Tournament History, Performance, Stats and Salaries At Bottom!
With 84 of the top 85 players in the world teeing it up this week, there will be no shortage of excellent options. There are six players priced at $10,000 or more (Day, D. Johnson, McIlroy, Spieth, Scott, Garcia) and they will all be valuable plays in different formats. I want to point out a few players who I think are the most interesting. Let’s start with Rory McIlroy ($11,900). Rory has been very inconsistent this season, lacking the ability to put four solid rounds together. That “doubt” might drive his ownership down, but let’s be real…Rory is one of the best players in the world and can be completely dominant at times. He checks all the boxes in terms of stats; 1st in SG:Off The Tee, 3rd in SG:Tee to Green, 5th in SG:Total. He’s top ten in total driving, 13th in Par 4 scoring average and first in Par 5 scoring average. Royal Troon is expected to be wet this week, which is right up Rory’s alley. The soft conditions will benefit the long, straight hitters. Rory has won three of his majors in wet, sloppy conditions. Speaking of majors, Rory has dominated his last ten majors including winning The Open Championship in his last appearance.
With the rotating courses for The Open Championship, we don’t have a true course history to rely on. However, most Open Championships are at least similar style links courses where weather can come into play. If there is a “Course Horse” this week, it appears to be Adam Scott ($10,600). Scott has a glistening Open record, making the cut in 11 of his last 12 appearances while tacking on a T10, T5, T3 and 2nd place in his last four trips. Scott is in the midst of an excellent season, ranking 4th in scoring average on TOUR and first in SG:Tee to Green. In his last ten events, Scott has won twice and tallied six top 12 finishes. Finally, since 2011, no one has made more birdies in The Open than Adam Scott. It would appear that he would make an excellent cash game play but will likely be highly owned in GPPs.
Finally, we would be re-missed if we didn’t talk about Sergio Garcia ($10,000) in this section. First off, Garcia is perpetually underowned in GPPs. He is not a popular player amongst casual golf fans and there will be an influx of casual players/fans entering contests this week. The general public remembers the Garcia that battled Tiger Woods and said himself that he may “never win a major”. Well, that’s not the same Sergio that we’ve seen recently. Garcia is solid is most stat categories including 12th in SG:Total. He is absolutely scorching right now, with four top 5s in his last five events. He is certainly no stranger to The Open, where he has teed it up 19 (!!) times. He’s made the cut in 15 of those while tallying nine top 10s. He’s knocked on the door in each of the last two years, finishing T6 and T2.
Glutton For Punishment
How much risk can you stomach? Are you willing to go against the grain? If so, you have to consider Hideki Matsuyama ($8,300). It’s been a rough stretch for Hideki who missed two straight cuts before a T42 in the WGC-Bridgestone where he would have missed the cut if there was one. Despite that, we can find some bright spots for Matsuyama. He closed the WGC with a 67 which was the third best round in the field on Sunday. Outside of this three tournament stretch, Matsuyama has been awesome this year, finishing no worse than 11th in six of his previous eight events. He’s only played The Open three times, making the cut in all three and finishing with a T18, T39 and T6. The price on Matsuyama is really good as he has not been priced lower than $9,100 in any other event this season.
Another risky option is Marc Leishman ($7,400). He let us down last time out with an uninspiring 55th at the WGC. Despite that, he’s still finished 18th or better in three of his last five events including some tough fields at the Memorial (T11) and the U.S. Open (T18). We get a pricing discount on Leishman who has been in contention the last two years at The Open. He finished T5 in 2014 and lost in the playoff to Zach Johnson last year. He’s also made the 9th most birdies on TOUR in the last six weeks and should benefit from early tee times. The consensus is “earlier the better” when it comes to Open tee times. It won’t get any earlier for Leishman who is off in the first group on Thursday and will follow that up with another late morning tee time on Friday.
We tend to lean a bit more on Europeans in The Open thanks to the expected style of course and weather conditions. Andy Sullivan ($7,200) fits that category and enters The Open as the #36 ranked player in the world. He is playing solid golf right now tacking on five straight top 25s worldwide. That includes a T5 and T6 in his last two events. That T6 came at the Scottish Open which will be an excellent primer for Royal Troon this week. Sullivan has been excellent at playing the weekend, making 12 of his last 16 cuts. He’s only played The Open once and it was last year, where he finished T30.
Francesco Molinari ($7,000) appears to be gaining momentum around the industry and for good reason. Molinari is widely considered one of the game’s best ball strikers and his SG:Tee To Green numbers back that up (17th). It’s going to take an excellent ball striker to win this week and Molinari is peaking at the right time. He’s coming off a T8 at the Quicken Loans and a solo second at the French Open in his last two events. Molinari can certainly contend in tough fields and has made the cut in his last nine majors, including four straight at The Open. He’s tacked on a T15 and T9 in 2014 and 2013. Speaking of tough fields, if you throw in the T7 and T6 that Molinari has had in the last two Players Championships, his resume becomes even more impressive in big events.
J.B. Holmes ($6,500) is certainly no stud, but the price on him is wrong, isn’t it? He’s averaging a price tag of $8,791 in the last 11 events and now gets a significant discount to $6.5K. He’s missed the cut in three of his last five, but has sprinkled in a T27 (WGC Bridgestone) and a T4 (Memorial) in-between. That gives him six events this season (of 14) where he’s finished 13th or better, including a T4 at the Masters. He’s 0-3 in his last three Open’s, but his stats really warrant a small level of exposure or a GPP flier. Here’s a few facts courtesy of our friend Pat Mayo that has Holmes on my radar. In the last 12 weeks, Holmes ranks 8th on TOUR in birdie or better rate (23.1%). He’s also 6th in Par 4 efficiency over the last two years on holes between 375-400 yards. That will be important considering four holes at Royal Troon fit into that yardage. That final stat is also courtesy of Fantasy Golf Metrics, who do an excellent job. Give them a follow on Twitter.
I actually think Danny Lee ($6,300) is better than a “total flier”, but will remain here due to his price tag. Lee is excellent from 75-150 yards which will come in handy this week and he’s peaking at the right time. He’s notched four top 25s in the last eight events and coming off a T3 at the Scottish Open last week. Many players used the Scottish Open as a warm up to The Open to get used to links style golf and potential weather conditions. Lee passed that test with flying colors and should be fairly comfortable with Royal Troon this week. If Lee finds success this week, expect it to be early. He’s 18th on TOUR in first round scoring average and will be off in the 5th group on Thursday morning.