Daily Fantasy Golf Picks & Plays for The Open Championship
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Carnoustie Golf Links can be summed up in two words: delightfully brutal. Though no holes are actually on Scotland’s North Sea, the flat and tree-less landscape allows for the winds to have full effect on the golfers.
For those who don’t know, we’re dealing with a 7,402-yard par 71 with bent and fescue greens, laid out by old Tom Morris himself in 1857. It was then remodeled prior to the 1931 inaugural Open at Carnoustie and remains virtually unchanged since. A traditional links setup that relies on Mother Nature (rolling dunes and wispy grasses) as its primary defense, Carnoustie is extremely difficult but fair on a calm day. And then, it’s the stuff of nightmares on a tough day, earning it the nickname “CarNasty” and regarded as the toughest course on the Open rota.
How it plays
Length and accuracy are of primary concern at Carnoustie, but it can play much longer than its 7,402 yards depending on the wind direction. Fairways are tight, and aggressive and deep large-faced bunkers guard all the key landing areas. Long and straight shots off the tee are of the utmost importance at Carnoustie. Those failing to keep it down the middle will likely only have to endure two rounds.
Then, approaches into the green will contend not only with the inevitable wind but slightly raised and domed greens that gently funnel errant shots away from center, if not off the green entirely. Plenty of greens will be missed, especially if the winds are up.
Scrambling is also extremely important in links golf and even more so on this track. Shots missing the green are likely to find small, technical, and deep greenside bunkers, but the luckier ones will find a tight, but relatively flat lie in a collection area. Strong scrambling will help to cover up many sins around Carnoustie this week.
The most important aspect of player evaluation to consider this week is Links experience, a less than easily quantifiable factor. But it’s quite possibly the only thing besides solid recent form that will bear great significance in player valuation this week.
Finally, pay attention to the weather this week. It will dictate how the course plays and what skill sets take priority as we get closer to lineup lock. The R&A doesn’t get carried away with creating tough conditions; they just let the course and nature do their thing, and it usually works out. On that note, I have read they have experienced an unseasonably wet and warm spell in the previous months, which has allowed the rough and native grasses to get unusually dense and lush. Updated* More recently as players have begin their practice rounds and we are getting on the ground reports, the recent weather has been dry and the course is very firm. Club selection off the tee will be crucial this week if the fairways are running extremely fast! This can only increase the importance of finding the fairway and staying out of the dense dry fescue rough. The greens are true and receptive at the moment as well.
There’s not a whole lot of historical scoring data to glean from a course that hasn’t been played since 2007. Plus, this tourney doesn’t release advanced stats. Nonetheless, we can look at a few factors likely to lead to success at Carnoustie.
For one, the long par 4’s are where it’s at around Carnoustie. Nearly half the course is comprised of these long par 4’s, and they are certainly the most important group for turning in a strong Open performance. In looking at the two most recent events that played very differently in terms of scoring environments, players at the top of the leaderboard in both excelled at making pars on this group of holes. Then, they snuck in a few birdies on the par 5’s. That was the formula for success in 1999 and 2007.
Again, weather is the big determining factor here. In 1999, the winner was +6 while in 2007 the winner turned in a -7. Regardless, the eventual winner will have to hold it together for a brutal 72-hole stretch that will likely have them facing dynamic, changing winds and a course that evolves just as quickly as the weather changes.
- Links Experience
- Strong recent form in SG: BS or SG: T2G
- Par 4 450-500 Scoring
- Par 5 Scoring
- Bogey Avoidance
PGA DFS Players
Top Tier: $11.5K – $9.5K
Dustin Johnson ($11.3K)
The world no. 1 is fresh off a strong performance at the U.S. Open where he was squarely in contention to start Sunday. DJ is unquestionably the favorite this week. His length off the tee and consistency will pay dividends at one of the longest links courses around. He is also a strong wind player and has proven throughout the years that his game is well suited for a links setup. Boasting the sixth best scoring average over the last 10 years at this tournament, as well as notching a top 25 over 55 percent of the time, DJ is up top for good reason.
Rickie Fowler ($9.7K)
Rickie is having a strong but slightly under-the-radar season due to only posting two top 10s. But his consistency has been there, making nine of his last 10 cuts. Rickie also has a pretty solid links record, with a win at the Scottish Open a few years back. In eight Open starts, Rickie has only one MC and two top 5s. Rickie’s all-around game keeps him in these difficult tournaments. His clutch scrambling and putting should have him hanging around deep into Sunday this week with a shot at his first Major.
Other to consider: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas
Note: Keep an eye on Fanshare this week to see which of these elites goes under owned and could make a late-week GPP pivot.
Mid Tier: $9.5K – $8K
Brooks Koepka ($9.2K)
Brooks has his game firing on all cylinders right now, and with his confidence, it is hard to see anything as out of reach at the moment. A dominant off the tee game coupled with his Euro Tour experience should have Brooks squarely in the mix again this week. He’s made three of his four cuts at The Open, and I feel pretty good about Brooks’ chances of making another run.
Tiger Woods ($8.9K)
Tiger has played this course twice in his career, posting a T7 and a T12, likely the best course history of anyone in the field. This season, we have seen Tiger excel on these difficult, technical tracks, and this week should be more of the same. If Tiger is to notch another Major, it will be an Open, and Carnoustie affords him a solid opportunity to do just that. While unlikely Tiger will win, he should have an advantage in course knowledge. Plus, his form right now is spot on. He posted a great showing behind the red-hot Molinari a couple weeks ago. With his patented stinger at the ready, Tiger makes for a strong play this week. Like most weeks he tees it up, FanShare will have him highly tagged at what most will consider a value price tag.
Alex Noren ($8.7K)
Noren is fresh off a win in France and continues to knock at the door on big-boy courses with strong international fields on both sides of the pond. Still falling a bit short of a state-side victory, Noren doesn’t seem to have any trouble notching wins in Europe. He’s made all of his cuts the past three years at the Open, while nabbing a sixth place last year and a ninth in 2012. Links golf doesn’t trouble Noren in the least, and it shouldn’t trouble you to find a spot for him in a few lineups this week.
Henrik Stenson ($8.2K)
Henrik owns one of the most consistent records at the Open, not only in cuts made and top 25s but also in scoring average. His deadly consistent off-the-tee game is what keeps him going strong on links courses. The Iceman won this event in 2015 through tough conditions by hitting every fairway and every green. Plus, his normally suspect putter is a bit negated on the slower greens of the Open. Despite his W/D last week from the Scottish Open (where he cited an elbow issue), I suspect Stenson simply wanted to focus on the week upcoming. The last time he missed a cut at an Open it was in 2007 at Carnoustie. You can bet he has his sights set on revenge. Bet on finding Stenson’s name near a leaderboard this weekend.
Marc Leishman ($8K)
The Aussie has been sneaking around the Majors for years now with some close calls a couple of times. Now, Leishman is playing some of his best golf, and fresh off a near win at Trinity Forest (an American links course), clearly his links chops are in good form as well. Boasting the fewest average bogies per round over the last 10 years at this event, Leishman is a golfer that handles the elements and conditions extremely well. With a record of 5/2/53/6 the past four years at the Open, look for Marc to post another top 5 this week and give himself a shot to take home the Claret Jug.
Others to consider: Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Jason Day, Francesco Molinari
Value Tier: $7.9K and Lower
Tyrrell Hatton ($7.9K)
This fiery young Brit has all the links game you could want to go along with his strong run of recent form. All signs point toward a late Sunday tee time for Hatton. His game and attitude seem to have matured this year, which should help navigate a frustrating Carnoustie. Granted, Hatton is a polarizing player who can go sideways quickly but can also grab a top 5 here. Keep your GPP exposures reasonable.
Brandt Snedeker ($7.6K)
Brandt snuck his way into Carnoustie at the last minute. It’s a good thing because the course is perfect for him. A really strong wind player who can lag putt with the best in the world, Snedeker now has major-winning talent and the mental game to compete on links tracks. He’s the whole package in good form for the value price tag of $7.6K. Brandt has only missed one cut at the Open in the past five years while posting a top 3 too. Brandt should make for a solid GPP pivot off the uber chalk lower in this range.
Zach Johnson ($7.5K)
The previous Open champion is coming into this event with likely his best form of the past 3-4 years. He posted 17 of 18 made cuts this year, with a 12th at the U.S. Open. ZJ also owns the most consistent Open record of anyone in this field over the past decade, having made all 10 of his cuts since the last time he played at Carnoustie. At that time, he delivered with a 20th place and 68 DK points. Zach will surely be one of the two highest tagged golfers in this range and likely one of the highest tagged overall.
Tony Finau ($7.2K)
Help! Someone broke the DK algorithm and mispriced Tony Finau. That probably didn’t happen, but it feels like Tony is CRAZY cheap this week for a guy who just posted his best finish in a Major at the U.S. Open. He’s riding a wave of strong form at the moment that saw him make seven of his last eight cuts. Tony has also made both his cuts in his only two attempts at the Open, posting a 27th and an 18th. Having everything you want off the tee to compete at Carnoustie, Tony sets up well on paper for this course. Expect him to be very highly owned and tagged on Fanshare given his value price tag and huge upside.
Russell Henley ($6.9K)
Henley is hot right now and tends to play really well on coastal venues with bent grass, kind of like the one we have on tap this week at Carnoustie. The last five times Henley teed it up at the Open, he turned in a mixed bag. Still, there’s some upside for his bargain price tag (37/MC/20/MC/73). What intrigues me most about Henley is his red hot form right now and how well the course lines up with the others at which he has traditionally excelled in his career. A top 20 could be in store for Russell this week.
Others to consider: Hao Tong Li, Ian Poulter, Russell Knox, Adam Scott, Andy Sullivan, Retief Goosen, Ryan Moore, Matthew Southgate, Matt Kuchar, Luke List, Thorbjorn Olesen