The PGA Tour moves to Scotland this weekend as Royal Troon plays host to the Open Championship for the first time since 2004. As is the case with every great major championship, this weekend will be a true test of the skill, and nerve, of all the best golfers in the world. Here are a few of the guys I like best in every price range. Remember The Open Championship tees off at 1:35 AM EST on Thursday morning!
Jason Day ($12,300) – We all know about his multiple wins and top-ten finishes over the course of the past year – he’s clearly the golfer with the most consistency and the most upside. If you’re going to pay up, asking “why Day?” makes a lot less sense than asking “why not?” So I’ll give you this: #1 in Strokes Gained (SG): Putting and top-20 in both SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Around the Green, Day is gaining strokes on everyone from everywhere on the course – and isn’t that the whole point? And to prove the point, yes, he is #1 in the All-Around Ranking. Of course.
Jordan Spieth ($11,700) – The other top option coming in near the top in most all putting categories (currently 4th in SG: Putting), the putter is the great equalizer when it comes to Spieth’s game. The ability to close out your birdie chances and your par saves with almost ruthless efficiency can carry you into contention at the end of the weekend almost no matter what else is going on with your game. And with his game more reliant on control than power, he shouldn’t be too flummoxed by the links style approach to the game, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him and Day both near the top of the leaderboard at the end.
Sergio Garcia ($10,000) – If (and when) Sergio does finally break through with that first major victory, it will certainly have been a long time coming. He’s been such a consistent presence on Tour for so long, it is really just more surprising than anything that he doesn’t have one already. And with nine top-10 finishes at the Open Championship in his career, Garcia is the kind of experienced professional who can just survive a course like Royal Troon, with the skill-set to make just enough shots when he needs them to pull ahead of the younger, flashier names who might also be in the running. Still top-ten in Birdie or Better % at this point in his career, he could give you a big fantasy performance even without winning, but with top-5 showings in four of his last five outings, Garcia seems like he may be finally poised to break through with a win.
Danny Willett ($9,200) – With two straight missed cuts, Willett is the kind of player who could see his fantasy value increased just by virtue of his ownership % being depressed. When a player with this kind of upside is lightly owned, it makes all the sense in the world to get him into at least one of your GPP lineups this weekend. He has made the cut in each of the last four majors, including that win at Augusta.
Martin Kaymer ($8,400) – He has been on fire lately, reminding everyone that at his best, he can compete with the biggest names in golf. Since a T6 at the Open de Espana in mid-April, he has made seven straight cuts, a streak that includes a T13 last weekend and three finishes of T7 or better: the Irish Open, the BMW PGA Championship and the Open de France. He has been more comfortable in Europe of late, based on his track record, and will look to translate that into a big performance at a major this weekend.
Zach Johnson ($8,100) – Currently at 66th in the world in the All-Around Ranking, Johnson has a game where he does everything well without having that one transcendent skill that elevates him above the competition. If he wants to win this weekend, he will need every aspect of his game working, but if you just want him to help your fantasy chances, he doesn’t need a victory. He has the ability to avoid trouble that you need to get you passed the cut line and into the weekend on a tough course.
Matt Kuchar ($7,800) – Track record. This guy just hasn’t really slowed down, with top-10s in six of his last eight, including four finishes inside the top-5. To me, I would have just expected him to cost more – this seems like built-in value for a player who just capped off the WGC-Bridgestone with a 66 on Sunday to move up to T3 for the weekend. How you can expect him to fail here just doesn’t make a lot of sense, so deal with the fact that he will probably be heavily owned and just accept the value for what it is.
Graeme McDowell ($7,500) – He has been alternating between top-20 showing and missed cuts for the past month, a track record that means if I am drafting him to my lineup this weekend, I am looking for upside, not a pillar of my cash-game options. But with a T10 last weekend, a T18 at the season’s last major, and two top-10’s at the Open Championship since 2012, the upside is definitely there.
Marc Leishman ($7,400) – I would be more surprised to see him outside striking distance of the leaders on Sunday than inside – he plays well on links style courses, and has been known to step up his game in big spots, with top-5 performances at each of the last two Open Championships, at St. Andrews and Royal Liverpool. He has already shown an ability to perform against stacked fields this season with a T11 at the Memorial and a T18 the US Open, so his game has been up to the task in the very recent past. I like him to be enough of a value at this price to be useful in any format contest.
Ernie Els ($7,300) – In a tournament where conditions could end up being a factor, there is something to be said for a veteran presence. Els won the Open Championship in 2012, and the last time Royal Troon played host, he finished second after losing in a playoff. Coming off a 21-birdie performance at the Quicken Loans National a few weeks ago, Els clearly still has the game to compete if he is firing on all cylinders, and he has been known to step up at the British in the past.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello ($6,900) – He has been playing well on the Euro Tour for the last few weeks, since his T32 performance in the U.S. Open last month. He has recorded a solo-4th at the Open de France and a T21 last weekend at the Scottish Open, with 30 birdies and an eagle combined, and only a single round over par in each tournament. The 32-year-old Spaniard has the kind of game that can prove useful in any tournament format.
Chris Kirk ($6,600) – Kirk is the kind of golfer who can be a safe fantasy option as well, especially in cash games. He is not likely to win this weekend, but he has proven himself capable of holding his own against deep, talented fields before and has a game suited to a tough course (currently T36 in Bogey Avoidance). Coming off back-to-back top-25 finishes, his game looks to be a in good shape right now, which could make him the kind of filler on the back end of your roster that proves very useful.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) 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.