DraftKings Picks for The Open Championship 2021
Major SZN is back! Golf’s final major championship of 2021 is upon us as Royal St George’s on England’s south-east coast is set to host the 149th Open Championship. Daily fantasy sports players are gearing up with millions in prizes up for grabs and a couple new millionaires to be made. Let’s get you set to see some green screens on DraftKings this weekend.
What's up golf addicts! AC here, checking in week to week to provide a quick preview of the upcoming PGA Tour event. I’ll give you the lowdown on the course, the players, some key stats, and our favorite DraftKings picks for the week.
Unfortunately, we did not have an Open Championship in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic which is still having an effect with the likes of Zach Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson forced to withdraw due to protocols and the looming possibility of more to come as a dozen or so players from last week’s John Deere Classic will make the trip. Congrats to all the Lucas Glover backers!
Shane Lowry will return as the defending champion with former Claret Jug hoisters Francesco Molinari (2018), Jordan Spieth (2017), Henrik Stenson (2016), Zach Johnson (2015), Rory McIlroy (2014), and Phil Mickelson (2013), all of whom except for ZJ are back to hunt down a second Open Championship title hopping to join the likes of Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, and Nick Faldo as multi-time champion golfer of the year.
As expected, the field is stacked and most should be primed with a steller Scottish Open playing out last weekend. Min Woo Lee took that down to book his spot alongside top-priced Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, past Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, Collin Morikawa, and Tyrrell Hatton to round out the $9k and above range. The field is set at 156 players with the top 70 and ties making the cut.
Royal St. George's Course Breakdown
This is a traditional links style course sitting on the South-East coast of England. Like many links courses, picture a wide open grassy field, finely mowed in small areas, and slightly less mowed leading up to those areas. Player’s will do their best to find a flat lie at Royal St George’s and attempt to keep the ball out of the nasty stuff. The prolific sand dunes and marshy areas will create problems while the many bunkers look to break the player’s will. Though Fescue mostly dominates the course, Bentgrass is mixed in everywhere including the putting surfaces.
Open championships typically lean on the most creative players who can see what’s in front of them and make use of their surroundings. Having control of your golf ball is a must this week. Though the fairways and greens have had some size added to them, keeping the ball out of the rough and staying on the green will be key. The course has been hit by quite a bit of wetness this season and will be a bit softer and much more green than you’d expect from an Open and what the organizers would like.
Looking at key stats for the week; Pat, DB & I are looking at recent form, ball striking with a lean on approach and fairways gained. A good putter with some Augusta-esque vision will do well on the greens but with trouble surrounding them, around the green, scrambling and sand saves should not be ignored. Like any major championship where the course is supposed to have teeth, bogey avoidance is a must but players with great opportunities gained and birdie or better % on difficult tracks will help with the DK scoring. With only two par 5s, scoring on those is super important and diving into the 12 par 4s, eight of them are between 400-450 yards.
Then of course, there is the weather. Although it is too early to make any calls right now, Royal St George’s sitting directly on the coast will lead to some intense conditions. The Open also does not use split tees so players will be teeing off on #1 all day which may make a big difference between morning and afternoon tee times.
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The Picks & Fades
Each week I will give you my plays and a fade from each DraftKings salary range.
DB: Play - Jordan Spieth | Fade - Bryson DeChambeau
Pat: Play - Jon Rahm | Fade - Dustin Johnson
AC: Play - Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas | Fade - Rory McIlroy
As if I needed any more ammo to fire off on the Big Game Hunter, Brooks Koepka, not only has he outscored major championship opponents by -63 under par, BK has also gained the most strokes on links courses in the last 6 years than anyone else in the field. Speith is 2nd on that same list and has an Open title to his name. Spieth has only finished outside the top 20 once in his last seven starts and is top 10 in tee to green and 400-450 par 4 scoring. JT also has some strong links pedigree and played well last week at the Scottish Open. Thomas enters the field top 10 in tee to green, opps gained, bogey avoidance, and scrambling over the last three months.
Fade-wise by two first choices would be DJ and Bryson but I will throw out Rory as well. I don’t believe the game is where it needs to be to pay off the price and there has to be some concerns with the accuracy and scrambling.
DB: Play - Patrick Cantlay | Fade - Webb Simpson
Pat: Play - Patrick Reed | Fade - Will Zalatoris
AC: Play - Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler | Fade - Tony Finau
Cantlay has been hot since his win at the Memorial, following it up with two top 15s including the US Open at Torrey Pines. Cantlay does have two starts in The Open with a best finish of 12th in 2018. The form is fantastic leading the field in bogey avoidance, and at the top in scrambling, and ball striking. Scheffler;s stats won’t jump off the page except for his prowess making birdies which isn’t all that useful this week but it does show off a good tee to green and short game. He’s also riding five straight top 20s in majors including back to back top 10s in his last two. I know Finau has big game hunting ability but something is broken. He does not rank inside the top 100 in fairways, good drives gained, opps gained, and putting.
DB: Play - Marc Leishman| Fade - Jason Day
Pat: Play - Joaquin Niemann | Fade - Ian Poulter
AC: Play - Matthew Fitzpatrick, Abraham Ancer, Corey Conners | Fade - Lee Westwood
Once again the $7k range is gassed up and I am all for it. There will definitely be an all $7k lineup going into the milly maker and you better believe it has potential. I’ve been riding Fitz most of the season and his runner up at the Scottish cemented his position here. Drain those putts, Fitz! The next two picks won’t come as a surprise either unless you are new here. Ancer and Conners have been among the best ball strikers on the PGA Tour this year and should set up well at a place where control is a must. Ancer is also #1 in my model while Conners will just need to stop the short game bleeding to squeak out another stellar major performance. I know we are looking at a home game for Westwood but man, he fell off hard from the Florida swing. As a numbers guy I can’t get behind all the red. Scrambling, around the green, putting, bogeys. It’s bad.
DB: Play - Joel Dahmen, Lucas Glover, Lucas Herbert
Pat: Play - Kevin Kisner, Aaron Rai, Ryan Fox
AC: Play - Richard Bland, Charley Hoffman, Sam Burns
We always try to give you all some different plays down here so I’ll just state that I am all over Kevin Kisner this week. I’ll start with Dick Bland though. Since winning his first ever event on the Euro Tour after 477 starts, Bland has actually rallied off some nice results including three top 15s since and a T22 in his first and only Open start in 2017. Hoffman has some decent open history as well and has been one of the hottest players on the PGA Tour in 2021. Solid links play and has a decent flatstick with birdie potential. Burnsy has to be the most under-priced player in the field. The dude won a PGA event just five starts ago and has a runner up and a T13 since. He is also top 25 in ball striking, putting, bogey avoidance, and good drives gained.
THE INS & OUTS
OUT: Zach Johnson (COVID), Louis De Jager (COVID), Ryan Moore (back injury, passing on exemption from Deere T-2), David Duval, Hideki Matsuyama (Covid), Bubba Watson (Covid), Danny Lee, KH Lee, Matthew Wolff
IN: Adam Long, Sam Horsfield, Dylan Frittelli, Min Woo Lee (Scottish Open), Thomas Detry (Scottish Open), Jack Senior (Scottish Open), John Catlin, Harold Varner III, Brenden Steele, Troy Merritt, Antoine Rozner, Andy Sullivan