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The field for The Open Championship consists of approximately 156 golfers and will feature a cutline of the top 70 and ties for the weekend. The field has lots of international qualifiers attached to it but still features the top players in golf with 49 of the top 50 players in the OWGR in the field (Daniel Berger is the only one missing due to a back injury and has been replaced by Sahith Theegala). The last two Open Championship winners in Shane Lowry ($9.300) and Collin Morikawa ($10,300) are in the field, as is U.S. Open winner Matthew Fitzpatrick ($9,700), who returned to action last week and finished T6 at the Genesis Scottish Open. Tiger Woods ($7,500), a winner at St. Andrews in 2000 and 2005, will also return to action this week after skipping the U.S. Open in June.
This year’s event will feature a historic return to the Old Course at St. Andrews, the most revered of all the courses in The Open rotation. While it’s not overly long or challenging for the players anymore, St. Andrews has a ton of tradition attached to it and is still suspectable to poor weather coming in off the coast. In 2015, the venue produced a thrilling three-man playoff with lots of surprise contenders getting into the mix. Expect nothing less this year.
The Old Course at St. Andrews—St. Andrews, Scotland
Par 72— 7,305 yards
The Old Course has hosted The Open Championship three times over the past 25 years, with it last being seen in 2015. That season saw a three-man playoff with Zach Johnson ($6,500) beating Louis Oosthuizen ($8,800) and Marc Leishman ($7,700) for the Claret Jug. All three of those men were over 30 years of age and speak to the kind of guile and Open Championship experience that can be useful around the Old Course, a venue that sets up as almost no other in professional golf today.
While it’s often revered as the birthplace of golf, the Old Course is likely the easiest venue on The Open Championship rotation and plays to a paltry 7,300 yards, which is incredibly short for a modern par 72. The course features 14-par 4s and does have some tougher holes, like famous road hole 17th which stretches close to 500 yards after changes to the tee box in 2010. However, it’s also littered with drivable par 4s that will leave players simple wedges and short approaches of 50 yards or less. When you add in an easy par 5, and the fact there are only two par 3s on the course, the venue will really only be challenging if the wind gets up, and otherwise could play as a massive birdiefest if the wind and bad weather stay away.
For research purposes, looking at shorter par 4 performance could be key. There are seven par 4s here that could be drivable with most of them playing well under 400 yards in length. While good bounces and straight driving will be key, it’s around the green play which will truly end up being the decider on many of these holes and whether someone can walk away with a birdie.
Efficiency on shorter par 4s is a stat to consider, but so is scrambling, and looking at scrambling stats from 30 yards out (aka who excels at long up-and-downs) is something to consider. As of this week, some names that rank in the top 10 in scrambling from outside of 30 yards include Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,300), Adam Scott ($7,700), Keith Mitchell ($6,900) and Patrick Cantlay ($9,400).
This venue has seen extremely low scores in the past and, while we can expect the rough to be grown out, the venue also has some of the widest fairways in the world. Good ball-striking will still be hugely beneficial, but bad bounces will likely have more to do with whether players can avoid pot bunkers than just being a great driver of the golf ball. Ultimately, this is an event where a good draw and good course management will be huge factors. Look for players who are trending well in recent form (and some key stat areas mentioned above) but also bring in some good recent links form or experience, as well.
Regardless of the weather, this venue will be exciting to watch. With lower scores potentially available for the players on all four days, we could have some massive movement on the leaderboard over the weekend which will also make for some great in-play betting opportunities on DraftKings Sportsbook.
2022 outlook: As with any Open Championship, weather will be a huge focus this week leading into the event. St. Andrews is a shorter course and one of the easier in The Open rotation, so benign weather can and will likely lead to lower scores. As of now, Thursday looks like decent weather, although highs are only expected to reach the mid-to-high 60s for the day. The cooler temperatures will last all week, with highs not exceeding the low 70s. For DFS purposes, the morning start times on Thursday and Friday will likely be worth watching as both Thursday and Friday afternoon have warmer temperatures and declining winds. Friday morning may have the worst weather with highs in the mid-50s for that wave and gusts approaching 20 mph. The weather can and will change multiple times, so keep looking out as the week progresses in case more drastic wave splits develop.
Last 5 winners
2021—Collin Morikawa -15 (over Jordan Spieth -13)
2019 – Shane Lowry – 15 (over Tommy Fleetwood -9)
2018 – Francesco Molinari -8 (over Justin Rose and three others -6)
2017 – Jordan Spieth -12 (over Matt Kuchar -9)
2016 – Henrik Stenson -20 (over Phil Mickelson -18)
*2015 – Zach Johnson -15 (over Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman, playoff)
*held at St. Andrews
- Six of the past 10 winners of The Open Championship have been 35 or older; seven of the past 10 have been 32 or older.
- Eight of the past nine winners of The Open Championship had recorded a T20 or better in one of the year’s first two major championships in the year of their victory.
- Fourteen of the past 16 winners of The Open Championship had a T9 or better finish at this event in a previous year prior to winning.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2021 Winner: Collin Morikawa (15-under par)
2019 lead-in form (T4-T2-T14-T8-T7)
- We don’t have a ton of past data to look back on since The Open doesn’t track Strokes Gained data. That being said, certain trends among winners and high finishers are out there. The past five winners have all ranked 23rd or better in the year of their win in Strokes Gained: Approach, with 2017 winner Jordan Spieth ($10,000) ranking first in this category and 2018 winner Francesco Molinari ($7,100) ranking 10th.
- Links golf often isn’t as much about length off the tee as placement, so emphasizing great iron players this week seems like a solid start. Morikawa ranked top five in Greens hit last year.
- The past two Open Championship winners have also emphasized how important scrambling can be, and is, at this event. Shane Lowry ($9,300) led the field in SG: OTT stats at the 2019 Open, but also was second in scrambling for the week. Morikawa was first in scrambling for the week of his win at St. George’s.
- The larger greens and big run-offs at St. Andrews will mean good around the green play, good longer scrambling and putting will be at a premium this week.
- As for setup, St. Andrews has seen great tee-to-green players triumph like Louis Oosthuizen in 2010 and Tiger Woods (2005 and 2000), but also gave us the short-hitting Zach Johnson in 2015. Most players will not have issues driving many of the shorter par 4s this week and will have plenty of shorter approaches as well (making short iron proximity important). Look for great short-iron play and short games to dominate again in 2022.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful 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 DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
**With the course being played on this week only being used every 10 years or so, we’ll be looking instead at past Open Championship form instead.
1. Rory McIlroy ($11,100; best finishes: win-2014, T2-2018): McIlroy has racked up lots of top finishes at this event over the past five years or so. The winner of the 2014 Open at Hoy Lake has five finishes of T5 or better over his past eight Open starts, including a T2 in 2018. Over nine career Open Championships, McIlroy has only missed the cut twice and one was at Carnoustie in his first Open in 2007.
2. Jordan Spieth ($10,000; best finishes: win-2017, T2-2015): The 2017 winner of this event has now finished T20 or better at this championship in five of the past six years and has never missed a cut in eight Open Championship starts. He leads the field in strokes gained stats at The Open since 2017 and makes for a heady pay-up target at $10K flat on DraftKings.
3. Adam Scott ($7,700; best finishes: second-2012, T3-2013): Since 2010, Scott has made the cut in 10 of the past 11 Open Championships and has four top-10 finishes to his credit over that span — including a second in 2012 when he famously bogeyed the last four holes to lose by a shot. He was T17 in 2018 at Carnoustie and missed the cut in Ireland in 2019 (his first MC in 10 years). After a T14 at the U.S. Open, don’t be shocked if he puts in a big week at St. Andrews.
4. Sergio Garcia ($7,400; best finishes: second-2007, T2-2014): Dating back to 2005, Garcia has seven finishes of T9 or better at The Open, including a heartbreaking playoff loss to Paddy Harrington in 2007 at Carnoustie. He finished T6 here in 2015 and T6 in 2016 and grabbed a T19 at this event last season. He has missed the cut at the past two majors, so he is far from a must-play, but don’t be shocked if he puts in a better effort at this week’s event.
5. Justin Rose ($7,400; best finishes: T2-2018): Rose ranks sixth in this field over the past six seasons in SG: Total at The Open Championship. The Englishman finished T2 here in 2018 and T6 in 2016. He’s made the cut in his last seven Open Championship appearances and will likely be a popular value pick in the mid-$7K range given his Open Championship record and recent top-five finish at the Canadian Open.
1. Xander Schauffele ($9,900; win-win): There’s little doubt who the hottest player in golf is right now (from a recent form perspective). Schuaffele has now grabbed wins in each of his last two official PGA TOUR starts and also has good links experience as he finished T2 at the Open Championship in 2018. At under $10,000 in salary this week, expect him to be a popular daily fantasy golf target.
2. Matthew Fitzpatrick ($9,700; T6-win): How about a T6 at the Scottish Open to back up your first major? Fitzpatrick looked every bit as dangerous last week as he did prior to winning the U.S. Open. He should be considered a serious threat to go back-to-back this week in major events.
3. Patrick Cantlay ($9,400; T4 - T13): Despite some later Sunday fumbles at the Travelers, Cantlay comes into the Open having finished no worse than T14 in his past four PGA TOUR starts. He shot even-par or better in four rounds at the Scottish Open last week and should be viewed as a serious contender this week at St. Andrews.
4. Keith Mitchell ($6,900; T36 - T6): Mitchell only grabbed a T36 at the Scottish Open last week, but the American has played well over the last month, posting back-to-back top 10 finishes at the Canadian Open and Travelers. At under $7K, he’s set up as a nice source of value for the last major.
5. Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,300; T14 - 2nd): Bezuidenhout started slowly in Scotland last week but ended the week in the top 20. The South African is top 30 in scrambling and putting on the PGA TOUR this season and has the game to take on the tricky layout of a links course like St. Andrews.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Stick with Schauffele and Fleetwood
Given the good history of players using the Scottish Open as a solid lead-in to The Open Championship, we should be giving weight to the performances of those over at the Renaissance Club last week. Xander Schauffele ($9,900) led the field in strokes gained tee-to-green play there and won his second PGA TOUR event in a row. It’s been a great run of late for the American who looks like a player ready to break through for a big win this week. There’s not much else to say about Schauffele, who has also made the cut in each of his past four Open Championship starts and finished T2 at the event in 2018. Tommy Fleetwood ($8,600) hasn’t had as prolific a lead-in, but the Englishman finished a strong T4 last week and was one of the leaders in Off the Tee stats. He was also second at The Open in 2019 and looks undervalued at well under $9K this week on DraftKings. Other potential targets for this format include Max Homa ($7,900), Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,300) and Ryan Fox ($7,100).
Tournaments: Get down with Dustin
We should see lower ownership on the LIV Golf players this week, as many casual players may will simply not want to play those associated with the controversial and rival golf tour. Dustin Johnson ($9,200) led this event at St. Andrews in 2015 after 36 holes and has plenty of Open Championship experience, including a T2 from 2011. He looks undervalued at his price tag and has been showing better form in his past couple of starts. Another veteran player I would highly consider in this format is Adam Scott ($7,700), who has resisted LIV Golf’s advances to this point but hasn’t played all that much of late (and should draw lower ownership as a result). Scott actually placed in front of Johnson at the U.S. Open, where he grabbed a T14 placing. The Aussie has a great Open Championship record and looks hyper-focused on the majors right now. Other players to consider for this format include Louis Oosthuizen ($8,800), Thomas Pieters ($7,200), Hao-Tong Li ($6,900 - see below) and Emiliano Grillo ($6,700).
MY PICK: Patrick Cantlay ($9,400)
From a daily fantasy perspective, we can expect lots of action this week on names like Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele — who both have top-five finishes at The Open on their record (Spieth won the Claret Jug in 2017 and played well again last week). Schauffele’s recent form is off the charts right now, but it’s worth noting that Cantlay (who was in the final group with Schauffele at the Travelers three weeks ago) matched Schauffele on the weekend at the Scottish Open, shooting four-under-par over his final two rounds.
It was a great lead-in event for Cantlay, who shot four rounds of even-par or better at the Renaissance Club and has now shot just one round over par in his past 10 competitive rounds on the PGA TOUR. Cantlay’s Open record may not be extensive, but a T12 on his debut at the event in 2018 is a nice indicator and he gained strokes in every major category last week in his T4 effort on the Scottish links. In many ways, it’s been a perfect lead-in to the final major for Cantlay, who also grabbed a top-20 finish at the U.S. Open last month and paired with Schauffele in April to grab a team event win. Even if you’re not confident enough to bet him this week (he’s +2000 on DraftKings Sportsbook) Cantlay’s $9,400 salary offers a good discount off other popular names on DraftKings and, if he does end up peaking this week, he’ll end up as one of the best upper-tier values in DFS. While it’s been a frustrating major season for Cantlay, thus far, his recent form and solid lead-in mean it behooves us to give him one more shot this week and see if he can’t claim his maiden major win at historic St. Andrews.
MY SLEEPER: Hao-Tong Li ($6,900)
When we’re getting lower down in the salaries and looking at true upside plays (golfers who could actually win the event this week if everything breaks their way) Hao-Tong Li has to be firmly on our radar. The Chinese-born Li is a recent winner on the DP World Tour from just two starts ago at the BMW International Open and encouragingly played (and made the cut) in the Scottish Open last week.
Li has played in The Open Championship four times prior and famously landed a third-place finish in 2017 off the back of a closing round 64. While he’s been a streaky player as a pro, Li has shown the ability to hold his own in majors and also owns a solid record at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (played on a rotation of courses that includes St. Andrews), finishing T5 at that event in 2018 and T14 there last year. With a salary under the $7K mark — and massive +15000 odds in the outright market on DraftKings Sportsbook — he makes for a good outright betting target this week and a great upside play for your fantasy golf millionaire rosters at the last major of the year.
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