Masters fantasy golf

One & Done: Masters Tournament

Fantasy Outlook: Masters Tournament

The career grand slam never should be accepted as a given, yet there is a sense that it’s only a matter of time before Rory McIlroy converts on the final leg at the Masters. Even urgency isn’t yet a narrative despite this week’s attempt being his fifth since winning the 2014 Open Championship. He’s only 29 years of age.

Of course, in the context of hoisting the hardware in all four, clutching the last piece is hardest. There’s a singular target and everyone knows it. Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Raymond Floyd and Lee Trevino each came up one major short of the achievement. Among active players, you (and they) don’t need a reminder that Jordan Spieth (PGA Championship) and Phil Mickelson (U.S. Open) also are one major shy.

Only Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have accomplished what McIlroy is up first this year to attempt.

The vibe that McIlroy will join golf’s most impressive club is in no small way attributed to his adaptation to worldwide scheduling in 2019. He’s streamlined and simplified. He wants the green jacket so badly and without any additional delay that he’s cleared the lane ahead. A Master of his own domain, you might say. And it’s no contest. It’s working.

Since opening the calendar year with a T4 at Kapalua, McIlroy has gone T5-T4-2nd-T6-Win-T9, entirely on the PGA TOUR. So, the form is tip-top. And in the last four Masters, he’s recorded a 4th-T10-T7-T5 run, so it’s not like he’s a long shot as it concerns the tournament proper.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s time to ride McIlroy into the history books. If I didn’t burn him at Bay Hill, I wouldn’t hesitate. He’s addressed the potential pressure of the career grand slam with exactly the kind of professionalism that the challenge requires.

Reviewing other options, when it comes to the Masters, it’s all about the chalk for the course. While McIlroy prevailed at THE PLAYERS Championship, this week’s process essentially is the opposite of the same for TPC Sawgrass where we search on the fringe for our selection to save on talent. Whereas the Stadium Course always wins, there is zero concern about leaning on a notable who has played well at Augusta National Golf Club before. If you’re new to the tournament, come to learn that this is precisely the point of the experience, which is rewarded over time. They don’t hand out degrees, but it’s called the Masters for a reason.

Jordan Spieth is a modern-day machine at Augusta National, and his expectation to perform is high because of his success. For him to navigate to the top of your list, you need to ignore the cobwebs and crickets of his 2018-19 season. However, I can’t endorse that philosophy. Continue to wait him out. If he has the goods, he’ll deliver, and then he will again later. As crazy as it sounds, he’s a trap in our format this week. Consider again in 2020.

Then there’s Woods for whom the Masters easily is his best remaining slot on the schedule. He would have been my pick at Bay Hill, but his early withdrawal compelled me to pivot to McIlroy. There isn’t anything that Woods hasn’t done that he’s set out to do, so his pursuit of major victory No. 15 just happens to remain one of his goals. Regardless of your position, he’s an easy pick. (As if you needed me to support that!)

Justin Rose is the last big stick on the board who captures my attention to the degree of recommending him as strongly as McIlroy and Woods. No one is more comfortable with who he is and he’s checked off every box during his career. While a Patrick Reed-to-McIlroy fitting of the green jacket conjures provocative imagery, it’d make as much sense to watch the Englishman slide his arms into the sleeves.

If you’re considering another, please refer to my Power Rankings for general confidence and crosscheck with Future Possibilities below. Because that preview encompasses the entire field of 87, it should be easier than usual to discern my opinion for everyone. That said, because decisions can vary if you’re pacing or chasing, front-runners should feel confident with Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey and Louis Oosthuizen as well. If you want to gain ground and avert the stymie, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Hideki Matsuyama are relatively strong angles for various reasons.

While positioned in my Power Rankings, the likes of Reed, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia and Jason Day all make more sense as complements in roster formats. If still available to you in PGA TOUR Fantasy One & Done or your earnings-based format, holster for another event.

With so many commodities, two-man gamers should employ the 1-1a formula. Being with the McIlroy-Woods ticket and bathe in other possibilities.

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