Image result for Branden Grace dunhill links

 

What an amazing weekend we had at the Ryder Cup!!! Rory-Reed was absolutely lit, Phil was on fire, and the Americans finally won the event for the first time this decade. Hopefully we can keep this momentum rolling because the American side has a bright future with Reed, Koepka, Spieth, and Fowler leading the charge.

For this week’s European Tour preview, we’re at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, one of Europe’s most-coveted tournaments. We have some Ryder Cup players here (Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Martin Kaymer, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Lee Westwood, and Matt Fitzpatrick), along with other stars Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Bernd Wiesberger, and Joost Luiten. This event is unique in that players see three different courses on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – Kingsbarns, Carnoustie, and St. Andrews – and return for a final round Sunday at St. Andrews. This is also Europe’s version of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, so the players will have to navigate the chunks and shanks of their celebrity playing partners. Kingbarns usually plays as the easiest track, with Carnoustie the toughest. But because the courses have to be playable for the amateurs, set-up is pretty easy off-the-tee and the hole locations will be accessible. Therefore, expect tons of birdies this week and look to the bombers for the highest DraftKings points upside.

Course history is important because this rotation has been used many times over the years, but I will also look for players who perform above average on links-style courses and in the wind. Two of my favorite resources for this data are Future of Fantasy (futureoffantasy.com) and 15th Club (15thclub.com).

 

Key Stats:

  • Driving Distance
  • Birdie or Better %
  • Tournament History
  • Links Course / Wind Specialists

 

Let’s take a look at my favorite plays this week:

 

The Favourites:

Branden Grace ($11,000) – Grace is a links specialist, and a former winner of this event. In that win, Grace dazzled with an opening round 60 at Kingsbarns. Although his previous results are poor, you have to look at his links results in their own lens: in last year’s majors, Grace finished top-4 at Chambers Bay and Whistling Straits, both links-style courses. Because his recent form has been a bit shaky, I think you’ll be able to roster him at low ownership this week.

Bernd Wiesberger ($10,800) – Wiesberger had a week off since he didn’t make the European Ryder Cup team, so he ought to be fresh for this event. His last three finishes here are 12th, 14th, and 4th, and his last two events on Tour this season were 5th and 2nd place finishes. Form, course history, and stats all point towards a big week for the Austrian.

Shane Lowry ($9,900) – When you think of wind and links-style course specialists, Lowry should be top of the list. The Irishman has made six consecutive cuts at the Dunhill Links including a 6th and a 3rd. With the exception of the U.S. Open, his form has been pretty horrendous all year, which kept him off the Ryder Cup team. But his last two finishes were 42nd and 29th, showing a trend back to the form we expect from Lowry.

Tommy Fleetwood ($9,700) – Fleetwood is another tournament specialist, finishing in the top-5 three times in the past five seasons. He’s made six consecutive cuts on Tour and his last three events have been 13th, 7th, and 10th. Finally, Fleetwood’s only career win came in Scotland, so he should have some good vibes here. I don’t love the price this week, but he’s worth a couple of GPP fliers.

 

The Value Mid-Tier:

Graeme McDowell ($7,900) – Similar to Shane Lowry, G-Mac pops on links courses where wind and rain could be issues. He’s made six straight cuts at this event, but only has one top-10 finish which is a bit surprising. His recent form is shaky as well, but I’ll go with G-Mac’s pedigree and course familiarity this week. One note: he finished 10th at the Scottish Open earlier this summer.

Nicolas Colsaerts ($7,800) – Colsaerts isn’t your typical links-style players, but a 3rd at the Scottish Open this year shows that he can play these courses. On top of that, the course will be set up fairly open off-the-tee, so bombers like Coles should have plenty of room to work. He has one top-10 at this event, but I’m keener on his recent form: he’s made eight of his past nine cuts with five top-25 finishes.

Bradley Dredge ($7,500) – The Welshman should also be familiar with the weather conditions and links-style courses. He finished a respectable 29th at the Scottish Open this summer, and has a handful of decent results in this event: 2nd in 2006, 22nd in 2010, and 13th last year. He finished 13th in Germany in his last outing and had a 2nd in Denmark (where he should have held off Thomas Pieters). I love the price and the upside with Dredge this week, who is due for a win.

Robert Karlsson ($7,400) – I’ve been on Karlsson for the past four weeks and he’s been great, so let’s give him one more shot. He’s a former winner of the Dunhill Links and has two other top-15 finishes as well. Recently, he’s made his last six cuts on Tour which includes a 7th and a 3rd place finish.

Richie Ramsey ($7,300) – Ramsey broke out of a long slump with a 6th at the Scottish Open this summer, which shows his comfort playing links golf. Similar to G-Mac, I think the home soil will inspire Ramsey to play well this week. He’s finished top-5 in this event twice, including a runner-up in 2014.

 

Low-End Plays:

Chris Paisley ($6,900) – Paisley has secured his playing card for next season, so the pressure should be off his shoulders now. He’s been on a nice run recently, including a 3rd place finish at the Italian Open. Paisley placed 12th here in his only start, and finished 13th at the Scottish Open this summer showing a comfort for links-style courses. It’s only a matter of time before he wins on the European Tour, so I’ll keep playing him until that comes.

Florian Fritsch ($6,900) – The German did not disappoint with a 7th place finish in his home country last time out. He’s an interesting player who seems to pop at the same events year in and year out, so I’ll give him another go this week. Fritsch finished 19th at the Dunhill Links last year, and has demonstrated top-10 upside. There are a lot of options in this price range, so the ownership should be very low.

Benjamin Hebert ($6,800) – Hebert is a birdie maker, and that’s what we need this week. Eight of Hebert’s last eleven rounds have been 68 or lower, so he seems due to post some higher finishes soon. He’s a bit of a boom or bust player but the top-10 upside is there, as he finished 4th here a year ago.

Magnus Carlsson ($6,700) – Carlsson has been pretty solid of late and has a strong record of consistency at this event. His last event resulted in a 13th place finish, and he’s made five of six cuts at the Dunhill Links including a 5th place finish. Carlsson also placed 29th at the Scottish Open, further cementing his comfort with links golf.

Justin Walters ($6,600) – Walters is another South African bomber who is comfortable on links-style courses. This summer, he placed 21st at the Scottish Open which included a blow-up 75 on Sunday to drop him off the leaderboard. Two of his last three visits to this event have resulted in top-30 finishes, so the upside is definitely there.

Jorge Campillo ($6,300) – Campillo is one of my favorite low-priced plays this week. Although his record at this event is not very good, he has two recent top-8 finished on Tour that show signs of good form. Additionally, he finished 8th at the Scottish Open this summer, which should point towards links course comfort.

 

Good luck this week!

 

Ryan

 

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