Welcome back everybody. Alex here, and I am back with my weekly DraftKings PGA Sleeper Picks for the third major of the season, The Open Championship. Before I dive into this major, I want to quickly recap my picks from last week. Overall it was a down week with Michael Kim being the only featured golfer making it through the cut. (T71) Grayson Murray couldn’t get his game together at all and Curtis Luck was right there on the cutline at -1, but the line eventually moved to -2 knocking him out for the weekend. It was a disappointing week for the picks, but week’s like this will happen, especially with soft fields in an event right before a major. With The John Deere Classic in the past, let’s now get into everything about The 2017 Open Championship.
This year’s Open Championship will be held at Royal Birkdale, which is a 7,156 yard long par 70 that is located in Southport, England. The last time The Open took place here was all the way back in 2008. Padriag Harrington took home the jug that year, finishing at +3 for the week. Wind was a huge factor that year and we can expect it to effect the conditions again this week, but I think it is fair to expect the winning score to be a better this time around. No matter if the winning score is under par this year or not, this course should remain a challenge for the players, which makes bogey avoidance a good stat to look at this week. This venue isn’t a very long course and I think we need to favor accuracy over distance off the tee. You need to find the fairway here at Royal Birkdale to give yourself the best shot of hitting these greens, with the rough and fairway bunkers being very penalizing. It may sound redundant with any course, but we also need to target golfers who are strong iron players who stick greens at a consistent rate. Last but not least, with this being a par 70, par four scoring will be huge key to success at this course. Back in 2008, Harrington who won and Ian Poulter who was the runner up, finished first and second in par four scoring respectively for that week.
Along with stats I think it is essential to focus on current form and Open history when choosing your golfers. As expected after some very weak fields of players over the last few events, we are getting the best players in the world to choose from this week. DraftKings usual major tournament soft pricing has made it a very interesting week for lineup construction and this is an ideal week to use a higher amount of bankroll for both cash games and GPPs. Finally, don’t forget that since this tournament is England, roster lock is 1:35 AM EST Thursday morning. So good luck to all of you and as usual, if any of these picks help your lineups or if you need any advice, don’t hesitate to let me know on Twitter. @Hunta512.
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Andy Sullivan: (7,000) Sullivan has been playing excellent golf over the last few months. He spends most of his time on The European Tour, but he has now made nine straight cuts, and is coming off three impressive showings, with T13 at The Open de France, T20 at The Irish Open, and a T9 last week at the Scottish Open. By his stats, Sullivan is a great fit for this course if he can keep up with this recent form. Over these past three starts he has averaged a very solid 74% GIR percentage and 70.3% driving accuracy percentage.
He doesn’t rank on The Tour, but Sullivan has always been a player who has avoided bogeys well throughout his career. He also has played well in both of his only two Open Championship appearances, finishing T30th at The Old Course at St Andrews in 2015 and T12th last year at Royal Troon. Lastly, I think it is worth mentioning that Sullivan is actually from England, Nuneaton to be exact, and I am sure he would love to perform well in this major event right near his hometown. With so many bigger names priced around him this week, I think we see Sullivan go under 10% owned in most GPPs. He has really nice upside in his current form and is a sleeper I love taking a risk with at only $7,000.
Brandt Snedeker: (6,800) Snedeker has had a very successful season so far, this year, making 12/15 cuts, with eight top 25s, and four top ten finishes. It is a slight concern that he hasn’t competed in almost a month, but he did look very good in his last two starts, finishing T9th at The U.S. Open and T14th at The Travelers Championship. In these past two events he had been hitting fairways and greens at a very high rate, posting a 72.3% driving accuracy percentage and a 73.7% GIR percentage.
His season stats also suggest he should compete here at Royal Birkdale, as he ranks 30th in strokes gained putting, 60th in strokes gained tee to green, 31st in bogey avoidance, 25th in par four scoring, and 19th in birdie or better percentage. Additionally, we all know that wind will play a role at some point this week, which is something Snedeker has notoriously handled well in the past. His Open history isn’t perfect making 4/8 cuts for his career, including a missed cut at this course in 2008, but I think the price tag is just too favorable for a player who definitely has the potential to finish inside the top 20 this weekend. UPDATE: Snedeker has offically announced he has withdrawn from The Open Championship due to a rib injury. If you were planning on using him in cash, I would try my best to get up to Kuchar or Stricker. In GPPs, Sullivan, Harman, Simpson, Haas, and Howell would be my favorite pivots.
Brian Harman: (6,600) There’s no denying it, Harman has been playing a much higher level this season. He will miss a cut here and there (17/23), but overall this has easily been his best season on The Tour, with 12 top 25 finishes, seven top ten finishes, and a win at The Wells Fargo Championship in the beginning of May. He hasn’t cooled off since picking up second career win, as he has made the cut in five of his last six events, including a T2 at The U.S. Open and a T10 last week at The John Deere Classic. In these past three made cuts, his stats have been very impressive, with an average adjusted round score of 67.7, a GIR percentage of 75.5%, a driving accuracy percentage of 72.1%, and a solid average putts per round of 29.2.
Another couple factors in his favor this week at Royal Birkdale, is that Harman ranks 21st in bogey avoidance and has been one of the best par four scorers on Tour this season, ranking 9th in par four scoring. He doesn’t have much experience in Open Championships, making one of two cuts for his career, but right now I think Harman is a completely different player than we have seen in the past. I mean think about it this way, Harman in his first tournament of the new year at The Sony Open was the 136th ranked player in the world, and he is now 27th ranked player in the world, but is the 72nd highest priced player on DraftKings this week. At only $6,600, I think Harman is a very sneaky GPP play that will most likely get overlooked in this price range. (5-8% projected ownership level via Fantasy Labs)
Also Consider: Jason Dufner (should be very low owned after missing three of his last four cuts, but has the right game for this course in my opinon), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (may be chalky after his win last week at The Scottish Open), Charles Howell III (has made a crazy 17 straight cuts, ranks 1st in bogey avoidance and 5th in par four scoring), Charl Schwartzel, Matt Kuchar, Francesco Molinari, Steve Stricker, Bill Haas, and Webb Simpson (has been putting much better lately and has found 76.75% of fairways over his last four made cuts).