Ambush DFS Preview: The British Open

Courtesy: theopen.com

We’re already at the final major of the year and our last shot at the million-dollar prize on DraftKings. It seems like just yesterday I was writing about how Justin Rose was going to win the Masters, and then he didn’t even make the cut. Way back then we were discussing Subair systems and Pimento cheese sandwiches, and now we’re talking wind gusts and Irish accents. The British Open (yes I’m calling it the British Open) heads to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, and by most accounts from those that know or have been to the course, it’s narrow and the greens are undulating and difficult. This should put a premium on ball-striking, approach, and scrambling while penalizing those that get wild off the tee and/or can’t get up and down when greens get missed. It’s a great change of pace from a major like the PGA Championship where all you really had to do was hit it as far as possible and you’d be successful. It will bring a lot of different styles into play as these guys plot and navigate their way through these fairways, avoid the bunkers, and keep the ball on the greens to keep bogeys off the scorecard. On top of it all, links golf brings weather and wind into play that can completely throw off these guys’ plan of attack depending on what conditions they run into each day. It’s definitely going to be fun to watch! I’m mixing the format up this time a little, as there are a lot of mid-range golfers that I think have friendly prices and as good a chance as any to win this thing, so I’m just listing them and giving reasons instead of categorizing them. My strategy is to take a balanced lineup approach with guys that have successful track records in majors or big events because I think that a lot of the mid-range guys fit that mold and can win. Therefore, I can stack my lineups with those guys and not have to worry about dropping down much into the cheap ranges just hoping for guys to make that cut so I can play a guy like Rory or Brooks. Here’s who I’m liking for this week:

 

Bryson DeChambeau (9,200 DK / 10,600 FD)

After what seems like the whole year of dissecting and tweaking his game, it looks like Bryson finally has his game on track just in time for the last major of the year and coming up on the playoffs where he’s been successful in the past. His overall statistics are still catching up with his most recent play, but what we know about Bryson when he’s on his game is that he’s a good ball striker, approaches the greens well, and he can scramble pretty well around the greens. Plus, on a course that’s going to be important to have plotted and planned out how to attack every hole, nobody will come in more prepared than he will. He should be coming in with a chip on his shoulder as well, having just been beaten out by Matt Wolff at the 3M Open when it looked like he had it locked up.

Justin Thomas (9,100 DK / 10,700 FD)

This is probably the last time in a long time we’re going to see JT with a price like this, and we’re lucky that the prices were put out before his play last week at the Scottish Open. He’s got the skills of the most elite golfers in the world, and it looks like he’s back on his game after a few weeks recovering from an injury. He’s an elite ball striker at 11th on tour, and even better on his approaches to the green as the third best on tour in Shots Gained – Approach. His scrambling numbers aren’t the greatest, however, with how long and accurate he is off the tee and how solid his approach game is, he won’t need to do as much scrambling as the rest of the field. He’s a former major winner and his game should fit this course and give him a shot at another major win.

Hideki Matsuyama (8,500 DK / 10,300 FD)

Hideki always seems to get prices in majors that just don’t add up to how good of a golfer he is. He always competes well in majors and he’s having a really good season so far this year. He hasn’t finished worse than 23rd in a tournament in his last six events, hasn’t missed a cut all year, and has a handful of finishes throughout the year in the top 15 including a seventh-place finish in his last event played at the 3M Open. He’s long off the tee but he is also pretty accurate, ranking 36th on tour in Good Drive percentage. He’s 12th in ball striking and second in Shots Gained – Approach, which is where he really does his damage. Better yet, if he misses the green, he’s 16th on tour in scrambling, so he can get up and down with the best of them if his approach gets a little off. We know Hideki is an awful putter, but with the difficulty of these greens that should bring some of the better putters back down to his level a little bit. I think Hideki is in line for a big week.

Henrik Stenson (8,400 DK / 10,100 FD)

Henrik’s game is rounding into form just in time for the one major that couldn’t suit him any better. He’s coming into this week off of three straight top-ten finishes and now gets to The Open, which is the one major victory he has under his belt in 2016. Since you don’t have to be long off the tee here, he’s going to be able to take out his trusty 3-wood and knock it into the fairway on most holes. The second shot is where he’ll be able to take advantage of this golf course, as he’s the top-ranked golfer on tour in Shots Gained – Approach. He’s 39th in scrambling, which is decent, but as I mentioned with Justin Thomas, he likely won’t need to scramble as much as the rest of the field with how good his iron play is.

Webb Simpson (7,600 DK / 9,400 FD)

If accuracy off the tee, to a good approach, and then scramble well if you miss, is the name of the game, there aren’t a ton of guys better at that than Webb. This year, he’s 27th on tour in Good Drive percentage and 20th in Shots Gained – Approach. Better yet, he’s second on tour in scrambling percentage. Plus, his price is very friendly especially considering how good of a year he’s had. His worst finish in a major this year was 29th at the PGA (a place meant for bombers, which he is not), and he’s only missed one cut all year with a schedule loaded with top 20 finishes. He isn’t known for being a very good putter but it’s been improved this year, and if he can keep that trend going there isn’t any reason why he can’t contend in this event.

Lucas Glover (6,500 DK / 8,300 FD)

Although I mentioned early on I didn’t think dipping into the cheap price ranges would be necessary, it may be worth it for Glover, especially if you want that salary relief to fit in one or more of the expensive guys. The price is the most surprising part, as a former major winner coming into the event off of two top-ten finishes, they could have bumped him up a lot higher and still have been playable. He’s 22nd on tour in Good Drive percentage and Ball Striking, and 28th on tour in Shots Gained – Approach. He’s third on tour in scrambling and actually held the top ranking in that statistic up until this week. He checks all the boxes statistically I’ve been mentioning, with that added bonus of giving a lot of flexibility in lineups because of how cheap the price is. Like pretty much every guy I mention every week, he can definitely putt himself out of the tournament, but if he’s just average on these tough greens he can just as easily find himself near the top of the leaderboard.

 

Barbasol Championship Thoughts:

If you like watching golf for any other reason than just to follow a DraftKings lineup, don’t ignore the Barbasol Championship this week. This alternate field has some good golfers in it, and the majority of these guys are fighting and grinding every week to keep or secure their jobs. This event is a good opportunity for a lot of these guys to take down an event while the elite guys are gone, and although it’s obviously not as flashy as a major, there’s going to be some really good golf played by these guys with some of them playing potentially with careers on the line. Also, a lot of One and Done pools include this event, so don’t forget about it if you play those! I like Jhonattan Vegas, Patrick Rodgers, Hank Lebioda, and Joey Garber.

 

Good luck and hope you win MILLIONS!

 


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