If the 156 in the field at The Open Championship think that their experience is akin to survival, they oughta try our racket on for size. It’s also hit it and hope for us at Royal St. George’s.
Year in and year out, and no matter the results, the Open is a crapshoot. There’s too much outside our control to rely on conventional approaches. If every tournament was like this one, I’d try to find another profession.
So, rather than squirm and lose sleep, develop a plan that works for you.
DFS is going to be rife with random successes among casual gamers, and that’s good for business. Churn generates competitive balance and interest. In that context, dive in with a fresh perspective, try a new formula or model, and watch what happens. Have fun while you’re at it because they only thing you’re guaranteed to learn is that attaching data from this tournament to long-term expectations is a recipe for failure. The opposite experience almost certainly will be a coincidence.
One & Doners in pursuit will be in perfect position to attack with a notable. Front-runners need to play it safe and holster a haymaker for the stretch run. Remember, this is unlike every other tournament, well, except for THE PLAYERS Championship. These two premier competitions correlate directly in our world.
The Open also is the last tournament contributing to PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf that doesn’t use ShotLink. This means that only actual scores and bonus points will measure performance. Overall scoring will be down about 10 percent versus other weeks. That’s even more reason not to send out A-listers. Even if ShotLink was used and this event was positioned nearer the finish line, the advice would be to save starts for other weeks in a jam-packed Segment 4.
Meanwhile, the last of five reorders of the Korn Ferry Tour graduate reshuffle occurred at the conclusion of the John Deere Classic.
The last reorder traditionally has no impact except potentially as a perk for a guy at the bottom who performed well since the previous reorder. With two opposite events, the 3M Open and the Wyndham Championship already poised to include the entire category, updated positioning is but for the record.
For the final phase of the season, the last column on the page that I maintain for the Reshuffle will remain dedicated to FedExCup Rank. This is helpful for full-season gamers in keeper leagues who are targeting value for 2021-22. Of course, for gamers and fans alike, it’s also an easy-to-read listing of who’s set for the Playoffs and who’s in danger of needing the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to regain fully exempt status.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for The Open Championship (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Harris English; Matt Fitzpatrick; Dustin Johnson; Rory McIlroy; Collin Morikawa; Ryan Palmer; Patrick Reed; Scottie Scheffler; Adam Scott; Cameron Smith; Justin Thomas
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Bryson DeChambeau (+3000) … This presents a little like the Masters where data on the greens isn’t made available to the golfers. Augusta National is as close to an organic learning curve as it gets. We’ve witnessed him struggle there and confirm the reason why. The putting surfaces in the Open rota are slower and easier by comparison – then again, every set of greens qualifies for that description by comparison – but there’s a whole lotta random in this tournament that’s reminiscent of why it took Phil Mickelson a while to overcome, and even he wasn’t sure it was possible. DeChambeau is only 27 years of age, so his record only should improve from the 1-for-3 upon arrival, but it might take more time than he’s proven elsewhere.
Tyrrell Hatton (+3000)… Shouldn’t be flying under the radar but the Englishman most certainly is. The bout with COVID-19 in late April and time to get hitched sidelined him for a month, but he’s returned to finish T2 at Congaree and T18 in Scotland on Sunday. Two top-six finishes at The Open since 2016 and healthy. He’s a dandy for One & Doners.
Marc Leishman (+6600)… Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow! I’m sure I’m used that line with him before, but it’s relevant at Royal St. George’s more than anywhere else this season. Gusts will reach 25-30 mph.
Sergio Garcia (+6600)… For the longest time, he, Henrik Stenson (see Fades) and Francesco Molinari were the default selections in a One & Done for The Open. Lo and behold, the Italian connected for victory at Carnoustie in 2018 to fulfill the promise. El Niño, who now is a fully formed 41 years of age, slots seventh in all-time earnings in the tournament, highest among all non-winners. We know how often that talent with streaks of gray have prevailed in this tournament, and he’s in the center of that cone right now. After an 0-for-4 skid this spring, Garcia has recorded three straight top 20s. Bullish in every format.
Webb Simpson (+6600)… At any point in time, there always is a list consisting of household names who are struggling. A subset of them should be dismissed for reasons obvious in their context, but there’s another grouping that presents as speculative. It’s within that slice of the Venn diagram where he’s positioned at Royal St. George’s. A solid track record in this tournament includes a pair of top 20s contributing to a 7-for-8, including a T16 in his debut on this course in 2011, but consecutive missed cuts upon arrival reveal that the game isn’t as easy as he’s made it look for a long, long time. Yet, it’s just a blip. Keep the faith because you know he is. Perfect for gamers in pursuit.
Matt Kuchar (+15000)… Recently bothered by a sore left forearm but he returned at the U.S. Open and missed the cut. His low, boring ball flight and accuracy off the tee has made such a difference later in his career in The Open. Perfect in his last eight appearances with a runner-up finish in 2017 among four top 15s. Also possesses the veteran moxie as a 43-year-old.
Rickie Fowler (+6600)… I like the change of scenery at this time. He’s embraced the challenges of links golf and he’s found considerable success in this tournament, so invest fractionally.
Jason Day (+6600)… The weather will be OK so I’m not concerned about an injury-related WD. His history in The Open also quells the fear. The Aussie is 8-for-9 with a T4 (at St. Andrews in 2015) among three top 25s.
Odds sourced on Tuesday, June 15 at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
Tommy Fleetwood (+4000)… This is relative, of course, but we’re at an unusual spot with the Englishman. He’s 131st in the FedExCup and not yet exempt for 2021-22. He also has aspirations of playing in the Ryder Cup, but that goal currently is in his grasp. He was runner-up at Royal Portrush in 2019 and finished T12 at Caroustie in 2018, but his form of the last few months has fallen short of his and our elevated expectations. The tiebreaker to disagree with me is that he still makes most cuts, and that’s valuable in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf.
Jason Kokrak (+8000)… Just his third appearance, so I’m cautious not to buy into his game translating despite the data. Case in point, he looked like a good fit for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and missed the cut.
Henrik Stenson (+30000)… The 2016 champ has cashed in 11 consecutive appearances in The Open but he’s missed 10 cuts worldwide in his last 15 starts.
Brian Harman (+10000)… Even though he was my No. 1 in the Power Rankings for the JDC, I don’t care about the early exit. It happens and he may have been looking ahead, but his track record in The Open is uninspiring, anyway. His only cut made in five tries is a T26 in his debut at Royal Liverpool in 2014.
Daniel Berger (+5000)… Every golfer has Kryptonite. For Tiger Woods, it’s Riviera Country Club. Berger’s might be The Open, so retreat into observation-only mode until next time. Even gamers needing a prayer to prevail should shop elsewhere.
Billy Horschel (+15000)… You know he’s loving the challenge but he’s just 1-for-6 with a T30 at St. Andrews in 2015.
Bernd Wiesberger (+15000)… No matter his record in non-majors, the recent winner in Denmark hasn’t delivered in a majors throughout his career. Just three top 25s among 15 cuts made in 27 starts.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION - The Open Championship
Erik van Rooyen … It’s not too unusual that a golfer sits out the entirety of the interim between the U.S. Open and The Open Championship, but he withdrew early from all three of his commitments before making the trip to England. The South African’s wife was due to deliver the couple’s first child, but as of Tuesday, he hasn’t confirmed its arrival via social media. Because of the circumstances and unlike the last three weeks stateside, the choice to remain private is ignorable. He’s hung up top 20s in both prior starts in this tournament, and investors should lean on the elimination of the distraction ahead of the imminent birth. Green light.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION – Barbasol Championship
Fabián Gómez … Walked off TPC Deere Run during his second round last week. An explanation wasn’t released, but that’s not unprecedented. The same thing happened at the Farmers in late January. He’s 2-for-2 at Keene Trace with a T15 in 2018, and he was one of my Sleepers for the Deere (see below), but the reward isn’t worth the risk.
Grayson Murray … It’s been an unfathomable week for the 27-year-old. He couldn’t complete the opening round of the JDC due to the emotions in the wake of the death of his grandmother the previous day. Then, on Friday, July 9, he tweeted that his great aunt and great uncle were found dead in their home. His only PGA TOUR title was at the 2017 edition of the Barbasol contested at RTJ Trail’s Grand National in Alabama.
Hunter Mahan … Withdrew at the 11th hour before the opening round of the Deere due to a sore lower back. He’s cashed only once in 17 starts in 2021, but he’s 2-for-2 at Keene Trace with a T7 in 2018. Still, pass.
Ben Crane … Rose to first alternate at the Deere but no higher, so this is his first official action since early in 2020 and recovery from a torn labrum. Because he’s on Past Champions status, he’s ineligible for a medical extension, but don’t let that discourage you in 2021-22 when you’re scrounging for penny stocks in a deep full-season salary game. Heck, if you can get in at bottom-dollar value now, do it. He still has the potential to pop and contribute in the middle of the now.
NOTABLE WDs – The Open Championship
Hideki Matsuyama … The Masters champion tested positive for COVID-19 before the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and the array of complications related to practice and travel led to this decision.
Bubba Watson … Cited “direct exposure to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19” as his reason for being unable to travel. He had made 11 consecutive appearances in The Open.
Zach Johnson … Tested positive for COVID-19 before the charter took off in the Quad Cities. As a former Open champion (2015), he’s exempt into the tournament through 2036 when he’s 60 years of age.
Tiger Woods … On July 23, it’ll be five months since his serious crash in California.
Matthew Wolff … Since electing not to compete in the PGA Championship, he’s 2-for-3 with a T15 at the U.S. Open.
Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim … Their focus is on the Olympics in two weeks. Should either medal, he’ll be exempt from military conscription in his native South Korea.
K.H. Lee … Two months ago, he broke through at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Now, he rests to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. That’s how you do it, gang.
Kevin Na … Elected not to make the trip. Had cashed in his last five appearances (2014-2018). Currently 30th in the FedExCup after a T2 in the Quad Cities.
Ryan Moore … He was the last automatic qualifier (via a T2 at the Deere), but he made it clear after the final round that he likely wasn’t going to travel. He’s still battling soreness in his back due to a strained muscle last summer, and his family had a trip planned for this week. While we also couldn’t have counted on him to appear, there likely are mixed emotions about what to do now. He’s 136th in the FedExCup and easily among the short-listers to crash the Playoffs from outside the bubble, but a healthier 38-year-old would be on sale in salary games if he falls short and opens next season on a medical extension.
Charles Howell III … Just 4-for-10 with one top 40 (T28, 2011) in The Open, so we won’t miss him. At 122nd in the FedExCup, he’s in jeopardy of missing the Playoffs for the first time, but he’s fully exempt next season via his victory at The RSM Classic in November of 2018 and extension of eligibility in response to the pandemic.
Danny Lee … For the second time in two months (Wells Fargo), a sore back forced him to withdraw during competition, this time from the John Deere Classic in the second round. He’s 178th in the FedExCup and not yet exempt for 2021-22.
NOTABLE WDs – Barbasol Championship
Kyle Stanley … The ink was still wet on the published field immediately after Friday’s commitment deadline when he decided not to give it a go. At 99th in the FedExCup aided in part to an 8-for-8 blast since late April, he’s returning to the Playoffs after missing the series in 2020.
Pat Perez … Also pulled out shortly after the field was released. He’s 110th in the FedExCup with top 15s in two of his last five starts. Slowing down at 45 but still contributing in a complementary role.
Brian Gay … He’s set for membership status through 2022-23 via his victory in Bermuda last fall, and he’s a lock for the FedExCup Playoffs this season, but the 49-year-old has cashed in only five of his last 18 starts. Only one went for a top-45 finish.
Doc Redman … He’s hit the skids since the co-runner-up at Congaree, but the 23-year-old is comfortable at 77th in the FedExCup.
Scott Stallings … Probably feeling safe at 113th in the FedExCup, so it’s understandable to put off his debut at Keene Trace.
Harry Higgs … As surprising as he was as a rookie in 2019-20, he’s been a maddening own this season. He’s 81st in the FedExCup but nearly three-quarters of his FedExCup points were collected in only two starts – a solo second at the Safeway and a T4 at the PGA Championship. He’s missed 14 cuts in 24 starts.
David Lipsky … At ninth in Korn Ferry Tour points, he’ll be a PGA TOUR rookie in 2021-22, so we’ll get our fill of him then. In the meantime, he’ll celebrate his 33rd birthday on Wednesday of this week. For the record, he is not committed to the KFT's Memorial Health Championship presented by LRS.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – John Deere Classic
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Brian Harman MC
2 Daniel Berger T34
3 Sungjae Im T47
4 Russell Henley T11
5 Kevin Streelman MC
6 Zach Johnson T34
7 Seamus Power T8
8 Alex Noren MC
9 Steve Stricker T41
10 Troy Merritt MC
11 Aaron Wise T69
12 Cam Davis T55
13 Scott Stallings T55
14 Hank Lebioda T8
15 Beau Hossler MC
Wild Card Dylan Frittelli MC
SLEEPERS RECAP – John Deere Classic
Fabián Gómez WD
Maverick McNealy T18
Alex Smalley T47
Kyle Stanley T41
Richy Werenski MC
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE PGA TOUR
July 13 … Tyler Duncan (33)
July 14 … Michael Kim (28)
July 15 … none
July 16 … Adam Scott (41)
July 17 … none
July 18 … Brendon de Jonge (41)
July 19 … none
Visit BetMGM.com for Terms and Conditions. 21+ years of age or older to wager. CO, IA, IN,MI, NJ, NV,PA, TN, VA or WV only. Excludes Michigan Disassociated Persons. Please Gamble Responsibly. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-522-4700 (CO, NV, VA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI), 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ, PA & WV), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), Call or Text the Tennessee REDLINE: 800-889-9789 (TN), or call 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN).