It’s time for the third major of the year, and we head to Royal Birkdale for the Open Championship. Birkdale is a short, yet difficult par 70. It places an emphasis on accurate tee balls in combination and an iron game that can be controlled in the wind. We will focus most of our picks this week on players who keep it in play and excel with their irons. Please note that weather often plays a major role in scoring so check the most recent forecast prior to the event starting. Without further ado, here are this week’s picks
Matt Kuchar $7,200
Kuchar is the best value on the board at $7,200. He provides consistency and upside as he is an amazing course fit. He keeps it in play off the tee and is very accurate with his irons. He also has the ability to flight the ball low into the wind and excels at scrambling in bad conditions.
Paul Casey $8,100
Casey seems to be going under the radar a bit this week. He finished seventh in the Open at Birkdale in 2008. Casey is known as a great ball striker. He can flight his irons through the wind and hasn’t finished outside the top 50 of any event since January. In the first two majors of 2017, he has finished sixth and 26th. Look for Casey to be on the front page come Sunday.
Adam Scott $8,500
Scott is Mr. Open Championship, his elite ball striking shows out in the windy conditions on difficult tracks. He finished 16th here in 2008 and has been in contention at many Opens. I’m hoping some of the casual players who were burned by his MC at Erin Hills will not roster him this week.
Tommy Fleetwood $9,800
Everyone seems to be on the Fleetwood bandwagon since he is playing amazing and grew up adjacent to Birkdale. I will be 100% fading him this week for two reasons: his game does not suit links golf and his ownership may be through the roof. He has missed his last two cuts at the Open Championship and his best weapon is his driver which he will not utilize much this week. I think he may be 15%+ owned in tournaments and don’t think he is worth the risk at that price and ownership level.
If you still have Spieth, this may be the week to use him. He is flying a bit under the radar and I don’t expect him to be picked by many people in your league. He is the best iron player on Tour and has arguably the best short game. Players will need to rely heavily on those two items this week.
Fowler has been knocking on the door and could be the next player to win their first major. He finished in the top 11 in the first two majors of 2017. He checks all the boxes this week with his solid iron play and short game. Fowler is not afraid to lay back and take what the course gives him, which will suit him well this week. Look for him to steadily climb the leaderboard and be in contention on Sunday.
Matsuyama joins Fowler on the list of players who may add a major to their resume shortly. Matsuyama has long been known for his talent with the irons. At a course which will feature a lot of shots from 150-200 yards, I expect him to excel. Similar to Fowler, he has finished in the top 11 in the first two majors of 2017. This could be the week we see Hideki holding the Claret Jug come Sunday.
Longshots to Win:
Ian Poulter 70-1 (5-1 top 10)
The fan-favorite finished runner up at Birkdale in 2008. Combine that with the fact that Poulter has been playing solid of late and you have yourself a good value. He finished ninth at the Scottish Open last week and hasn’t finished outside the top 45 in any event since April. He fits this course well since he has a solid iron game and is an impeccable chipper and pitcher of the golf ball.
Brandt Snedeker 70-1 (6-1 top 10)
If the wind picks up, Snedeker is a great play this week. He is the ultimate scrambler and has had success in extremely windy conditions as shown by his come from behind victory at the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open during 35mph winds. Snedeker will keep the ball in play off the tee and is really skilled at flighting his irons down.