Fair Value Preview: The Masters (Part 1: The Favorites)

By Obie Kahne

It is finally here. After 577 long days, The Masters starts tomorrow. And for the first time, the amount you watch is directly correlated with your opportunities to make a profit!

As it is every year, The Masters will be held at Augusta National Golf Club, arguably the best golf course in the world. And by arguably I mean that, if you say it isn’t, most golfers will start arguing with you. Like always, Augusta will play as a 7,400 yard par-72 with the best opportunities to score concentrated on its four par-5s (holes 2, 8, 13, and 15). 

The November start date presents new challenges as well. Augusta’s average temperature is about eight degrees less in November than in April (though it is forecasted warmer this week) which will mean less distance for the players, and there is rain in the forecast for all four days. Less daylight also means that the players will tee off earlier in the day, when there is more wind, and half the field will start on the back-9 for Thursday and Friday where they will have to brave some of the toughest holes on the course before being rewarded with huge scoring opportunities on 13 and 15.  

The weather forecast is actually quite similar to what occurred on Sunday in 2019. Jason Day and Aaron Wise led the field, booth posting 67, while Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, and Rory Mcilroy followed close behind with scores of 4-under 68. The main stat to focus on this week is strokes gained approach. Thanks to @JustinRayGolf we know that the player who led the field in strokes gained approach finished 1st, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 1st in the last five years. In case you’re wondering, those players were: Tiger Woods, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, and Jordan Spieth.

Finally, since this post is reserved for the top-25 according to our fair value rankings, it is less about who to buy and who to fade and more about highlighting some of the favorites. Check out Part 2 which will cover the rest of the board.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Fair Value Rankings and see who looks like they could outperform their IPO pricing: 

Jon Rahm (T9 in 2019)

We can’t know exactly how different Augusta National will play until Thursday, but most analysts agree that it will be more difficult than years past. They also agree that Jon Rahm thrives in tough conditions. His two best performances last season came at the two hardest venues: The Memorial (+212% ROI) and the BMW Championship (+166%) where he outscored the next closest player by 5 strokes on the weekend. With rain forecasted for all four days Rahm and his fiery demeanor may be exactly what it takes to take home the green jacket.

Xander Schauffele (T2 in 2019)

You’d be crazy not to invest in Xander Schauffele, aka the most consistent player on Jock MKT. Despite his lowest IPO being $5.00 (his average price is $6.89), Schauffele has only returned worse than -10% ROI twice. Somehow, he is equally consistent in majors. His top-10 rate is 54% (7 for 13) and he hasn’t missed the cut in his last 10 major starts. Not a lot can go wrong with this investment.

Rory Mcilroy (T21 in 2019)

At $8.44, a top 14 finish means positive returns from Rory. His five top-10 finishes in the last six Masters make that a great bet. It gets even better when you consider that his worst finish since 2011 is T40 and he has the longest made-cut streak on tour (22) which limits your downside. Not that anyone needs another reason to root for him, but, with a win, he will join Tiger Woods as the only active player holding the career grand slam. It feels like only a matter of time.

Justin Thomas (T12 in 2019)

As we now know, Augusta National should suit the king of strokes gained approach very well. Beginning in 2017, Thomas has crept up the end of season rankings in that metric finishing 6th, 4th, 2nd, and finally 1st in 2020. His results at the Masters follow a similar trend. In four appearances Thomas has finished T39, T22, T17, and most recently, T12. If he can manage to gain at least one stroke putting, as he did at the U.S. Open (T8) and the Zozo Championship (T2), expect to see Thomas at the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.

Dustin Johnson (T2 in 2019)

Always the Bridesmaid, never the bride: Dustin Johnson accomplished the career runner-up slam last season thanks to second place finishes in the 2019 Masters and 2020 PGA Championship. After a tough first round in Houston, DJ outscored the field by two strokes in the next three rounds on his way to a T2 finish. There is virtually no price too high for the world #1 right now. An investment in DJ doubled your money (at least) in 6 of his last 7 starts with the only outlier being the easiest T6 finish you’ll ever see at a U.S. Open (where he returned +40%). With 4 top-10s in his last 4 starts at Augusta and 2nd place ranks in both strokes gained approach and driving distance, Johnson is a clear favorite to win his 2nd major.

Bryson Dechambeau (T29 in 2019)

Bryson is Vegas’ pick to win at Augusta, but if you look at his Masters history, that is an insane thought. In 12 rounds, Dechambeau has broken 70 just once, he does not have a top-20 finish, and he ranks dead last in strokes gained putting. Fortunately (or not), there is a lot more to consider. In the young 2021 season, he ranks first in strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained tee to green, driving distance, and references by commentators (probably). His Jock MKT performance in majors is also stellar featuring returns of +129% and +296% at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open respectively. The stats listed above paint Bryson as a volatile pick this week, and with worse than -70% ROI in a quarter of his appearances, when is he not?

Quick Hits:

  • Patrick Cantlay (T9 in 2019) is fresh off a victory at the Zozo Championship and tied Webb Simpson, and Tony Finau for the best round of 2019 with a 64.
  • Tyrell Hatton (T56 in 2019) was 4th in SG: Approach in 2020 and has two top-10s in four events this year.
  • Patrick Reed (T36 in 2019) is the 2018 Masters champion and looked like he was on his way to a second major title before a disappointing Saturday at Winged Foot. His worst finish this year is T14. 

Collin Morikawa (Debut)

The last player to win in their Masters debut was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. The last player to win the PGA Championship in their debut was Collin Morikawa, when he led the field in strokes gained putting and returned +213% to his investors. Morikawa finished 2nd (after Justin Thomas) in strokes gained approach in 2020 so he should fare well at Augusta. That is, if he can hold it together putting. Morikawa ranked 128th in strokes gained putting for 2020 and at the CJ Cup (where multiple players compared the greens to Augusta’s) he was 55th out of 77 players. 

Tiger Woods (1st in 2019)

Anybody reading this right now has probably heard at least 11 ways in which this is “a Masters unlike any other,” and I have one more. You should fade Tiger Woods. Hey! Didn’t they say that last year? Okay, good point. You should fade Tiger Woods and, come Sunday, you will be happy you did. Woods has never IPOd for less than $5.00 in a PGA Market and he has yet to generate positive returns. Moreover, Tiger missed the cut by four strokes at Winged Foot and he ranked 70th out of 77 players in strokes gained approach at the Zozo Championship. He led the field in that category at Augusta in 2019. I hope I’m wrong, but either way there are more reliable ways to turn a profit this week.

Brooks Koepka (T2 in 2019)

Last week I questioned Koepka’s ability to keep it together on the weekend. Then he shot 65, 65 to secure a T5 finish and +108% ROI for his investors at the Houston Open. Now that my one doubt is out of the way, I can go back to predicting a good finish for Koepka with the same nonchalance that he plays with. After all, he has played in 25 majors and has 18 top-25 finishes. Also, while top players like Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm, and Rory Mcilroy have struggled to get it done in recent majors, Brooks has four wins since 2017, which may make him the most attractive investment of all. 

Quick Hits:

  • Hideki Matsuyama (T32 in 2019) has four top-25 finishes in his Masters career, ranked 5th in SG: Approach for 2020, and won the weekend at the Houston Open, shooting 66, 63. 
  • Ian Poulter (T12 in 2019) has three top-10s in his Masters career and hasn’t missed the cut in 14 starts. He also snuck in a T12 finish at the CJ Cup where he was 8th in SG: Putting.
  • Matthew Wolff (Debut) has never finished worse than T4 at a major, returning a combined +514.3%, and has two runner-up finishes in four events this season.

And remember to check out Part 2 which covers the rest of the board!

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