Daily Fantasy Golf Helper: The Open Championship, Presented by Goslings
By now, you've probably dabbled in daily fantasy sports, but if not, don't worry. Now is a great time to start, especially with FanDuel now offering a revamped version of PGA golf.
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Let's take a look at some golfers to target for the Open Championship.
|Key Stats for the Open Championship at Royal Portrush GC|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Strokes Gained: Off the Tee|
|Scrambling (from the Rough)|
|Par 5 Scoring
|Performance in Majors|
Ah, the Open Championship. Links golf at its most exciting -- provided the wind picks up. Royal Portrush, a 7,300-yard par 72 hosts its first Open Championship since 1951. Overall, events at Royal Portrush are pretty scarce: the 2012 Irish Open, the 2014 Amateur Championship, and the 2018 Boys Amateur Championship are all it can boast since calendars flipped to 2000. In 2017, some renovations were made, including two new holes.
Now, we can try to reverse engineer what mattered at the 2012 Irish Open and apply it to this week. We can also dig back into the past few Open Championships and see what really stood out. I did a bit of both. The 2012 Irish Open leaderboard is topped with that weekend's most effective putters, which doesn't do us much good. We can't predict whose putter will run hot with much accuracy. Accuracy and distance were about equal in terms of importance, so I'm rolling that into total driving and really just using strokes gained: off the tee.
As for the past Opens, distance numbers are scarce, and fairways hit don't really seem to matter much. It's been mostly scrambling and par 5 scoring that differentiate the pack. Along with that are birdies gained and bogeys avoided, but that's obvious when we figure out what separated the best from the worst.
So my list for this week really settles on strokes gained: approach, which is always vital, and strokes gained: off the tee, giving more weight to approach than off-the-tee play. Scrambling (and/or strokes gained: around the green) from the rough is going to be key for me, too. That means all three facets of tee-to-green play are weighted in, but I want to make sure I'm giving less weight to play around the green than I am to approach.
Par 5 efficiency and also performance in recent majors is on my list. The stats don't always matter in golf. For majors, that's probably especially true.
Stats cited below come from FantasyNational and include the past 100 rounds on the PGA Tour unless noted. Ranks are among the field.
Best of the Best
Brooks Koepka (FanDuel Price: $12,200 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: 9/1) - Believe it or not, it isn't Koepka who is the odds-on favorite here. That'd be Rory McIlroy ($12,000; 8/1). While McIlroy is probably the best process play, it's really difficult not to spend an extra $200 for Koepka at a major. His past six majors have led to a 1st, 39th, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd. He grades out 11th in strokes gained: off the tee and 33rd in strokes gained: approach over the past 100 rounds, and he's 6th in distance and 24th in scrambling as well. There's really no reason to avoid Koepka, and it's quite possible the hype actually favors the favored McIlroy this week.
Rory McIlroy ($12,000 | 8/1) - I think Rory McIlroy is the best overall process play on the board, but I still prefer Koepka in cash games, and given likely ownership discrepancies, I think I'll have more Dustin Johnson ($11,900; 14/1) than Rory. That's because PGA DFS is a really volatile option, and even if McIlroy is my number-one, it's close enough that Koepka and Johnson warrant love if McIlroy does prove to be roughly 35% owned. Anyway, McIlroy leads the field in adjusted strokes gained in 2019 and in strokes gained at the past five Open Championships. This year, Rory has 10 top-10 finishes and one missed cut in 11 overall events. He grades out third in strokes gained: off the tee and 19th in strokes gained: approach and leads the field in bogey avoidance. The fit couldn't be much better.
Xander Schauffele ($11,000 | 22/1) - Xander steps up at majors. He's finished top 35 in six straight and top 16 in five of those six, with four top-six finishes. He was runner-up at The Open last year and 20th in 2017. Schauffele's stats are actually quite strong, despite the fact that he tends to play only in tougher fields and tougher events. He's 31st in strokes gained: off the tee and 28th in strokes gained: approach.
Patrick Cantlay ($10,800 | 29/1) - Cantlay grades out second in adjusted stroke average in 2019 and has made six straight cuts at majors. Cantlay has three top-12s over the past five majors, including a 12th at the 2018 Open Championship. The Memorial winner has eight top-25 finishes in 2019 and was 9th at Augusta and 3rd at the PGA this season. He also has all the stats we could want: 8th off the tee, 11th in approach, 24th around the green, 16th in distance, and 10th in greens in regulation.
Adam Scott ($10,500 | 31/1) - Scott's been great in 2019, grading out fourth in adjusted strokes. His form has been sparse, though, as he has played only the majors and the Memorial since THE PLAYERS. However, the stats are on fire for Scott: 23rd in strokes gained: off the tee, 10th in strokes gained: approach, and 26th in strokes gained: around the green. Scott is also 31st in scrambling and 7th in greens in regulation. He's shaping up as a safe play at this price.
Henrik Stenson ($10,100 | 33/1) - Stenson is a cash-game play to me. He's figured things out after a string of missed cuts early in 2019 and has great major form over the past two years, ranking 16th in strokes gained average at them. Stenson won the 2016 Open and enters leading the field in strokes gained: approach over the past 100 rounds. He's also third in fairways gained and first in both good drive rate and greens in regulation. Third in bogey avoidance, Stenson should be bumped up our list if things get windy and pars are all that matter.
Matt Kuchar ($10,000 | 33/1) - Kuchar is an easy golfer to justify, but that could lead to high ownership (his average ownership has been 25.5% at the past three majors). Kuchar has consecutive top-10s at the past two Open Championships, and he has finished top 30 in six of the past eight majors, missing the cut at the other two. Kuchar is 14th in approach and 12th in greens in regulation, plus 3rd in scrambling and 4th in bogey avoidance. He's a safe play, but I'm probably fading him in tournaments due to ownership expectations.
Paul Casey ($9,900 | 34/1) - Casey's 2019 includes a win at the Valspar, and a missed cut at the Masters has kept his ownership in check the past two majors, when he finished top 30 at sub-10% ownership. Casey ranks 7th in strokes gained: approach and 17th in strokes gained: off the tee over the past 100 rounds but hasn't been great at recent Opens outside of an 11th at the 2017 iteration.
Marc Leishman ($9,700 | 55/1) - Leishman's 2019 has been pretty solid overall, and he ranks 10th in strokes gained average at the past five Open Championships: 5th, 2nd, 53rd, 60th. The 11th-ranked scrambler in the field, Leishman has solid wind splits and performance from the rough. The stats aren't amazing, but he's trending up and has showed he can get it done at Opens in the past.
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($9,500 | 50/1) - Fitzpatrick has come in below 5.0% ownership at each of the past three majors in 2019 but was 21st at the Masters, 41st at the PGA, and 12th at the U.S. Open. The stats are trending up for the 24-year-old, as well. He's 18th in strokes gained: tee to green on the European Tour this season.
Webb Simpson ($9,400 | 65/1) - Simpson has really stood out at majors the past two years. He won the 2018 PLAYERS, of course, but he's also played the weekend at 10 straight majors. In all, he ranks ninth in strokes gained average at majors since the 2017 PGA. Simpson also sits 14th in adjusted strokes gained in 2019 and is 20th in strokes gained: approach over the past 100 rounds. His ownership spiked to 29.4% at the U.S. Open after being 11.5% at the PGA and 5.4% at the Masters.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello ($9,300 | 50/1) - RCB is more of a cash-game play to me than a tournament play given his lack of elite finishes at recent majors (he has just one finish better than 36th over the past eight, a 10th at the PGA in 2018). That does lop off a fourth at the 2017 Open, but Cabrera-Bello has been more of a safe play than a high-upside one. Top 50 in both strokes gained: off the tee and strokes gained: approach in our 100-round sample, Cabrera-Bello is an easy pick to justify in lineups that don't require massive upside.
Russell Knox ($8,900 | 100/1) - I wouldn't pick Knox to win, but he's popping with pretty strong odds to make the cut because of his consistency in my simulations. Knox ranks 36th in adjusted stroke average in 2019 and is 37th in strokes gained average at the past eight majors. Now, he's made just two of five cuts, but his missed cuts have resulted in -1.6, -1.1, and -0.3 strokes, so he hasn't been dreadful. Knox, 19th in scrambling and 17th in greens in regulation over the past 100 rounds, should be a sturdy cash-game play.
Byeong-Hun An ($8,800 | 120/1) - An is one of the best tee-to-green golfers in the world, and he's 26th in strokes gained: off the tee, 25th in strokes gained: approach, and 1st in strokes gained: around the green over the past 100 rounds. He's just 123rd in putting. An's a very volatile play, but we'll need some of that if we're seeking huge upside in GPPs.
Erik Van Rooyen ($8,600 | 100/1) - EVR is really trending up at the right time, and he finished 17th at the Open last year and was 8th at the PGA Championship this spring. He followed that up with a 43rd at Pebble Beach. Van Rooyen's PGA Tour sample isn't huge (24 rounds), but he grades out 26th in strokes gained: off the tee and 33rd in strokes gained: approach. EVR has more than a 71% chance to make the cut in my simulations.
Jim Furyk ($8,600 | 120/1) - Furyk is shaping up as a strong value as he was in the U.S. Open when he finished 28th at $8,700. Furyk ranks 19th in adjusted stroke average in 2019. Furyk hasn't played at The Open since 2016, when he finished 59th, but prior to that, he finished 30th and 4th. Furyk ranks 26th in approach and 30th around the green over the past 100 rounds. He's just 104th in birdie rate but 18th in bogey avoidance. If the conditions are windy and we're seeking par-makers, Furyk should bump up your list.
Mike Lorenzo-Vera ($8,300 | 210/1) - Lorenzo-Vera is the 91st-ranked golfer in the world, and he's 30th in adjusted stroke average in 2019. Despite that, he's tied for 70th in FanDuel salary. Lorenzo-Vera has two runner-up finishes and two more top 10s in 2019 with just one missed cut in 11 events. His past four finishes entering the Scottish Open are promising: 5th at the Volvo China Open, 16th at the PGA Championship, 2nd at the Andalucia Masters, and 9th at the Irish Open. Lorenzo-Vera ranks 17th in strokes gained against the field, per the European Tour stats site, in 2019, and he ranks 41st on the Euro Tour in strokes gained: tee to green and 33rd in putting.