The fourth and final major of the season is here. For The 2019 Open Championship, the best players in the world will be heading to Royal Portrush Golf Club (par 71, 7,344 yards), located in Portrush, Ireland. This will only be the second time that this course has held the major, with the last being 67 years ago in 1951. Since then, we have seen events like The Senior British Open and Irish Open (2012) take place at Royal Portrush, but never a PGA event. Also, the course has seen some renovations over the last few years in preparation for this major, making previous results hard to trust.
Royal Portrush is your classic links style course. It is a beautiful sight to look at on the coasts of Ireland and we should be in store for another awesome major. One of the main things I noticed about this course is how wide the fairways are. The fairways at most Open Championships tend to be on the narrow side, but they are very wide and friendly at Royal Portrush, with only a few fairway bunkers in play on most holes. This should give longer hitters an advantage, but only if they can stay in control, with the third cut of rough being a very thick mix of fescue and flowers.
I will be slightly factoring driving distance and SG OTT into my model, but SGT2G and ball striking should be our primary focuses. The greens are mostly made of bent grass and as they usually tend to be at links style courses, they are large in size. As for the holes to focus on, I think scoring on the par fours will be most crucial, specifically on par fours that fall in between 400-450 yards, with six of the 11 par fours at Royal Portrush being in that range.
Overall, most of the holes at this track appear to be very scoreable and if the weather doesn’t get out of control, we could see a very low winning number. But, that is the main issue this week and is always the biggest problem at Open Championships. The weather tends to be very unpredictable overseas and I think it is best to follow the weather report for Portrush all the way up until the 1:35 AM roster lock on Thursday morning, to see if either the AM or PM tee time waves have a clear advantage. Finally, as I always like to do with major events, I think targeting golfers who have strong major pedigree is essential for success. @Hunta512.
Brooks Koepka: (11,400)
It feels like Déjà vu to The U.S. Open this week when it comes to Koepka. Many chose to side with Dustin Johnson as the best high end play for that major, leaving Koepka vastly under owned (7.5% in main GPP, finished runner up), and we should see a similar result this week, with everyone gravitating towards Rory McIlroy in his homeland. Yes, McIlroy is an extremely appealing play with his experience here (broke the course record with a 61 when he was 15 years old), but Koepka, still the #1 ranked player in the world, that could end up coming with half the ownership and also has many things in his favor. First off, Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliot, is a member at Royal Portrush. He is going help his four time major winner with every decision this week and the already super confident Koepka should feel like he could run away with this tournament.
Yes, he may have a pair of lackluster performances in his last two starts (T57 at The Travelers and T65 at The 3M Open), but this is just another factor that is playing into our favor. It will automatically make some DFS players look elsewhere and if you have been watching closely throughout his career, seeing results like this literally mean nothing when it comes to Koepka. He simply only cares about the majors and has made this clear to the media. Just this week, he stated that he only practices before major events and it has shown.
He has won three of his last six majors and has finished 2nd, 1st, and 2nd just this season. Furthermore, Koepka has only missed two major cuts in 23 career starts and has a tremendous 11 top tens on his resume, two in which of have come in his last three Open Championships. His win equity is second to none every time he tees it up in a major (10/1 via Bovada) and a potentially low owned Koepka is just something I can’t pass up on.
Tiger Woods: (10,200)
Woods hasn’t teed it up since The U.S. Open, but I am expecting a bang from him at this year’s final major. He was right in the thick of things to win last’s years Open Championship (T6) and has finished T2, 1st, MC, and T21st in majors since. He is 18/20 in this major, with ten top tens and as for recent form, Woods has only missed one cut in his last 16 starts.
His tee to green game has been top notch (11th in SGT2G and 9th in SG APP in L24 rounds) and The GOAT has been racking up the birdies (5th in BOB%), while also avoiding large numbers. (12th in bogeys avoided) No matter the weather, Royal Portrush sets up well for Tiger and he should carry a sub ten percent ownership in GPPs.
Xander Schauffele: (9,500)
The wins have yet to come, but Schauffele is also a major horse like Koepka. He finished T2 at last year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie and is 9/10 in major events for his career. He has recorded five top tens in those ten starts and four of them have come in his last six major appearances. He has an excellent game from top to bottom (24th in SGT2G, 5th in SG OTT, 15th in BS, and 14th in BOB% in L24 rounds) and as we saw at last year’s Open Championship, Schauffele can handle any type of conditions.
As I just said above, the major titles have yet to come, but they are coming soon for this clutch player and I am absolutely expecting Schauffele to be contention come Sunday. (25/1 via Bovada)
Patrick Cantlay: (9,000)
Cantlay at over $10,000 isn’t something I can endorse (last three events), but at $9,000, he is an excellent value that needs to be considered in all formats. He has been playing the best golf of his career this season, making 13/15 cuts and carding eight top ten finishes, which is tied for the 3rd most on Tour this year. He has made it to the weekend in eight of his last nine and has finished inside the top ten five times during this run, including a win at The Memorial just last month.
His current form ranks with the best in this field (3rd in SGT2G, 12th in SG APP, 10th in SG OTT, 4th BS, 1st in SGT, 2nd in BOB%, and 1st in bogeys avoided in L24 rounds) and in his first ever Open Championship last season, Cantlay didn’t disappoint, with a T12 at Carnoustie. I do wish he had more experience at this championship, but Cantlay has been always been a safe option at majors (10/11, with five top 25s) and should be just fine for a top 25 in Ireland.
Adam Scott: (8,800)
Scott has taken on a lighter schedule this season and it has really improved his finishes. In only 13 starts, he has already generated seven top tens, compared to only two in 21 starts a year ago. He has finished T8, T2 and T7 in his last three starts and has finished no worse than T17 in his past five majors. Additionally, Scott has made nine cuts in a row at The Open Championship and is 15/19 in total at the major, including five top tens.
His stats have been incredible as of late (2nd in SGT2G, 8th in SG APP, 8th in GIR, 7th in BS, 5th in SGT, 11th in BOB%, 8th in SG on P4s, and 11th in SG on P4s between 400-450 yards in L24 rounds) and Scott currently presents the best odds to capture a victory at Royal Portrush of all the golfers under $9,400 on DraftKings. (28/1 via Bovada) Plain and simple, Scott is a must have value this week.
Hideki Matsuyama: (8,500)
Matsuyama has essentially been a plug and play for cash games this season. He has yet to miss a cut in 18 starts this year and has made a whopping 24 cuts in a row dating back to last season. His ball striking has been world class, gaining strokes T2G in his past 15 events and when we look at all of these players last 24 rounds, Matsuyama ranks 1st in BOB%.
He has a solid track record at The Open (4/6, with three top 20s) and is 24/28 as a whole in majors, with an impressive nine top 25s in his previous 11. $8,500 is just too low of a cost for how well he has played this year and Matsuyama is a perfect choice for a balanced lineup.
Henrik Stenson: (8,400)
Stenson is going to be one of the highest owned golfers of this major, but at this low of a price, it’s hard to overlook the Swede. He has rattled off three straight top tens and is currently riding a nine made cut streak. The main reason for this success has been his immaculate iron play.
Last week, at The Scottish Open, where Stenson finished T4, he led the field in GIR (91.7%) and is now 1st in SG APP over his last 24 rounds. He also ranks 7th in SG on P4s that are 400-450 yards and has positively gained strokes T2G in a notable 11 consecutive events. This has always been the major that best suits his game (12/14, four top tens and a win in 2016) and Stenson should get us at least a top 30.
Webb Simpson: (7,600)
Simpson’s salary doesn’t in any way reflect how consistent he has been over the last year. (21 for last 22) He just finished T16 at The U.S. Open and this was his 5th top 20 in his past six starts. He struggled with his ball striking at Pebble Beach, but this was only the first time in six events that Simpson hadn’t gained strokes T2G. Now, he heads to Royal Portrush with over four weeks of preparation and rest in his favor, and I am sure this veteran has taken this time off to get his tee to green game back on track.
Simpson has always been one of the best par four scorers on tour (2nd in SG on P4s in L24 rounds) and he should dominate the short par fours at Royal Portrush. (4th in SG on P4s between 400-450 yards in L24 rounds) He is 6/7 at Open Championships, has made ten consecutive cuts at majors, and is easily one of my favorite targets in this $7,000 price range.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello: (7,500)
The course is a different animal now, but back at 2012 Irish Open at Royal Portrush, RCB was one of three players to tie for second place at this links course. He has always fared well at this type of venue (6/7 at Open Championships) and is fresh off three straight top tens on Euro Tour.
If we include his time overseas, Cabrera-Bello has made ten straight cuts and is actually 25 for his last 27 worldwide. Plus, if we look at his last 24 rounds in PGA events, the Spaniard has gained more strokes on 400-450 yard par fours than anyone else in this entire field. He hasn’t missed a major cut in seven straight tries and RCB should continue that streak this weekend.
Bernd Wiesberger: (7,100)
Wiesberger has been a force on The European Tour recently. He just won last week’s Scottish Open and also picked up a win at The Made in Denmark back in May. He now has four top tens in his last six starts and has made it to the weekend in eight straight. He has posted a high GIR rate of 79.2% the past two weeks and for the season, Wiesberger ranks 16th in SG APP on The Euro Tour.
He has yet to have a quality finish at an Open Championship (best was a T64 in 2016), but is still 3/5 at the major and right now is arguably the best golf he has ever played as a professional. Vegas completely agrees with this statement, putting him at 66/1 to win this weekend, which is tied for the best odds of all the players under $8,000. This automatically makes Wiesberger an elite value and to put this in perspective, he has better odds than Sergio Garcia (80/1 via Bovada), but costs $700 less.
Erik Van Rooyen: (7,100)
EVR is another European talent that I love for Royal Portrush. He just finished T14 at The Scottish Open and this was his 11th made cut in his last 14 events across The Euro and PGA Tour. He is 4/4 at the PGA level this season and this is going to be his 4th ever start in a major.
In his first three he finished T12 at last year’s Open Championship, T8 at this season’s PGA Championship and T43 at The U.S. Open last month. He clearly can handle the moment of playing in a major and I think Van Rooyen and his elite scoring (9th in birdies on The Euro Tour this season) will be making the cut at The Open for the second straight year.
Lucas Glover: (6,500)
The fields have been very weak, but Glover is fresh off a back to back top tens. (T7 at The 3M Open and T10 at The John Deere Classic) He ranked 3rd in SGT2G at TPC Deere Run last week and has now gained 9.1 total strokes per tournament across these last two top tens. He is 15/20 for the year and when he has proceeded to the weekend, Glover has done some damage this season, with an average finish of 14.3rd place.
Predicting him at majors has been difficult in recent memory (two for last four), but if Glover can continue to strike the ball like he has these last two weeks, he should hopefully bring us at least a made cut. (150/1 via Bovada, which is tied for the best odds of all the players sub $7,000)
*Please note that some of these rankings are from Fantasynational.com