As golf’s third major of the year quickly approaches, so too does the deadline to submit lineups for Draft Kings’ Open Championship Millionaire Maker. While picking a winning teamfor this week’s contests involves a lot of luck, in this article I will simplify the process by providing a brief course overview, key statistics to focus on, value picks for this week, as well as what my lineup will look like.
For the 29th time in history, the Old Course at St. Andrews will be the playing field for the 2015 Open Championship. As the most iconic and historical golf course, the Old Course is characterized by its links style architecture, grand fairways, and swirling winds. Players will need confidence, adaptability, and a strong course knowledge if they hope to hoist the Claret Jug this Sunday.
Total Driving – This statistic measures a golfer’s combined length and power off the tee. At a venue like the Old Course, the advantage of hitting a straight booming drive is tremendous, as the wind has a lot less force on a pitching wedge into the green than it would a 7 or 8 iron.
Strokes Gained Tee to Green – Just as it sounds, this statistic measures how many shots a player gains or loses relative to the field in the area from the tee shot until it is on the green.
Course History – How has the golfer done in years past at St. Andrews? This is generally a good indicator of how well the player likes the golf course, and thus how well they will perform. For example, the last time The Open Championship was played at the Old Course was in 2010, when Louis Oosthuizen won his first major. Based on this information, it would be a good assumption that Oosthuizen or anyone else who finished high on the 2010 Open leaderboard will have a better chance of playing well.
Recent Play – This is the stat that I refer to the most as it gives a statistical representation of a players confidence. If a golfer won four weeks ago, but has missed the past two cuts he may not be the safest play. Instead, it may be safer to take a player who has 4 top 25 finishes in a row.
High Salary Favorites
Jordan Spieth ($12,000) – If there were any player worth this percentage of your salary, it has to be Jordan Spieth. The #2 player in the world not only won at last week’s John Deere Classic, but has also won the past two majors. He has seven top 3 finishes in his last 10 starts and ranks 3rd on tour in strokes gained tee to green. The only thing to be concerned about among the statistics that matter is that Spieth has no prior tournament experience at St. Andrews; but, with the way he has been playing, I don’t think it makes much difference where he plays.
Dustin Johnson ($11,400)- As the second highest salary this week, Johnson sits at $600 cheaper than Jordan Spieth. However, for that little of a difference, and at this heavy of a price I would advise selecting Spieth based on last weeks performance. While this course definitely suits Johnson better than any other golfer this week, I question his confidence after his crushing loss at the U.S Open
Henrik Stenson ($10,200) – Stenson comes in this week with the 5th highest salary, but he is well worth the price. This may be one of the last chances the 39-year-old has to win a major, and he has all of qualities to make the Claret Jug his to lose. To go along with a third place finish in the 2010 Open Championship, Stenson also has a series of high finishes this year, including a second place finish at the BMW and two top 27 finishes in the last two majors. Adding on to Stenson’s resume is a rank of 7th on tour in strokes gained tee to green as well as a 2nd place ranking in total driving.
Others worth a look – Rickie Fowler ($9,700), Sergio Garcia ($9,500), Paul Casey ($9,200)
Hideki Matsuyama ($8,500) – Aside from Stenson, Matsuyama is my favorite player of the week. He comes in at a more than fair value at $8,500 and is an absolute top 25 machine. He has top 20 finishes in the past 2 majors and has shown that he can play just as well on links style golf courses with at 6th place finish at the 2013 Open Championship. Matsuyama has all of the components to win this week and with his strokes gained tee to green (2nd) and total driving (4th) ranking, it would be crazy not to take him.
Brooks Koepka ($8,200) – Koepka is a big hitter, with an impressive resume. He played oversees most of last year and has made a strong case to be considered one of the favorites for this week. If Koepka can keep his driver under control, he should be one of the weekend leaders.
Branden Grace ($8,100) – Aside from one poor round at the Travelers Championship, Branden Grace has had quite the year. He finished in 4th at the U.S Open and 17th at last weeks Scottish Open. He is playing some of the best golf of his life and can shock some people this week.
Others worth a look – Brandt Snedeker ($8,300), Patrick Reed ($8,400), Luke Donald ($7,700)
Lower-Tier Value Picks
J.B. Holmes ($7,500) – Ranked as the 13th best golfer in the world, I have no idea how Holmes sits at on $7,500. This is a tremendous value for a player who can hit the ball a mile and has had impressive recent form with a 27th place finish at the US Open, and a 22nd place finish at the Greenbrier Classic. What remains to be seen is if Holmes can play on a Links style golf course. He finished in 14th in 2010’s Open Championship, but has not made the cut since then.
Kevin Kisner ($7,000) – How a player with Kisner’s recent performances falls to this price is baffling. Kisner is going to be heavily owned this week at this value and rightfully so. He has six top 12 finishes in his last 9 tournaments and has never hit the ball better than he has now.
Graham DeLaet ($6,900) – DeLaet has yet to have a good finish at an Open Championship, but I believe this could be his breakout major. He ranks 7th in total driving and has the recent form to play well at St. Andrews this week.
Others to look out for – Billy Horschel ($7,500), Keegan Bradley ($7,300), Robert Streb ($6,400)
With the weather expected to be rainy and windy this week, birdies and lower scores will be hard to come by so the main goal of the week is to get the most guys possible on your team that will play the weekend and have a chance at competing. While guys like Spieth and Johnson look to be the best plays this week, they put you in salary cap trouble and you are then forced to play a lower quality player to go along side them. It is for that reason that I went with a very balanced and salary neutral lineup for this week.
Henrik Stenson ($10,200)
Paul Casey ($9,200)
Hideki Matsuyama ($8,500)
Brooks Koepka ($8,200)
Keegan Bradley ($7,400)
Robert Streb ($6,400)