Carnoustie Golf Links
Carnoustie is a difficult course under standard conditions. This week, it could be especially challenging. The course, aside from the greens, is baked out. Here in the US, golf course superintendents like to see green grass everywhere. In Scotland, green means it’s too soft and slow. Tales are already being told of 400+ yard drives in practice rounds because the fairways are that firm and fast. Tommy Fleetwood gave a very insightful testimonial that tee shots he knows to be easy from past experience here are suddenly difficult because of the extra rollout.
The big takeaway here is that drivers may stay in the bag quite a bit this week. This thought is further supported by the distribution of hole type. There are four 400-450 yard par 4s and seven (!) 450-500 yard par 4s. Interestingly, there are only two par 5s and three par 3s. Accuracy off the tee (avoiding bunkers) and precise approach shots should drive success.
The Open Championship is not The Open Championship without wind. At this point, it doesn’t look like either wave will have the kind of advantage we saw at Shinnecock, but it’s worth hopping into FTA+ chat through Wednesday night to keep tabs on any last minute advantages that could develop.
As usual, I’ll be using ownership projections from FantasyLabs and Fantasy National. Since it’s still only Tuesday, these projections could change… another reason to hop into FTA+ chat!
The Open Championship Draftkings Picks
As always, Dustin Johnson is far and away the highest projected player in my models. His projected earnings are nearly double anyone else’s and his made-cut odds are 96% (no one else is above 87%). He’ll be popular, but worth it.
The other chalky option in this tier is Justin Rose. Rose was part of the large group of chalk that came through at Shinnecock which will only add to his ownership in the year’s third major. Despite this, its hard to argue against him. He’s second in earnings projection and fourth in cut odds according to my models.
Early ownership projections had Rory McIlroy at a much more appealing number than they do now. He comes into this week in quietly excellent ball striking form (atrocious putting kept him from truly contending at the Traveler’s). He’s the fourth rated player in my models. At low ownership, that would make him very enticing, even at $11k. If his ownership projection continues to climb, however, it won’t take long for him to reach fade-status.
I’m surprised that Justin Thomas isn’t currently projected for higher ownership than Rory. I’ll take the $1k discount with JT if that remains. JT is having one of the best ball striking years on tour with over half a stroke per round gained off the tee and .845 strokes per round gained approaching the greens.
Jordan Spieth is predictably projected for low ownership. He’s rapidly falling down the ranks in my models so I’d rather chase low ownership elsewhere.
Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler appear to be the most popular plays in this tier. To be honest, no one stands out above or below the rest for me in the 9ks. This makes Koepka and Fowler fades for me.
Jon Rahm is third in my models but that’s driven almost entirely by nearly a full stroke gained per round off the tee. His iron play has been below average this year, making me very hesitant to play him.
Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia are projected for similar ownership to Rahm, but I imagine Fleetwood will end up closer to Brooks and Rickie. Sergio is getting quite a bit of buzz and could end up with Fleetwood from an ownership standpoint. I’m not a Sergio fan this week… full fade for me.
If I’m taking anyone in this tier (doubt it), it’ll be either Rahm or Fleetwood.
Tiger Woods – that’s right, he gets his own subheading…
It’s here! It’s finally here! Tiger Woods week! The reason I love Tiger this week is twofold; his iron play has been excellent this season (+.949 strokes per round) with dominant upside (+11.2 for the week at The Memorial). Plus, this course could be a perfect fit for his current game.
Brandel Chamblee made all of the following points in a tweet. Carnoustie asks for only a couple draws off the tee (Brandel is an awesome follow and has been all over Tiger’s struggles to draw the ball this year) Plus, Tiger will be able to hit plenty of driving irons, which mean his patented stingers! ESPN ran a story this morning about Tiger’s historical struggles on slow greens, but the slow greens could work in his favor right now. In his last event, he struggled mightily inside 10 ft (more delicate putting strokes). Outside of 10 ft, he was holing putts with free-flowing, crisp strokes. He’ll have more of these strokes and fewer of the delicate ones on slower greens.
Finally, a bonus: the last time he was in this exciting of a spot, he was mega chalk at Augusta. He’s currently projected to be in the ballpark of 15% ownership.
Paul Casey is always a solid play, but also almost always a chalky one. He’s sixth overall in my models, making him a great value. Even better, however, is Francesco Molinari. Molinari is one spot ahead of Casey in my models and should be a little less chalky. Molinari has the hottest of hands right now, as well. Any pairing among Tiger, Casey, and Moli is one that I’m 100% behind, and I’ll even experiment with trying to fit all three.
Patrick Reed, Alex Noren, and Marc Leishman all seem a little too chalky for my taste. None pop in the models.
Henrik Stenson would be a near lock if it weren’t for the questions surrounding his wrist injury. He has said he’s not 100% and would potentially sit out if it weren’t a major. If not for he injury he would be mega chalk. If that ownership projection comes crashing down, I’ll revisit the idea of locking him in.
Adam Scott is very intriguing. After switching putting styles in May, he gained strokes putting in two consecutive events before putting terribly in the following four. His ball striking, on the other hand, remained typically excellent. On the season, he’s gaining exactly half a stroke per round driving and over three quarters of a stroke per round with his irons. Couple that with very low ownership projections and you have yourself an excellent GPP play.
Branden Grace and Ian Poulter appear to be the chalkiest options in this range, though neither will be among the most popular in the field. Grace has gained the majority of his strokes on and around the green. He’s a good wind player, but I’ll pass. Poulter doesn’t rate well in my models either.
Bryson DeChambeau is an outstanding value if his shoulder doesn’t give him any further issues. I was shocked to see his original ownership projections as low as they were and will love Bryson this week if reports about his health are good. He’s gaining well over half a stroke in both ball striking categories.
Patrick Cantlay is one of the darlings of my models. He has the third highest odds to make the cut and eighth highest earnings projection. He’s easily gaining over a stroke per round from ball striking, making him wildly underpriced. Projected for similar ownership as Bryson, I have no issue rolling with the healthier player (or both, if word comes out that Bryson is feeling 100%).
There are two clear chalk plays in this range: Zach Johnson and Tony Finau. As long as you’re diversified enough elsewhere from the field, I like both plays a lot. Finau has actually been even better with his irons than the driver he is so well known for. ZJ’s distance disadvantage is mitigated by the firm fairways and his iron play has been quite sharp. However, his tendency to draw the ball whenever possible could hurt him here as draws will make holding the fast fairways a greater challenge.
Question: If I told you that the player 2nd on tour in strokes gained approach was $7100 and projected for sub-5% ownership, would you be interested? Then play Keegan Bradley.
Gary Woodland pops in my models, but it’s mostly due to a gigantic .834 strokes gained off the tee. His iron play has been good, but nowhere near as good Keegan’s or a few players in the following tier.
Emiliano Grillo is comically underpriced. Grillo is gaining over a half stroke per round in each ball striking category. He’s the 18th rated player in my models and his recent form has been just as good. He’s simply way too good to be this cheap. The only downside is that most DFS players know this, which will make him very popular.
Russell Henley doesn’t pop in my models based on any long term numbers, but his recent ball striking form makes him a good option this week. His iron play has been especially impressive (and consistent).
Beau Hossler is getting more buzz than I expected. He is admittedly in good form, but doesn’t have anywhere near the long term ball striking prowess that Henley has. Henley is gaining half a stroke per round with his irons in 2018, and around .3 since the start of 2017. Hossler is losing around a quarter stroke per round with his irons, both on the season and since the start of 2017. Henley could be best used as a contrarian pivot off the mega chalk that will be Grillo.
Stewart Cink and Austin Cook are both better players than their $6600 tag suggests. Cink has been especially consistent and impressive with his irons. If he wasn’t such an old head he’d be getting a lot more credit for his iron play this season. +.791 strokes gained approach per round is no joke!
Bronson Burgoon has made us quite a bit of money these past few weeks and he’s only $6300! He’s gaining .346 strokes per round off the tee and .46 with his irons in 2018. In other words, the recent run of success is no accident. At $6300 he will undoubtedly be very low owned. If you’re playing multiple lineups, I highly suggest playing him at least once.