are the Posers and Players this week at August:
Martin Kaymer — For a guy with the stats that Kaymer possess, he is a perennial also-ran at Augusta National. The German powerhouse has admitted that his slump a few years ago was partially due to him trying to change his swing to better fit Augusta, but it was to no avail. He’s never finished better than T-31 here and there’s no reason to expect him to this week, either.
James Hahn — Hahn is one of the Tour’s most charismatic young stars with enough game to become a household name. That being said, he won’t be dancing his way into the hearts of the masses this week.
Russell Knox — Knox is talented but also streaky. The Scot posted top 12 finishes in five of his first eight starts of the campaign but hasn’t been better than T-39 in his last five.
William McGirt (r) — McGirt finally got the monkey off his back when captured the title at Jack’s place last summer — but he’ll have to wait a while to pick up his first major. Not only is this his first trip down Magnolia Lane, but it’s also just his fifth start in a major. The first four resulted in three missed cuts and a T-10 at last year’s PGA Championship.
Jim Furyk — Furyk is a popular pick for many due to his ability to go really low. However, he’s had just one top-10 at Augusta since 2004.
Shane Lowry — Personally, Shane Lowry is one of my favorites and he certainly has the ability to have a good week in Augusta. That being said, his inability to close in pressure situations means anything he earns you Thursday through Saturday could go the other way on Sunday.
Scott Piercy — Piercy is a proven winner on Tour but doesn’t have enough of a track record for me to trust him at Augusta. His first two appearances resulted in ties for 54th and 29th respectively.
Jason Dufner — How I long for the days of chubby Dufner….sigh
Paul Casey — Casey is never a good bet to win, but always to show. I list him as a poser because I really don’t believe he can win, but I wouldn’t necessarily tell you to shy away if you’re in a deep league or need a wild card pick for an office pool. In 10 Masters starts, Casey has missed the cut three times and posted four top-10’s. Flip a coin here, it’s entirely up to you.
Ángel Cabrera (c) — El Pato!! You’ve gotta love Cabrera — just not this week. Augusta is filled with magic for those who love the property. Cabrera could rightfully have three wins here, but his lone triumph came in 2009.
Fred Couples (c) — Jack won at 46 in ’86: Fred will impress in ’17 at 57 — but won’t really a factor by Sunday.
Danny Willett (c) — Defending at Augusta is difficult — especially when you probably shouldn’t have won the tournament the year before any way. Take nothing away from Willett’s performance last year — but it was Spieth’s tourney to lose. And he did.
Matthew Fitzpatrick — One day, Fitzpatrick will be a multiple major champion — and he did play well here last year — but I can’t see him duplicating that success this year, much less parlaying it into a green jacket.
Tommy Fleetwood (r) — I love Tommy Fleetwood’s game — but as a rookie at Augusta, I think he gets taken to school this week.
Charl Schwartzel (c) — Past champion comes in riding molasses spill of momentum.
Branden Grace — Surprise performer in 2015 majors has championship pedigree but won’t factor into Sunday’s decision.
Brooks Koepka — Koepka is another guy who has all the talent in the world but is more streaky than the window of a high school cafeteria. I haven’t seen anything lately that suggests he’s about to breakthrough.
Jason Day — Here’s a wild card this week — Jason Day. With the sad news of his mother’s battle with cancer weighing on him and less than ideal time to prep for Augusta, I doubt Day makes much noise. That being said, only a fool would try to convince you not to pick him if your heart was set. There’s nothing wrong with starting Day, but I’m shying away.
Jimmy Walker — A major champion who comes into Augusta in less than major championship form. Hard to hate him this week, but I’m certainly not sold. He won’t win, and odds are you won’t either if he’s taking up space on your roster.
Adam Scott (c) — The 2013 champion hasn’t done much headed into Augusta this year and it’s a trend I expect to continue.
Bill Haas — In 30 major championship appearances, Haas has only scored one top 10 finish. That’s definitely not enough for me to start him this week.
Jordan Spieth (c) — Spieth has made three starts in the Masters and has an average finish of 1.6. The only thing more absurd than that number is you not taking whatever action he’s getting or leaving him off your roster this week.
Dustin Johnson — Despite a less-than-stellar start to his Masters career, DJ has posted a T-6 and a T-4 in his last two trips to the property. Combine that with the considerably large wave of momentum he’s riding, and Johnson is a must-have in any fantasy format.
Zach Johnson (c) — Until he solidified his success at Augusta by winning the Open in 2015, many chocked up ZJ’s win here in 2007 to a fluke week — which, of course, couldn’t be more wrong. Johnson possess a lethal short game and makes up for his deficiency in length with pin-point accuracy. Don’t sleep on the “other” Johnson.
Rory McIlroy — Looking to add the final piece of the career grand slam to his trophy case, McIlroy is determined this week in Augusta. Despite not really being a factor in this tournament since blowing the lead on the back nine in 2011, he has posted three straight top-10’s here the last three years. As long as he isn’t paired with Jeff Knox again on Sunday, McIlroy will be a factor.
Rickie Fowler — The “Orange One” finished T-5 here in 2015 and has always had a game that fits Augusta National well. He’s been hot as of late, posting six top-10’s and a win at the Honda Classic in 2017.
Marc Leishman — Leishman is a favorite among his peers and a guy who has had his share of personal tribulations recently and I’d love to see a good week for him. That being said, my choice isn’t rooted in fantasy — in 2013, he finished T-4 here and has since picked up two more top-5’s in majors. The Aussie loves this track, and I love him this week in any format.
Charley Hoffman — One of my favorite sentimental picks — Charley Hoffman — is a proven winner on the Tour and a fan favorite for his every man appearance. He made a run at Augusta in 2015 finishing T-9 and has never finished outside the top 30 in three appearances here. Will he win? No. Could he be a nice sleeper in your office pool or fantasy lineup? Absolutely.
J. B. Holmes — J.B. Holmes is bomber and a PGA Tour winner but has yet to claim his first major championship. It might be a surprising choice to many, but I firmly believe the Kentucky native is a smart choice this week regardless of format.
Sergio García — He’s going to win a major at some point, right? I mean, it’s cosmically criminal — regardless of what you think of him personally — that someone this talented finishes his career without a major, yeah? He’s always in contention, which is good enough in most fantasy formats to make him worth picking.
Adam Hadwin (r) — Not too often do you see rookies rolling into Augusta and having stellar weeks. Then again, it’s not too often you see one of them carrying the kind of momentum Hadwin is. The guy cancelled his honeymoon to make the trip, so there may just be a little more incentive riding on him having a good week.
Bernhard Langer (c) — Someday soon, someone will win a major after 50. It’ll probably be Phil Mickelson, but if you’re feeling brave, you might consider looking at Bernhard Langer. The two-time Masters champ has made three cuts in the last four years, finishing no worse than T-25 in those events. He finished T-8 at age 56 in 2014.
Ryan Moore — Like Zach Johnson but without the majors, Moore will poke and plod his way around Augusta National en route to a solid top-1o or better this week. He certainly has the game and the poise to bag a big one, but it’s certainly not a certainty that he will.
Jon Rahm (r) — The super Spainard would be the story of 2017 if it weren’t for DJ’s dominance and Justin Thomas’ incredible January run. He may be a rookie, but is certainly capable to winning this week, jinx or not.
Patrick Reed — Sshhhh! Ryder Cup hero Reed has a legitimate chance to win his first major at home this week. The Augusta State product has never finished better than T-12 in a major before, but has the mental fortitude to collect one before too long.
Justin Thomas — After being hotter than lava in Hawaii, Justin Thomas has come back down to Earth a little bit since January. That being said, the talent is a serious contender to take home the green jacket this week and you’d be remiss to not give him a look.
Steve Stricker — At age 50, this could be the last best chance for Stricker before to collect that illusive major title. He knows it, and so do we.
Daniel Berger — Daniel Berger had an excellent showing here last year as a Masters rookie and looks to build upon that success this year. His swing may be a touch unorthodox, but it hasn’t slowed him down. It’s like Harvey Penick warned — “Fear the man with the funny swing.” (I’m paraphrasing)
Hideki Matsuyama — There’s no doubt about it — Hideki Matsuyama WILL become Japan’s first major champion. The only question is, does that happen this week? Or Father’s Day weekend in June?
Brandt Snedeker — It’s Masters week? Quick! Someone wake up Brandt Snedeker!
Lee Westwood — See also: Sergio Garcia.
Henrik Stenson — Now that the major monkey is off his back, Stenson is a sexy choice thanks to his ability to dissect golf courses without hitting driver. Don’t be shy here — take the Swede.
Justin Rose — Rose has all the talent to win majors still — especially this one. He’s been close at Augusta before (T-2 in 2015) and always seems to be in the hunt here.
Phil Mickelson — Are you going to bet against Phil at the Masters? I didn’t think so….
Bubba Watson — Two-time Masters champ knows how to get it done here and despite his up-and-down season so far, I think Watson is a safe bet.
Matt Kuchar — “Aww, shucks!” You can’t have a trip to Augusta without wondering when Kuch will breakthrough for major glory. Impeccable track record here makes him a solid choice despite lack or recent noise.
Louis Oosthuizen — This guy should already have a green jacket by now! Made the famous double eagle here en route to finishing runner-up to Bubba Watson here in 2012.
Thomas Pieters (r) — Lanky European possess all the talent to excel at Augusta; proved at 2016 Ryder Cup he has what it takes to perform in major settings despite youth and inexperience. Does the rookie jinx bite him? Or can Pieters break the streak?