PGA DFS Primer: British Open (2021)
One of my favorite golfers at the John Deere Classic last week proved victorious, as Lucas Glover won the entire tournament with an impressive seven-under-par (-7) in its final round. He experienced ups and downs throughout the four days. Still, the 41-year old American used his familiarity with previous successful outings at TPC Deere Run to overcome a rough third day and finish comfortably at the top of the leaderboards. Ryan Moore and Kevin Na, who both finished T2 at -17, couldn’t match the precision of Glover, who mastered all facets of his game to flood DFS lineups with major winning production.
Daniel Berger and Zach Johnson finished T34/-10 after fast starts, which still returned decent value but ultimately disappointed due to their high salaries. Cam Davis cooled off considerably from his win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic the previous week, finishing T55 alongside Scott Stallings, another recommended play that failed to produce birdies in the third round, plummeting both down the leaderboard. Glover’s win was enough to yield winnings in most fantasy lineups if managers opted to maximum the cheap salary for great value entering the 2021 TPC Deere Classic.
This week, the stakes become noticeably higher on the PGA Tour with the 149th Open Championship at Royal St. George’s Golf Club across the pond in Sandwich, England. For those unfamiliar with British courses, the fairways and greens feature excessive elevated bumps and mounds that create challenging conditions for avoiding the deep-walled bunkers. This is the 15th time that Royal St. George’s has hosted the Open Championship, with its last time dating back a decade ago to 2011, where Darren Clarke won. It’s interesting to note that fellow Irishman Shane Lowry won the Open Championship the last time it was held in 2019, albeit at a different course in Royal Portrush.
Royal St. George’s will be a difficult course to overcome, but I’ve selected a few players who promise to be competitive at one of the most beautiful yet challenging sites on Tour this season.
- 2020: N/A (Cancelled)
- 2019: Shane Lowry (-15)
- 2018: Francesco Molinari (-8)
- 2017: Jordan Spieth (-12)
- 2016: Henrik Stenson (-20)
Sprawling hills and long grasses stretch in every direction when entering Royal St. George’s Golf Club. A third of the holes are aligned with the southeastern coastal shoreline, which ushers in wind at nearly every opportunity. It is a par 70 course that spans 7,189 yards and doesn’t offer much relief for its competitors, as there is double the amount of Par 3s compared to Par 5s. This forces precision swings off the tees and with approach shots, as many of the greens are flanked by nasty, deep-walled bunkers characteristic of many British courses.
A few notorious holes create artificial challenges to layer on top of the wind and mounds. Hole 4 features the ‘Himalaya’ bunker, while Hole 8 earns the nickname ‘Hades’ due to bunkers placed along the left side of the fairway and behind the green. Going out of bounds in the long grassy fields or marshes scattered along many fairways, and a few bunkers will be difficult for newcomers to adjust to from the typical narrow, tree-lined fairways the Tour has featured across its last few tournaments. Expect the average scorecard to have a lot fewer birdies and more holes in the red at the 2021 Open Championship.
Relevant Betting Stats
- Greens in Regulation (GIR) Percentage
- Sand save percentage
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
- Driving Accuracy Percentage
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
Brooks Koepka ($10,700)
Brooks Koepka is fresh after placing T5 (-10) at the Traveler’s Championship during his last outing and has a skillset that meshes well with Royal St. George’s demands to hit the greens in regulation. The 31-year old also ranks sixth in sand save percentage, which he will almost certainly rely on with one of the worst driving accuracy percentages on Tour. Since his strokes gained tee-to-green ranks third on Tour, there is little cause for concern with an errant driver on some of the shorter, more difficult Par 3s. Another reason Koepka is worth paying up for at the Open Championship this weekend is that he has finished T5 or better in three of his last four tournament appearances, thanks to an excellent putter and a top-ten strokes gained off-the-tee. Lock him into your lineups as a great investment despite the high salary, as one player finishing in the top-five is usually all it takes to finish with a winning lineup on Sunday.
Collin Morikawa ($9,200)
The 24-year old American has been a menace on the PGA Tour this season, representing the pinnacle of birdies, averaging 4.47 per round. This is an immensely valuable skill to possess and typically happens due to an extremely accurate driver and an even better greens in regulation percentage at 71.85 percent, ranking second-best. Since the PGA Championship, Morikawa has finished three of his four tournament appearances in the top ten. He’s young but one of the best on Tour and riding a massive momentum wave, which we saw Lucas Glover capitalize on this past weekend, albeit on an easier course with lesser competition. Morikawa has the ability to win your lineup singlehandedly, so make sure you insert him into lineups based on his stellar play as of late.
Patrick Cantlay ($8,900)
Patrick Cantlay is another player carrying an astounding amount of momentum heading into the Open Championship, winning the Memorial Tournament last month and finishing T15 at the U.S. Open and T13 at Traveler’s Championship. Cantlay flexes his muscle the most in strokes gained categories, ranking within the top-25 in all except for putting. Getting to the greens is where most of the difficulty occurs at Royal St. George’s, which is why the 29-year old American is a fantastic value in lineups with a high floor and the potential to land a top-15 finish yet again.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
Matt Fitzpatrick ($9,900)
Matt Fitzpatrick is only 26 years old but is in the midst of his seventh year on the PGA Tour. He isn’t nearly as impressive as some of the top prospects entering the 2021 Open Championship but is a birdie machine, averaging 4.25 per round to rank 25th on Tour. This is thanks to a phenomenal short game that ranks 24th in strokes gained putting, combined with similar high-ranking placements in strokes gained off-the-tee and tee-to-green. He is not good out of the sand or hitting greens in regulation, so there is some concern reflected in his low salary. The English native should be familiar with the rolling hills and deep bunkers at Royal St. George’s, as he finished T20 at Royal Portrush in 2019. A similar finish is within the realm of possibility, and Fitzpatrick’s ability to generate birdies and be efficient in strokes gained putting and off-the-tee instill confidence that he can be an immense value in lineups this weekend.
Ian Poulter ($8,400)
One of the best value plays in lineups at the Open Championship this weekend is none other than England’s Ian Poulter. The 45-year old has racked up three T15 finishes at various Open Championship courses since it was last held at Royal St. George’s, where he failed to make the cut. Poulter ranks fifth in strokes gained putting and 20th in strokes gained around the green, where many deep-walled bunkers lie to challenge incoming approach shots. Considering Poulter carries a 66.15 driving accuracy percentage that ranks 38th on Tour. When combined with his incredibly effective sand save percentage (57.27 percent/28th), Poulter becomes one of the best salary-saving options to roster. Remember, paying up for multiple top prospects often leads to poor investments, so don’t hesitate to insert Poulter into lineups due to his incredibly cheap salary. He will be a fantastic investment if he finishes within the top-20 and could do so based on polishing multiple aspects of his game that position him for success at one of the most difficult courses on Tour.
Jon Rahm ($12,300)
Selecting the objectively best golfer on the PGA Tour this season certainly isn’t a shock but don’t allow the steep salary to steer you from rostering Jon Rahm. The 26-year old Spaniard ranks top-three in strokes gained off-the-tee and tee-to-green, which are two massively important areas to be confident in when playing at Royal St. George’s. Don’t overthink this one, and make sure you take advantage of Rahm’s confidence. If you forgot, Rahm put on an incredibly clutch display putting on the final two holes at Torrey Pines South to win the U.S. Open during his last outing. He should be a top contender and sit atop the leaderboards throughout the weekend at Royal St. George’s, making Rahm the unquestioned blue-chip prospect to target when constructing lineups.
Whether you’re new to daily fantasy golf or a seasoned professional, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Golf Glossary. You can get started with The Stats That Matter Most or head to a more advanced strategy — like How To Use Vegas Odds To Generate Your Lineup — to learn more.