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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: The Open (2023)


The final Major of the 2022-2023 PGA TOUR season upon us in golf’s oldest championship, The Open Championship.


The game’s best will take to Royal Liverpool in hopes of etching their names on the coveted Claret Jug.


The 151st playing of the game’s oldest test returns to Royal Liverpool, known by the locals as Hoylake, in Wirral in Merseyside, England.


This will be the 13th time the Wirral links will host the tournament, last played in 2014 which saw Rory McIlroy claim victory.


The Open Championship is a nomadic tournament but is always held on a links course, taking the PGA TOUR and its golfers back to the game’s roots.


The Field

Being a Major tournament this week, all of the game’s best will be teeing it up this week in hopes to claim the final Major event of the season.


This means the PGA TOUR and LIV Tour golfers alike will be squaring off in the northwest of England.


Cameron Smith of the LIV Tour is the defending champion as he held off McIlroy with an all-time classic a year ago at the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. Smith shot a 64 on the final round, including going -6 on the back nine to claim victory.


World number-one Scottie Scheffler and Masters’ champion Jon Rahm, along with 2014 champion McIlroy headline the field.


The field includes a multitude of subplots, including one around hometown hopeful Tommy Fleetwood as he looks to make his first PGA TOUR victory, this year’s The Open.


Other past The Open winners teeing it up this week include Smith (2022,) Collin Morikawa (2021,) Shane Lowry (2019,) Francesco Molinari (2018,) Jordan Spieth (2017,) Henrik Stenson (2016,) Zach Johnson (2015,) McIlroy (2014,) Phil Mickelson (2013,) Ernie Els (2012 & 2002,) Darren Clarke (2011,) Louis Oosthuizen (2010,) Stewart Cink (2009) and Padrig Harrington (2008 & 2007.)


Also in the field, joining Rahm (The Masters) as Major winners on the season are Brooks Koepka (PGA Championship) and Wyndham Clark (The U.S. Open.)


It is also worth noting that since 2012, the winner of the The Open has been within the top-40 of the OWGR.


The Course

This week’s venue, Royal Liverpool, is the second oldest seaside links course in England, behind Royal North Devon.


Often referred to as Hoylake due to its location in the town of Hoylake, this prestigious golf club is one of the oldest and most renowned golf clubs in not only England, but the World.


Royal Liverpool received its “Royal” designation in 1871 from Queen Victoria.


It plays as a par 71 at 7,383 yards and has been the host to two The Open Championships since 2006.


In terms of The Open scoring, this is one of the easier tracks on the rotation, seeing McIlroy go -17 in 2014 and Tiger Woods go -18 in 2000.


Royal Liverpool is a relatively flat track with few towering sand dunes. With what the course lacks in topography, it gains with its tall fescue that is in play on all 18 holes and the numerous out-of-bounds areas.


Each of the par-fours and par-fives featured this week include two-to-three yards of semi-rough which then instantly goes into knee-to-wait-high fescue. The transition from the semi-rough to fescue is both instant and small in terms of miss distance.


As previously mentioned, there are out-of-bounds areas featured on six holes this week. Landing in one of these areas is an instant shot penalty.


Royal Liverpool also features deep and penalizing fairway bunkers which were re-positioned for the distance that today’s professionals bring to the table.


It should go without saying, golfers must be accurate off the tee this week in hopes of avoiding the tall fescue, out-of-bounds areas and deep fairway bunkers.


The green complexes featured his week are small in size and most are raised from the fairway. These small green complexes are often surrounded by heavy duty, drastic and steep-faced bunkers.


Going along with the theme of bunkers, this course also includes the famous “Hilbre” bunker which sits in the middle of the sixth fairway and the “Road Hole” on the 16th hole.


This Course too features some changes from the last time it was played on TOUR nine years ago when McIlroy was victorious.


There is a new par-three that will play as the 17th hole this week. The new par-three, named “Little Eye” will now serve as the signature hole for Royal Liverpool.


“Little Eye” plays at around 140 yards and features a raised infinity green with views over the River Dee Estuary to Wales in the distance.


It is surrounded by a sea of bunkers and huge fall-off areas to all sides, including all the way to the green. This provides a must in hitting the green.


Additionally, the par has been changed from 72 to 71 with significant alterations on the back nine.


The biggest of these alterations comes as the once par-five tenth hole has been changed to a par-four, decreasing it from 532 yards to 507 yards this year. This allows for the par to be dressed by a stroke.


The tenth played as the easiest hole on the course in 2014 and now opens the longest back-nine in Open Championship history.


Seventy-one yards have been added to the course as well via the renovation project managed by Martin Ebert.

Some of the new yards were added to the 15th, known as “Field,” in which McIlroy famously eagled back in 2014. The addition of a new tee box allows for the added distance with the hole now measuring 620 yards.


Additionally, the closing hole, the 18th par-five known as “Dun '' saw the tees moved back 50 yards and significantly further right. There is an out-of-bounds area down the right-hand side that has been moved further to the left.


This has set up a near 240-yard carry to reach the fairway with dangerous dunkers down the left-hand side.


On top of all of the challenges Royal Liverpool will throw at the World’s best golfers, the weather will be the real factor this week.


Royal Liverpool does not feature a fairway irrigation system which sees the fairways run at a rapid pace.


This layout, like most links style courses, is also exposed, allowing for significant winds to impact play. In all, the golfing weather gods and what they bring this week need to be respected.


The Weather

As of the time of writing this, there is a projected significant chance for precipitation this week. Forecasts are currently projecting a 40-percent chance on Thursday, 60-percent chance on Friday and 70-percent chance on both Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures will remain in the low 60-degrees for Thursday through Saturday before peaking at 67-degrees come Sunday. Winds will almost certainly be an issue this week as they are currently set to range from 12-to-13 miles-per-hour across all four days. In all, just as we can expect out of links golf in England, it will likely be wet and windy.


Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: TTG)

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Driving Accuracy

  • Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)

  • Sand Saves Percentage

  • Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)

  • Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)

  • Ball Striking

  • Scrambling

  • Par Four Average Scoring

  • Birdie or Better Percentage

  • Proximity to the Hole from 200+ Yards

  • Bogey Avoidance


DFS Suggestions

$10,000+

Pricing this week is very interesting. We have the likes of Scottie Scheffler at $12,400 and Rory McIlroy at $11,900. I know the DraftKings market can make up for that with players in the new $5,000-$5,900 price range, but I’m still not touching them at those prices, especially Scheffler. We know what Scheffler offers and he for sure will be in contention come Sunday but at $12,400, he doesn’t offer anything in terms of lineup flexibility. With that being said, I’m going to offer just two golfers in this price range and three in the rest with this week being a major. My first suggestion is Jon Rahm ($11,200.) I know you’re still spending up for Rahm, but he tops my model this week. He’s currently first on TOUR in birdie or better percentage, second in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, third in all of SG: TTG, SG: APP and GIR%, fourth in ball striking, fifth in both par four average scoring and bogey avoidance, 23rd in SG: PUTT, 60th in SG: ATG, 75th in scrambling, 99th in driving accuracy and 100th in sand saves percentage. Rahm did miss the cut in his last outing at the Travelers Championship, marking his one and only missed cut of the year. He has four wins on the season and placed T10th at the U.S. Open. Rahm placed T34th at The Open a year ago and went T3rd in 2021. I know the form isn’t quite there but we are getting a bit of a premium on Rahm, even at $11,200. He is currently on the books at +1200 and I will be playing that line this week. Also consider Viktor Hovland ($10,000.) I’d love to start building my lineups with Hovland at just $10,000 as that allows for fantastic lineup flexibility. He is currently ninth on TOUR in par four average scoring, tenth in SG: TTG, 13th in sand saves percentage, 19th in SG: APP, 22nd in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 25th in ball striking, 30th in both scrambling and birdie or better percentage, 34th in bogey avoidance, 36th in driving accuracy, 64th in GIR% and 71st in SG: PUTT. His struggles come around the greens where he ranks 126th in SG: ATG but with well above-average scrambling and sand saves percentage numbers, I’m not all that concerned. Hovland did place T4th in this tournament a year ago as well. Hovland has not missed a cut in 19 events this season. He placed T25th a week ago at the Genesis Scottish Open, again, on a links style course. He also won the Memorial Tournament a bit over a month ago. It’s a matter of time before he claims a Major and this very well could be that week.


$9,000-$9,900

I’m going back to the well, sadly, in Patrick Cantlay ($9,900.) I was all over Cantlay a week ago and he laid an egg by missing the cut. Beyond that however, he placed T4th at the Travelers Championship and T14th at the U.S. Open. He also has finishes such as third at both The Genesis Invitational and RBC Heritage on the season. Cantlay placed T8th in last year’s The Open, which was his career best in this tournament. He is currently second on TOUR in par-four average scoring, third in ball striking, fourth in bogey avoidance, fifth in SG: TTG, tenth in GIR%, 11th in driving accuracy, 21st in SG: PUTT, 23rd in SG: APP, 44th in scrambling, 70th in SG: ATG, 74th in birdie or better percentage, 96th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards and 119th in sand saves percentage. I know he struggled a week ago, but I’m fine with going back to Cantlay this week. Also consider Rickie Fowler ($9,800.) Fowler did play Royal Liverpool during the 2014 The Open where he placed T2nd, just two strokes off eventual winner McIlroy. Fowler is back in form this week, winning for the first time in years at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Prior to his victory, he had a run of tournaments between the Charles Schwab Challenge and Rocket Mortgage Classic where he placed T6th at the Charles Schwab, T9th at The Memorial, T5th at the U.S. Open, T13th at the Travelers Championship and then the victory. He is currently seventh on TOUR in SG: APP, eighth in SG: TTG, ninth in ball striking, 15th in par four average scoring, 16th in GIR%, 17th in both SG: ATG and bogey avoidance, 32nd in SG: PUTT, 58th in scrambling, 94th in birdie or better percentage, 98th in driving accuracy and 118th in sand saves percentage. What concerns me with Fowler is his 174th placement in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, in which there will be many of this week. However, with the previous course form and overall form, we can’t ignore Fowler this week. Also consider the 2021 The Open Champion, Collin Morikawa ($9,600.) He did follow his victory up two years ago with a missed cut last year. The last time we saw Morikawa was a few weeks back at the Rocket Mortgage Classic where he lost in a playoff to Fowler. He’s also shown up this season at the Majors, placing T10th at The Masters, T26th at the PGA Championship and T14th at the U.S. Open. Morikawa is also second on TOUR in SG: APP, fourth in both SG: TTG and GIR%, fifth in driving accuracy, eighth in ball striking, 14th in birdie or better percentage, 36th in par four average scoring, 39th in bogey avoidance, 60th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 102nd in SG: ATG, 114th in SG: PUTT and 126th in sand saves percentage. We know his game translates to links style courses as he is a former The Open Champion. At +3500, there is some great value in Morikawa this week.


$8,000-$8,900

Again, this is typically a price range I don’t like to play most weeks but when it comes to the Majors and the elevated events, a lot of value can be found here. My first suggestion is England’s own Justin Rose ($8,000.) Rose did play in the 2014 edition at Royal Liverpool where he placed T23rd. He also placed T2nd in 2018 at the Carnoustie Championship Course. He also placed T6th back in 2015. He, like Fowler, has returned to form after a few down years, winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February. He did miss back-to-back cuts at the Genesis Scottish Open and U.S. Open but has placements such as T6th at THE PLAYERS, T9th at the PGA Championship, T12th at the Charles Schwab Challenge and T16th at The Masters. He is currently tops on TOUR in sand saves percentage, 17th in SG: APP, 20th in SG: ATG, 21st in SG: TTG, 24th in birdie or better percentage, 29th in scrambling, 31st in driving accuracy, 34th in both SG: PUTT and proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 36th in par-four average scoring, 38th in bogey avoidance, 61st in ball striking and 78th in GIR%. In all, he’s above average in each of the 13 statistical categories I took into consideration this week. He’s on the books at +5500 and I will be placing a few dollars there. Also consider Tony Finau ($8,200.) Finau placed T28th in The Open last year and T15th in 2021. His best career finish at The Open came in 2019 where he placed third. He also placed T8th in 2018. Finau has been out of form since his victory at the Mexico Open at Vidanta. He missed the cut in two-of-six events since his victory, including his last outing at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. However, statistically, he measures up this week along with his moderate success at The Open. He is currently sixth on TOUR in both SG: TTG and SG: APP, seventh in ball striking, 15th in par-four average scoring, 18th in GIR%, 24th in bogey avoidance, 33rd in scrambling, 36th in both SG: ATG and sand saves percentage, 45th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 60th in driving accuracy and 93rd in both SG: PUTT and birdie or better percentage. Like Rose, Finau is above average in each of the 13 statistical categories I took into consideration this week. He’s on the books at +6000 and I’ll likely be placing a unit on Finau as well. Also consider the defending U.S. Open Champion in Wyndham Clark ($8,700.) This will just be Clark’s second The Open, as he made the cut in his debut a year ago. Along with winning the U.S. Open, Clark won the Wells Fargo Championship, an elevated event, this season. He also placed fifth at the Valspar Championship, sixth at the Corales Puntacana Championship, T10 at the WM Phoenix Open and T12th at the Memorial Tournament. Clark is currently seventh on TOUR in birdie or better percentage, 14th in bogey avoidance, 15th in par-four average scoring, 18th in SG: TTG, 21st in ball striking, 26th in GIR%, 27th in SG: APP, 38th in both SG: ATG and scrambling, 39th in both sand saves percentage and SG: PUTT and 69th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards. His downfall comes in a 147th placement in driving accuracy. He’ll have to figure that out this week as missing the fairway this week can result in multiple dropped shots. The rest of his game measures up however so if he can manage the damage off-the-tee, he could be in contention some Sunday.


$7,000-$7,900

I’m not sure how I should feel about this, but I’m all over Jason Day ($7,800) this week. He is second in model this week to just Rahm and I know this is the type of course and event where PGA TOUR stats don’t translate perfectly but we can’t ignore what he’s done this season. He is currently second in bogey avoidance, third in both scrambling and par-four average scoring, 14th in scrambling, 16th in SG: PUTT, 19th in both SG: ATG and birdie or better percentage, 22nd in SG: TTG, 35th in GIR%, 45th in sand saves percentage, 50th in driving accuracy, 58th in SG: APP and 91st in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards. Day has played in The Open ten times, missing the cut just twice. His best finish came in 2015 where he placed T4th. He also played in the 2014 edition at Royal Liverpool where he placed T58th. On the season, like Fowler and Rose have done, Day got back into the win column after a multiple-year hiatus by winning the AT&T Byron Nelson. He did follow that up with three missed cuts but bounced back in his most recent outing, placing T45th at the Travelers Championship, in which was an elevated event. Day is on the books at +10000 and you best believe a unit of mine will be going there. Heck, he is within the top 40-OWGR standard we mentioned previously in this article. Also consider Brian Harman ($7,300.) Harman is someone I’m very interested in this week. He is currently second on TOUR in bogey avoidance, seventh in scrambling, ninth in both sand saves percentage and par-four average scoring, 14th in driving accuracy, 22nd in ball striking, 28th in GIR%, 48th in SG: PUTT, 59th in SG: TTG, 62nd in birdie or better percentage, 82nd in SG: APP, 85th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards and 116th in SG: ATG. His elite sand saves percentage and scrambling numbers should help ease the mind with his currency SG: ATG placement. Harman placed T6th at The Open a year ago and also played in the 2014 edition where he placed T26th. Harman too has been one of the hottest golfers on TOUR since late June. Last week he placed T12th at the Genesis Scottish Open. He also placed T9th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and T2nd at the Travelers Championship. Harman is on the books at +12000 and I will be playing a unit there. Also consider Si Woo Kim ($7,300.) Kim is currently tenth on TOUR in driving accuracy, 14th in SG: TTG, 19th in SG: APP, 23rd in sand saves percentage, 35th in scrambling, 44th in bogey avoidance, 51st in par-four average scoring, 55th in birdie or better percentage, 56th in ball striking, 63rd in SG: ATG, 78th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 97th in GIR% and 128th in SG: PUTT. He’ll have to catch a hot flat stick to be in contention this week. Kim placed T15th last year at The Open. On the season, Kim has a win back in January at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He also placed T2nd at the AT&T Byron Nelson and fourth at The Memorial. I don’t believe Kim will win this week, but in a DFS lineup you’re playing six golfers and not all six can win. He offers a great foundation with proven success a year ago.


$6,900-

My first suggestion in this price range is Andrew Putnam ($6,500.) Putnam has played just one time at The Open, placing T32nd in 2019. Putnam has made the cut in five consecutive events coming into this week, highlighted by a T5th at The Memorial. He also has made the cut in eight of his last nine outings. He is currently sixth on TOUR in bogey avoidance, eighth in SG: PUTT, ninth in sand saves percentage, 15th in scrambling, 22nd in driving accuracy, 36th in GIR%, 37th in SG: APP, 68th in ball striking, 81st in SG: ATG, 98th in SG: TTG and 106th in birdie or better percentage. His downfall comes with the long irons as he is currently 168th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards. We’re looking for our selections in this price range to make the cut however and I believe Putnam can do just that. Also consider Brendon Todd ($6,700.) Todd did play in The Open back in 2014 at Royal Liverpool where he made the cut and followed that performance up the next year with a T12th. He’s also fresh off a T2nd in his last outing at the John Deere Classic. He also placed T8th earlier this year at the Wells Fargo Championship and T2nd at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He is currently fourth on TOUR in SG: ATG, eighth in scrambling, 12th in driving accuracy, 15th in both sand saves percentage and par-four average scoring, 22nd in both SG: PUTT and bogey avoidance, 37th in birdie or better percentage, 73rd in SG: TTG and 74th in SG: APP. His downfalls come in a 120th placement in ball striking, 134th in GIR% and 140th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards. Todd is riding a high after competing for a John Deere Classic title and has a top-15 at this event in years past. Also consider Tom Hoge ($6,400.) Hoge has played The Open just once prior, missing the cut a year ago. Hoge placed T19th at last week’s Genesis Scottish Open. He also placed T3rd at THE PLAYERS and T14th at The Genesis Invitational earlier this year. He is currently fourth on TOUR in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, fifth in SG: APP, 25th in birdie or better percentage, 36th in par-four average scoring, 42nd in GIR%, 56th in SG: TTG, 67th in bogey avoidance, 68th in driving accuracy, 76th in ball striking and 104th in SG: PUTT. His downfalls come in a 126th placement in scrambling, 145th in sand saves percentage and 149th in SG: ATG.


Betting Card

  • John Rahm (+1200) - 3u

  • Viktor Hovland (+2200) - 2u

  • Collin Morikawa (+3500) - 1u

  • Justin Rose (+5500) - 1u

  • Tony Finau (+6000) - 1u

  • Jason Day (+10000) - 1u

  • Brian Harman (+12000) - 1u

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