Is everyone as fired up as I am? Another Major week has descended upon us as the best golfers in the world take their talents to Royal Birkdale for the Open Championship. Before delving into the Open, I will quickly recap what was a very successful John Deere Classic. Of the 15 players recommended in this space, 11 made the cut, including choosing the winner, Bryson DeChambeau, 3 others in the top 5, 1 other in the top 10 and 3 more in the top 25. I hope you all made some good money last week to build your bankrolls for this exciting week.
On to the star of the week — the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Royal Birkdale is a par 70 course measuring about 7,200 yards with extremely narrow fairways. This is the 10th time that the Open has been hosted at this venue, with the most recent iteration occurring in 2008, which tournament was won by Padraig Harrington, with Ian Poulter finishing in 2nd and Henrik Stenson finishing in a tie for 3rd (with Greg Norman). Wind is always a factor on links courses, so some of the stats that I have looked at are strokes gained in windy conditions, driving accuracy, scrambling and bogey avoidance. Let’s see what we come up with.
If you have any questions – don’t hesitate to hit me up on Twitter at @AssemblyNeil.
Jordan Spieth ($11,600 DraftKings/$10,100 FanDuel) – Spieth is playing good ball, having won in his last start. And while he is not always the most accurate off the tee, I feel like he will hit less than driver on a lot of holes and this fault will be negated. What I am most digging about Spieth is his bogey avoidance, as he ranks 6th in the field in that stat. On top of all that, it just seems that Spieth is due to have a great Open Championship. He will be in many of my lineups.
Jon Rahm ($11,400 DraftKings/$10,000 FanDuel) – I absolutely love Jon Rahm’s game, and even though he is priced higher than more established players and major champions like Rory McIlroy or Jason Day, I will not be shying away. Rahm played two tune-up events on links courses, and finished in a tie for 10th at the French Open and blew the field away in the Irish Open. This man has confidence and I feel like he will put on a show. I will come along for the ride.
Upper Middle Class
Tommy Fleetwood ($9,800 DraftKings/$8,100 FanDuel) – Fleetwood is a bit of an enigma as he can run very hot and cold. But when this man is on, he is as good as anyone in the field. Fleetwood’s form is on point as his results are exactly the same as Jon Rahm’s but in reverse order as he won the French Open and finished in a tie for 10th at the Irish open. Fleetwood’s two previous tournaments were top 10s as well including a 4th place finish at the US Open. As if that were not enough, Fleetwood grew up near Royal Birkdale and played this course growing up. He may be high owned, but I will not shy away.
Rickie Fowler ($9,200 DraftKings/$9,600 FanDuel) – Rickie is really popular with many of the touts, but there is a reason for that as it is hard to justify not playing him at this price on DraftKings. Fowler is in the top 10 in the field in ball striking, bogey avoidance, strokes gained putting and scrambling. On top of that, he is in good form with 4 top 10s in his last 5 starts. Fowler has two top 10s in his last 6 Open appearances. This seems like a week that he will break out.
Adam Scott ($8,500 DraftKings/$8,600 FanDuel) – Scott loves the Open Championship as he has made an impressive 7 straight cuts and has finished in the top 10 4 of the last 5 years. His putting is always an adventure, but Scott is an excellent striker of the ball, which should serve him well on this course. In addition, Scott is in pretty good form, with top 10s in 2 of his last 5 starts worldwide. I see no reason to think that Scott’s impressive run at the Open will end.
Louis Oosthuizen ($8,300 DraftKings/$7,800 FanDuel) – Oosty is another guy who just salivates when the links tournaments show up on his calendar. While Oosthuizen missed the cut of the Open last year, he finished runner-up the year previous and, of course, was this tournament’s winner in 2010. Oosty has not played much recently, but when he has played, his form has been good, with 23rd, 18th and 2nd place finishes in his last 3 tournaments. I am excited to play Oosthuizen this week.
Bang for your Buck
Marc Leishman ($7,800 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel) – Leishman is severely mispriced on FanDuel and should make his way into many of your lineups on that site. Don’t shy away from him on DraftKings either, as Leishman is another guy who is both excellent at the Open and in good recent form. At the Open, Leishman has 2 top 5 finishes in his last 3 trips. And recently, Leishman has made 6 consecutive cuts, with 4 of those finishes in the top 20. Leishman is one of a few guys in the field who is solid across the board in ball striking, putting, bogey avoidance and scrambling. I like him for a solid week.
Zach Johnson ($7,600 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) – The Open is one of the major championships where past success portends future success. You can see that I have been playing this angle somewhat heavily and I will continue to do so with Zach Johnson. ZJ might be the player who excels the most at the Open Championship as he has made 10 straight cuts at this event (including at Birkdale in 2008). Among those 10 cuts made are one win, two more top 10s and 3 more top 20s at the Open. Johnson is coming off of a stellar week at the John Deere Classic and I think his form will hold across the pond.
Brandt Snedeker ($6,800 DraftKings/$7,100 FanDuel) – Snedeker is a rock solid player who has 4 made cuts among his last 5 appearances at the Open, including 3 top 25 finishes. Snedeker is better than 80% of the field in putting, bogey avoidance and scrambling. As mentioned, I believe that those stats will be keys again this week. I like Snedeker to easily exceed value.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($6,700 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) – Cabrera-Bello is another guy in excellent form as he won the Scottish Open and has two other top 5s on his resume in his last 7 events – including an impressive 4th place finish at the Players Championship. And while his history at the Open is not outstanding, the Spaniard has 3 made cuts in his last 4 starts, with top 40 finishes all 3 times. I think he plays even better this year.
OTHERS OF NOTE:
I will throw out a few others that I will be playing this week – focusing on some high risk/high reward options:
Andy Fox ($6,600 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) has 3 straight top 10 finishes on links courses. He will definitely be making his way into some lineups, especially on FanDuel
Bryson DeChambeau ($6,700 DraftKings/$5,400 FanDuel) is a talented guy on a roll. I like to keep riding momentum like this. He was also an accomplished links course player as a junior in Walker Cup.
Charles Howell III ($6,600 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) does not traditionally play well at the Open, but he has played well since returning from injury and he is so cheap that I will have to throw him in some lineups.
Andrew Dodt ($6,300 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel) has consecutive top 20s at links course events. He will go extremely low owned and is worth a dart throw at that price.
Harry Ellis ($6,100 DraftKings/$4,500 FanDuel) is the reigning British Amateur Champion and is the youngest ever English Amateur Champion, having won at age 16 in 2012. He grew up on links courses and is an excellent dark horse play.
Good luck to all of you this week!