One & Done: The Open Championship
July 17, 2019
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- Henrik Stenson is comfortable on the big stages at major championships. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The first order of business for The Open Championship isn't a matter of who, it's a matter of when.
Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland is five hours ahead of the Eastern seaboard of the United States. So, the major is scheduled to begin at 1:35 a.m. ET on Thursday. That's 10:35 p.m. on Wednesday on the West Coast and 7:35 p.m. in Hawaii. Adjust accordingly in between Mai Tais.
The second order of business is to remember to save a pick also for the Barbasol Championship. Every tournament contributing to the FedExCup is including in PGA TOUR Fantasy One & Done. I wrote a stand-alone preview for it as well.
All right, it's time to belly up to the bar, er, buffet. Let's ghost toast our pints and get to "work."
If you're leading your league and you've yet to burn Rory McIlroy, congratulations. Golf is an individual sport, but truly the only competitor who can get in McIlroy's way is McIlroy. Even though the stars align so infrequently, you've earned the play. Loyal readers know that I target top 10s because those stars are stubborn, but my expectations for McIlroy at home are so high that anything but a podium finish would be surprising.
Of course, all One & Doners in pursuit with McIlroy still on their board need to select him, too. If you play with a customized schedule, you might get stymied, but if you include all tournaments, the odds should be good that you'll be in a McIlroy minority.
Unlike McIlroy, Brooks Koepka isn't a native, but his caddie is. I get the narrative that Ricky Elliott is invaluable to his boss this week, but Koepka still would be as favored even if I was toting around his sticks. Koepka devours majors and this is the last one of the season. Do not hesitate.
Quite a few in the next tier of talent can be found in Future Possibilities below.
Discard Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth for a variety of reasons and look in the direction of the likes of Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar. Each presents a convincing case to be the champion golfer of the world this week.
Rose is still available to me, but I'm saving him for the TOUR Championship. As the current target, I need to lock in an anchor at East Lake where he stands as good a chance as any FedExCup champion ever has to defend that title.
Meanwhile, I'm happy to fall into 2017 Open champion Henrik Stenson. He's trending well and I'm not going to need him again. At this stage of the season, he's the perfect pick.
Francesco Molinari strides in with the most pride on the line as the defending champion, but One & Doners with expectations for a repeat should look elsewhere. While Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington each went back-to-back in The Open within the last 14 years, Molinari's form is lackluster. It's worth the important reminder that he was playing out of his mind a year ago at this time.
Jon Rahm will be a sexy pick, at least for those who can overlook his occasional struggles of clearing the mechanism. He angles in with no better than a T44 (2017) in three Opens but with a T3, a T2 and a win in his last three starts, respectively. He's built for chasers at Royal Portrush.
Marc Leishman is in the same lane as a suitable choice for chasers, but his record in The Open is sublime. In truth, there's no wrong usage for the Aussie, and he's even more valuable when the wind blows – I know, newsflash – but the only reason that pacers don't invest is if you've holstered a haymaker for the occasion.
If you need to make up ground with a swing for the fence, look to the bat rack for Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama and Patrick Cantlay. Each likely will be under-owned but count on the major non-winners to threaten for a top 10.
Two-man gamers should start and stop with Rafa Cabrera Bello. I understand the widespread criticism attached to him, but it's not as warranted in this tournament. He's a focus of converging trends, which is rare for this tournament. If RCB isn't your glass of sangria, pivot to Englishmen Eddie Pepperell or Tommy Fleetwood.
It wasn't long ago that Sergio Garcia was in a class all his own at this tournament. While never a winner – at least not yet – he's a career 17-for-22 with a P2 and a T2 among 10 top 10s. A low ball flight and a comfort level on the grass and in the climes has lifted him into a role of insurance and a bridge during a week when the weather usually wins and a chiseled veteran prevails. However, since he won the Masters in 2017, he's regressed into an option as the tail of a tandem in two-man games.
Notably omitted above are Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Woods. I wouldn't be so bold to talk you out of any, but DJ and Day are monsters in the Playoffs, while Woods steps forward best as a two-man value.
Rank Expert Pick Comment 41st
Henrik Stenson It wasn't my intention to stymie Sean, but it's a coincidence that I won't reject. Even though my slim lead won't change -- over him at least -- I'm sitting on a surplus of valuable pieces with the season nearing its conclusion, so there's no reason to get cute now. 47th
The 2016 Open champion arrives at Portrush with three consecutive top-10s. He leads the TOUR in Strokes Gained: Approach. 57th
Rafa Cabrera Bello
After a disappointing spring in the States he's turned on the gas since arriving in Europe. His T3 in Munich after the U.S. Open was backed by a pair of top-10 paydays on the links of Ireland and Scotland the last two weeks. He's was runner-up at the 2012 Irish Open at Royal Portrush so he'll have a point of reference as well this week.
On the Mark
Tommy Fleetwood Despite not having his very best stuff of late I am going with Fleetwood. It should be mentioned I strongly considered Matt Wallace, but his first- and second-round grouping with Tiger Woods influenced my decision to pivot to Fleetwood.
Brooks Koepka I have idiotically not used him at any of the three previous majors - twice because others did ahead of me. This time I’m just going with it given the fact I need to chase and chase hard. 639th
I saved him for this tournament from the start of the season. Didn’t realize he’d go 2-1-2 in the first three majors. But he’s still my pick to win a Claret Jug.
NOTE: Select golfers committed to the tournament are listed alphabetically. Future tournaments are sorted chronologically and reflect previous success on the courses on which the tournaments will be held in 2018-19. The numerical values in parentheses represent the order of relative confidence of where to use each golfer if multiple sites are listed (e.g. 1 for strongest, 2 for next-strongest and so on). To present weighted confidence in real time, numerical values will not change all season no matter how many tournaments remain listed for each golfer. All are pending golfer commitment.
Rafa Cabrera Bello … Wyndham (4)
Paul Casey … TOUR Championship (3)
Jason Day … Open Championship (9)
Sergio Garcia … Open Championship (5); TOUR Championship (2)
Billy Horschel … Wyndham (6); TOUR Championship (1)
Dustin Johnson … WGC-St. Jude (6); TOUR Championship (7)
Zach Johnson … Open Championship (2); TOUR Championship (8)
Brooks Koepka … Open Championship (8)
Matt Kuchar … Open Championship (8)
Marc Leishman … Open Championship (8)
Hideki Matsuyama … Wyndham (7); TOUR Championship (5)
Rory McIlroy … Open Championship (1); TOUR Championship (6)
Phil Mickelson … Open Championship (9); WGC-St. Jude (3)
Francesco Molinari … Open Championship (1; defending)
Jon Rahm … TOUR Championship (7)
Justin Rose … Open Championship (8); TOUR Championship (2)
Xander Schauffele … Open Championship (4); TOUR Championship (1)
Adam Scott … Open Championship (7); TOUR Championship (3)
Webb Simpson … Wyndham (1)
Cameron Smith … Wyndham (3)
Brandt Snedeker … Wyndham (1; defending)
Jordan Spieth … Open Championship (6); TOUR Championship (8)
Henrik Stenson … Open Championship (6); Wyndham (8); TOUR Championship (7)
Justin Thomas … TOUR Championship (3)
Bubba Watson … WGCTOUR Championship (8)
Tiger Woods … TOUR Championship (5; defending)