The Open Championship Preview and Prediction (Bonus DraftKings Team)

146th Open Championship

Royal Birkdale, Southport, United Kingdom

Past Champion: Henrik Stenson

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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.Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.43.59 PM.png

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.

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!

 Round 1 and 2 Featured Tee Times

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? 

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“You may have won the duel, but you will not win the war” – Phil probably

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!

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Bring Back Fat Rory!!!

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? 

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Rickie waiting for that first major like

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.

146th Open Championship Prediction

Hideki Matsuyama (20/1)

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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)

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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 

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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)

 

Right in the Fairway DK U.S. Open Picks

U.S. Open Picks 

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U.S. Open week is one of the best weeks of the year for any golf fan, but what would make it even better? Not only watching the best players in the world compete on a quite difficult track at Erin Hills, but winnings some money on DraftKings! Major Championships means huge possible paydays, and we have just that with the $33 entry into the $3.5 Fantasy Golf Millionaire paying out $1 MILLION to the winner.

Obvious Pick of the Week: Jordan Spieth ($11,500)

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For some reason I think Jordan has gone sorta under the radar coming into this week, and even though he is the second most expensive golfer (behind DJ), I do not believe he will be very highly owned. Even though Erin Hills is playing a daunting 7,740 yards, and sporting some brutal fescue just steps off the fairway, I think this course actually suits Spieth well. Although Spieth ranks 86th and 123rd on the PGA Tour in Driving Distance and Accuracy, Jordan will be able to take advantage of the 40-50 yard wide fairways. As one of the best players approaching the green AND arguably the best putter on Tour, I think if Spieth can keep it in the fairway this week he not only can be in the mix on the weekend, but win his second U.S. Open Championship.

Gut Guy of the Week: Jon Rahm ($10,300)

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To be successful at the U.S. Open you need to have guts, and boy does the 22 year old Spaniard Jon Rahm have guts (holy shit I still can’t believe he is only 22)! One of the longest hitters on Tour, paired with one of the best Greens in Regulation %, Rahm is going to attack this golf course in a way that maybe only DJ can. I love the fire that Rahm plays with, however that same fire has gotten him into trouble during stretches of rounds where he gets so frustrated that he lets it effect his play. If Rahm can channel that fire into a positive energy, and continues to play the golf he has so amazingly shown in this last year, I expect nothing less   than a Top 10 finish this week.

Value Pick of the Week: Graeme McDowell ($6,600)

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The 2010 U.S. Open Winner Graeme McDowell is my Value Pick of the Week for three reasons. The first reason has already been stated, success at the U.S. Open, and I would say a win in 2010 and runner up in 2012 would constitute as successful at golfs toughest test. The second reason I like McDowell this week is his driving accuracy, which ranks 9th on Tour. Oh, but he ranks 183rd in Driving Distance and you already said Erin Hills is playing 7,740 yards why would you want McDowell? The answer to that comes with the third reason I like McDowell this week and that his uncanny ability to make putts. Getting a former champion, who can not only put it in the fairway with danger all around, but gain strokes on the field while on the green, McDowell is a great value play this week.

Fade of the Week: Rickie Fowler ($10,500)

I have no other reason than that he is cheaper than I would have expected and in lieu of that, will most likely be one of the highest % owned players this week. I am banking on Fowler playing a little below his value and I will consider that a win because just as the PGA Tour keeps Strokes Gained against the field as a stat, in big daily fantasy tournaments you are trying to gain as many points on the field (per value) as you can.

Good Form+Value+Cuts Made+Tour Sauce-Players I can’t root for =

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NOTE: Notice my team consists of 4 former U.S. Open Champions (Spieth, Kaymer, McDowell, and Glover)

Right in the Fairway DK THE PLAYERS Picks

Wells Fargo Picks Review

Paul Casey (74.5 points)

Zach Johnson (69.5 points)

Alex Noren (61 points)

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Another week making money with all three plays making the cut including the other three golfers in my lineup. Despite a few bad holes scattered throughout, Casey played solid the entire week, especially firing 68 on Sunday. ZJ was back to normal ZJ last week, which is exactly what I expected. Noren with a disappointing 77 on Sunday ruined an amazing week from a value pick, however all in all worth the value. Even though DJ, my fade last week, finished T-2 he did show some rust in the first two rounds barely making the cut, but by the weekend he was firing on all cylinders.

THE PLAYERS Picks

Obvious Pick of the Week:

Jason Day ($10,000): Defending Champion

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Day has had a pretty underwhelming season (for his standards) thus far, and rightfully so while his mother has been battling cancer. With recent good news on his mother’s prognosis, and The PLAYERS Championship Sunday falling on Mother’s Day I believe Day keeps those good vibes going. Also, taking Day at $10,000 gives you the ability to get another Top Tier player (See Team Below).

Gut Guy of the Week: 

Jason Dufner ($7,800)

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That gut speaks for itself. Duf Daddy has played great golf this year making 8/9 cuts, while finishing in the top 25 in all of those made cuts. Look for Dufner to let that gut hang all weekend and be towards the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.

Value Pick of the Week: 

Adam Hadwin ($6,800)

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As the first two time Value Pick of the Week, it is fitting that Hadwin has still not missed a cut this season (10/10). The greens at Sawgrass are some of the most difficult on Tour, especially this season with new TifEagle Bermudagrass, but fortunately for Hadwin he is pretty damn good in that category ranking 11th in Putting Average this season. Even with such a strong field I believe Hadwin is a little underpriced for making 10/10 cuts and already a winner this year, so I think he is a great play this week.

**Ryan Moore also good value at $7,000**

Fade of the Week: 

Jon Rahm ($9,600)

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There is no denying Rahm is a beast and has the game to compete this week at Sawgrass. However, I think everyone and their mother is going to take him, especially being he is relatively cheap for his recent form. For the shear fact that I believe he will be over 30% owned combined with him competing in his first PLAYERS Championship, I am fading Rahm, and the general public this week.

DK Tournament of the Week

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Good Form+Value+Cuts Made+Tour Sauce-Players I can’t root for =

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Good Luck!

 

Right in the Fairway DK Wells Fargo Picks

Wells Fargo Picks

Obvious Pick of the Week:

Paul Casey ($9,900)

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I LOVE Casey this week. Casey has made 7/8 cuts this year, and in especially good form coming off 6th and 9th place finishes in his last two starts #Nice. I consider this pick obvious in the sense that his value at $9,900 allows you to grab another high priced player (Scott, Reed, or Phil), as well as getting a player consistently makes cuts and near the top of the leaderboard on the weekend.

*Don’t forget to check out my Preview and Prediction coming out later today, you might just see Caseys name pop up again ;)*

Gut Guy of the Week:

Zach Johnson ($7,400)

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Johnson can not only be considered my Gut Guy of the Week, but could very well be the Value Pick as well. Getting Johnson, a 12 time PGA Tour Champ, at $7,400 is an absolute steal in my opinion. I believe DK has him a little undervalued coming off two missed cuts, but that is the exact reason I chose him as my Gut Guy of the Week. Johnson has made 6/9 cuts this season #NiceAgain, including 2 Top 10 and 3 Top 25 finishes. I fully expect Johnson to get back on track this week and compete on the weekend.

Value Pick of the Week

Alexander Noren ($6,600)

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BANANAS! The 12th ranked player in the OWGR, who has made 4/5 cuts this season, is only worth $6,600?! The 34 year old Noren has won 6 times on the European Tour, and is worth less than the likes of 54 year old Vijay Singh (1/7 cuts made) and rookie Curtis Luck ($7,000). Similar to the rationale behind Johnson, getting Noren at such a ridiculously cheap price, you are now able to go out and get another Tier 1 golfer to pair up with Casey.

Fade of the Week:

Dustin Johnson ($13,000!)

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I am not telling you to fade the No. 1 Player in the World, or the same DJ who has won 3 of his last 3 starts. I am telling you to fade the wayyy over priced DJ, who is coming off a “back injury” dating back to the Masters. Worth $2,000 more than the next highest priced golfer (Jon Rahm) I don’t see the value in picking DJ, especially with all of the question marks regarding his recent absence. While I am not doubting DJ can get back to his recent form and dominate another tournament, I think this is the best week as any to fade him and see how his game is after a long “injury” layoff. I am interested to see what % takes him even with such a high price differential.

DK Tournament of the Week 

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Good Form+Value+Cuts Made+Tour Sauce-Players I can’t root for =

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Good Luck!

 

Right in the Fairway DK Valero Texas Open Pick

RBC Heritage DK Pick Grades: 

Martin Kaymer T32 (-4) : B+

As the Obvious Pick of the Week, Kaymer was able to make the weekend (a must) and accumulate 78.5 DFS points. While posting a 3-over on Saturday, and a 4-over back nine on Sunday, Kaymer had the chance to be higher on the leaderboard, but we will take it.

Patrick Cantlay T-3 (-11): A+

As the Gut Guy of the Week, Cantlay put together a gutsy performance finishing T-3 (2nd best of his career). Cantlay will continue to be a play for me throughout the year as I see a lot of potential in this former World No.1 Amatuer.

Daniel Summerhays T59 (E): A-

“Do Your Job.” As the Value Pick of the Week, Summerhays channeled his inner Bill Belichick last week and did just that, his job. Your job as the value pick is to make a cut and gain some “free” points during the weekend. After posting a 5-under on Friday, Summerhays made the weekend and was able to finish with 63.5 total points.

Valero Texas Open Picks

Obvious Pick of the Week:

Patrick Reed ($9,700)

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Obvious is an interesting word to describe how I feel about Patrick Reed this week. Is he in good form? The simple answer is no, especially with a missed cuts in his last two starts, and having to go back to January to find his last top 10 finish. However, Reed had a second place finish last year at this event so you know he feels comfortable around this track. Not to mention Reed was born in San Antonio, and similar to Wesley Bryan being the first South Carolina native to win the RBC Heritage last week,  I love those small connections to an event. So this week I love Reed and think he falls out of his recent slump this year with a solid finish.

Gut Guy of the Week:

Harold Varner III ($7,800)

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With a T-9 in last years event here at TPC San Antonio, Varner is someone to watch this week. Although he has yet to get that elusive first Tour victory, Varner seems to be in good form coming into this week with made cuts in his last 4 starts. Varner is a sneaky big hitter who averages just over 300 yards in Driving Distance, good enough for 28th on Tour. This helped him in last years event ranking in the Top 5 in Par 5 Scoring, which just means more DK points. I am excited to see how Varner performs this week, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him near the top of the leaderboard on the weekend.

Value Pick of the Week:

Smylie Kaufman ($6,200)

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Good Ole Smylie. Coming off a #SB2K17 trip with the boys, I fully expect Smylie to be relaxed and focused heading into this week at the Valero. While he his performance this year has been less than stellar (2/7 Cuts Made), Kaufman has also been nursing a wrist injury dating back to last year. After missing his last 6 cuts, I think #SB2K17 got his mind right and he comes out playing more freely this week and makes the cut.

Fade of the Week: 

Charley Hoffman ($10,700)

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Winner of last years event and a solid Masters appearance, Hoffman is considered one of the favorites this week, but I think he is WAY over valued at the third highest price. Especially coming off a missed cut last week at the RBC Heritage, Hoffman may have hit his ceiling in terms of DK value and for that reason I am out on him this week.

DK Tournament of the Week

PGA $500K Dogleg ($50,000 to 1st)

$33 entry fee

Good Form+Value+Cuts Made+Tour Sauce-Players I can’t root for =

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(Three guys with no picture not a great look, but let’s do it!)

Good Luck!