2024 Masters Preview

7 Minute Read


Apr 8, 2024

Splash Sports

Splash Sports

Splash Sports

2024 Masters Preview: Correlated Courses, Tiers Suggestions, and OAD Picks

As spring blossoms, the Masters Tournament tees off at Augusta National Golf Club, a lush haven where golf legends are forged.

The Masters isn't just a tournament; it's a pilgrimage of the golfing elite, where only 89 chosen contenders have earned their shot at the prestigious green jacket.

Augusta National, shrouded in mystery yet revered by all, unveils its daunting challenges—a par 72 masterpiece stretched to a formidable 7,555 yards. Towering drives get all of the attention but past champions have proven this to be a second-shot course. 

Small landing zones on undulating greens put a demand on course management and pinpoint accuracy, while speedy putting surfaces add another layer of complexity.

The emphasis on course management can not be overstated as the swirling winds and tough course setup consistently bait golfers into being aggressive while the optimal path is often a more conservative route. It’s the reason why so many past champs continually flash for a round or two, even if their baseline skills have deteriorated over the years. Knowing when to attack and when to stray away from pin-hunting is half the battle here at Augusta National. 

Looking at the overall scoring environment, it often feels like birdies and eagles are pouring in from all over the place but it’s actually one of the toughest tests they face all year. It’s true that eagle rates are higher than Tour average here but with an 18.1 percent birdie-or-better rate this would rank fifth lowest among the 19 courses they’ve played so far this season and the 22.7 percent long-term bogey or worse rate would be the toughest. 

For all of the turf nerds out there, we’ll see ryegrass overseed from tee-to-green with bentgrass greens that are incredibly undulated and typically prepared at the fastest speeds they see all year. 


Jordan Spieth in 2023: “The par-5s in general, those are where you're really looking to score because they normally give you a few other opportunities with a couple pins each day on some other holes, but then they'll even take some wedge holes and not allow you to really have a good birdie look. You really just look for the par-5s and you're really trying to play them 3-under or better if you can.” 

Patrick Cantlay in 2021: “It's the most undulated, in general, fastest greens we play all year. It feels easier for me to make putts when it's like that, and I look forward to that every time I come here.”

Jason Day in 2021: “I know it's very much a second-shot golf course. I've played with countless older generation players and younger generation players, and you can definitely tell that the more you play here, the better your course management gets around this golf course…you don't need to be offensive, you need to be more defensive, and it just goes against the way that the younger generation plays the game of golf now.” 

Adam Scott in 2020: “I've played some Masters when it's been quite cool and damp. Really, the biggest problem for us as players if it's wet, obviously we're prepared and we've played in tough conditions, but a golf course that requires precision like this one does, especially hitting into the greens, if there's mud on the ball, this is very, very difficult because you lose control of the ball flight. And when you have very small targets at times to hit into, and you don't know where the ball may go, it's very hard.” 

Justin Thomas in 2019: “I work on my lag putting a decent bit because there's going to be times maybe you can't get close to a pin or you get out of position, you have to hit it to the fat of the green and you have 60-footers where you need to lag it up there and try to 2-putt. For me, that's what I'm spending the majority of my time doing, trying to hit putts on different speeds and different lines so that I can get comfortable.” 

Quote Summary: Spieth brings up the importance of capitalizing on the par 5s. That is often true at a par-72 layout but even more crucial at a course like Augusta National where there are really only two other holes that sport a birdie rate over 15 percent (par-4 third and par-3 16th). 

The others talk about the challenges of reaching the green, the difficulty of landing it closer to pins, and the importance of lag putting. 

Correlated Courses

There are a few ways to research correlated courses and what I like to do is analyze long-term stats in terms of golfers that overperform or underperform at particular courses. I look at the entire field of past contenders, not just past winners since that can be so noisy due to sample sizes. 

When running my analysis, the following five courses spit out as the highest correlation to success at Augusta National: 

Torrey Pines

Muirfield Village

TPC Scottsdale

TPC Southwind

Riviera CC

The themes that stand out here are fast greens and the risk-reward nature of the courses. Course management becomes very important at all of them.  

The five names that show the largest boost over their baseline on these courses are Will Zalatoris, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, and Luke List


The start of this week’s event is not looking great with thunderstorms forecasted for Thursday. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this. We wait all year for the Masters to roll around and then Mother Nature decides to poke her head into the main narrative. Augusta National and their crew are always up for the task though as they are well-protected by the trees and have SubAir systems at their disposal to help quickly drain the moisture. 

Thursday (Round 1): A 90 percent chance of storms with a high of 76 degrees. Winds at 14 to 40 MPH. 

Friday (Round 2): Sunny with a high of 70 degrees. Winds at 14 to 36 MPH. 

Saturday (Round 3): Sunny with a high of 73 degrees. Winds at 7 to 22 MPH. 

Sunday (Round 4): Partly Sunny with a high of 81 degrees. Winds at 4 to 20 MPH. 

It’s still early in the week so hopefully we can see the forecast shift a bit to avoid a full washout on Thursday. Overall, we are looking at a wet start to the week but the course should be fiery by the time the final round rolls around. 


In this section, I am going to open the Splash Sports app and give my initial reactions to seeing each tier for the first time.

Tier 1: Scottie Scheffler will be the overwhelmingly popular pick here while the minority will flock to Xander Schauffele, Ludvig Aberg, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm. The latter may be my favorite if avoiding Scheffler’s high ownership. Rahm has the baseline tools, the recent form, and course history. He’s also one scroll down on the app which may even drop his rostership another notch or two. 

Tier 2: I see this one being a much tighter concentration as you have the form darling (Wyndham Clark), the course horse (Jordan Spieth), and the combination of the two (Hideki Matsuyama).  I would probably stick to that trio but Sahith Theegala, Matt Fitzpatrick, and Tommy Fleetwood offer plenty of appeal, especially on a windy week. 

Tier 3: Justin Thomas is the Vegas pick here but will people really want to click him after seeing him split with Bones after missing the cut in two of his last four starts with a T-64 in the other? Bryson DeChambeau will always have his fans but he’s been well below average at Augusta National ever since his strong debut. That leaves this tier pretty wide open with Tony Finau and Cameron Young being the first two names I’d dig into first. 

Tier 4: My gut tells me Dustin Johnson will be the chalk in this tier so you’ll need to decide whether you want to ride with the pack or try to get contrarian with a name like Harris English, Jason Day, or J.T. Poston who have all shown enough upside over the last six months. 

Tier 5: This is an exciting group of golfers because you have out-of-form Kim and Im who bring a ton of upside to the table but haven’t shown it recently. Then you have a fan favorite in Min Woo Lee as well as Matthieu Pavon who won at a correlated Torrey Pines a few months ago. Adrian Meronk has been steady in 2024 on the DP World Tour and the LIV circuit. Keegan Bradley and Nick Taylor bring enough volatility to the table to show some big-finish upside and Taylor Moore is even flashing some form recently. Tier 5 is very wide open. 

Tier 6: This is where Tiger fans get to show their love but in reality we should expect a large percentage of gamers to click on Brooks Koepka or Will Zalatoris here. Cameron Smith and past champs Patrick Reed or Sergio Garcia would be the others on my radar here. 

I hope these initial gut reactions will help you narrow down your search. 

One & Done Strategy

For gamers who are trotting along in their Splash Sports One & Done contests, the first major brings plenty of game theory options to the table.

With LIV golfers playing in a max of four events on the PGA Tour schedule, the majors present the best (only) chance to utilize them in the OAD format. 

Do you follow the “optimal” path and use an elite LIV golfer this week in order to keep some bigger names in your bank of available players throughout the season? Or do you zig while others are zagging to potentially get a big-named PGA Tour star at lower rostership? 

If you are taking the LIV route then golfers with a strong history at Augusta National over the last five editions include Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith, and Patrick Reed. Smith is coming off an illness-related WD at LIV Miami while Reed hasn’t won a worldwide event since the 2021 Farmers. That leaves defending champ Rahm as my preferred LIV target. 

Brooks Koepka would certainly be another fine LIV option given he tends to elevate his game whenever a major championship rolls around. He has boom-or-bust recent results at Augusta National with a pair of runner-up finishes and a T-7 finish to go along with a pair of missed cuts, over his last five tries. 

If you’re going the contrarian route and fading the LIV crew then Scottie Scheffler would be the easy pick, if you still have him. He’s likely been used by a large majority of your league as well but adds to his appeal. 

Last but not least, my other strong consideration would be Xander Schauffele who arrives with top-5 finishes in three of his last four starts. He’s also landed top-10 finishes in three of his last five tries at the Masters. 

Good luck in all your contests this week and let’s hope Mother Nature cooperates. 

If you’re looking for something to play in, come join the Sportico x Splash $100K Masters Tiers contest. Pick one golfer from all six tiers and have a chance to be one of 600 winners who will receive a share of $100,000 in guaranteed cash prizes.

About the author

Josh Culp is a seasoned fantasy golf analyst with over a decade of experience in the field. His passion for statistics helps navigate the complexities of fantasy golf while separating the signal from the noise. Formerly on Rotoworld, NBC Sports, and Golf Channel, you can follow him @futureoffantasy on X (formerly known as Twitter).