The Masters Draft

Every year, I participate in a friends' “majors pool” it consists of the year’s major championships and the WGC-Match Play Championship.  The format is simple- 27 guys, 2 players each determined by a snake-style draft, with payouts going to the owners of the top 3 finishers in the tournament. One other wrinkle, is the “perfection pot”. If you have all of your players make the cut at the four majors you have a shot to win the side pot of pool (determined by score if multiple entries qualify). 

For this draft, I decided to be more organized than usual and create a draft board for the Masters ranking my top 54 players which you will find below as well as who was picked at that slot.

1. the fried egg pick: Jordan Spieth - (actual pick: Rory McIlroy)

How can the defending champion not be #1?  The track record of 1st and t2nd in his two appearances makes this the smart first pick.

2. Jason Day - (Jordan Spieth)

Trying to join Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win back-to-back starts heading into the Masters and then win the Masters.

3. Dustin Johnson - (Jason Day)

Just a feeling that this could be the week Dusty ends his major heartbreak. Johnson comes into Augusta with a hot putter after leading the Shell Houston Open (SHO) in strokes-gained putting, a club that often holds him back.

4. Bubba Watson - (Dustin Johnson)

Won the Northern Trust Open earlier this year. The last time he did that?- 2014 when he also won his second green jacket.  Watson’s big drives and ability to hit right to left shots make him a horse for this course.

5. Rory McIlroy - (Adam Scott)

Has been consistently inconsistent in 2016- with his talent he will always be a favorite.

6. Adam Scott - (Rickie Fowler)

The 2013 champion has had a terrific 2016, winning back-to-back tournaments on the Florida Swing.

7. Rickie Fowler - (Bubba Watson) 

Looking to join the conversation of golf’s top player with a win. Fowler’s play coming into Augusta is promising, having led the Shell Houston Open in greens in regulation. 

8. Phil Mickelson - (Justin Rose)

Lefty is leading the PGA Tour in scoring average this year. In top form, expect him to be in the mix on Sunday.

9. Louis Oosthuizen - (Henrik Stenson)

Ignore King Louis’s MC at last week’s SHO, one of the world’s best ball-strikers has had a great start to 2016 with a runner-up finish at the WGC Match Play, and a win in Perth on the European Tour

10. Justin Rose  - (Phil Mickelson)

The former U.S. Open champion finished in a tie for 2nd at last year’s Masters and hasn’t finished outside of the top 25 since 2008 at Augusta.

11. Charl Schwartzel - (Sergio Garcia)

The 2011 champion is hot, with three wins in his last eight worldwide starts including the Valspar in March.

12. Hideki Matsuyama - (Louis Oosthuizen)

Finished in the top 5 of last year’s Masters and beat Rickie Fowler down the stretch at this year’s Waste Management Open. On top of that, Matsuyama ranks 5th on the PGA Tour’s strokes gained: tee-to-green statistic,an important skill given Augusta’s penal green complexes.

13. Henrik Stenson - (Patrick Reed)

One of golf’s best players tee-to-green, Stenson has finished 2nd and t3rd in his past two starts but, his best career finish at Augusta is a t14th.

14. Danny Willett - (Brandt Snedeker)

England’s new star plays well in big-time events. This year, Willett has won in Dubai and finished t3rd at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. 

15. Brandt Snedeker - (Zach Johnson)

Too talented to not be in the top-20, the budding star has yet to have a breakout performance in 2016. Koepka has major championship game, last year he finished t33rd at Augusta, t18th at the U.S. Open, t10th at the Open Championship and t5th at the PGA.

16. Paul Casey - (Brooks Koepka)

The Englishman finished t6th in last year’s Masters, his 4th top 11 finish in 9 tries at Augusta. The veteran also has also finished in the top 10 in his last two stroke play starts on the PGA Tour.

17. Brooks Koepka - (Charl Schwartzel)

Too talented to not be in the top-20, the budding star has yet to have a breakout performance in 2016. Koepka has major championship game, last year he finished t33rd at Augusta, t18th at the U.S. Open, t10th at the Open Championship and t5th at the PGA.

18. Bill Haas - (J.B. Holmes)

Four top 10s in eight starts this year, Haas hasn’t missed a cut in his six appearances at Augusta.

19. Zach Johnson - (Paul Casey)

The 2007 champion and reigning British Open winner made it to the round of 16 at the WGC Match Play and finished 5th at the Arnold Palmer in his past two starts. 

20. Patrick Reed - (Hideki Matsuyama)

Helped Augusta State win two national championships. Patrick “top-five” Reed has all the tools you look for in a Masters pick but a spotty history kicks him down here.

21. Ryan Moore - (Matt Kuchar)

Golf’s hipster has three top 10s in his past four starts and an exemplary Masters record with three top 15s.

22. Sergio Garcia - (Rafa Cabrera Bello)

One of the world’s elite ball-strikers, Garcia has had a good start to 2016 and plenty of experience to compete at Augusta, but winning...another story.

23. Matt Kuchar - (Charley Hoffman)

Koooch has finished in the top 8 in three of his past four Masters starts. The Sketcher’s hype-man has been his usual self in 2016, already notching 2 top 10s in 7 starts.

24. Rafa Cabrera Bello - (Danny Willett)

The first Augusta rookie taken comes into the Masters on fire, with a 4th place finish at the SHO and a 3rd place finish at the WGC Match Play. The Spaniard has all the tools to be an Augusta horse with his long drives and high approach shots. 

25. Jimmy Walker - (Jason Dufner)

Although 2016 is a rare year because Walker didn’t win on the tour’s West Coast Swing, he has been solid with six top 20s in nine starts. The long-hitting Walker scored a top 10 finish at Augusta in his 2014 start and made the cut in last year’s edition.

26. Marc Leishmann - (Bernd Wiesberger)

The big Aussie has shown the ability to compete at  major championships with last year’s playoff loss at St. Andrew’s and a t4th at 2013 Masters championship.

27. Kevin Na - (Ryan Moore)

Na played great at the WGC Match Play and has a good track record at Augusta with two top-12s in his past three Augusta starts.

28. Charley Hoffman - (Marc Leishmann)

Hoffman is an elite ball-striker and held the 36-hole lead at last week’s SHO before fading on the weekend. Chaz was in 2nd place at last year’s Masters after 36 holes, faltering on the weekend to a t9th.

29. Justin Thomas - (Kevin Na)

My second Masters rookie, Thomas is a popular pick for the Masters because of his length off the tee and ability to hit high approach shots. JT has the game for Augusta but his 2016 season hasn’t been spectacular.

30. Brendan Grace - (Billy Horschel)

Grace couldn’t fall any lower given his top 15 world ranking. The South African was on fire early in 2016 but has struggled since coming Stateside for the Florida Swing and WGC events.

31. Bernd Wiesberger - (Brendan Grace) 

The long-hitting Austrian’s game is rounding into form with top 30’s in his past two stroke play events. Wiesberger finished t22nd in the 2015 Masters, his first career appearance at Augusta. 

32. J.B. Holmes - (Ian Poulter)

Holmes had to pull out of last week’s SHO due to injury, his distance is alluring at Augusta however recent play and a spotty Masters record has him here.

33. Andy Sullivan - (Kevin Kisner)

The Englishman was Europe’s breakout player in 2015 winning three times, earning his first appearance at Augusta. Sullivan’s ball-striking prowess and build are reminiscent of a young Lee Westwood...

34. Lee Westwood - (Justin Thomas)

Throw out Westwood’s poor recent form and look at his track record at Augusta. Westwood is 3rd in Masters scoring average since ‘10 behind only Spieth and Tiger and hasn’t missed a cut at Augusta since ‘06.

35. Angel Cabrera - (Harris English)

A player that personifies Augusta- champion in ‘09, 2nd in ‘13. Cabrera has only missed 1 cut since ‘06 at the Masters.

36. Chris Kirk - (Shane Lowry)

Rounding into form with a t12th at the Arnold Palmer and a final 8 run at the WGC Match Play in his past two events. Kirk also has played well at Augusta with a t20 and t33 in his two Masters appearances.

37. Daniel Berger - (Jimmy Walker) 

A boom or bust pick, this Masters rookie has played well of late with his last three stroke play event finishes t5th, t11th & t28th. Berger is a good risk here, he is in the top 25 in driving distance on tour and his putter has a propensity to get hot.

38. Smylie Kaufman - (Martin Kaymer)

Another risk-reward pick and Masters rookie, Kaufman has been the most impressive PGA Tour rookie with a win and five top 15s in the wrap-around season. Kaufman chews up par 5s, ranking 14th in par 5 scoring average on Tour, holes vital to score on at Augusta.

39. Bryson DeChambeau - (Justin Thomas)

You can hardly consider DeChambeau an amateur. He has been out of school since last May and playing and contending in professional tournaments since the beginning of 2016. Amateurs were factors in last year’s U.S. & British Open and DeChambeau’s pedigree is second to none. 

40. Ian Poulter - (K.J. Choi - not in the field but no one has said anything)

In the running for most hated player in the field, Poulter’s game has been on the upswing in recent weeks with four straight made cuts, including a near win in Puerto Rico. Poulter ranks here because of his Masters track record. Last year’s t6th was his 7th top 25 in 11 trips to Augusta.

41. Byeong-Hun An - (Danny Lee)

The South Korean prodigy has the ability to win big-time events as evidenced by his 2015 win at the BMW PGA Championship. An made it to the round of 16 at the WGC Match Play and has 6 top 5s in his last 11 stroke play starts.

42. Jamie Donaldson - (Tony Finau - also not in the field) 

Top 20 at last week’s SHO and a solid Masters track record (t33rd ‘16 and t14th in ‘15) makes Donaldson a sneaky good pick.

43. Billy Horschel - (Byeong-Hun An)

Top 20 on talent and having a consistent 2016 season with two top 10s and seven of eight made cuts. Horschel hasn’t had a good week at Augusta yet, which keeps him from ranking higher.

44. Kevin Kisner - (Bryson DeChambeau)

This Masters rookie is ranked 22nd in the world and grew up in nearby Aiken, SC making him a trendy pick. I am not on the bandwagon because of Kisner’s recent play. In his last five events his best finish is a t23rd and he had two missed cuts. 

45. Jason Dufner - (David Lingmerth)

Dufner has had a bounceback 2016 season with a win at the CB Challenge and three other top 25s. The fan-favorite is one of the best ball-strikers on tour however the putter has always held him back, a club you need at Augusta. 

46. Harris English - (Chris Kirk)

The Georgia native and alum hits the ball high and long, a dream combination at Augusta. English’s 2016 has been marred with inconsistency, but if he gets hot he has the tools to compete. 

47. Shane Lowry - (Graeme McDowell)

The Irishman comes into Augusta struggling, missing the cut at last week’s SHO and not finishing higher than 35th in an event since his t6th at February’s Waste Management. Lowry, ranked 32nd in the world, is worth a flyer here with his length off the tee.

48. David Lingmerth - (Angel Cabrera)

Another first-timer at Augusta, Lingmerth had a solid start to the 2016 campaign with a playoff loss at the CB Challenge, but has struggled recently. He is an excellent ball-striker and if he finds his early season game could contend at Augusta.

49. Thongchai Jaidee - (Scott Piercy)

Jaidee made the cut last year in his inaugural start at the Masters. Jaidee isn’t a household name in America but is a top player on the Asian Tour.

50. Kiradech Aphibarnrat - (Andy Sullivan)

The big native of Thailand impressed with his t6th finish at the Arnold Palmer, and is long off the tee, worthy of a selection.  

51. Vijay Singh - (Daniel Berger)

The 2000 Masters Champion has made four consecutive cuts at Augusta. The 53-year-old is eligible for Senior Tour play but flashed he could still play with the young pups, as evidenced by his t6th at the Honda Classic.

52. Jim Herman - (Webb Simpson)

Earning his invite by winning last week’s SHO, Herman ranks in the top 20 on the PGA Tour in ball-striking and rode a hot putter to his win.

53. Graeme McDowell - (Still waiting for a pick) 

A popular name and thus, typically overvalued by the casual golf fan. McDowell’s natural left-to-right ball flight and lack of distance off the tee don’t translate well to Augusta. His best finish is a t12th and he has only made the cut three times in eight attempts at Augusta. 

54. Bernhard Langer - (Still waiting for a pick)

Langer is the dominant force on the Champions Tour, a former Masters Champion and finished in the top 10 in 2014, don’t overlook the German!