This week, we are off to the Scottish Open, the annual Open Championship tune-up event. Many of the top Europeans play here, as do many Americans. This year, the field headliners include Henrik Stenson, Branden Grace, Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson, Shane Lowry, and Patrick Reed. The Scottish Open has changed courses over the years, and this year we are back at Castle Stuart Golf Links, which last hosted in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
A couple important notes about the course: Castle Stuart is a 7,193 yard par-72, making it one of the shorter courses. As such, I will be targeting shorter, more accurate players who are excellent scramblers (I wish I wasn’t so over Patrick Reed right now, because he’d be a good pick here). This is a more traditional links-style golf course, where players are going to have to be very creative around the green and approaching the greens. If the winds die down, the course is really there for the taking. The winning scores at Castle Stuart the past three times have been -17, -17, and -19, which means we need birdie makers.
When making your rosters this week, it’s important to remember to cut back the week before a major championship. Some players are looking ahead, trying new things out in preparation for next week, and some will just plain mail it in (or WD). With that being said, I think it’s a perfect stars-and-scrubs week, and there are a ton of really solid players priced in the $6,000 and even $5,000 ranges. Here’s who I like:
Henrik Stenson ($12,200) – People may still feel burned by Stenson’s WD at the U.S. Open, but any doubts about his health were silenced by his win in Germany last week. When we want an accurate player who makes birdies, Stenson is our guy. In his two appearances at this venue, he has an 8th and a 3rd.
Branden Grace ($11,600) – Grace has been one of the hottest golfers in the world since his win at the RBC Heritage, and I think he’s ready for another win. He finished 5th at the U.S. Open and 10th last week at Firestone, both courses that emphasize accuracy. In 2013, Grace finished 2nd at Castle Stuart to Phil Mickelson. Grace is my pick to win this week.
Martin Kaymer ($11,200) – Kaymer is purely a form play, with three top-10s in his last four events on Tour. Kaymer has had success at links courses in the past, and finished 29th here in 2012. This event has been won by major champions quite often, so I’m targeting in-form pedigree players this week. Kaymer fits the bill.
Andy Sullivan ($9,800) – Another accurate scrambler who seems to be rounding back into form. Sullivan’s last four events: 22nd, 23rd, 21st, 5th. He’s struggled most of the year but I think a win may be coming for Sullivan soon. He could have won the French Open last week if not for two double bogeys and two triple bogeys. For the event, Sullivan finished 6th in GIR% and 1st in putting average. In 2012, Sullivan finished 16th at Castle Stuart.
David Lingmerth ($9,300) – Lingmerth is one of my picks to win this week. His form has been impeccable lately, with a 22nd, 27th, 12th (U.S. Open), and 7th (Firestone). Again, when talking about accurate players with experience on links-style courses, Lingmerth fits the bill. Lingmerth is trying to play his way onto the European Ryder Cup team, so these points are crucial for him. Also, I think most people will target the Scot Russell Knox at this price, but I think Lingmerth is a better play.
Others to consider: Patrick Reed, Chris Wood, and Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
The Value Mid-Tier:
Nicolas Colsaerts ($8,600) – Colsaerts is always a boom-or-bust play, but his recent form has been solid. He’s made five of his last six cuts, including two 3rd place finishes. He’s a birdie maker, which is perfect here. As far as course history goes, Colsaerts finished 8th in 2013 and 3rd in 2011.
Alexander Noren ($8,200) – I’m a little worried about Noren because he qualified for the Open last week, so his motivation might be down a bit. But ultimately, this price point is very good for a player of his caliber. He’s finished top-12 in two of his past three events on Tour, and has a 3rd place finish here in 2012.
Ross Fisher ($7,700) – Fisher is one of the most consistent players on the European Tour, and in his last three events, finished 22nd, 28th, and 6th. At this course, he’s 3/3 making the cut, and is a solid cash game option in this range. Fisher is one of those players, though, that seems to pop up in tougher field events.
Tyrrell Hatton ($7,400) – I’ve been on him all year, so I’m not stopping now at this great price. People were burned two weeks ago by his first missed cut, but look at his recent form: 33rd, MC, 20th, 7th, 5th, 13th, 12th. For a player you can plug in for below the average salary, Hatton is one of my favorite value picks of the week. He’s due for a win, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him contend this week.
Others to consider: Soren Kjeldsen, Gregory Bourdy, and Thomas Pieters.
Andrew Johnston ($7,000) – One of our new DFS celebrities who made an appearance on the Tour Junkies podcast this week. Beef is a very accurate player, which again is my main goal this week. He’s shown the ability to win on tough tracks and in tough conditions, but he also makes birdies. He finished 36th in his only appearance at this venue, but he’s a significantly better player now than he was then.
Raphael Jacquelin ($6,900) – Jacquelin is the ultimate course horse here, trending from a 49th to a 16th to an 8th place finish in 2013. He burned a lot of people with a MC last week, but in the weeks prior, finished 4th and 8th. Jacquelin is a shorter, accurate hitter so his struggles last week weren’t surprising. I think he’s a worthy top-10 bet this week.
Johan Carlsson ($6,600) – Carlsson has been another consistent cut-maker at a cheap price. He’s very accurate, especially with his approach shots. He’s been near the top in GIR% for the past month on Tour, which is a sign of a breakout coming. He’s made seven of his last eight cuts, with an average finish around 25th place. Pretty good for a punt play.
Julien Quesne ($6,600) – Similar to Jacquelin, Quesne has been in great recent form except for recent a missed cut on a course that didn’t necessarily suit him. But beyond that missed cut, his last three results are 16th, 25th, and 4th. I think he will go completely overlooked this week, bunched in a range with notable players like Peter Hanson, Padraig Harrington, and Bradley Dredge.
Romain Wattel ($6,500) – I think the only thing keeping Wattel’s price here is the fact that he’s missed his last two cuts at this course. But, in 2011, he finished 14th here. Wattel is grossly underpriced for a player of his caliber and upside.
Chris Hanson ($5,200) – For those of you loyal readers, you’ll recognize this name. I’ve been writing up Chris Hanson for the past four weeks, just in time to catch his hot streak. He’s made his last six cuts on Tour, finishing 45th, 38th, 10th, 25th, 34th, and 5th. I was touting him when he was priced at $6,800, so you can bet I’m basically all-in at $5,200. Also, he’s made at least 11 birdies in seven of his past eight events.
Others to consider: Bradley Dredge, Callum Shinkwin, Matthew Southgate, and Nino Bertasio.
Good luck this week!