What’s goin’ on fantasy golf fans?! The Open Championship has arrived! Finally after what seemed like a long stretch of terrible PGA fields, we have a slate we can all drool over.
The 2017 Open Championship will be played at Royal Birkdale in Southport England. The course is a 7,100 yard Par 70, whose main defence is wind. Just off the coast of the Irish Sea, the winds could wreak havoc on Royal Birkdale. Looking at the weather now, a delay could be in the cards on Friday AM, with rain and wind gusts over 30 mph. Keeping a close eye on the weather will be very important when making lineup decisions. It is wise to build tee time wave lineups, just incase one group of tee times gets hammered compared to the other.
Royal Birkdale is not a bomber’s paradise. Accuracy will be crucial off the tee and to avoid the treacherous bunkers that are littered throughout the property. Phil Mickelson has stated he will likely leave the driver at home this week, hitting 3-wood off the tee as his longest club. That shows how little players will be relying on distance. The winning score at Royal Birkdale during the 2008 Open was +3, by Padraig Harrington. The wind was brutal back in 2008 and proves how difficult this course can get when the winds are howling. With that being said, my key stats this week will be Strokes Gained Approach, Driving Distance, Bogey Avoidance, Scrambling and Par 4 Scoring Average.
Alright, let’s get to the picks!
My favorite golfers for the week – for Cash and GPP contests.
Sergio Garcia – $10,600
Sergio got the monkey off his back by winning the Masters. Now he can head into his best major feeling less pressure than ever. Garcia has been a monster at Open Championships in the past, including three straight top six finishes. Garcia has continue his steady play since Augusta and is a clear top option to win this week. He has all the tools to succeed at Royal Birkdale if the wind gets out of control. Garcia is the safest player on the board to turn in a top 15 finish, rain or shine.
Hideki Matsuyama – $9,500
If you are going to compile a list of best players to have not yet won a major, Hideki Matsuyama’s name would have to be near the top. The World No. 2 golfer is lined up for another top finish at a major. He has only played once since this T2 at the U.S. Open, but that result was a T14 at the Irish Open, not too shabby. Matsuyama is one of the purest ball strikers in the world and shouldn’t have any issue navigating Royal Birkdale even in the harshest conditions.
Rickie Fowler – $9,200
I know present you, this week’s chalk. There is no way in hell Rickie Fowler should be priced $9,200. The prices did come out before last week’s Scottish Open, where he finished T9, but come on. Fowler will be the highest owned golfer this week and he is being pegged around the industry as the one who is going to win. Fowler has came close to winning the Open in 2014, and if there were every a year to finally break through, this would be it. He is having a career season and entering this week in great form. Load up on your Fowler shares – you’ll need to own over 40% of him if you want to be overweight.
Paul Casey – $8,100
Paul Casey is becoming known as a golfer who will always linger around the top of the leaderboard but doesn’t quite have what it takes to win. True, and fair, but that is certainly not a reason to pass on him at $8,100. Casey has taken some time off since the Travelers, where he finished T5. I think his lack of play recently will keep his ownership in check, but his price tag is still very tempting. In his last 12 rounds, Casey ranks 13th in the field in SG:APP and 14th in Fairways Gained. He has the off the tee game and approach game that will put him in the hunt once again on Sunday.
Francesco Molinari – $7,300
So Royal Birkdale will be an accuracy course? Time to fire up Molinari. He ranks 6th in the field in driving accuracy and 2nd in SG:APP on the season. Molinari has been popping up on leaderboards often this year. He has gained strokes on the field in 13 of 15 events so far. Moli has hung around in Open Championships in the past, showing he can battle it out with the World’s best on links courses. Expect Molinari to avoid the trouble, avoid the nasty green side bunkers and put himself in the mix at a very reasonable $7,300,
Kyle Stanley – $6,600
The year of Kyle Stanley continues. Even after his first win in years and a slow start at the John Deere Classic, he managed to battle back and make another cut. His putter, like normal, let him down last week. He still gained 4.5 strokes tee to green last week despite his T55 finish. In his last 12 rounds, Stanley leads the field in fairways gained – showing just how deadly accurate he is off the tee. Stanley will always pop out on the stats page and I will continue to roster his elite ball striking and streaky putter until he completely loses it.
The Open Championship Research Spreadsheet
Note that this spreadsheet is FREE each week for Pro Members. If you are not a Pro Member, use code “ERIC” for 15% off:
Identifying the chalk, and going elsewhere.
Justin Rose – $10,300
Out of all the golfers priced above $10K, only Jason Day has fewer tags on FanShareSports than Justin Rose in that range. The price is definitely going to scare people off of Rose this week, as they can likely find another $300 to pay up for Sergio Garcia. Rose was the low amatuer at Royal Birkdale back in 1998, a very long time ago but course history nonetheless. He was T4 at the Irish Open two weeks ago, so things are shaping up for Rose to fly under the radar like we use to see and surprise us all come Sunday.
Thomas Pieters – $8,400
What happen to everyone’s favorite player from earlier this year? The DFS world was in love with Pieters after his Masters performance, but after a disappointing U.S. Open it seems as though the love has worn off. Pieters only has six tags on FanShareSports, and is surrounded by a bunch of other popular plays. Yes, Pieters is know to be a bomber and this course shouldn’t suit his style of game. But perhaps we see his great approach game surface again that put him near the top of the leaderboard at Augusta.
Branden Grace – $8,000
Louis O, Paul Casey, Marc Leishman and Alex Noren are all golfers priced around Branden Grace that are getting more love on FanShareSports. Grace has the 30th most tags this week, which is shocking given his affordable price and his ability to hang with the big boys in these big events. In his last 12 rounds, he ranks 18th in SG:T2G in the field and 38th in strokes gained on Par 4s. Grace makes for the perfect pivot option in a crowded price range and is a golfer who, should they contend, could win someone a lot of money.
Matthew Fitzpatrick – $7,400
The low $7K range is loaded with popular options, and is a good spot to start fading the chalk in GPPs. Molinari, Kuchar and Poulter are all golfers gaining a ton of traction on FanShareSports, where Matthew Fitzpatrick is barely getting noticed. Fitzpatrick has been having an up and down season, with his most recent result being a missed cut at the Scottish Open last week. In his past 12 rounds in extremely windy conditions, Fitzpatrick ranks 40th in SG:Total in the field.
Pat Perez – $6,900
Pat Perez has been MIA since the U.S. Open where he missed the cut. He now comes into the Open at $6,900 and is being overshadowed by a lot of other golfers. There was a time this season where Perez was an automatic start he was playing so well. He has one of the best short games in this field that should help him scramble well and avoid the big numbers. If you don’t think Stricker or Sullivan is the play in this price range, Perez sure seems like someone who could pop up out of no where.
Bad course fit? Highly owned for the wrong reason? Players I will have no shares of.
Jason Day – $10,000
Something is very wrong with Jason Day this year and I am not willing to risk the chance he might find it this week at Royal Birkdale. Day has been awful off the tee this year, ranking 97th in driving accuracy. He has missed his last two cuts and hasn’t played since the Travelers. There are too many other options in at the top of this board to consider Day if you are only building a handful of lineups.
Tommy Fleetwood – $9,800
I was all in on Tommy Fleetwood at the U.S. Open and became huge fan. He was a joy to watch and has the approach game to put him with the World’s best. But $9,800 is way too much for my liking. The narrative this week is that Royal Birkdale is Fleetwood’s home course so he should for sure be comfortable at this course. But, we have seen it many times in the past. Home courses can add a lot additional pressure and force the golfer to trunk slam on Friday.
Phil Mickelson – $8,700
I mentioned earlier how Mickelson will not be putting a driver into his bag this week because of how important accuracy is. The thing is, Phil is still wild with this 3 wood. I cannot put stock into Phil if the most important aspect of the tournament is accuracy off the tee. I was also expecting to see a little bit lower of a price tag that $8,700. I am finding it way too easy to find some saving elsewhere and pay up for Fowler instead.
So, you got burned?
Recently got screwed by a missed cut or a poor performance? Looks like a good time to jump back on.
Dustin Johnson – $12,000
Dustin has been struggling a bit lately with back to back missed cuts entering the Open. Combine that with his $12,000 price tag, and enough people will stay off of him to keep his ownership reasonable. DJ is DJ and we all know he can win any given week. I do not anticipate his ownership going over 15% which means he could be the steal of the week. DJ will be just fine.
Rory McIlroy – $11,000
What to do with Rory this week could actually be the million dollar question. He has been very bad lately, missing three of his last four cuts. At the U.S. Open, he showed his complete inability to hit the ball straight and was finding the fescue all over the course. He has since missed two cuts at the Irish and Scottish Opens, two events you’d think he be able to bounce back at. If you are going to construct 20-50 lineups, I think you have to have about 10-15% Rory just incase he does put it all together. Taking the driver out of his hands this week could be the best thing Royal Birkdale can do for him.
Brendan Steele – $6,800
Three weeks ago at the Qucken Loans National as the last time we saw Brendan Steele. He was the chalk that week and treated everyone with a lovely missed cut. He is now priced at $6,800 and only has eight tags on FanShareSports. His ball striking ability should be able to help him get around Royal Birkdale without too many issues. Steele is also one of the best drivers of the ball in the field, in terms of both accuracy and distance. Steele is a sneaky pick to bounce back nicely while everyone has moved on to greener grass.
Thanks for reading The Open Championship preview article! You can follow me on Twitter @EPattersonFS for more golf and betting talk! Also, make sure you check out @FanShareSports. They track and curate content produced across the DFS Golf industry, and highlight which players are being tagged or talked about the most, translating to an excellent ownership guide.
Good luck this week everybody!!