The year’s final major is this week and the way the schedule has been modified it seemed like it flew by for some reason.
This week we head overseas to Rory McIlroy’s homeland for twelve hours of broadcast golf also known as the Open Championship. This year’s edition will be hosted by Royal Portrush, a course built in the late 1800’s and re-designed in 1932 and again in 2017.
The course itself has been called a rugged, brutal test of links golf (as it’s placed near a large body of water). There are no trees on the course (WIND!) and very few bunkers, so if the wind doesn’t blow, I expect a low scoring affair.
Because of the lack of bunkers and trees, players will need to keep their tee shots from entering the rough which will be where the penalties come as the rough is made up of tall heather, fescue grasses and briar.
Players with a good short game should fare well here as the course isn’t very long at just over 7,300 yards and the greens are fairly small (making precise approach shots regardless of yardage will be a key factor this week).
For a detailed look at all the holes by Matt Cooper, click here.
For One & Done games this week if you haven’t burned the likes of DJ, Brooks, Rory, Rahm etc. – all of them are in play as you want a winner who has Top 5 upside. For those who don’t have them available I’d be looking at Xander, Spieth, Kuchar, Casey, Rose and Hideki. For longer shots I like Leishman, GMAC, Pepperell, Sullivan, and Kisner.
o The Course
· Royal Portrush Golf Club
· Par 71
· 7,300 yards
· Bentgrass greens
o Location: County Antrim, Northern Ireland
o Corollary Courses/Performances:
o Past Champions:
· 2018: Francesco Molinari -8 over Kevin Kisner, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose & Xander Schauffele [Carnoustie]
- 2017: Jordan Spieth -12 over Matt Kuchar [Royal Birkdale]
- 2016: Henrik Stenson -20 over Phil Mickelson [Royal Troon]
- 2015: Zach Johnson -15 in a playoff over Marc Leishman & Louis Oosthuizen [St. Andrews]
- 2014: Rory McIlroy -17 over Rickie Fowler & Sergio Garcia [Royal Liverpool]
KEY STATS TO TARGET
o Strong Emphasis – SG: APP, Par 4 Scoring, Birdies or Better, Scrambling
o Important – APP 125-150 yards, Par 5 Scoring, Bogey Avoidance
THIS WEEK’S SUGGESTIONS
Brooks Koepka (DK $11,400)
· Open History: 39th– 6th– DNP – 10th
· Form: DNP – 65th– DNP – 57th
· Stats: 16th– SG: OTT, 12th– SG: APP, 81st– SG: P, 10th– SG: T2G
· Analysis: The Open Championship is really the only major that Brooks hasn’t had elite history at during his short career. He’s still a major contender even if he hasn’t done well in the past and we can basically throw out his form in non-majors leading in so it’s just a matter of whether or not you want to play an expensive chalk player this week. I will not be playing him in any format, but if I was playing multiple lineups, he’d see a few of them.
Rory McIlroy (DK $11,600): Rory’s Open history is sure to have him come in with high ownership this week. In his last five Open’s played he’s taken first, second, fourth and fifth. If that’s not a good Open record, I’m not sure what is. His current form is decent too as he took 34th in the Scottish Open last week, his first event since the US Open – where he finished 9th.
Dustin Johnson (DK $10,900): DJ hasn’t been his old self lately. He missed the cut at the Rocket Mortgage after finishing 35th at the US Open and hasn’t really done anything since finishing 2nd at the PGA Championship. His game should translate well to Portrush so seeing him play well wouldn’t be a surprise. He’s an elite play in majors regardless of form.
Hideki Matsuyama (DK $8,500)
· Open History: MC – 14th– MC – 18th
· Form: DNP – 7th– 13th– DNP
· Stats: 27th– SG: OTT, 4th– SG: APP, 128th– SG: P, 3rd– SG: T2G
· Analysis: Matsuyama has been on fire with his ball striking per usual, but the putter has been ice cold. We’ve seen some instances of bad putters finding their groove as of late (Sungjae, Henley, Glover) so there’s some hope for Matsuyama. I like him in all formats as he’s consistently on the plus side of cuts regardless of event and hasn’t missed a cut in the past four months.
Paul Casey (DK $8,300): No top 10’s in this event since 2010, but he has made four of his last five cuts and comes in well rested after the T5 finish at the Travelers. He’s an elite ball striker who struggles with the putter, but being back on European soil may help him find his stroke on the greens. He’s also a player who turns it up a notch in majors throughout his career.
Marc Leishman (DK $7,700): The course requires accuracy off the tee, a strong approach game and a sharp short game. That pretty much sums up Leish’s game, oh and he’s good in the wind! Why wouldn’t you play him? He’s got three top 6’s in his last three Open’s and comes in well rested after a 21st place finish at the Travelers, where he came out of the gates firing.
Zach Johnson (DK $7,200)
· Open History: 17th– 14th– 12th– Win
· Form: 37th– DNP – DNP – DNP
· Stats: 117th– SG: OTT, 51st– SG: APP, 107th– SG: P, 59th– SG: T2G
· Analysis: Leave it to ZJ to find something in his game the week before the Open. Statistically he’d been trash all year, but in true ZJ fashion he showed up last week and made the cut, and now comes to a course that should suit his all-around accuracy, especially his short game. I love him in all formats this week, which is rare for me.
Chez Reavie (DK $7,100): Having missed the cut in both of his appearances in this event over his career means he’s sure to be low owned. He missed the cut following his win at the Travelers, which was probably expected as it was his first since 2008. He’s basically like ZJ at the same price which makes him a solid pivot off of ZJ.
Charley Hoffman (DK $6,700): 17th & 20th the last two years in this event is sure to be what our peers see as they look at his Open history. He hasn’t made a cut in three months so maybe the history doesn’t help his ownership at all. Either way, he’s not someone I would look to put much exposure behind down here, but then again, there aren’t many options that inspire a ton of confidence either.
Others to consider – Scott Piercy $6,900, Jorge Campillo $6,900, Ryan Fox $6,700, Adrian Otaegui $6,500
CONTRARIAN CORE (GPP PLAYS)
Patrick Cantlay (DK $9,000): 12th last year at Carnoustie, winner at the Memorial almost two months ago now and someone who’s contended in majors since returning to the Tour. He’s well rested since the Travelers, so he should be plenty focused and ready to contend again this week.
Jason Day (DK $8,600): Aussie in the wind, extremely underpriced even though the form isn’t ideal (just four weeks removed from his last Top 10). Has only finished in the Top 10 once in the last five years at the Open (St. Andrews) where he missed out on the playoff by one shot. He’s got a superb short game and is deadly on the greens.
Adam Scott (DK $8,800): Aussie -> wind – > ball striker -> terrible putter. All that being said, he’s got great Open history which includes four Top 10’s in his last seven Opens and his worst finish during that span is a 43rd. Like many in this article, he comes in well rested having not played since the US Open, where he finished 7th.
Rafa Cabrera Bello (DK $7,500): Hot fire RCB comes in with three straight Top 10’s and hasn’t missed a cut the last three months. Most of his play has been overseas, so we can take a lot of that with a grain of salt, but a lot can be said for a player who’s been feeling it and the last two weeks of Scottish & Irish Opens have been stronger fields than what we typically see over there.
Thanks for reading and good luck this week from the FGI team!
– Pari (@hitthehighdraw)