The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
After a slow week, where we got to see some of the talent over in Europe come to the forefront, our focus shifts to the third major championship of the year. The Open Championship is undoubtedly the most unique of the four majors due to both location and venue type. Played over in the British Isles, it is played at a different venue every year on courses that feature a traditional links style of golf. Deep pot bunkers, a distinct lack of trees, bad weather and the dreaded fescue style of rough are usually what await the players and this years venue looks to be an increasingly tough test. The players are taking on Royal Troon, a venue which has hosted multiple Opens and looks primed to give players a decent challenge.
The field this week is obviously quite strong, although it does contain a lot of different names that many DFS players might be less familiar with than usual. The Open has qualifying events and spots all throughout Europe during the season, meaning a lot of the names taking part this week will be European Tour regulars. That being said, all of the top American players are here as well as the top 50 players in the world all qualify automatically. All of the big four, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are taking part and other big names like Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia are in the field as well. A couple notable withdraws this week were Americans Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger who withdrew due to injury concerns. The cut takes place after Friday and the standard top 70 and ties will make it to the weekend.
Royal Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland
Par 71, 7100-7200 yards
Royal Troon’s motto is “as much by skill as by strength” and it applies perfectly in many ways to the course. Troon is not overly long, and in fact probably qualifies as a short course by tour standards. It measures in at barely over 7200 yards and carries seven par 4’s that are under 450 yards in length and three that are under 400 yards. Many of the shorter par 4’s will be drivable by the bigger hitters if the wind and conditions are favorable. Troon also carries the shortest hole in Open Championship golf as the par 3 #8 (the Postage Stamp) measures in at a scant 123 yards.
Not all of Troon’s holes are short though. It does carry a par 5 that measures well over 600 yards and its back nine carries four par 4’s that exceed 450 yards. The main defense of Royal Troon however are its tighter fairways, thick rough and the weather. Troon is a seaside links course and when it gets windy, finding the fairways will be a crapshoot. This year the rough looks to be extra thick as rain has pelted the course in the last week or so.
All in all, Troon offers players chances to score while also throwing at them some exceedingly complex and difficult approaches and tee shots. While players may be able to overpower the course in calm conditions, the need for accuracy and a good short game is still going to be necessary here. This is a test that won’t disadvantage the shorter hitters too much or disallow the use of power either and the golfer who handles Troons trickiest shots best (and the weather) will likely win. Either way I’d venture we’re in for a great week of golf as the course looks to be in great shape.
Last 5 winners
- 2015 – Zach Johnson – 15 (over Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman, playoff)
- 2014 – Rory McIlroy -17 (over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler -15)
- 2013 – Phil Mickelson – 3 (over Henrik Stenson even)
- 2012 – Ernie Els -7 (over Adam Scott -6)
- 2011 – Darren Clarke -5 (over Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson -2)
- Four of the last five winners of the Open Championship have been 39 years of age or older.
- Four of the last five winners of the Open Championship had recorded a top ten in one of the years first two major championships in the year of their victory.
- Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
- All-around Ranking
- Previous Open form
The Open is, for me, an extremely difficult event to quantify statistically. There are other factors in play that we generally don’t worry about in a regular tour event, like travel, the different style of course the players will be seeing and the weather. That being said, Troon does seem to offer a pretty unique test and there’s a few statistical areas I think you can pinpoint this week. The first is strokes gained: off the tee. A good driving week at Troon seems vital, and while length never hurts, being accurate is going to be just as important given the length of the rough the players will be seeing. Players will have the chance to drive the green on shorter holes but will also be leaving themselves open to out of bounds and some horrid penalties if they take the driver too much. With that being said, looking for players strong in strokes gained: off the tee seems smart given the need for a solid driving week.
The last two categories I’ve listed are more of a guide to help you this week. With bunkers all over the course and some tough up and downs likely, looking at the all-around ranking is not a bad idea in order to identify players who might be more suited for the style of play this week. The last three winners of this event have ranked 13th-3rd-18th in this category. Additionally, while the Open moves courses every year, past winners have tended to have a huge wealth of experience at the Open before finally crossing the finish line. Zach Johnson had made eight straight cuts at the Open before winning last year and Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Darrin Clarke (all recent winners) had a wealth of experience to draw on before their wins. With that being said I don’t think using players past Open form is a bad idea and it’s something I’d personally weigh heavily this week.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
|Andy Sullivan||80-1||$7200||Graeme McDowell $7500 and 80-1
Jim Furyk $7700 and 80-1
Paul Casey $7900 and 80-1
|Alex Noren||85-1||$6900||Marc Leishman $7400 and 80-1
Francesco Molinari $7000 and 100-1
Scott Piercy $7400 and 100-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
**With the course being played on this week only being used every ten years or so we’ll be looking instead at past Open Championship form instead
- Adam Scott has been playing great golf at the Open for a while now. He’s made the cut in 6 straight Open starts and has three top 5 finishes in that span, including a 2nd from back in 2012 when he famously bogeyed the last four holes to lose by a shot.
- Sergio Garcia still doesn’t have a major title to his name but there’s no question that he’s come the closest at the Open. Dating back to 2005, Garcia has six finishes of 9th or better at the Open, including a heartbreaking playoff loss to Paddy Harrington in 2007.
- Marc Leishman is a bit of a late bloomer to links golf but his record over the past couple of Opens is worth noting. Leishman finished 5th at Royal Liverpool in 2014 and then backed it up with a gutsy T2 last year when he lost in a playoff to Zach Johnson. He’s worth considering off his past couple of go arounds alone.
- Ernie Els has a fantastic Open Championship record. On top of winning the event twice he’s also recorded five top tens at this event over the past ten years. Even as he approaches senior status, Els is someone to consider at the Open.
- Zach Johnson isn’t someone you’d typically consider for this event but last years champ has now made 9 straight cuts at the Open. His ability to keep the ball down in the wind have turned him into a great play every time this event rolls around.
The Open is always one of the most unique weeks of the year. The players rarely get to see links style golf so being able to identify the golfers most comfortable in this style of setting can often be a big advantage. Given the fairly soft salaries I’m not sure there’s one style of roster construction I’d advocate this week and would instead just recommend you “go outside your comfort zone” and take some chances with the more experienced European-links players. Lessor known names from the European tour with good recent form and good open records, could be huge plays this week and the DraftKing’ers who take the time to pick them out will prosper with some great potential upside and likely low ownership.
Top Performing Studs from recent weeks
- Jason Day
- Dustin Johnson
- Branden Grace
Top Performing Value plays from recent weeks
- Scott Piercy
- Steve Stricker
- Matteo Manessaro
MY PICK: Martin Kaymer ($8400)
Out of all the major championships, there is zero doubt that this is the one where going a little off the board could really work to your advantage. The wind, the rain, the draw and the course are all unique and can really effect the outcome of this event. This is part of the reason why I have chosen Kaymer for my pick this week. Kaymer enters this event having made 9 straight cuts worldwide and has four finishes of 13th or better in his last five starts. Even better is the fact that most of Kaymer’s best results have come over in Europe this year on similar tests to what the players will see this week. A fantastic links player, with wins at the Alfred Dunhill Links, the KLM Open and the French Open, Kaymer has tackled some of Europe’s toughest tests over his career and come out on top. Given his record in Europe, his recent form, and his major championship pedigree I think Kaymer is shaping up to be a really tough out this week, and at $8400 I love the value you’re getting here for such a quality player. I expect a confident Kaymer to challenge for his third major this week and won’t be shocked if he seals the deal.
MY SLEEPER: Steve Stricker ($6400)
Sleeper Qualification: must be under $7000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10% owned
I really have a good feeling about Stricker this week. Stricker has been in great form of late, finishing T2 at the FedEx St. Jude a few weeks ago where he was top ten for the week in SG: tee to green and putting. Moreover, Stricker has not always chosen to play the Open due to family concerns but is fully committed this year. Last week he played the warmup event in Scotland and finished with a strong 21st placing. Older, experienced, players have prospered at the Open and Stricker comes in here with the sort of accuracy and all-around game that could prosper at a venue like Troon. At $6400, I think Stricker is a great value pick with more upside than people realize. I’m looking for him to land a top twenty finish this week and possibly even surprise with more.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.