Royal Troon plays home to the 145th edition of the Open Championship. In true British Open style, the championship is expected to be played under less than ideal conditions as relatively high winds and a fair amount of rain are forecast. I have seen some conflicting reports already though as some mediums are reporting the chances of rain to be very low on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday with Friday being pegged as the day of winds and rain. Realistically, the conditions are extremely volatile at every venue that makes up the Open rota so I would be prepared for a slew of different weather patterns.
Royal Troon has undergone some big changes since it last hosted the Open in 2004. The fairways and greens used to be laid on top of a sand and soil mixture which made them much softer as it allowed for more grass to grow. In 2013, the decision was made to go with all sand underneath which makes it more difficult for grass to populate and thus makes the course faster and firmer (about 25% more according to course officials). Now, if the forecast of rain comes to fruition, it somewhat negates this as you can imagine. If that is the case, we can also then lend a slight hand to some bombers as distance will be of far more importance.
Troon is a very different monster from front to back. The front 9 plays a little over 3,400 yards and is slated as a Par 36. It typically plays downwind and lends itself to some good scores out of the gates. However, when players transition to the back 9, things become a lot more daunting. The back plays as a 3,700+ yard Par 35 and holes 10, 11 and 12 played as the 3rd, 1st & 2nd hardest holes on the course in 2004. Because the course is built as a true out and in style links, meaning the 9th hole is actually the farthest point from the clubhouse, the back 9 plays directly back into the wind. So, the tale of two nines is basically a shortish, downwind Par 36 versus a loooong, into-the-wind Par 35. This creates an extremely interesting and challenging dynamic that will surely expose a lot of players. An outward 9 of 33 and inward 9 of 38 for an even par 71 will be very common this week.
The Open Championship has traditionally shown that players who come into the week with good form have found success. In fact, 10 of the last 16 Open winners (63%) have come into the tournament with at least one victory on the season. I also think it’s somewhat idiotic to believe a player will find his form on a course set up for Major Championship golf so focus on guys that have been performing well of late. Because this course is part of the Open rota, there will be a very limited amount of course history data as the last time it was held here was all the way back in 2004 and the majority of participants from that Open are rather irrelevant nowadays.
High End Targets ($10,000+)
• Jason Day
Day is basically an auto-play in any DFS format every single week. The Aussie has shown us over the past calendar year that he has all the tools essential to win every single week on Tour and there isn’t really a course out there that he can’t conquer. If it had not been for a complete brain fart on #16 at the WGC-Bridgestone, all the pre-tourney pressure would be off DJ and on Day. When grabbing guys this highly priced, you don’t even really have to factor in the stats because you know that they are truly just superior golfers compared to that of their competition and as such they obviously rank very highly in most of the statistical categories.
• Dustin Johnson
DJ is without a doubt the hottest player on the planet at the moment having won his last two starts which were the US Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Not a bad streak. As we touched on above, Day’s blunder on the 16th hole at the WGC kind of gifted DJ the victory but he clearly played good golf to even get himself in that position in the first place. Golf is a funny game such that streaks of hot play like this can last a really, really long time (see: Day’s last 12 months). With how well DJ is driving the ball, he grabs a real advantage over a huge chunk of the field. The fact that he’s topping the charts in proximity to the hole from 50-125 yards only escalates that advantage. This could be huge for him on the front 9 at Troon as he can honestly drive the first 3 greens with the proper wind but even if he lands short, he’ll surely be able to take advantage from there. DJ is my favorite play of the week simply because I feel like his game sets up absolutely perfectly for this track. He should be able to murk the front 9 and his length will help to eliminate some of the potential dange the back 9 presents.
• Rory McIlroy
Rory has quietly been on a tear lately. In his last 10 starts worldwide, the Ulsterman has amassed five Top 5 finishes with one of them being a victory at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open after an incredibly display of play on the closing stretch. The thing that I love the most about Rory is that he makes an insane amount of birdies. I believe he will absolutely eat this front 9 up at Troon and his stability (58th in Bogey Avoidance) is something that will hold him through on the back 9. Growing up in Northern Ireland, Rors is acclimated to the potential weather hazards. His ability to control his trajectory in a similar fashion that prime Tiger did is something that is invaluable this week so I think he truly gets a one-up on the field in that category. FantasyLabs actually has Rory boasting 11 Pro Trends this week which is an extremely positive sight. Lastly, if you’re in the debate of “Rory for $11.9 or Spieth for $11.7?” go with Rory. He’s in slightly better form, making more birdies and less bogeys and Spieth’s GIR% issues (165th on Tour) are something that could result in a very short week for him.
• Adam Scott
Over the course of the past 5 years, Adam Scott has proved his affinity for the Open Championship. Since 2011 Open at Royal St. Georges, the Aussie hunk has finished no higher than T25. The beauty of this spot is that Scott has been playing phenomenal golf for a long time. In his last 10 starts, he’s amassed eight Top 18 finishes. His last two starts are trending upward as well which is exactly what we like to pounce on as he finished T18 at the US Open (50.50 DK points) and T10 at the WGC-Bridgeston (61 DK points). Now, he is likely to be one of the highest owned golfers this week due to his suppressed price versus the very top options but I wouldn’t let that deter you from playuing him entirely. He’s simply too good and has proven himself to be too comfortable with this type of golf to completely fade.
• Sergio Garcia
Sergio checks in at number two on FantasyLabs’ Pro Trends model (DJ is #1) as he touches on 12 of them this week. This should come as no surprise as anyone who has watched the Open in previous years has surely seen Sergio at or near the top of the board at one point or another throughout the tournament. In his last five Open tries, with the exception of 2012 when he MC’d, Garcia has notched finishes of:
• 2011: T9 (60.5 DK pts)
• 2013: T21 (49.6 DK pts)
• 2014: T2 (109 DK pts)
• 2015: T6 (86 DK pts)
Fantasy Golf Metrics also has Sergio ranked extremely high this week as he checks into their first class of players with an FGM Score of 9.45 out of a possible 10. His form is something that only further boosts his attractiveness as his last three starts worldwide have resulted in finishes of 1st at the Byron Nelson (132 DK pts, all 4 rounds under 70), T5 at the US Open (71 DK pts) and T5 at the BMW Intl (113.50 DK pts, played Par 5s in 9 under). One thing that has always played Sergio and kept him from winning more frequently than he does is his putter. This week however, he’ll be putting on Troon’s Bentgrass surfaces which elevate his appeal as he gains +0.617 strokes on the field and makes 8% more of his 10′ – 15′ putts on this type of grass.
Mid-Range Targets ($9,900 – $8,000)
• Brendan Grace
Grace has shown that he loves to play hard on the big stage. Hes got a very well rounded game and has been playing fine golf since his win at the RBC Heritage back in April. Grace is one of those guys that kind of hangs around the board and is far more likely to win a championship with a number between -5 and -8 rather than a -10 and above (the Heritage being an exception of course). The SOuth African averages about 15 birdies per tournament according to FantasyLabs’ Long-Term Form. On the contrary he’s succumbing to around 8.3 Bogeys per tournament. He’s an extremely consistent golfer who only misses about 10% of his cuts so he’s a lovely option for both Cash and GPP play this week. His 7 Pro Trends is something to get excited over too. Grace is actually rolling in 10.4% more putts from 15′-20′ on Bentgrass surfaces and with how small the average green is as Troon, this could be a very key stat for him.
• Phil Mickeldust
Mickeldust closed out his Scottish Open with a phenomenal display of golf on Sunday as he tamed the conditions and went on a birdie binge. The closing round 66 vaulted him 38 spots up the leaderboard into a T13 finish (84 DK pts). This is the beauty of Phil for DFS purposes in that he always has the potential to reel off a slew of birds at any moment on any course. Such volatility makes him rather invaluable in my mind. Phil clocks in with a very nice 7 Pro Trends on FL and lands himself in the 3rd class of FGM’s rankings with a score of 7.14/10. I think these will help suppress his ownership slightly and make him that much more attractive to us. Although I wouldn’t recommend him in Cash, I’d certainly have a go with Phil in some GPP lineups. A lesser known tidbit is that Phil actually missed out on the playoff at the ’04 Open here at Troon by just a single shot.
• Lee Westwood
Lee has been in lovely form since The Masters back in April where he finished T2. If it were not for a final round 80 at the US Open we might also be seeing a lot more hype surrounding Lee coming in. Lee finished solo 4th here at Troon in the ’04 Open at 6 under par. Hes been hitting about 60.8% of his fairways which could be pivotal this week. Lee seems to have ironed out the kinks that plague him all of last year so you shouldn’t have any reason not to play him this week.
• Martin Kaymer
Kaymer is another one of the lot who is just playing to good to fade right now. The multiple Major winning German has made his last 10 cuts worldwide with 4 of them resulting in Top 7 finishes. His last two weeks specifically at the French Open and Scottish Open where he turned in wonderful performances go a long way to instilling the confidence I have in Kaymer. He amassed 79 and 78.50 DK pts respectively in those two weeks. Both of which would result in about a +14 rating on his current Salary Based Points Implication of 64. Kaymer checks in with 6 Pro Trends on FL this week and a FGM score of 8.43/10.
• Zach Johnson
The defending champ returns to Scotland in eerily similar form to what he had last year. He has strung together three tremendous tournaments between the Dean & DeLuca Inv (17th for 71.50 DK pts), US Open ( 8th for 60 DK pts) and WGC-Bridgestone (10th for 64 DK pts). Johnson also comes in with 9 Pro Trends to his credit which gives a big bump to his potential in my eyes. The only thing is that Troon is a far different course than that of the Old Course which Johnson tamed last year so I think his path to victory this year is far less feasible but I do see him competing and securing a Top 15-20 finish which would be enough to pay off his 63 point salary implication.
• Bubba Watson
Bubba’s price this week has me very confused. We’re talking about the 5th ranked golfer in the world being priced at just $8,000 while the players ranked 1-4 in the world are no cheaper than $11,700. It’s puzzling but it also represents an incredible opportunity to roster a top tier talents alongside each other and not sacrifice too much on the overall makeup of your roster. I’m very curious to see Bubba’s ownership come Thursday as I wonder if the masses are thinking along the same lines as me or if they’re basing their decision on Bubba’s most recent Open performances that were held at different courses than the one he will be playing this week. With 9 Pro Trends, a 7.31 FGM rating and a talent versus price scenario that I think is way out of wack, I will be treating myself to a heavy dose of Bubba this week.
Low End Targets ($7,900 – $6,000)
• Patrick Reed
Reed is a great combination of superb talent and the know-how to win golf tournaments. Last week at the Scottish Open, Reed fired back to back 67s on the weekend to slip into a T10. What really impressed me and what I’m extremely excited about for this weekend is the fact that Reed played the Par 3s in -1, the Par 4s in -6 and the Par 5s in -2. Imagine if he could’ve just ran a few more in on the Par 5s he would potentially have far more pressure on his performance this week.
• Matt Kuchar
Kuch is probably going to be the highest owned golfer not named Adam Scott or Sergio Garcia this week. Kuch is simply way too talented and on far too long of a hot streak to only cost $7,800 this week. Hes made 14 of his last 15 cuts and 9 of those have resulted in Top 11 finishes which is truly amazing consistency. Further breaking those numbers down, in his last 5 starts, Kuch has finished outside the Top 6 just once; a T46 finish at the US Open. Kuch has 8 FL Pro Trends to his credit this week and a FGM score of 9.13. We’ll be very hard pressed to find a player with such a glaring amount of value for several weeks to come.
• Charl Schwartzel
Keeping with the South Africans, we’ll next take a look at our good buddy and big time beauty Charl Schwartzel. Charl is one of the smoothest swingers on Tour so it comes as no surprise that he routinely gets on hot streaks. He’s currently on one of said streaks and there’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be rostering him this week. In his last 5 starts, Charl has finished no higher than T25 and his lowest DK output has been 55pts at the US Open. He should have no problem eclipsing his salary based points implication of 62 this week.
• Russell Knox
Russell is hoping to be the hometown hero this week after a good effort last week. He finished T10 last week and collected 83.50 DK pts which is a very solid showing. He actually played the Par 5s in 8 under par last week which is something that makes me feel really good about his chances of success this week. Russell is rating out in the middle of the pack for both FantasyLabs and Fantasy Golf Metrics but I think those ratings are a little off as this guy has a tremendous talent for GIR (hitting 70%) and that’s something that will be very important this week. The hometown boost could be enough to push Russell up the board and possibly have him holding the Jug come Sunday.
• Nicolas Colsaerts
The big Belgian burst onto the scene a few years back and enjoyed a tremendous amount of success but has since cooled off considerably in the last few years. He has however seemingly regained a flash of form as his last 7 worldwide starts have resulted in 1 MC and 6 Top 23s with a trio of 3rd place finishes. If you didn’t watch the final round of last week’s Scottish Open, you missed the back 9 birdie barrage that Colsaerts went on when he came in in 6 under par 30. The Belgian is hot at the moment and we need to get on board for such a pedestrian salary investment.
• Andy Sullivan
Sully is another guy that has been rounding into form nicely over the past month or so. His last 5 starts worldwide have resulted in finishes no higher than 23rd. In just the last three weeks alone hes finished T21 at the BMW Intl (73 DK pts, -7 Par 5s), T5 Open de France (90.50 DK pts) and T6 Scottish Open (100.50 DK pts, -6 Par 4s & Par 5s). Andy makes a fair amount of birdies (~14 per tourney) and absolutely laces the ball down the middle of the fairway off the tee, both of which I expect to be important facets of a players game this week.
• Francesco Molinari
Franco seems to be flying under the radar this week and it’s a little exciting. His last two starts have been phenomenal as he finished T8 at the Quicken Loans for 86 DK pts and he followed that performance up with a T2 finish at the Open de France for 95 DK pts (played the Par 3s in -5). The thing I find most attractive about Molinari this week aside from his 7 Pro Trends is the fact that he’s $3,400 cheaper than the last time he was available on DK (Open de France). God bless the early salary release for Milly Makers. There’s a weird little narrative if you want to hook onto it as well in that Todd Hamilton was the 56th ranked player in the world when he won here in 2004 and Franco is, wait for it, number 56 OWGR this week as well. Wowwwwww.
• Alexander Noren
Noren played stunning golf over the weekend at the Scottish Open last week to take the title by one over Tyrrell Hatton. Noren’s swing looked so unbelievably grooved there was never a doubt in my mind that he was going to be hoisting that evening. That win wasn’t just a flash in the pan either as Noren has been playing mighty fine golf of late. The tall Swede has secured Top 12 finishes in 5 of his last 8 starts worldwide. Noren will try to become the first player since Phil in 2013 to win the Scottish and British Opens in back to back weeks.
• Brandon Stone
Stone is an uber talented South African chap who has enjoyed a good string of success worldwide over the past 3 months. Most recently, Stone finished T33 at the BMW Intl ( 70 DK pts, 18 birdies) and T5 at the Open de France (78.50 DK pts, 16 birdies). This young RSA product is averaging ~15 birdies per tourney to only 9 bogeys. If he can keep him emotions in check during his fisrt Major Championship we could be in for something special. He checks in with 5 FL Pro Trends to his credit.
• Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm can be chalked up to the second coming of Bryson DeChambeau. Rahm turned pro the week of the US Open and promptly finished T23. The following week, at the Quickens Loans, he finished T3 on the heels of a 20 birdie, 100 DK pt outburst. I think Rahm is incredibly talented and has a legitimate chance to make some noise around Troon this week. He has 6 Pro Trends going for him and a fabulous FGM score of 8.94 which implies an incredible amount of value for a middle $6k player.
• Bernd Wiesberger
Short and sweet for Bernd here. He’s playing hot golf. His last two appearances were a T7 at the BMW Intl (85 Dk pts, Par 5s in -9) and T11 at the Open de France (70.50 DK pts, 15 birdies). Bernd really doesn’t make many bogeys on any given week so that’s something that makes him very attractive this week given his current form. A little added bonus, Bernd hit 70% of his greens at the French and 84% at the BMW.
• Steve Stricker
Strick hasn’t played much golf lately but he has made 6 of his last 7 cuts dating back to February. I like Strick as a safe option to get through to the weekend here and once that happens we truly have no idea what will transpire. He’s fresj off a tremendous final round 67 at last weeks Scottish which propelled him into a T21 finish (71.50 DK pts, 72% GIR, 85% DA). His previous start before that resulted in a T2 finish at the FedEx St. Jude (94.50 DK pts, -9 Par 4s). Strick doesn’t get the ball out as far as he once did and that could hurt him on the back 9 this week but he’s awfully steady as is evidenced by his T7 ranking in Bogey Avoidance (~7 per week on average). Trending in the right direction, I like Strick as an affordable filler this week.
• Ross Fisher
Ross Fisher is one of my favorite darkhorses this week. The Englishman is coming off a solid week at Castle Stuart in which he hit 83% of his greens and 78% of his fairways while amassing 62 DK pts for just a T39 finish. I would love to see Ross roll in a few more birdies but the truth is he’s a really shit putter. Luckily for him, Troon has relatively small and flat greens so maybe his dodgy stroke can hold its own this weekend. With the ballstriking numbers that he’s posting, if he can in fact find that stroke this weekend he could be in for a real treat.
• Gary Woodland
Woodland popped up on my radar after taking a look at the FGm rankings. The American bomber is only $6,300 this week and has a FGM score of 8.43 which is good enough to land him in their 2nd class. I then peeped him on FantasyLabs and saw that he was saddled with 7 Pro Trends and my interest spiked further. Lastly, I took a look at his recent performances and saw he has a MC smashed in between T12, T4, T21 and T2 finishes. That was enough to sell me on Woodland this week. His ball striking has been rather erratic throughout those weeks as he’s peaked at hitting 77% of his greens and dipped as low as 58% in that same span. If Gary can put it all together for four days here at Troon, he should find himself favorably positioned on the big yellow board.
• William McGirt
I’ll get right to the chase on McGirt as you’d be reading the Woodland description all over again. Favorable FGM score (7.77 – 3rd class), 5 Pro Trends for a sub $7k player and solid form of 1st ( Memorial – 122.50 DK pts), MC by 2 (Us Open) and 7th (WGC-Bridgestone – 68 DK pts).
• Brendan Steele
Brendan Steele is veryyyyy interesting to me this week. He find the 3rd class on FGM with a 6.96 rating, just shy of the benchmark 7.00+ that I look for. However, when you look at him on FL, Steele has an incredible 11 Pro Trends working for him which is far and above the most by any sub $8k or $7k player. This creates an extremely interesting situation with Steele. Hes made 7 straight cuts on Tour and has been finding ~68% of his greens through that stretch and ~59% of his fairways. During that same stretch, Steele is averaging 71.50 DK pts per tournament. That’s basically 15pts more than his salary implies him to score this week. I think this situation is very difficult to pass up on and I’m going to have a fair amount of exposure to Steele as a result.
• Harold Varner III
Now, I’m not the biggest HV3 supporter as I think he’s a bit of a muppet and his dabbing antics are rather gay for lack of a better term but that shade can’t blind me of the fact that he has been playing very solid golf and putting up tremendous DFS numbers since the Texas Open all the way back in late April. Varner has been hitting about 68% of his greens since that time and approximately 64% of his fairways. His lowest DK output has been 61pts as well. He’s routinely hanging crooked numbers up on the board on some very difficult course and his last two starts specifically have trended in a very proper direction with T16 and T7 finishes.
As I’ve written over 4,000 words to this point, the Scrubbies won’t be getting the same breakdown time as the rest:
• Richard Sterne
T11 Open de France (77.50 DK pts, 69% GIR, 67% DA)
T13 Scottish Open (71.50 DK pts, 81% GIR, 75% DA)
Putter clearly stopped him from finishing at the top of the Scottish with ballstriking numbers like those.
• Colt Knost
Playing as an alternate (narrative street). 5 Pro Trends, made last 9 cuts, some very good finishes in marquee events so far this PGA Tour season.
• Daniel Summerhays
Incredible form, last 8 cuts no higher than T51. Averaging ~70 DK pts. 5 Pro Trends. Par 5 scoring very good over this stretch. Averaging +11.78 pts over salary implications through L10 weeks.
• Callum Shinkwin
T8 Scottish Open (94.50 DK pts, 75% GIR, 75% DA)
T9 Open de France (70 DK pts, 81% GIR, 76% DA)
Sure to be everyone’s <$6,000 guy so be weary of own%. Has been playing great of late though and making lots of birdies so he does make the most sense.
If ownership is a concern this low, go with Sterne as the masses won’t know who he is nor how strong of a player he really is.
All Pro Trend stats are a product of FantasyLabs and can be found below:
All FGM Score & Putting Splits stats are a product of Fantasy Golf Metrics and can be found below:
Best of luck to all this week and somebody with the damn Milly!!