The time has finally come for the third major of the season. This year, The Open Championship will take place at The Carnoustie Championship Course, which is located in Carnoustie, Scotland. Before I dive into everything about the course, I just want to explain the schedule for this week. Below are my favorite plays for this year’s Open Championship, regardless of ownership, and these are the values I will be building around in both cash games and GPPs. I will be also putting out my usual sleeper picks article later in the week, which will be focusing on players priced under $8,000, that should hopefully come with low ownerships in large field tournaments. Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk about Carnoustie.
This links course measures in at 7,402 yards and is a par 71. The two most recent years The Open was held at this venue, were in 1999 and then in 2007. In the latter year, Padraig Harrington won the major in a playoff over Sergio Garcia, finishing the week at seven strokes under par. This track also is part of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship three course rotation on The European Tour, with Tyrell Hatton winning the event last season. This is a longer track for an Open Championship and thought to be one of the toughest. It is even regarded as the “Beast of Angus” by many players. The course is very flat and is located close to the sea, making wind, as it should be with an Open, a huge factor. The fairways are decently wide, but the wind, thick rough, and deep pot bunkers, favors golfers who are accurate. Bombers will still have an advantage, but that’s only if they can really control it with their driver, making me focus on strokes gained tee to green and ball striking over off the tee stats.
The greens are large, but we need to still find players who rank well in approach stats, as Harrington ranked T12 in GIR during his win. Your play on par fours is slightly more important than the par fives, but I will be factoring both into the golfers I roster. Additionally, with this course expected to be a demanding test, bogey avoidance becomes a big statistic. Lastly, as I always like to do with majors, I will be looking for players with strong pedigree, especially in Open Championships. More so than any other event, watching the weather will be important. As I said, wind is going to be a factor no matter, but we should also expect some rain to come into play. So, it is smart to watch the reports very closely on Wednesday to see if either the morning or afternoon players seem to have a distinct advantage. @Hunta512.
Justin Rose: (10,200)
As it always seems to be the case with majors, Rose is simply underpriced this week. He is having another stellar season, making 10/12 cuts, with seven top tens in those ten made cuts, including two PGA wins. At age 37 he is arguably playing the best golf of his career, currently sitting as the number three ranked player in the world, which is the highest he has ever been ranked. He hasn’t missed a cut in almost a year, dating back to last August and recently, his stats have been nothing short of elite. In his last 24 rounds, he ranks 5th in SGT2G, 7th in SG APP, 5th in ball striking, 11th in GIR, 4th in SG on par fours, 10th in SG on par fives, 2nd in BOB%, 17th in bogeys avoided, and 17th in SG P. (via Fantasy National) In his last five starts, he is gaining an average of 10.4 strokes per event, including a tremendous 7.7 SGT2G. He has already finished T12 at The Masters and T10 at The U.S. Open this season and is 11/16 in Open Championships overall.
Plus, he has competed in the last two Opens at Carnoustie, with a T12 in 2007 and a MC in 1999, giving him a nice edge of experience at this venue. He is currently right in the mix of the things at The Scottish Open, tied for 15th place, and should very much be in the hunt come Sunday. As of right now he is at 16/1 to win (via Bovada) and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if his odds got even lower following his finish at The Scottish Open. In my opinion, Rose seems more focused than ever right now and it is only a matter of time until he wins his second major and this coming Open very well might be his time to shine again. Rose and Dustin Johnson (below) are the two players I will be attacking over $10,000 on DraftKings this week.
Henrik Stenson: (8,200)
Prior to The Scottish Open, Stenson was one of many withdrawals, but he withdrew due to an “elbow” injury and said on Twitter “he hopes to be fit” for The Open. This may seem slightly alarming, but unless we get some further discouraging news, I think Stenson needs to be utilized at this price. Many players tend to pull out of the Scottish Open before The Open and I am sure this was just a precautionay move by the 2016 Open Championship winner. Vegas tends to agree with me, as his odds are still at 22/1 (via Bovada), the 11th best in the field. This instantly shows you how mispriced he is, with him having the 11th best odds to win, but is the 18th highest priced golfer on DraftKings. He has finished in the top 25 in six of his last seven cuts, is 3rd in SGT2G, and is the number one approach player on Tour. His T6 at The U.S. Open was his last start and in his last 24 rounds, he ranks first in GIR, 3rd in ball striking, 2nd in SG on par fours, 35th in par five scoring, 33rd in BOB%, and 5th in bogeys avoided. (via Fantasy National)
The Sweden player has always preferred to use his three wood over a driver and this has been a key to success throughout his career, especially as of late, with him hitting the most fairways of any player in this field over their last 24 rounds of golf. Without a doubt he will mostly be using a three wood this week in the windy conditions at Carnoustie, as it has payed massive dividends for him in past Open Championships. Overall he is 11/13 at this major, with four top tens, a win at Royal Troon in 2016, and he has ranked 5th or better in fairways found in four of his last five Open Championships. As I stated above, he finished T6 at The U.S. Open, but he also finished T5 at The Masters this year, which was his best career finish at Augusta, and he has finished no worse than T13 in his last four majors. Assuming we don’t hear anything more about the elbow, Stenson is a play that just can’t be ignored at this price. UPDATE: Stenson told the media on Tuesday, that he isn’t 100 percent, but he intends on playing. He also made it somewhat clear if he doesn’t think he can manage a full tournament of four rounds, he won’t tee it up, hopefully meaning he will withdraw in advance if he actually feels incapable of playing competitive golf. All of his words from Tuesday can be read in The Guardian. Obviously, the not 100 percent comment is scary, but if he doesn’t withdraw prior to his tee time, which I don’t think he will, I will still be playing a good amount of Stenson, because this news will most likely soften his ownership in all formats.
Tony Finau: (7,200)
Plan and simple, Finau is the best value on the board this week. He is in the midst of the best season of his career, making 17/20 cuts, with six top tens, but he is priced at only $7,200, which is the cheapest he has been all year on DraftKings. It’s not like he’s coming off a MC or something that would depress his salary, he has actually made seven of his last eight cuts and has finished in the top 25 in six of those made cuts, including a T5 at The U.S. Open, which was his best major finish to date. When comparing all of these players last 12 rounds, Finau ranks with the best, ranking 10th in SGT2G, 18th in SG APP, 12th in ball striking, 2nd in GIR, 25th in SG on par fours, 2nd in SG on par fives, 7th in BOB%, and 37th in bogey avoidance. (via Fantasy National)
He isn’t known for his accuracy off the tee, but he handled the wind at Shinnecock Hills very well and he is 2/2 in Open Championships, with a T18 two years ago and T27 last season. When you compare Vegas odds to DraftKings pricing, Finau sticks out like a sore thumb, at 66/1 (via Bovada), which is easily the best odds to win of the all the golfers priced at $7,500 and under. Not only am I expecting a made cut, but he has a great chance of finishing inside the top 25. In my best advice, try not to over think this one and make Finau one of your core plays of the week.
Dustin Johnson: (11,300) Yes, he is the most expensive player, but that is for good reason and in all reality, he is actually underpriced for his chances of winning, at 11/1. (via Bovada) The number one ranked player in the world hasn’t missed a cut in an Open, since his first start in one, back in 09, and has five top 20s in those last eight made cuts overseas. He has yet to miss a cut this season, has only finished outside the top 25 once, has eight top tens, and two victories. Furthermore, he hasn’t played since The U.S. Open (T3), which I believe is a nice advantage for him. DJ should fresh and ready to dominate at Carnoustie.
Tommy Fleetwood: (9,400) His 1/4 record at Open Championships is ugly and he missed the cut in his last start, at The Open de France, but I think we need to forget about these things with Fleetwood at this price. He is playing the best golf of his career this season, vaulting him up to the number ten spot in the world rankings, and he has made it to the weekend in 18 of his last 20 starts. He finished second at The U.S. Open, that was capped off with an incredible 63 in his final round and if he converted the birdie putt on 18, who knows what would have happened in a playoff between him and Brooks Koepka. He is at 16/1 to win, which is excellent odds for his price and one thing that is definitely helping those odds be so low is that he holds the course record at Carnoustie, with a 63 in his second round at The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last season.
Brooks Koepka: (9,200) It only took two weeks for him to get back into form after missing the start of the season with a wrist injury and ever since The Wells Fargo, Koepka has been outstanding, finishing T11, T2, T30, 1st, and T19. The brutal conditions at Shinnecock Hills didn’t faze him one bit and he should be just fine with the weather challenges we are expecting this week. He missed the cut in his first two majors ever, but he hasn’t looked back ever since, making 16 straight major cuts and finishing in the top 20 in his last 11, which includes a top ten in his last two Open Championships. He ranks 3rd in SG on par fours, BOB%, and bogey avoidance in his last 24 rounds. (via Fantasy National) His confidence level couldn’t be higher right now and I think Koepka comes out and contends in his first try at Carnoustie.
Zach Johnson: (7,200) ZJ has been a model of consistency this season. He is 17/18 in made cuts and has ten top 25s. Even though he claimed The USGA “lost the course” at Shinnecock Hills, he still finished T12 at The U.S. Open, and is now 13 for his last 15 in major events. For his career, he is 11/14 at Open Championships, with the win at St. Andrews back in 2015. He is a savvy vet who knows how to handle the tough weather and $7,200 is just too soft of a price tag for Johnson in this event.
Ryan Moore: (6,700) Seven for his last nine, with a finish no worse than T30 in that span. His stats have been tremendous, with him ranking 1st in SGT2G, 1st in SG APP, 2nd in GIR, 1st in fairways gained, 1st in ball striking, 12th in SG on par fours, 29th in SG on par fives, and 1st in bogeys avoided in his last 24 rounds. (via Fantasy National) Also, he just finished T13 at The Greenbrier in his last start, where he gained 10.2 strokes tee to green. He missed the cut in last year’s Open, but he was in a very bad stretch during that time, making only two of six cuts between May and August. Overall, he is 26/39 in majors and 5/8 in Open Championships. $6,700 is the cheapest he has been all year and I think in this current form, Moore should be playing on the weekend, with top 25 upside.