Royal Portrush – Dunluce Links in Portrush, Northern Ireland, is the host of the 148th Open Championship. The final Major of the 2019 PGA Tour season will also be the focus of DraftKings’ fourth Fantasy Golf Millionaire Maker of the year. Here, we recap the Major season thus far, preview the course and offer advice for your Open Championship DFS Picks.
Tiger Woods marked the unofficial start to the 2019 PGA Tour season with his fifth green jacket and 15th Major win at Augusta National in April. Brooks Koepka successfully defended his PGA Championship title at Bethpage Black in May to regain the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. He then fell just shy of a third consecutive US Open crown as Gary Woodland claimed his first Major championship
All three will make their professional debuts at the Harry Colt-designed Dunluce Links, as the PGA returns for the first time since 1951. World No. 3 Rory McIlroy and Portrush’s hometown hero Graeme McDowell will be among those looking to excite the local patrons.
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Before we get deep into our picks and strategy, here’s something for newcomers to DraftKings. This week only, sign up for a DraftKings account and make your first deposit of at least $5 and you’ll receive a FREE ticket to the $3M Fantasy Golf Millionaire for the British Open. The entry for the contest is $20, but you’ll be able to enter absolutely free.
First place in the Fantasy Golf Millionaire will take home $1 million, but there’s a total of $3 million in total prizes up for grabs even if you don’t win. Don’t miss out!
The course: Royal Portrush – Dunluce Links
Named after the nearby Dunluce Castle, Royal Portrush’s Links course is on the north coast of Northern Ireland with several holes running next to the Atlantic Ocean. It underwent a significant renovation in 2015 overseen by Martin Ebert, which led to the creation of brand new 7th and 8th holes. The course now measures 7,344 yards and plays as a par 71 under championship conditions.
The most (in)famous hole on the course is No. 16 – a 236-yard par 3 with a deep ravine in front of and wrapping around the side of the green. The hole’s known as ‘Calamity Corner’. It’s the longest of the par 3s, with the three others coming in at less than 200 yards with a low of 177. The par 4s range from 374-482 yards while the three par 5s measure 532, 574 and 592 yards.
Rated one of the most challenging links courses in the world, Dunluce Links is covered in deep bunkers, with flat ground hard to find on the rolling fairways. The Open staples of harsh winds, brisk morning temperatures, and the threat of rain each add their own degree of difficulty.
A few notable players in the field played the old version of Dunluce Links when it hosted the 2012 Irish Open. The full leaderboard can be seen here, but it’s important to remember the course has been changed significantly.
Key stats to consider for your 2019 Open Championship DFS picks
Without fully-relevant course history to look back on, we’re tailoring this week’s key stats to the course. Six of the 11 par 4s are between 400 and 450 yards, so we’ll look at Par 4 Efficiency: 400-450 Yards. The greens and the areas around them can decide Open Championships and ball striking out of the rough and firm, dry fairways is always a challenge. Consider Stokes Gained: Ball Striking and Strokes Gained: Around the Green. We want players who will avoid disaster on any given hole and a strong sand game is always an asset. Pay added attention to Doubles Avoided and Sand Saves.
My model at Fantasy National looks at the performance of each player in the field in these five key stats over their most recent 24 rounds.
Past Major and Open Championship experience and success are important. Also, be sure to check-in with recent European Tour results. Many of the top players in the OWGR have been playing in Europe the last few weeks in preparation.
Open Championship DFS Picks: DraftKings lineup building strategies
When building a daily fantasy golf lineup for a typical Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) tournament, DFS roster managers should spend as close to their $50,000 cap as possible. With six-player lineups on DraftKings, this comes to an average of $8,333 per golfer. Individual player salaries generally range from $6,000 to $12,000, with rare exceptions.
In tournaments such as DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker, however, managers need to get even more creative in differentiating their rosters from the 176,400 lineups against which they’re competing. If you truly believe in a lineup that leaves several thousand dollars in salary on the table, this is the time to roll those dice.
Don’t be afraid to take risks. With the volume of lineups involved in a tournament such as the Millionaire Maker, it’s likely all lineups that end up placing are going to have all six golfers make the cut. This isn’t always a necessity to cash in a tournament, but taking a risk on a golfer who isn’t in form, has poor course history, and has middling statistical ranks at a salary deemed too high by others, can be your winning ticket.
Open Championship DFS Picks: Ownership
Always be aware of the expected ownership percentages of the golfers you’re rostering. The better a low-owned player in your lineup performs, the higher you’ll place and the greater your prize. A site such as FanShareSports is an essential tool when deciding between players of a similar overall caliber and price. Having the one who’s on fewer competing rosters can be more important than any other stat (assuming their total fantasy points are the same). This is taken into account with several of the picks listed below, but be sure to check-in with FanShare in the days leading up to The Open Championship.
Ownership percentage and risks aren’t generally factors in cash games. Roster managers should simply aim to get all six golfers through to the weekend. The final placing is less significant in double-ups, 50-50s, or any other form of a multiplier. With more people playing with more lineups during Major weeks, there is more pressure than usual to put together a higher-scoring lineup, especially in head-to-heads. Still, it can be best to play it safe and build a lineup of six mid-tier golfers. Forego the top and bottom ends of the salary pool.
It’s important to consider a Major Week different from any other due to the increased number of entries. For example, DraftKings’ largest tournament for the Valero Texas Open had a cap of 95.1K and the largest cash game maxed at 2,298. There’ll be space for 176.4K entries in the Millionaire Maker, and the largest double-up for April’s Masters was capped at 11,400 entries.
2019 Open Championship DFS picks
Top Tier: $11.6K – $9K
Rose feels like the forgotten man in this tier, as he hasn’t played on either tour since finishing as the second runner-up at the US Open and his name isn’t Tiger Woods. The Englishman often draws some extra attention for The Open, but he’s projected to be in just over 11 percent of lineups, according to FanShare. He has made 11 of 12 cuts this year with six top 10s and a win at the Famers Insurance Open in January.
He has two top 10s at The Open in the last two years, including a career-best T2 finish last year at Carnoustie. The 38-year-old is looking for his second Major title and enters the week ranked seventh in Doubles Avoided and ninth in Sand Saves over the field’s last 24 rounds.
Fowler comes into The Open relatively cold. He hasn’t finished inside the top 10 since the Wells Fargo Championship in May when he placed T4; however, he made the cut in all three Majors this year, including a T9 at the Masters.
The No. 14 player in the OWGR, Fowler is the 10th most expensive at DraftKings. He may seem a little overpriced, potentially putting him off to fantasy roster managers (he’s projected to be in under 10 percent of lineups). He has two top-fives in his Open career, including a best of T2 in 2014. Fowler is a good contrarian play based on his stellar resume and while ranking just 18th by the stat model. He has gained 0.473 strokes per round putting this year after a down season in 2018.
DeChambeau missed three consecutive cuts after finishing 29th at the Masters, including the PGA Championship. He has rebounded since, finishing 35th at Pebble Beach Golf Links, eighth at the Travelers Championship and second at the inaugural 3M Open. Ranked sixth in the OWGR, he has just the 11th-highest salary for The Open.
The Scientist isn’t a good fit by the stat model, topping out with at 24th in SG: Ball Striking. DeChambeau has five wins since June of last year, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in Jan. 2019. The price – and ownership – is ideal for a top player rounding back into elite form.
Mid Tier: $8.9K – $7.5K
Scott leads the stat model with four top-12 ranks, including a field-best rank in SG: Around the Green. He is coming off a seventh-place finish at the US Open which followed a runner-up result at the Memorial Tournament and an eighth at the PGA Championship. Only five players have done a better job at avoiding double bogeys over their last 24 rounds. He is projected as the ninth-highest owned golfer, but he’s one of the top bets to win at a very reasonable salary.
Woodland (pictured) isn’t getting much respect after winning the US Open and is projected to be in just over eight percent of lineups. He has moved up from 31st to 12th in the OWGR this season, but he is just 21st by DraftKings’ pricing. He is 44th by the stat model, leaning on a rank of sixth in Ball Striking. Woodland has never missed a cut in seven tries at The Open with a top finish of T12 in 2016.
Lowry hasn’t won since taking down the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January. He was the runner-up to McIlroy at the RBC Canadian Open and eighth at the PGA Championship after closing with three rounds in the 60s. He missed the cut in four straight Opens after a T9 in 2014 but enters in solid form this year. The 32-year-old hasn’t missed a cut on the Euro Tour this year and is seventh in the field in Sand Saves and 12th in Par 4 Efficiency.
Simpson ranks sixth in the overall model and has done a better job than anyone at avoiding double bogeys. The 2012 US Open winner hasn’t missed a cut at The Open since 2014 and has improved his finish each consecutive year. His last win was the 2018 Players Championship, but he has four top 10s this year.
Willett represents a strong pivot play. He has the same salary as fan-favorite Phil Mickelson and Rafa Cabrera Bello and will come with a much lower ownership percentage. RCB’s runner-up finish at the 2012 Irish Open is sure to draw eyes of course history fans. Willett has risen to 74th in the OWGR this season. He finished 12th at the US Open and heads into Open Week ranked 19th in SG: Around the Green.
Value Tier: $7.4K and Lower
Olesen finished T18 at the 2012 Irish Open. He made the cut at the first two Majors of 2019 but fell shy of the weekend at Pebble Beach. He is coming off a T15 at the Irish Open and a T10 at the BMW International Open. Olesen finished T12 at Carnoustie last year and has a top finish of T9 at the 2012 Open Championship.
An has struggled at The Open over his career, alternating made cuts since 2014. The 27-year-old ranks fifth in the field in SG: Around the Green and has made 15 of 18 PGA cuts this year. He’ll represent good ownership leverage with many tempted to look for lower-salary players.
Few in the field enter as hot as Neimann over his last six tournaments. He has made six straight cuts with two top-5 results. The 20-year-old will make his Open debut where he’ll look for just his second made cut in a Major. He ranks in the top 24 in all key stats except for Sand Saves. Ownership remains low as he plays a full-field event for the first time in a while.
Glover is severely underpriced after working his way back up to No. 75 in the world this year. He has five top 10s, making the cut in 15 of 20 events. The former US Open champ has shown well in strong fields, placing 16th at the PGA Championship, 10th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, fourth at the Honda Classic, and seventh at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
He avoids trouble well and ranks 21st in the field in Par 4 Efficiency.