Not only was the Scottish Open an absolutely awesome event to watch on TV, but we absolutely nailed the picks! Of the fifteen players written up in this column, thirteen made the cut, including Noren (1st), Hatton (2nd), Colsaerts (3rd), Sullivan (6th), Stenson (13th), Kaymer (13th), and Wattel (21st). Our deepest punt, Chris Hanson ($5,200), made another cut but faltered on the weekend.
Another major this week means another Millionaire Maker GPP on DraftKings. The British Open Championship (Europeans get really angry when you don’t use the correct name) is probably my favorite major of the year to watch, for several reasons. First, I love links golf, especially the creative shots players must come up with while battling blustery, unpredictable weather conditions. Second, it’s on TV in the wee hours of the morning, which is just awesome.
The Open Championship is played on a rotation of world-class courses, and this year, we are back at Royal Troon Golf Club for the 9th time. The Open was last played here in 2004, with journeyman Todd Hamilton miraculously hosting the Claret Jug. The course layout is a par-71 (only three par-5s) measuring 7,190 yards. As such, I think accuracy and strokes gained off-the-tee are going to be one of my main targets. Distance isn’t crucial on links courses because the balls bounce and roll for miles and miles, making every par-5 reachable for nearly the entire field. Just like at the U.S. Open, you’ll see a lot of the top bombers hitting 2-irons, and even some 1-irons, off the tees. Because the fairways and the greens are so difficult to hit, I’ll also be favoring scramblers, and players who have a great history at the Open Championship.
Because weather plays such a major factor, really pay attention to the weather reports this week. It seems like rain is forecasted from Friday-Sunday, so perhaps targeting players who tee of Thursday afternoon (will finish Friday early before the rain) have an advantage. Since one group is likely to have a better weather draw, it is definitely worth stacking some morning flight lineups or afternoon flight lineups. It’s possible to see a 4-5 stroke differential between a.m. tee times and p.m. tee times on any given day. Another thing to really look to this week is how players performed at last week’s Scottish Open. It was a links-style course with some bad weather, and may give you an inclination as to who is in form and who performs well on these tracks even when they are seemingly out-of-form. Now onto the picks…
Rory McIlroy ($11,900) – Surprisingly, Rory has a spotty Open Championship history, although he did win the event in 2014 at Liverpool. With that being said, we again have to choose one of the new “Big Four” and this week I’m going with the European in that group. Rory says he loves links golf, has the most experience, and considering rain is in the forecast Friday-Sunday, Rory should shine on a softer course. People will be scared of his MC at the U.S. Open, but disregarding that week, his past 5 finishes are 3rd, 4th, 1st, 12th, 4th. Give me all the Rory.
Adam Scott ($10,600) – Adam Scott probably should have two Claret Jugs on his mantle, if not for a couple of meltdowns. He’s been a statistical monster all year in the strokes gained categories, and can easily win this week with a decent putting performance. He’s not only made six straight cuts in this event, but he’s finished 27th, 25th, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 10th since 2010. As an elite-priced player on DraftKings, he seems to always go slightly overlooked with people targeting Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth. I’m all over Rory this week, but if you’re looking for a lower-owned option, Scott is your guy.
Sergio Garcia ($10,000) – Picking Sergio to win a major? I just might. If he wins one, it will definitely be an Open Championship, and Sergio is trending towards that win this season. Since his win at the Byron Nelson (where he didn’t even play his best), he’s finished 5th at the U.S. Open and 5th at the BMW International. In his career, he has six top-10 finishes at this event – including the past two years – and should have a Claret Jug if not for a nasty lip-out on the 72nd hole in 2007. Garcia is the ultimate ball striker who will position himself this week. Two days of hot putting is all he needs to capture his first major.
Branden Grace ($9,700) – A trendy pick this week, but Grace is still one of my favorites. I am on record saying that Grace would win one of these four events: U.S. Open, Bridgestone, Scottish Open, or the Open Championship, and we are on the last leg. He’s been close, finishing 5th at the U.S. Open, 10th at Bridgestone, and was tied for the lead at the Scottish Open before faltering Saturday. Grace is an absolute machine who dominates links courses (check out his record at the Dunhill Links). He hits a low, piercing ball flight and can scramble with anyone. I see Grace as a lock for a top-10 this week.
Danny Willett ($9,200) – Not often that a Masters champion comes into a major under-the-radar, but Willett just might. He’s been really shaky in Europe the past few weeks (two MCs), and I think ownership will flock heavily towards Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, and Sergio Garcia in this range. Willett not only finished 6th at last year’s Open, but he held the lead nearly the entire 2nd round. He’s an extremely accurate player who is definitely comfortable playing links golf.
Others to consider: Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.
The Value Mid-Tier:
Lee Westwood ($8,500) – Ugh, the pain of rostering Westwood again after his final round 80 at the U.S. Open. But something is clicking with Westwood this year: perhaps he knows his major window is closing, and perhaps he wants one more Ryder Cup appearance. Like Sergio, If Lee is going to win one major, it’ll be the Open, where he has three top-3 finishes in the past seven years. I don’t love his price, but his form since the runner-up finish at the Masters has been stellar: 2nd, 10th, 15th, 8th, 32nd, 11th, averaging 73 DraftKings point during that run.
Martin Kaymer ($8,400) – Similar to Westwood, I never feel great about rostering Kaymer, although he does seem to pop up in majors. His form is great recently: 5th, 7th, 37th, 5th, and 13th. Kaymer has a solid record at this event, making 7/8 cuts with three top-12 finishes. If he can stay out of trouble, Kaymer can contend for his 3rd major championship this week.
Graeme McDowell ($7,500) – GMac is always one of our least favorite players to roster in DFS, especially because he’s been awful the last couple years. The past few events, however, he seems to be rounding back into form. He finished 10th at the Scottish Open and really feels comfortable playing links-style golf. He’s made four straight cuts at this event including two top-10s. Statistically, GMac is mostly a mess, but he does rank 8th in driving accuracy and 36th in SG:around-the-green. Fire him up and close your eyes.
Andy Sullivan ($7,200) – Another player that I’ve had highlighted for the past month, and unfortunately, his recent play will give him a little boost in ownership. Sullivan is the ultimate par-making machine, which is always good at major championships. Although during his 6th place finish at the Scottish Open, he managed a staggering 2 eagles and 20 birdies. He played the Open for the first time last year, and finished 30th.
Others to consider: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Chris Wood, and Russell Knox.
Alex Noren ($6,900) – We always have to include the prior week’s winner as a player to watch, especially since Noren won the Scottish Open on a links-style track. Although Noren is a new name to most players, he does have previous Open success: 9th in 2012 and 19th in 2008. He’s now won five times on the European Tour and is in the top-10 in this year’s Race to Dubai. He’s made 10/12 cuts on Tour this season and averages nearly 63 DraftKings points per event. Ownership will be slightly boosted because of the win, but I think he will still be a solid pivot off the next name on this list.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($6,900) – RCB could be a top-5 owned player this week. He’s again grossly underpriced and is coming off two solid weeks (a 21st and a 4th) where he totaled 30 birdies and 1 eagle. He’s always been a DraftKings points monster, and proved his worth during a stretch that included an 11th at Doral, 4th at the Shell Houston Open, 3rd at the Match Play, and 17th at the Masters. Although he hasn’t had good showings in past Opens, I think he has a shot at cracking the top-10.
Padraig Harrington ($6,800) – I really don’t like rostering Harrington unless the circumstances are perfect, but this might be it. After a pretty awful year, Harrington has 30th and 21st place finishes his last two weeks (and really played better than that at the Scottish Open). He absolutely loves links golf, and gears up for the Open Championship every year. He’s a two-time winner at this event, and is one of the best in the world at batting rain and wind. At a course that favors accuracy and has seen many old veterans contend, Harrington is probably my favorite of the bunch.
Joost Luiten ($6,500) – I absolutely LOVE that Luiten missed the cut this week at the Scottish Open because it basically guarantees that he will be under 5% owned in the Millionaire Maker. But listen to this record in 2016: made 13/15 cuts, including eight top-10s, and is averaging nearly 77 DraftKings point… for $6,500! He’s been consistently between $9,000-$11,000 in European DFS this year. Luiten is an accuracy player who seems to keep it out of trouble, and has occasionally popped up in big events before. Oh, and his real name is Willibrordus Adrinaus Maria Luiten… could he be the next Lodewicus Theodorus (Louis) Oosthuizen and hoist the Claret Jug?
Richard Sterne ($5,900) – Sterne has had an up-and-down career, but was once one of the best South African players in the world. What most don’t know is that he once cracked the top-30 in the Official World Golf Rankings, and has won six times in the European Tour. Not bad for a player priced near the minimum. He’s battled injuries but seems to be finding his form and his health recently. Sterne finished 11th at the French Open and backed it up with a 13th at the Scottish Open. He’s made 7/10 cuts on Tour this year, including three top-10s (and the above mentioned two near top-10s), and averages nearly 60 DraftKings points. Sterne has three strong showings at the Open in previous years: 24th in 2009, 39th in 2012, and 21st in 2013.
Callum Shinkwin ($5,400) – Unfortunately, the cat might be out of the bag on Callum Shinkwin, especially after his final round 65 at the Scottish Open. In any event, the salary relief you can get by rostering a player this low will allow you to be very flexible with your roster. In any event, I don’t see him being over 8-10% owned in the Millionaire Maker. Shinkwin is a bit inconsistent, but he’s had two top-10s in a row and can make a bunch of birdies. He’s definitely a player who is capable of jumping into the top-25 this week.
Others to consider: Brandon Stone, Tyrrell Hatton, and Soren Kjeldsen.
Good luck this week!