146th Open Championship
Royal Birkdale, Southport, United Kingdom
Past Champion: Henrik Stenson
We hop across the pond for the third major of the year to Royal Birkdale for the playing of the 146th Open Championship. This will mark the 7th time The Open has been played at Royal Birkdale, and first since 2008 when Padraig Harrington took home the Claret Jug.
There is nothing quite like links golf, but Royal Birkdale presents a different type of links layout. Unlike Erin Hills for the U.S. Open, Royal Birkdale is not a bombers paradise, in fact quite the opposite. Just look at Phil Mickelsons bag this week, going without a driver, instead adding two 3 irons to the bag. While not long, only 7,156 yards, the course demands accuracy and strategy off the tee, as it is being touted as a ‘target golf course’. While driving accuracy is important this week, most golfers will not be using driver off most tees so driving accuracy stats should be higher than average. The stat I am most interested in this week is ball striking, as Royal Birkdale biggest challenge is approach shots into these atypical links style greens just begging to trickle off into a pot bunker or heavy fescue. Since we didn’t get a brutal U.S. Open like we are accustomed, I believe Royal Birkdale will fill that void as the major to provide carnage on the course. Although I don’t believe the winner will finish +3 like Harrington in 2008, I do think the course will give golfers fits, especially if the winds are gusting like normal. While we may not see a final round that rivals last years duel between Stenson and Mickelson, Royal Birkdale should provide a different challenge for golfers this year and is a great venue for the 146th Open Championship.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 18, 2017
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) July 16, 2017
Sidenote: Justin Thomas will also be rocking a tie and cardigan on Thursday to commemorate the classic Open look. So to commemorate JT I will be putting him in my DK lineup this week. Check out below my picks for The Open Championship!
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) July 17, 2017
Round 1 and 2 Featured Tee Times
— GolfMagic.com (@GolfMagic) July 18, 2017
This is the week for real golf nuts to show their faces because you’ll need to be up pretttty early to catch all the coverage. Nothing better than waking up to major championship golf. There is no shortage of storylines heading into the third major of the year, so it is definitely worth the early mornings!
FORE Open Championship Storylines
Duel Part 2?
Stenson and Mickelson had an all time showdown during the final round of the Open Championship at Royal Troon, with Stenson firing a 63 to beat Phils 65. It would be naive to think we will have another final round duel like last year, but with the firepower of this field, mixed with a track like Royal Birkdale which allows all different types of players to succeed we should see a packed leaderboard on Sunday.
Come out, come out wherever you are!
Erin Hills, and Brooks Koepka didn’t disappoint, but the weekend was missing a few of the games top names. DJ, Rory, and Day all missing the cut at the U.S. Open probably did not help Fox in the ratings. Rory especially has been in poor form after another missed cut at The Scottish Open last week. All golfers gear their games toward the majors, and while players like Spieth, Rahm, and Sergio are in great form heading into The Open, we just have not seen that play from the likes of Rory or Day. While Fox couldn’t get that Top 5 boost, NBC and The Open Championship is praying the best in the game are in fact at their best this week at Royal Birkdale.
Will the First Timer streak continue?
For the last SEVEN major championships, a golfer was hoisting that coveted major trophy for the first time in their career. With such a widespread of amazing talent throughout the tour it isn’t a huge surprise that these players are winning for the first time, but it also makes me miss Tiger and his years of dominating the Tour. We have seen great talents like DJ, Day, Sergio, and Stenson hoist a major trophy in the last year or two, but the list of great golfers who have yet to win one is still long including names like Fowler, Matsuyama, and Justin Thomas just to name a few. You will have to keep reading to see if you think another first timer will hoist the Claret Jug this week, or a familiar face will win yet again.
Mother Nature is a Royal B****
I could put my weatherman hat on and predict the weather for this week, but I think Men in Blazers put it best in this video. As the great PFT Commenter says “If you don’t like the weather just wait 5 minutes”, and that could not be more true than it is for The Open Championship. The only thing I do know is that rain and wind will create a deeper leaderboard and allow all different types of players to potentially win this tournament.
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) July 17, 2017
146th Open Championship Prediction
Hideki Matsuyama (20/1)
Chalk another one up for the First Timers. Hideki coming off a T-2 and T-14 (U.S. Open and Scottish Open) is in prime form to make a run at his first major victory. Was lights out to start the year notching 3 wins (HSBC Champions, Hero World Challenge, Phoenix Open) Matsuyama cooled down for a little, while still only missing one cut (Genesis Open). Back in a good groove, you have to feel like this course suits Matsuyamas game as a phenomenal ball striker with the ability to score ranked 3rd and 1st in Par 4 and Par 5 scoring. I would say if there would be anyone in the field to win by double digits a la Vintage Tiger, it would be Matsuyama.
Darkhorse of the Week
Francesco Molinari (100/1)
If he can make a putt or two to stay in the mix I don’t see a reason he can’t win. Worth the odds in my opinion. Also love him in DraftKings this week at a cheap price of $7,300, along with a few others. Check out my team and other players I like this week below.
Fore Right DraftKings Team of the Week
Big Tournament Value Picks: Emiliano Grillo ($7,100), Steve Stricker ($7,000), Ian Poulter ($7,500)
Big Tournament Fades: Tommy Fleetwood ($9,800), Sergio Garcia ($10,600), Henrik Stenson ($9,600)