The Open Championships
Written by: Ian Robins
The final major is upon us and we go to the birthplace of golf, St. Andrews. The old course hosts the 150th edition of the Open Championship. This is also the 29th time St. Andrews will host the major. The last time we were there, Zach Johnson won on a cold and windy weekend. The course is very unique and sets up as a different test to the tournaments we see in PGA Tour. St. Andrews offers a 7300 Par 72, with a unique set up of only 2 par 5s, 2 par 3s, with a whopping 14 par 4s. The course has wide open fairways and the biggest greens of any other course on tour. This course is a true links style course, meaning it is wide open with no trees. The wind off the coast of Scotland will be the biggest defense of the course. There are deep bunkers set up throughout that are very difficult to deal with. The fairways and greens are very sloped and made on different levels, there will be much run out for shots off the fairways and some of the longest putts we have seen, with several putts well over 100 feet. This course dates back to the 1400s and can play short, especially with players of today. Depending on the wind, there may be as many as 6 drivable par 4s, which makes up for the lack of par 5s. As a whole, course history will play a factor, looking back at who has played well in 2010 and 2015, as well as what players have played well in links style courses, including last week at the Scottish Open. This tournament combines players from the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and other tours around the world, which makes for a great field and an exciting weekend of entertainment.
The Old Course at St. Andrews is hosting the 150th Open Championship. (David Cannon/Getty Images)
The top tier and favorites are as clear as can be coming into the open. Rory Mcilroy and Xander Schauffle come into the field with scorching hot results. Xander is fresh off a win at the Scottish Open, a win at the JP McManus Pro Am, and a win stateside at the Travelers. Rory has come into this event with a slew of top 10s and is in his best form in some time. These two are deserving favorites. For me, it is hard to ignore the hottest player in the game in Xander. Not only has he won 3 straight events, including two on links style courses, but he has always performed exceptionally well in majors and has been knocking on the door of winning one. Xander is definitely my top play and will be popular this week.
Steve Welsh/PA via AP
The middle range of players takes into account the top “best of the rest”. These players are priced outside of 25-1 and have a real shot of winning the tournament at a decent number. These players have been on the verge of major championships and are nice plays to land inside of the top 10 and top 20. We will start with Cameron Smith and Will Zalatoris. These players have very opposite styles but very similar major results. Cam Smith has been a runner up at Augusta, performed well on European Courses, and done well at both hard and easier scoring events. Smith is an elite shot maker and putter. His weakness off the tee is neutralized at St. Andrews, and he can use his ball striking skills to make shots others just cannot. Zalatoris has been one of the best performers in the past couple years at majors. He is fresh off a runner up finish at the US Open along with a runner up finish at Augusta last year. Zalatoris is an elite ball striker and long iron player. He has great control of the golf ball and plays his best on firm and fast courses. He is also an exceptional lag putter, with these skills he will be able to navigate these ginormous greens. One other player to look at in this tier is Sam Burns. Burns has won 3 times this season on tour and is a great all around player. He has a dependable putter and is a very good shot maker. While Burns does not have much major experience or links experience, he did finish runner up at the JP McManus Pro Am a couple weeks ago, and can take that knowledge to St. Andrews.
The long shots in this field will be some lesser known names from the DP World Tour that may help fill out a DFS lineup or a top 40 bet. These players tend to go undervalued in the US market because of name recognition, however, they have performed well in the World Tour and have great experience on the links style courses. Ryan Fox and Adri Arnaus are two player that have been near the top of leaderboards for the last month on the DP World Tour. They each had their struggles last week, but managed to finish inside the top 50 in the first combined event. Each player has been valued between 20/30-1 but are now priced well into the triple digits and values to play. Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry are both Belgian born, Illinois alum, standouts on the DP World Tour. Each has played elite level golf at the top level. Pieters has contended well in majors before and is a world class talent. Detry has been playing better and better and finished inside the top 20 last week at the Scottish Open. Both have a chance to contend this week. A couple of Asian born 20 year olds to watch out for are JH Kim from South Korea and Takumi Kanaya from Japan. Kim has been playing tremendous golf and has seen his world ranking skyrocket, culminating his form with a 3rd place finish last week. Kanaya, a former top amatuer, has won on the Asian Tour and has always contented well in DP World Tour events.
We are in for a treat this week at the birthplace of golf. Enjoy some early morning action and best of luck on your bets. Expect to see some big names (Tiger Woods) in action this weekend.