Daily Fantasy Golf: Tournament Targets and Avoids for The Open Championship
Golf can be one of the most exciting DFS sports to follow, as tournaments span four days and allow ample time to prepare each week, but the volatility -- top-tier golfers can miss the cut, and longshots can win outright -- makes it a unique daily fantasy sport.
Ownership won't always matter, and favorites will win and thrive some weeks, but when the chalk struggles and the pivots hit big, you can put yourself in a great position to succeed when playing large tournaments on FanDuel.
Whether you're brand new to the PGA or daily fantasy sports in general, we have you covered -- and we have daily fantasy golf projections and lineup building tools, too.
Let's take a look at some golfers to target this week in GPP tournaments on FanDuel.
|Key Stats for the Open Championship at Royal Portrush|
|Strokes Gained: Around the Green|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Strokes Gained: Off the Tee|
The Open Championship returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, as Royal Portrush Golf Club will play host to this year's final major. Portrush played host to the 2012 Irish Open in 2012, won at 18 under par by Jamie Donaldson, and the Senior Open Championship in 2004. While there is not an abundance of course history, it is a British Open and wind could play a factor, as the R&A will not manipulate the course as the USGA does for the U.S. Open. That mean means that, if wind is a non factor, scores could push 18 under par.
One of the first things that usually come to mind when thinking about the Open Championship is bunkers, There are plenty on the course, and the fairway pot bunkers will still cause players to layup, but Portrush offers the fewest bunkers (just over 60) of any course in the Open rotation.
There are players in the field that are predominately European Tour golfers, and while the tour does offer strokes gained data, it can sometimes be hard to put into context as the fields are not always up to the standard of the PGA Tour. With drives being important at an Open Championship, strokes gained: off the tee comes into play as a key stat, although some golfers will keep the diver in the bag this week.
Strokes grained: scrambling (it is the Open Championship after all) and strokes gained: approach, may be even more important this week, as the greens have plenty of slopes. Strokes gained: around the green (for when the approach shot hits one of the slopes) and opportunities gained (in case this turns into a birdie fest) round out the five key stats.
Stats cited below come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds on the PGA Tour unless noted. Ranks are among the field.
High-Priced Tier ($12,200 - $10,000)
Target: Patrick Cantlay (FanDuel Salary $10,800) - Cantlay has finished within the top-25 in 14 of his last 16 PGA Tour events, missing the cut twice and also finishing inside the top five five times over that span. Projected as one of the highest-owned golfers in this tier, currently sitting at just above 21%, Cantlay sits inside the top 12 in four of the five key stats while ranking 44th in strokes gained: around the green. Zooming in on his last 12 rounds, Cantlay comes in at 16th in strokes gained: around the green while continuing to sit inside the top-12 in the other four key stats. Last year at Carnoustie, Cantlay tied for 12th, shooting a three under par, and despite his projected ownership he is one of the top plays of the week.
Target: Adam Scott ($10,500) - Scott, who has not played since the U.S. Open, will likely come in around 20% ownership as he has finished within the top-eight in three straight events, while coming inside the top 20 in six of his last seven tournaments. Scott has made the cut in every Open Championship since 2012 while coming inside the top 25 in six of those seven appearances over that span, finishing 43rd in 2016. Over the last 50 rounds, he sits inside the top 40 in all five key stats but only cracks the top-20 in strokes gained: approach. However, over the last 12 rounds he ranks inside the top 20 in all five key stats while coming inside the top 10 in scrambling, strokes gained: around the green and strokes gained: approach. While the long layoff could be a concern for Scott, his game fits the Open Championship well, as his past results show, and an overweight stance could pay large dividends in large field tournaments.
Target: Jason Day ($10,400) - While the other two targets will likely come with large ownership, Day is projected at sub-10%, and he has finished within the top-30 in four straight Open Championships while making the cut in six straight. While his recent results aren't breathtaking, he has made the cut in six of his last seven tournaments while finishing inside the top 10 twice over that span. He has also finished inside the top 30 in 18 of his last 20 majors, missing the cut twice at the U.S. Open, while coming inside the top-10 eight times over that span (including one win). Over the last 50 rounds, Day only comes inside the top 40 in strokes gained: off the tee (20th), but he does sit inside the top-75 in all five key stats. When we narrow it down to the last 12 rounds, he ranks inside the top 20 in strokes gained: off the tee (14th) and strokes gained: approach (16th) while sitting inside the top 65 in the other three key stats. If Day can continue his success off the tee and on his approach while not losing strokes around the green, he can absolutely compete for the Claret Jug while providing some leverage at sub 10% ownership.
Avoid: Hideki Matsuyama ($10,300) - Likely coming in as one of the most-owned golfers on the week, Matsuyama has missed the cut in two of the last three Open Championships, and according to FantasyNational he averages negative strokes gained in the "Windy AF" category. Despite the lack of a victory, Matsuyama is in great form as he has finished inside the top 35 in 14 straight tournaments, and his stats back up his performances. He sits inside the top 30 in all five key stats over the last 50 rounds, coming in first in opportunities gained and second in strokes gained: approach. While he still ranks inside the top 30 in strokes gained: off the tee (29th), opportunities gained (first) and strokes gained: approach (second) over the last 12 rounds, Matsuyama drops out of the top-70 in scrambling (72nd) and strokes gained: around the green (71st) over that span. He has lost strokes gained: around the green in two of his last three tournaments. At his ownership, and without great win equity, Matsuyama seems like an easy golfer to fade, or at least be well below the field's ownership.
Avoid: Gary Woodland ($10,000) - After clinching his first major title at the U.S. Open, Woodland missed the cut in his next outing at the Rocket Mortgage. He is projected to come in at about 12% ownership, despite finishing inside the top 30 just once at the Open Championship since 2012, although he did make every cut over that span. Woodland, who can hammer the ball off the tee, ranks outside the top-60 in three of the five major stats, sitting outside the top-100 in strokes gained: around the green and scrambling, while coming inside the top 3 in strokes gained: approach and opportunities gained. When looking at the last 50 rounds, however, Woodland comes in inside the top 10 in three of the key stats but still struggles in strokes gained: around the green (50th) and scrambling (91st). While the ownership is not daunting, Woodland's performances at the Open Championship have been nothing spectacular and there are other golfers around that same ownership level that are more intriguing.
Mid-Priced Tier ($9,900 - $9,000)
Target: Patrick Reed ($9,600) - Reed has finished inside the top 35 in four straight PGA events, including finishing inside the top 25 at the Rocket Mortgage and the 3M Open. He is projected to come in at sub-7% ownership, despite the fact he has finished inside the top 30 in three of his last four Open Championships. Over the last 12 rounds, Reed ranks inside the top 35 in four of the five key stats, sitting fifth in strokes gained: approach and fourth in opportunities gained, but does sit 75th in strokes gained: off the tee, which may not be an extremely daunting stat for Reed who could club down off the tee and then strokes gained: approach would play a larger role. Over the last 50 rounds, however, Reed only cracks the top-40 in strokes gained: around the green (sixth) -- which could be important this week -- but given his ownership projection and his form, Reed could offer great leverage on the field.
Target: Eddie Pepperell ($9,400) - Not playing on the PGA Tour since his missed cut at the PGA Championship in May, Pepperell finished tied for fourth at the Irish Open (13 under par) and tied for 43rd at last weeks Scottish Open (12 under par), and he is currently projected at sub-7% ownership. Pepperell finished sixth at the Open Championship at Carnoustie last year and finished 49th at St. Andrews in 2015, his only other Open Championship appearance. Looking at just his last 12 rounds on the PGA Tour, as he doesn't play often. Pepperell ranks inside the top 35 in three of the five key stats while sitting outside the top-60 in opportunities gained and strokes gained: off the tee, and he currently comes in at 56th on the European Tour in strokes gained: approach. While his ownership is intriguing, Pepperell likely becomes an even stronger leverage play if the wind picks up at Portrush.
Avoid: Paul Casey ($9,900) - Projected at over 17% ownership, per FantasyNational, Casey will likely come in as one of the top-owned golfers of the week, and he has finished inside the top 30 in eight of his last 10 tournaments, finishing top-5 five times while missing the cut twice. The Open Championship, however, has not been so kind to Casey, as he has finished inside the top 45 just once since 2012, including two missed cuts, and finished 51st last year at Carnoustie, despite entering in good form. As expected due to his form, Casey sits inside the top 15 in strokes gained: approach (15th), strokes gained: off the tee (seventh) and opportunities gained (10th), but he ranks outside the top 40 in strokes gained: around the green (43rd) and scrambling (96th) over that span. Both of those numbers get worse when zooming in on the last 12 rounds. Casey is not known for his putting, and he could be in for a long week if he struggles around the green, as the undulation will likely cause issues for him.
Low-Priced Tier ($8,900 and below)
Target: Ryan Palmer ($8,500) - Palmer has finished inside the top 35 in three straight tournaments, including an 18th at the John Deere and a sixth at Charles Schwab, while making the cut in his last three Open Championship appearances. That includes two straight 30th place finishes in his last two appearances in 2015 and 2016, but he is currently projected at sub-4% ownership. Over his last 12 rounds, Palmer sits inside the top 30 in all five key stats, and while he does drop outside of the top-30 in four of the five key stats when looking at the last 50 rounds, he still comes in sixth in opportunities gained. Per FantasyNational, Palmer gained the most strokes on average in "Windy AF" conditions while still gaining strokes in "calm" and "moderate" wind conditions, which would set up well for his rank in opportunities gained.
Avoid: Erik Van Rooyen ($8,600) - Currently projected at just above 12% ownership (the highest in this tier), Van Rooyen's ownership will likely continue to rise as he continues to get talked up around the fantasy golf industry. EVR has played well over his last three majors, finishing 17th in last year's Open Championship at Carnoustie, eighth at this year's PGA Championship and 43rd at this year's U.S. Open, and he continued his good form in last week's Scottish Open, shooting 17 under par. He did, however, miss the cut the week before at the Irish Open. Over the last 12 rounds, Van Rooyen ranks inside the top 20 in three of the five key stats while sitting 90th or worse in scrambling and strokes gained: around the green, and he is 81st in strokes gained: approach on the European Tour this season. EVR is a great cash game play this week and will likely be one of the top-owned golfers in those types of tournaments, but for large-field GPPs, his ownership -- which should continue to rise -- seems to outweigh his win equity and upside, even though making the cut seems probable.
Ben Fisher is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ben Fisher also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Gvsubrickwall. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.