After two years of waiting, The Open Championship finally returns this week. Royal St. George’s Golf Club (par 70, 7,211 yards) of Sandwich, Kent, England, will be hosting this major championship, marking the 15th time the venue has hosted The Open. Most recently hosting in 2011, when Darren Clarke won by three shots at -5, and in 2003, when Ben Curtis posted a winning number of only -1. Regarded as one of the most difficult courses in the Open rotation, Royal St. George’s is a classic links style course located on the coastline of southeast England. As always with any Open track, the wind becomes a huge factor here in Sandwich, and while the precipitation forecast currently looks promising, with no rain projected after Thursday, this is England, and that can change on a moment’s notice. So, be sure to be watching the weather report closely up until roster lock, to see if there are any clear advantages for the morning or afternoon players.
Like most Open venues, being long off the tee isn’t a necessity at Royal St. George’s. Neither Clarke or Curtis ranked inside the top 15 in driving distance during their wins, and in fact, only two of the previous 10 Open winners have finished the week in the top 10 in the stat. Finding the fairway as often as possible to better position yourself for an ideal approach to the green is always a primary strategy at this major, and we should see many players club down off the tee this week. As always with any golf tournament, top notch iron play is going to be pivotal for success at Royal St. George’s. Back in 2011, Clarke ranked second in greens found during his victory here, and two of the past four golfers to win the Open have led their fields in GIR.
Of the nine courses in the regular Open rotation, Royal St. George’s is one of the four par 70s used for this major. As you may already know, a par 70 features 12 par 4s and only two par 5s. Being efficient on the par 4s at any par 70 is essential to winning, and Royal St. George’s is no exception. Both Clarke and Curtis were dominant on the par 4s when they became the championship golfer of the year in Sandwich, ranking second and fourth in par 4s scoring, respectively. Every Open is designed to create difficult scoring conditions and it is imperative we target golfers who avoid bogeys at a strong rate. Both Clarke and Curtis ended the week in the top eight in least bogeys during their wins at Royal St. George’s. Furthermore, of the past 10 players to hoist the Claret Jug, only Zach Johnson in 2015 didn’t rank inside the top 10 in bogeys avoided.
This Open will be this season’s fourth and final major, and 46 of the top-50 ranked players in the world will be making the trip to Sandwich this week, with 2021 Masters’ champion Hideki Matsuyama, and obviously, Tiger Woods being the most notable absences. Like the PGA Championship, instead of using the standard top 65 and ties cut rule, the Open’s cut is the top 70 and ties moving onto the weekend following the first 36 holes. With this being a major championship, DraftKings is offering up some huge GPPs for DFS players, including three individual tournaments that pay out $1 million to first place. Given the strength of this field, there is an overabundance of appealing cheap options to consider this week, and without further ado, I give you four of my favorite value plays for the Open at $7,400 or less.
Harris English, $7,300
I was all over English at the U.S. Open, when he was criminally underpriced at $7,300. He ended up having the best major performance of his career, carding a T3 at the South Course of Torrey Pines, and then went onto win the Travelers the following week. Now comes the Open, and English is inexcusably the exact same price he was for the U.S. Open, making him a core play in my opinion. The 31-year-old has produced seven top-10s this season, including two wins.
English is one of only five players to have multiple wins on the TOUR this season, and he checks all the boxes for Royal St. George’s, ranking eighth in SGT2G, 12th in SG on par 4s and seventh in bogey avoidance across his last 12 rounds. The former Georgia Bulldog has also only missed one cut in five Open appearances and has been playing on the weekend at 13 consecutive majors. To top it all off, English’s stellar season currently has him ranked as the 12th best player in the world, but he is only the 41st most expensive golfer on DraftKings this week.
Rickie Fowler, $7,300
After some really rocky stretches of golf, Fowler’s game is trending up just in time for his return to The Open. He didn’t qualify for the first two majors of the season, but with a T6 at the last Open Championship, Fowler gained an invite to Royal St. George’s this week, where he finished with a T5 back in 2011. Including this high finish, Fowler has finished in the top 25 on five occasions at The Open, and has only missed the cut once in 10 career attempts at the major.
Heading to Sandwich, Fowler has finished T8, T11, MC and T32 in his last four starts. If we take a deeper dive into this stretch, we will see that he gained strokes T2G and on APP at three of these four events, and shot under par in 11 of the 14 rounds. A top 20 is on the table for Fowler in this form, and this low salary is the cheapest he has ever been for this major in the history of DraftKings Golf.
Robert MacIntyre, $7,300
At the Royal Portrush for the 2019 Open Championship, MacIntrye didn’t disappoint in his major debut, firing off a final round 68 en route to a T6 finish. Since this impressive feat, the Scottish pro has moved up 49 spots in the world rankings to No. 53, and proceeded to the weekend at five straight majors, most notably with a T12 at the Masters this April. His most recent start came at last week’s Scottish Open, where MacIntyre shot under par for all four rounds and posted a T18 at the Renaissance Club. This links course brings similar challenges to Royal St. George’s, and if we exclude his first round withdrawal from the Scottish Championship last October, MacIntyre has made 25 of last 26 cuts worldwide.
Competing in his home country this week, the 24-year-old has excellent upside at this venue that suits his game, and the unfamiliarity with his name should keep MacIntyre’s ownership in check.
Russell Henley, $7,200
Henley has been hit or miss at The Open in the past, sporting a 3/6 record at the major, but he is just too cheap to ignore this week. Few players in this field are striking it better than Henley right now, with him ranking fourth in SG APP and 12th in SGT2G over his last 12 rounds. Plus, the 32-year-old has been dodging the crooked numbers on his scorecard during this time, ranking second in bogey avoidance. The incredible form has resulted in three straight top 20s for Henley, with the highlight of this run being a T13 at the U.S. Open.
This was his 11th made cut in his last 12 majors, and with so many big names in the 7K range this week, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if Henley came with single digit ownership in GPPs like the Millionaire Maker.
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