The Weekly Wedge: 2018 Open Championship

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What’s up Playmakers, and welcome to a special edition of the Weekly Wedge and golf’s third major of the year! Another major, another milli-maker. Luckily, I made the decision to sit out of the massive, $20-entry, 150-entry max contest at Shinnecock because I probably would have never played one again. But, I was able to make a little bit of profit in the milli-maker for The Masters, so I’m back to try and win some more coin at the 2018 Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland.

Carnoustie Golf Course is arguably the hardest track that the Open Championship has seen, last being played here in 2007 where Padraig Harrington edged out Sergio Garcia in a playoff. This par 71 course runs at about 7,400 yards and will play a hell of a lot different than any other course we’ve seen thus far on tour. I think that’s really the first thing you need to realize about this tournament, this is not your typical PGA Tour event and you definitely need to keep that in mind when making your picks.

There has been a lot of talk about how both the fairways and the greens are going to play this weekend. On one hand, the fairways are playing ridiculously long and firm. With reports of 300+ yard iron shots and 400+ yard drives, you can definitely expect most players to club down off the tee to gain some accuracy while still getting some distance from these fairways. On the flip side of the coin, the greens here at Carnoustie are famously slow and I don’t see that being any different this time around. Another thing to mention in regards to the greens is you are definitely going to see a lot of very long putts and putts from well off the green. The players that are able to find the right pace on these greens are going to have a huge advantage here. Obviously, the volatility of both the fairways and the greens is going to be extremely pivotal this weekend but keeping both in mind is going to be key. For example, from the surface Tiger seems to be a great fit for this course because of his ability to hit irons off the tee; but if you dig a little bit deeper, he not only stinks at putting this year, but he also has historically struggled on slow greens throughout his career. I love Tiger, but I’m fine with a full fade and waiting to play him the next time around.

In terms of strategy, I am going to have two completely different approaches for cash games versus GPP tournaments. For cash games, my play is to go up top and get a stud from the top range and then fill in the rest of your lineup with players who historically play well on links-styled courses. For the milli-maker and other larger-field tournaments, I am probably going to center my lineups around the $8k range as I think there are a lot of players in that tier that have a solid shot at taking home the Claret Jug. I’m also thinking that locking down some unfamiliar, low-owned EURO Tour players could be a huge part of taking down one of the huge GPPs that DraftKings is offering for the Open this weekend.

As always, and especially when in the UK, be sure to check the weather prior to lock on Thursday morning because it’s going to be a huge factor for the players this week. The wind will be there as it always is on these types of courses, but also be aware of the cooler temperatures over the first couple of days. Make sure you have some players circled that play well in not so ideal conditions.

Enough of the introduction, let’s get into some key stats and players that I will be targeting in Scotland this weekend.

Key Stats

  • Driving Accuracy Percentage – the amount of time a drive, regardless of club, ends resting in the fairway
  • Sand Save Percentage – the percent of time a player is able to get up and down from the sand trap
  • SG: Putting – measures the amount of strokes gained from shots on the putting surface
  • Bogey Avoidancethe percentage of time a player makes a bogie
  • Par-4 Scoring – measures the amount of strokes gained on par-4 holes

$10,000 and Above | Justin Rose | $10,200

Justin Rose is one of those guys that has the potential to win pretty much every tournament he plays in, and playing at a links-styled course this week definitely won’t hurt him. He’s made an unbelievable 17/17 cuts and has 12 top 10 finishes on the year. That mix of consistency and constant upside is exactly what we’re looking for in a major. On the year, he currently ranks 7th in SG: putting, 7th in bogey avoidance, 5th in sand save percentage, and 2nd in Par 4 scoring so he is pretty much checking every statistical box for me. Aside from his stats, he’s an extremely good wind and links player who will be playing close to home both geographically and stylistically. Of course, Rose will carry a fair amount of ownership going into the weekend, but his skills and upside are just too hard to ignore during a year where he is playing arguably the best golf of his career.

Pivots: Dustin Johnson ($11,300) | Rory McIlroy ($11,000)

$9,900-$9,000 | Brooks Koepka | $9,200

Koepka is another guy who will probably carry a good amount of ownership this weekend, but he is right at the top of that tier that I am looking to attack in GPPs. The thing that really strikes me about Brooks is his uncanny ability to play the links-styled golf courses as an American. Gaining over four strokes on courses of the like since 2014, nobody has played them better than Koepka. And to prove his ability to play on these courses you don’t have to look far back, as he won the disaster at Shinnecock that took place just one month ago. Not only was winning a major impressive, but the fact that he was able to shoot just 1-over on such a lost course was honestly nothing short of amazing. This dude has been on fire since returning from injury this year and I think this course fits him to a tee – no pun intended. I will have Koepka everywhere I can this week, including both cash and GPP contests.

Pivots: Rickie Fowler ($9,700) | Tommy Fleetwood ($9,200)

$8,900-$8,000 | Jason Day | $8,800

Let me just start by saying that this price is just criminal for a player of Jason Day’s caliber, I don’t care what the event is. With two wins already in 2018, Day still remains one of the best golfers in the world. For some reason, he is going overlooked compared to some other players priced around him and that is exactly where we want to attack. He’s a fantastic links-player, fantastic in the wind, and an extremely good putter. Over his amazing season, thus far, he’s ranking 26th in bogey avoidance, 9th in Par 4 scoring, 1st in sand save percentage, and 1st in SG: putting. So, as you can see, not only does he absolutely have the tools necessary to play well here, but he also provides us with very similar upside to Justin Rose. With the upside always there, and his ownership being relatively low compared to his usual, I will take the $1,400 savings and start most of my GPP lineups right here at the former world #1.

Pivots: Patrick Reed ($8,400) | Alex Noren ($8,300)

$7,900-$7,500 | Rafa Cabrera-Bello | $7,600

Another guy who I think is getting mistakenly overlooked because of a few bad starts is Rafa Cabrera-Bello. I understand that he hasn’t had the best last couple of weeks, but this clearly a guy who can turn it around for a big tournament at a moment’s notice. Back in April, he finished 135th – 38th – 75th in three consecutive tournaments and was able to turn it around for a top-20 finish the next week at the PLAYERS. I remember fading him for recent form back then, and I am not going to make the same mistake twice. Rafa is a great links-player, gaining over 2 strokes on the field on courses of this style, and can get going on a scoring streak at any point. I think Cabrera-Bello is going to be an excellent sneaky play who comes in at a relatively low price.

Pivots: Tyrell Hatton ($7,900) | Ian Poulter ($7,800)

$7,400 and Below | Brandt Snedeker | $7,300

As one of my favorite plays of the week, I think Snedeker has the skills and the experience necessary to contend for a major championship this weekend in Scotland. On the year, Snedeker ranks in the top-50 in Par 4 scoring, bogey avoidance, SG: putting, and sand save percentage. Although it wasn’t at this course, it is interesting to note that he holds the record for the lowest Open Championship score through 36 holes with a 66-64 back in 2012. Snedeker is a brilliant player in the wind who is one of the more solid putters on tour. When it comes to punts and gaining a little bit of salary relief, I think Snedeker tops that list with his steady play and experience on courses like the one this weekend.

Pivots: Zach Johnson ($7,200) | Brian Harman ($7,100)

Anthony is the DailyPlayAction’s resident DraftKings PGA expert, and shares his thoughts and opinions at his own discretion. Anthony plays DraftKings himself, and although he shares his opinions, he is free to implement other players in his rosters without notice. Anthony nor the DailyPlayAction are responsible for losses accrued by using DPA rosters.