The 2023 Masters
A tradition unlike any other, in a year truly unlike any other, is once again upon us as the world’s best take the annual drive down Magnolia Lane, with destiny on the horizon, and legacies at stake. Hello friends, and welcome to the 87th rendition of the Masters Tournament. With about a year of the PGA v. LIV Saga under our belts, there’s a lot of drama to digest, and a future mired in much uncertainty. As of this writing, just under a week until tee off in Augusta, it appears like pretty much all the big dogs from both Tours will be in attendance and chomping at the bit. I’m foaming at the mouth like Cujo over here, anxiously awaiting the release of the tee times from Chairman Ridley and Co. in a few days time…
So instead of pricing out each tier like we usually do based on the Draftkings numbers, something we will do separately next week on our Who’s Your Caddy? Podcast, here are a few dream groups I think could be intriguing, as if they needed to add any more hype to this year’s event, and then we’ll finish with a few “dark-horses” I think could be in prime lurk position. But first, The Alphas…
Rory-Spieth-Reed: death stares aplenty. I’m not sure they’d even be able to play with the amount of mad-dogging we would witness. I see this as Rory’s best shot yet to don the green jacket…but I also have thought this for the prior five years running, so do with that what you will. An in-form Spieth and perhaps the resident persona non grata on the grounds, would both love nothing more than to have Scottie slip the jacket on their worthy shoulders for a second time come Sunday evening.
Brooks-DJ-Rahm: no Low-T concerns for this grouping. Hopefully Brooks doesn’t find any parking cones in the Players Lot. If he steers clear (no pun intended) of those sorts of distractions however, I believe he still has the game deep down to win this thing (and at 50-1 in the outright market no less). As do DJ and Rahmbo at lesser odds anytime they tee up a golf ball, obviously.
Scottie-Bubba-Cam Smith: Lord have mercy. A rematch (kinda) of last year’s lackluster finale with reigning Open Champ Cam Smith, and Bubba’s ex-looper Teddy Scott overseeing the grouping for Scottie’s title defense.
And the grand finale…Tiger-JT-Phil. Best of luck to Bones with this one.
GET YA POPCORN READY!
We can dream can’t we? Anyway-I am genuinely curious to see how these groupings shake out. Besides the aforementioned contenders, here are a few other guys with serious win equity, and then a few potentially sneakier plays who may be better off as T10/T20 options…
To start, I’m fairly confident that two of the three “all-arounders” in Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, and “Mighty Max” Homa will win the US Open at LACC, as well as one other major within the next let’s say six to be played. The first two (still) have no noticeable flaws in their game, and have been “Due AF” for seemingly ages now. Homa’s in the best 6-month form out of the lot, and maybe outside of Rahm and Scottie, the best form (and win equity) of anyone in the world right now, but does still have something to prove at the majors, despite improvements of late. Speaking of guys that are “Due AF” it would be a sin to leave out America’s Goodfella, Uncle Tony Finau, but I’m gonna have to see it to believe it.
There’s a set of questions I always ask myself each year when trying to target guys who can lurk here. If the answer is “yes” to at least four of them, I deem them worthy:
The Augusta Checklist (does not apply to The Alphas)
Has he played here several times before?
Does he generally putt well on fast bentgrass?
Is he masterful (or at least above-average) around the greens?
Can he withstand severe pressure?
Is he desperate for a major?
So with these questions in mind, it brings me to a pair of accomplished Aussies, both major winners: one who has been on an Odyssey back to glory for a long-time now, and another in search of a second green jacket to put a capper on an already hall-of-fame career. Jason Day has found the fountain of youth in 2023, something thought to be almost impossible with a decade long nagging back injury, amongst other things. He’s been in the hunt numerous times here, with his best finish being a T2 in 2011 where he was in control for a large stretch of the weekend. He’s been an auto-T20 the last two months, and would love nothing more than to add a green jacket alongside his Wanamaker Trophy.
His compatriot on the other hand, a potentially under-the-radar Adam “The Jawline” Scott is looking for his second green jacket. Bringing Stevie Williams back on the bag, witness to his first jacket in 2013 as well as three of Tiger’s five prior to that, could be the final magic touch needed to cement his legacy. At first the original big name to be rumored to be hopping ship to “the other tour” not only has he stayed loyal to the PGA, but he was recently elected as Chairman of the PGA TOUR Player Advisory Council. That coupled with a swing molded by Hogan and a face sculpted by Adonis, Old Scotty Boy may have just enough left in the tank for one more run at it.
Two more savvy vets with solid incoming form looking to nab the illusive green jacket that pique my interest are Cousin Keegan Bradley, and Justin Rose. First with Keegan-despite having a mixed bag here at best over the years perhaps due to the elevated obligations and chaos associated with this event as he's mentioned in interviews, I still hold out hope he can hang around deep into Sunday. With a win at the ZoZo over the holidays, and perpetual lurkage over the Spring at Torrey and elsewhere, maybe all he needs to redeem his near miss at his hometown Brookline last summer, is some Rick Pitino magic (the good kind) now gracing his adopted college hometown of St. John's in Queens (represent)...
As for JRose, he claimed victory on the Pacific at Pebble back in February, breaking his four year PGA win drought, and resisted likely strong temptations to jump ship, to stick around and see if he could have at least one more banner year Stateside. Now he's coming back to a place where he has seen much success throughout the years, without breaking through (maybe only topped by Ex-Uncle Lee in terms of the Brits). As our pal @RomeoTheCaddy can attest, Sergio miraculously making par from inside the azalea bush on 13 in 2017 to eventually usurp Justin in a playoff, and thus ending one of the all-time Masters, will go down as the toughest heartbreak of his career. How sweet would a little vengeance taste for the Englishman this year, of all years?
Oh, and in case you were wondering, speaking of near misses, this next one is maybe not a full "HUMPDAY HAMMER" but Slick Willy Z is still worth a peppering at low ownership in DFS, or at worst a sprinkling based on his major acumen, putter woes and all. I think five minutes with Gentle Ben Crenshaw on the putting green would do wonders for him, or anyone for that matter. We’ll see how he looks when the time comes, but I do think a green jacket will be in his wardrobe one day sooner rather than later (and now 40-1 and up outright for a guy that’s been in a major playoff and a literal millimeter away from another over the last year is plenty juicy enough for me).
His college roommate at Wake Forest, Cam Young, eagled the 18th alongside Rory at St. Andrews in the last major played, and who just ran out of gas at the Match Play, is as live as anyone to finally get over the hump. Unlikely, but certainly not out of the question with his game.
The last legitimate wild card I will mention, our former Belgian Cousin, most recent LIV defector, and overall monster masher of golf balls, Thomas Pieters has lurked here in T5 range here not so long ago, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he did it again (ain’t that right, @RippinBogeys??) At 130-1 to win he’s a tasty outright, but perhaps adding him to a T20 parlay may be of better use. Now Phil Mickelson at 200-1…just kidding-or am I? He has won a major at larger odds, no more than two years ago, but tread lightly. The other elder statesman who, rest assured, can still win another one of these, Tiger Woods at 50-1 is more than an intriguing venture any time he sets foot on the property.
So as we wait for the light of dawn to grace us on the first tee box with Jack, Gary, and Tom next Thursday morning, methinks this will be a Masters for the ages. My heart says Rory will finally complete the illusive career Grand Slam and somewhere up above, Bobby Jones, Arnie, and the rest of the legends of yore, will be smiling down upon Butler Cabin as Uncle Jimmy reminds us all how important this one shining moment is for the sporting world at large. We all really should put the controversy aside for a few hours this Easter Sunday, crack open your beverage of choice with your family and friends, and just enjoy the moment, for it only happens once a year, a tradition unlike any other…The Masters.
Cheers, and of course, as always, BOL.
*One last degen thought: if you fancy a massive payout at a small price: consider a 4-way major parlay. I’ve mentioned this numerous times on our podcast with @Blatant_Liam, but if you pick 4 favorites, $5 can be turned into a quarter-million or more. Now, of course on paper it seems like a piece of cake, but so rarely do we see four “obvious” guys win the four majors, much less the four you pick. Nevertheless, if any of yous hit it this year, I’m expecting a case of very expensive vino...
And finally (almost), with the Draftkings DFS Pricing just released on this Wednesday evening, I would remiss to not give my immediate top gut plays, two of dem Georgia Bulldogs:
*MONDAY MISPRICE (Most Underpriced Player): come on now, you already know, MAD DAWG MITCHELL $7,100, WHAT?! Personal bias aside, how is one of the top drivers of the golf ball, southeastern lurker of the highest order, and cashmere aficionado this cheap the way he's played all year?
*SICKO SPECIAL (Top Play Under $7K): Grab the Pepto, but my namesake, JTP aka THE POSTMAN, $6,600, is getting peppered harder than Emeril '98. This lowcountry legend thrives on coastal carolina (close enough) tracks, just advanced out of his Match Play bracket, had an impressive Top 10 at the difficult Copperhead track, and rolls the rock like Crenshaw in his prime. Enough said.
*ICYMI: My Masters Menu-although I think Scottie did a bang-up job, here are my selections. Let me know yours on Twitter @Blatant_Chief and @BlatantGolf and maybe some new merch will find its way to your door…
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