The 2022 Masters
Can you feel it? The spring awakening. The rise of the warm Georgia sun. Healing our nation from a pervasive plague, while our friends across the pond wage war against a different, more visible enemy. And yet, for one week in April, the golfing world will unite down Magnolia Lane to put our differences aside for the love of the game. The hallowed grounds of Augusta National will play host to something more than a golf tournament, something ethereal, surreal, and everlasting. With azaleas in bloom, and pimentos in hand, will we see a former champion return to Butler Cabin, or will a new pair of shoulders don the green jacket come Sunday night?
This question will be answered Sunday night as one lucky, and deserving, soul will sit across from Uncle Jimmy Nantz and Sir Nick Faldo in Butler Cabin in a state of bliss, now a permanent part of golfing lore. A lifelong dream realized. Since I myself took up the game as a kid, I never dreamed to be sitting in Butler Cabin, and so watching others do so would be plenty fine for me. The first round of golf I played was actually with my mom (shout out to Barbs, love ya), whose birthday on April 8 usually coincides with Masters week. Along with Opening Day for my Mets, and Easter, this 10 or so day stretch is the culmination of months of cold and darkness here in New York. A chance for rebirth and renewals both on and of the course. Last year it was a chance to breathe freely from the wretched plague, and now this year, it’s still the plague to some extent, but more so a conflict in lands far to most of us, but near to so many. And yet, in a couple days, The Golden Bear, Mr. Player, and Mr. Watson for the first time, will grace us with their immortal presence on the first tee of Augusta National to commemorate the start of the 86th Masters.
Presiding over the ceremonies will be the spirits of Bobby Jones, The King, The Squire, Great Uncles Cliff and Harvey, and so many others, who have made this little plot of land in Augusta a seminal part of sporting history. A bucket list item for fans of the game, seeing Rae’s Creek, Hogan’s Bridge, to taste the egg salad and peach ice cream (not this year unfortunately due to the ever-present supply chain crisis), and just being present on the grounds is something I can only pray to be able to do experience one day. I imagine it will be somewhere between heaven and earth, but until then, I, along with countless others, will have to live vicariously through the men who will set forth on a four day journey to claim the most prestigious title in the game.
Now that we got the sob story out of the way, let’s dive in and see how this all plays out with a lens on Draftkings DFS tiers…
Obviously Tiger's presence has immediately become the main talking point this week with his surprise emergence from hibernation, and although I do believe he would not be here if he couldn’t contend, all things considered, any walk up 18 on the weekend would be a monumental achievement for the big cat. Let’s hope he can make it happen…
At the top of the board, there are three who stand out to me as the most likely winners: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and yes, Brooks Koepka. All three are inarguably top five talents at worst, and all three desperately want, rather, need, the green jacket. All are in relatively good 3-month form, and all have progressively improved their play here over the years, a trait seen by most champions here. Barring the “Winds of Willett” returning, or a Charlian Blackout down the stretch, I would be shocked if at least two of these three talents were not lurking come the Back 9 come Sunday. Now, Rory McIlory’s fate remains to be seen. I do think he will eventually complete the career Grand Slam, and at the time of writing this I think his decision to play Valero rather than let the thoughts of his Back 9 implosion in 2011 fester in his mind for an extra week was a wise one, despite his mediocre performance in San Antonio. Still, there have been many greats for whom the jacket was just too illusive to take hold of (thinking of a certain controversial Aussie at the moment). And yet, I hold out hope for Rory, a true pillar of professionalism in the sport, and would not be surprised if he figured it out this year.
Good Boy Viktor and Collin Morikawabunga have both been blessed with the ball striking prowess of The Hawk, and thus can contend any time they step foot from the clubhouse, but Collin’s play of late has been spotty at best outside of Riv, something perhaps that can be chalked up to the post-engagement rapture which can overtake one’s life. A stretch perhaps, but he clearly is not firing at all cylinders like he was last Summer, so he will likely have to wait for his time in Butler Cabin. Viktor on the other hand is the one I fear most fading at the top, but much like Morikawa at The Players (regardless of the wind), he still has some ways to go around the greens, and no green complex in the world rival these in experience and deftness of hand. However, if the course will be playing long and soft as many early reports suggest, pepper GBV accordingly.
Other favorites who likely will be in the mix are past champions DJ and Spieth, and new OWGR top dog Scottie Scheffler. Cam Smith has multiple T5s here and likely will poke his head into T10 range, but with the other elite talent in form, I find it hard to envision a green jacket this year after an emotional Players Championship victory only a few weeks ago. His time will surely come sooner rather than later. The X-Man looked like he had it in the bag until he got wet on Redbud last year en route to Hideki’s virtuoso victory, as did Patrick Cantlay in 2019 until a certain big cat rallied for his crowning achievement. Oh, and let’s not forget Slick Willy Z, the precious neophyte (to borrow a phrase from Uncle Clyde Frazier) who was runner-up last year as a debutante, and likely will be in contention for years to come.
In the upper to mid-tier range, Big Bad Bryson should thrive here, but is still dealing with a bad back (wonder why) so we must tread lightly. The HamBergerler would make sense as well if not for some recent karmic retribution that I fear could be headed his way. King Louis is always is in play here, and should have some good karma due his way. Uncle Tony Finau could be the contrarian play of the millenia here after showing signs of life during the Texas swing, maybe just the spark he needed to lurk here yet again as he has many times already. No one has been better over the last calendar year than Sammy Burns, and with his big boy cut off the tee, and undeniable win equity, his lack of experience here could be for naught-the kid is a straight up alpha to put it bluntly, and will likely be in the mix. Joaco Niemann is another wunderkind in form and who thrives on bentgrass. Adam Scott is gravely underpriced based on his record here along with his resurgent play this year. He could be the Home Depot Special (Thor Hammer Play).
The squad of Englishmen $8K and below on Draftkings, aka Monday Misprices, Ty Hatton, Tommy Boy Fleetwood, and Fitzy all merit a sprinkle at the least. Uncle Paul Casey was primed to be a selection until his back spasms in Austin, and now we must be wary. The JRose Sub-8k Major Law has been officially enacted (FRL last year, and most recently runner up to Sergio in 2017-the day that changed it all for our dear friend @RomeoTheCaddy). Webb Simpson is also gravely underpriced as he seems to have found a stellar chiropractor after Phoenix, as is Corey Conners who has lurked here before, along with a 3rd in the Match Play warrants heavy chalk (along with the aforementioned Fitzy in this range). Finally, Cousin Russell Henley will look to continue The Year of the Dawg with his local ties, and stellar play on and around these fickle greens.
Heading down in the low $7K range, BillyHo and Mighty Max Homa both have had so-so records around these parts, but another year of winning experience leads me to believe they will be in the mix come Sunday. Jason THE KOKRAKEN should fit well here with his behemoth drives and sneaky proclivity towards bentgrass greens, but his spotty form of late, and unfortunate comments towards “the other tour” leave me wanting more. The Wild Leishdoggie (multiple T10s here including 2021), despite some spotty form of late as well, knows how much a green jacket would mean for his legacy, and thrives here annually. A few more names that catch my eye to round out the low 7s are: 2x Champ Bubba Watson, “Famous Seamus” Power, SWK if he brings a spare putter, Long Luke List, Willy’s demon deacon roommate Cam Young, and The Scottish Sniper Bobby Mac…
Diving head first into Sicko Special territory, my paesano Molinari will get a couple lineups out of respect and his major record, as will Uncle Lee who owes me one after last year’s botched hammering, and his absurd amount of close calls here and elsewhere. Freddy Boom Boom and Takumi Kanaya could be the bargain bin fill-ins to T40 and round out a hop heavy lineup. These are all dart throws so proceed with caution…Fargo’s Finest, Ain’t No Hobby, and THE HARMANATOR all merit consideration, but a lack of experience for Hoge and lack of distance OTT for Kis and Harman, despite nice years for all, just miss out for me this week.
Cheap guys who I like a bit better and will likely sprinkle are: Kevin “Walk It In” Na, EVR, The Austrian Bulldog, Mac Hughes, Thomas Pieters, and of course, Ryan “Coach Taylor” Palmer for his GIR expertise, and general kind demeanor.
So after over analyzing this all for months Henry, FOR MONTHS, here is how I see it all playing out, with a little bias towards how I want it to play out six days from now…
Quite simply, I see a bombastic crescendo or power and putting between Rahmbo and Brooksy in a rematch of the Match Play in the penultimate pairing, and JT and Cantlay in the final pairing. I think Rahm will get the better of Brooksy this time, leading to yet another Top 10 here, but when the dust settles Sunday evening, I must be honest and follow my gut with a pick much of The Community is also on…guided by the spirit of his mentor TW, Justin Thomas will be sitting across from Uncle Jimmy and Sir Nick, cementing his legacy alongside his childhood friend Jordan and the others, as the proud new owner of his long coveted green jacket.
The Masters, truly, a tradition unlike any other…BOL, but more importantly, cherish it.
Oh, and PS-I hope Phil figures his shit it out, because we all want him back here, that is undeniable.