Out of the Rough: The Open (2022)
It’s been a few weeks but we had another very successful outing. The Genesis Scottish Open was good to us. We hit on Xander Schauffele who won the tournament by a stroke and cashed in early on our Kurt Kitayama to win at +21000 for a major pay day. We also played Alex Smalley this week who was just $6,600 on DraftKings and went T10th. We did have some big misses this week as well with the likes of Justin Thomas, Viktor Hovland and Keegan Bradley. We’ll put last week behind us and ride this high into the final major of the season - The Open!
Justin Thomas (+10) - MC
Xander Schauffele (-7) - 1st
Viktor Hovland (+7) - MC
Keegan Bradley (+9) - MC
Alex Smalley (-2) - T10th
Jon Rahm (+5) - T55th
Sam Burns (+8) - T66th
Joaquin Niemann (-1) - T16th
Mito Pereira (+7) - MC
Kurt Kitayama (-6) - 2nd
We’re back at the birthplace of golf - The Old Course at St. Andrews.
Although the history is there for a beautiful setting and great tradition, The Old Course is arguably the easiest of the courses in The Open rotation.
The Old Course has hosted The Open three times in the last 25 years, last time appearing on the schedule in 2015. Then, we had a three-man playoff between Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman.
The Old Course is like no other, allowing essentially all skill sets of golf to be successful. It’s worth noting that back in 2015, all three of the previously mentioned golfers were over 30 years old.
It plays at 7,300 yards which is short for today’s modern par 72 courses. The course features 14 par-fours, requiring a future winner to be efficient in such holes.
It does feature some challenging holes such as the “Road Hole” on hole 17 which is close to 500 yards but also features a multitude of par-fours that are reachable off the tee.
Beyond that, there’s an easy par-five and just two par threes. We could see some very low rounds in a birdie fest, unless the Scotland winds get involved.
The field consists of 156 golfers with the top 70 making the cut. We’ll see 49 of the World’s top 50 golfers in action this week with Daniel Berger the only one out with a back injury.
The previous two winners of The Open are in attendance in Shane Lowry and Collin Morikawa as well as U.S. Open and U.K. native Matthew Fitzpatrick. Tiger Woods, who won The Open at St. Andrews in 2000 and 2005, too will be playing this week.
The Open should shape up for an exciting event with the availability of low rounds across all four days, which could allow for massive swings in the leaderboard down to the final hole.
Weather this week, at the point of writing this, does not seem to be a factor. It’ll consistently be between 68 and 73 degrees across all four days. There is a chance for early morning rain on Friday, which could damper those with early tee times. Winds at this point are only forecasted to reach 15 miles-per-hour on Thursday and as low as 11 miles-per-hour on Friday.
Key statistics to consider this week include Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP,) Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT,) Average Driving Distance, Par Fours Gained, Strokes Gained: Around the Green Scrambling from the Rough (SG: ATG,) Birdie or Better Percentage, Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT) and three-putt avoidance.
Here we go, the final major of the season and therefore we will be suggesting three golfers per price range. Leading the way is none other than Justin Thomas ($10,500.) A fair pricing in my opinion coming off a horrendous showing at the Scottish Open last week where he missed the cut. Let’s put that behind the two time PGA Champion. Thomas is tops on tour in both par fours gained and birdie or better percentage. He’s simply the best in par four scoring and with 14 of such holes at The Old Course, that’s a big reason he tops our list. He’s also sixth in SG: APP, 14th in average driving distance, 15th in SG: OTT, 16th in SG: ATG, 44th in three-putt avoidance and 57th in SG: PUTT. His best finish at The Open was a T11th back in 2019. He only has two missed cuts on the season (last week and back at the Charles Schwab Challenge.) Beyond that he won the PGA Championship, has three top threes, nine top tens and 11 top 25s. Also consider, arguably the consensus favorite, Rory McIlroy ($11,100.) We didn’t see Rory last week at the Scottish Open but he hasn’t missed a cut since the Valero Texas Open in early April. Since then, he has a win at the RBC Canadian Open, a second at The Masters, a fifth at both the U.S. Open and Wells Fargo Championship and an eighth place finish at the PGA Championship. He’s also a former winner of the event back in 2014. Rory is third in SG: OTT, fifth in average driving distance and birdie or better percentage, eighth in SG: PUTT, 13th in SG: APP and 20th in par fours gained. Also consider Jon Rahm ($10,800.) Rahm is the Tour’s best off the tee and is currently third in average driving distance. He’s also 19th in par fours gained, 21st in birdie or better percentage and 28th in SG: APP. Rahm is also above average in both three-putt avoidance and SG: PUTT. Rahm has not missed a cut in this calendar year in 14 events. He won the Mexico Open at Vidanta in May, has a second at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, a third at the Farmers Insurance Open and six top tens to go along with ten top 25s. Rahm also placed T3rd at The Open a year ago and is a former major winner at the US Open last year. McIlroy and Rahm are both second and third respectively in our module this week with Thomas topping the list as our favorites.
Leading off this price range is the infamous major second place finisher Will Zalatoris ($9,600.) He still remains the Tour’s best in ball striking as he ranks first in SG: APP. He’s also 11th in SG: OTT and 16th in average driving distance. He’s also 25th in birdie or better percentage and 56th in three-putt avoidance. Zalatoris is also above average in SG: ATG scrambling from the rough and slightly below average in SG: PUTT, which is the downfall to his game. Zalatoris, of course, has finished second at the Masters, PGA Championship and U.S. Open. He has not played The Open yet as he withdrew from last year’s event. This course lines up perfectly for Zalatoris to break through and get his first major title. Zalatoris has missed three cuts in his last nine tournaments, but does have five top fives and has not finished worse than T6th when making the cut in that same time span. I’m all in on Zalatoris breaking through this week. Also consider Viktor Hovland ($9,000.) I’m a big fan of his price this week with what he can bring to the table. He’s seventh on tour in birdie or better percentage and tenth in SG: APP. He’s also 21st in SG: OTT, 25th in SG: ARG scrambling from the rough, 28th in SG: PUTT and 39th in average driving distance. Hovland is also 66th in par fours gained. He is below average in three-putt avoidance which is bringing his score down in our module. Hovland is on a bit of a skid missing the cut at the Scottish Open and U.S. Open. Prior to that he made ten straight cuts with a T2nd at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T4th at the Genesis Invitational and T9th at The Players. This is the week I believe Hovland ends his slide and is in contention for a major. Also consider the hottest golfer on the planet, Xander Schauffele ($9,900.) You’ll have to spend up to the top of the price range to include Schauffele but that’s for good reason. He won last week’s Genesis Scottish Open and the JP McManus Pro-Am. He also won the Travelers Championship prior to that. He hasn’t missed a cut in seven tournaments winning three of them with a win at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans as well. He also took T5th at the AT&T Byron Nelson and his worst finish in that stretch was a T18th at the Memorial. He’s third on tour in par fours gained, fourth in birdie or better percentage and three-putt avoidance as well as ninth in SG: APP. He’s 31st in SG: PUTT, 44th in SG: OTT and average driving distance. What brings his score down is his well below average finish in SG: ATG scrambling from the rough. If he can get a few of those shots to find the green close to the hole, he could be in line for a third straight Tour victory.
Leading off this price range is Sam Burns ($8,900.) Burns has been a popular play in this series as of late and he has not really produced for us but his game does lineup to compete for an Open title. He’s tenth on tour in birdie or better percentage, 12th in SG: APP, 13th in SG: PUTT and 17th in par fours gained. He’s also above average in SG: OTT, 38th in average driving distance and 41st in three-putt avoidance. Since winning the Valspar Championship in March, Burns has missed just three cuts in ten tournaments. Along the way he recorded a victory at the Charles Schwab Challenge, placed second at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and placed T4th at the RBC Canadian Open. Also consider Tony Finau ($8,400.) Finau is priced very nicely in my opinion. He’s 15th on tour in SG: APP, 19th in SG: OTT, 31st in SG: ATG scrambling from the rough, 37th in par fours gained and 40th in birdie or better percentage. He’s above average in both average driving distance and three-putt avoidance as well. Finau has missed just two cuts in his last 12 events. He most recently went T13th at the Travelers Championship and has two second place finishes at the Mexico Open at Vidanta and RBC Canadian Open. He also went T4th at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Finau is also known for his “close but no cigar” approach in majors, having a top five in the last four years at each of the four events. His best finish at The Open was a third in 2019. Also consider Sungjae Im ($8,300.) Im is elite when it comes to par fours gained and SG: ATG scrambling from the rough where he’s third on tour in both statistical categories. Additionally, he’s 13th in SG: OTT and 33rd in birdie or better percentage. He’s above average in SG: APP, average driving distance and SG: PUTT. I’m digging his price at $8,300 as well. Im is also in a bit of a skid with back-to-back missed cuts at the U.S. Open and Genesis Scottish Open but had a stretch prior of eight straight made cuts. In those eight events he has two top tens, four top 15s and six top 25s.
This is the price range where more regularly than not I find my hidden gems. Leading the way is the budding star Mito Pereira ($7,300.) Pereira is eighth on tour in SG: ATG scrambling from the rough, tenth in par fours gained, 11th in SG: APP and 25th in SG: OTT. He’s top 97 in every statistical category we’ve talked about in this article as well, placing him above average in each of the categories. This is his first Open but we saw earlier this year what he can do in his first go around at a major with his T3rd at the PGA Championship. He’s priced fairly due to his skid of three straight missed cuts but prior to that made seven straight cuts where his worst finish was T27th. Outside of the T3rd at the PGA, he had a T7th at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Also consider Cameron Young ($7,800.) Young is elite off the tee where he ranks third on tour in SG: OTT and eighth in average driving distance. He’s also 11th in birdie or better percentage and 14th in par fours gained. On top of that he’s above average in SG: PUTT and average in SG: APP. He’s going to be one with a chance to reach the green on the short par fours and with his resume of scoring on such holes and above average finish on the greens, he’s destined to make some noise. Young had a stretch of three tournaments where he placed T3rd, T2nd and T3rd at the RBC Heritage, Wells Fargo Championship and PGA Championship respectively. This is his first go at The Open. Also consider Keegan Bradley ($7,200.) Bradley was someone I was high on last week where he ultimately went on to miss the cut. Bradley is currently 19th on tour in SG: APP, 23rd in three-putt avoidance, 27th in SG: OTT and 40th in average driving distance. Actually, he’s top 81 in every statistical category we’ve taken into account. That means he’s above average in all aspects of the important parts of the game for The Old Course. Prior to last week’s missing cut, Bradley made the cut in eight straight tournaments. In that same time span he had two top fives highlighted by a T2nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and four top tens.
Last week this price range paid off for us in a big way with Kitayama and Smalley. Let’s see if we can have a repeat this week. First off we have Keith Mitchell ($6,900.) Mitchell is elite off the tee as he ranks fifth on tour in SG: OTT and 21st in average driving distance. He’s also 19th in birdie or better percentage, 42nd in SG: PUTT and 60th in par fours gained. He has actually made six straight cuts with a T6th at the Travelers Championship and T7th at the RBC Canadian Open in the mix. Mitchell is currently at +11000 to win. I suggest putting a few dollars there. Also consider Chris Kirk ($6,800.) Kirk is top 96 on tour in five of the seven statistical categories we’ve touched on, highlighted by a 24th in SG: OTT, 44th in par fours gained and 56th in SG: APP. Kirk has made five consecutive cuts with a T5th at the PGA Championship and T7th at the RBC Canadian Open. He even made the cut last week at the Scottish Open, which is promising for this week. Also consider Emiliano Grillo ($6,700.) Grillo is pretty good off the tee as he’s 18th on tour in SG: OTT and 50th in average driving distance. Additionally, he’s 29th in birdie or better percentage, 41st in SG: ATG scrambling from the rough and 69th in three-putt avoidance. He’s even average in par fours gained. You’re getting all of this at a $6,700 price and a +19000 to win. I’ll take that all day. He’s made the cut in seven of his last eight tournaments and the last time we saw Grillo on tour, he placed T2nd at the John Deere Classic. He’s also placed T12th at The Open two times previously.
Strokes Gained: Proximity to Course
Strokes gained: Proximity to Course (SG: PTC) is the patented statistic developed by Lenny of the Out of the Rough Podcast. Each week, Lenny will pick a golfer local to the course to be his SG: PTC choice. Last week Lenny went with Scotland’s own Robert MacIntyre at the Genesis Scottish Open. MacIntyre missed the cut at +5.
This week Lenny is going with Lord Tyrell Hatton.
SG: PTC Past Results
The Honda Classic - Chase Seiffert (+1) - T25th
The Arnold Palmer Invitational - John Pak (+8) - T52nd
The Players - Billy Horschel (WD)
The Valspar Championship - Sam Ryder (-1) - MC
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play - MC
The Valero Texas Open - Adam Long (-5) - T35th
The Masters - Patrick Reed (+6) - T35th
The RBC Heritage - Brian Harman (-6) - T35th
The Zurich Classic - Jay and Billy Haas (E) - T59th
The Mexico Open - Carlos Ortiz (-5) - T51st
The AT&T Byron Nelson - Harry Higgs (-4) - MC
The PGA Championship - Talor Gooch (+1) - T20th
The Charles Schwab Challenge - Tom Hoge (+4) - MC
The Memorial Tournament - Mackenzie Hughes (+2) - T37th
The RBC Canadian Open - Adam Svensson (-6) - T21st
The US Open - Fran Quinn (+13) - MC
The Travelers Championship - Keegan Bradley (-9) - T19th
The John Deere Classic - Doug Ghim (+1) - MC
The Genesis Scottish Open - Robert MacIntyre (+5) - MC
One and Done
*Rules: A golfer can only be played once all season unless the chosen golfer wins the respective tournament. If the chosen golfer wins, he can be used again. We will keep track of success via monetary earnings to add value to bigger tournaments. We will track my choices for the rest of the season below.
A big swing-and-a-miss again this week as Thomas was my third straight pick to miss the cut and not add any money to my total. I’m going to go with my second favorite this week as Thomas is now off the table with McIlroy.
The Masters - Shane Lowry ($870,000)
The RBC Heritage - Adam Hadwin ($54,844)
The Zurich Classic - Marc Lesihman ($24,111.50)
The Mexico Open - Gary Woodland ($60,955)
The AT&T Byron Nelson - Sam Burns ($0)
The PGA Championship - Justin Thomas ($2,700,000)
The Charles Schwab Challenge - Mito Pereira ($246,540)
The Memorial Tournament - Xander Schauffele ($142,800)
The RBC Canadian Open - Corey Conners ($315,375)
The US Open - Matt Fitzpatrick ($3,150,000)
Travelers Championship - Joaquin Niemann ($0)
The John Deere Classic - Nate Lashley ($0)
The Genesis Scottish Open - Justin Thomas ($0)