The Open: Thursday, July 20th through Sunday July 24th
It feels like I’ve been harping on Danny Lee’s lack of consistency all summer, and just at the point I was willing to absolutely load up he goes and cards a pair of doubles on his first round back nine at perhaps the easiest course out there. He was over it, Na didn’t play much better, I was on all the wrong rookies, and I was done. I wasn’t as interested in Bryson at upwards of 15% ownership so I did place a few bucks on a 40:1 outright hedge, but not a week I care to spend a lot of time recapping.
We get another major this week! We’ve had some rough tournaments field wise for a few weeks now, but we get everybody back out there this week for the Open Championship in northwest England. While the course changes year to year, we are still right on the coast in the same part of the world as last year’s afternoon wind massacres. Assuming (possibly a big ask) that the forecasts hold, this is likely to be the most important element again for the first two days. You want your golfer in the most favorable wind conditions possible, as no one is better in crappier weather.
As for the course itself, we have a par 70 links layout that clocks in around 7,150 yards. Traditionally links courses tend to allow some margin for error off the tee as the fairways are usually not lined. However, at Royal Birkdale these fairways are very narrow, with ugly rough and bunkers. J.B. and Phil crushed the Open last year because of Troon’s forgiving nature but they are in a lot of trouble if they start spraying here.
The course will play tough when the wind is blowing, so we aren’t necessarily chasing the birdie machines the way we normally do. The real trouble here is going to be big numbers, with some massive bunkers around the greens as well as some of the dreaded fescue that’s been such a delightful part of our lives this summer. Around the green work will be a bigger deal than it has been for a number of weeks.
Length/Fairways: Distance as always is nice, but hitting the fairways is going to be huge. Especially with swirling winds making the second shots into the green enormously unpredictable, one NEEDS to be trying from a good lie.
Greens: I don’t have data on how fast the greens are likely to play, but seeing as it is a major one would assume they crank them up fairly high. Looking at pictures there appears to be a number of strange slopes and undulations. This will not only make putting tough but also could lead to some unexpected roll offs on approach shots that just miss their spots. This all leads me back to the idea that around the green work will be crucial. If the wind is whipping they will be missing the greens with regularity, and having a clue, some touch, and an even temperament is going to be indispensable.
Weather: Still not sure as of publishing this article, but it is probably going to be pretty bad. As I say often, I’d rather avoid the weather than try and identify “good” wind players. That said a number of the native Brits are used to playing in these conditions, so it can’t hurt as a tiebreaker. Tee times are very spread out which should make the avoidance calculus exciting.
On to the golfers:
Pricey (9.0K+ DK):
All of these plays seem overpriced, but there is plenty of value to load up on which makes it fairly easy to fit in one or two. Luxury spends, but the opportunity if being afforded to us.
Sergio Garcia-10.6/17.1: Great player having a great year, and the price tag is not prohibitive at all. Gaining strokes everywhere, and has shown the ability to crush in all kinds of different environments.
Rickie Fowler-9.2/16.8: This is going to be your highest owned player. People love Rickie anyway, he’s playing great, and is somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000 underpriced. Hop on in, the water’s nice.
Henrik Stenson-9.6/16.6: Definitely more of a GPP play, but Stenson has quietly been finding form again. He has carded top 30 finishes in five of his last six starts, with the lone exception a miss on the number at the U.S. Open. People will remember the epic Sunday showdown with Phil last year, but I think the price mixed with his erratic play this year should keep him in the conversation with Day for lowest owned expensive guy. One of the best iron players ever when he is on.
I will have pieces of each monster stud in Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy, but am not looking to make a stand on any. It looks like all three will be somewhat under owned with their recent so-so play and the tide of Rickie/Sergio love.
Mid-range (7.5-8.9 DK):
Paul Casey-8.1/15.5: Pulled from the really interesting FantasyNational.com
Strokes gained ranks in this field since the Masters:
First player is Paul Casey. Second player is Hideki Matsuyama. Know what I mean? Adam Scott-8.5/16.0 fits with this player archetype too, which is how I’ll be trying to build my cash teams.
Marc Leishman-7.8/14.9: This guy has just done everything pretty well this year save keep the putter rolling for a whole week. Well, if he had he would have been winning tournaments and probably cost 1500 more. Someone who can hang when things get tough, he historically is left behind more at the scoring courses.
Cheapies (below 7.4 DK):
As usual with a stacked field, there are a ton of plays down here. I’ll separate into who I prefer for cash and GPP.
Cash: Matt Kuchar-7.2/14.1, Francesco Molinari-7.3/13.4 (both locks for cash games to me), Bill Haas-6.6/12.6, Kevin Kisner-6.8/12.9
GPP: Brandt Snedeker-6.8/13.8, Rafa Cabrera-Bello-6.7/13.6, Jason Dufner-6.6/12.7, Xander Schauffele-6.5/12.3, Charl Schwartzel-7.3/14.1, Pat Perez-6.9/11.9
With this many options I think the major aspect to take advantage of is that the ownership is going to spread itself out. Kuchar for good reason will be the mega chalk. Seriously, go through and try to make an argument over Kuch for any player priced below Fowler. I think Snedeker, Kisner, and maybe RCB after the win will attract a fair amount of interest, but other than that I don’t think we’ll see double digit ownership on anyone else. If you can hit on two single digit ownership guys and your chalk plays do what they should, life is looking pretty lit.
Site Specific Values:
FantasyDraft: As always, the younger players seem to be a little underpriced compared to DK, and are worth jamming in to be able to afford some of the higher priced guys.
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FanDuel is back, with a roster of eight golfers counting for all four rounds. A potential improvement for sure, and duplicate lineups won’t be anything to worry about. However, if we say traditionally 10-15% of lineups get 6/6 through that implies around a 70% hit rate for DFS players. Add two more guys to the roster and you can halve that 10-15% for the number of 8/8 teams. We will be seeing weekend golf there sooner rather than later.
Go and get it everybody.
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