The British Open is finally here as the world’s best golfers head to Ireland to play at Royal Portrush Golf Club.
This venue hosted the 2012 Irish Open, but it has had a makeover since it was last played here seven years ago. They changed the holes and some of the layout, along with the addition of some bunkers. While it’s worth mentioning, I won’t be putting any weight into players who played that event almost a decade ago given the course changes.
I went through the FantasyLabs Trends tool and backtested data just for prior British Open tournaments to give us an idea on what sort of golfers we should be targeting this week.
Per our Trends tool, golfers in Open Championship events have averaged 38.72 DraftKings points per tournament with a -9.52 Plus/Minus and 38.2% Consistency Rating.
I’m highlighting the metrics that tested with at least a +2.00 Plus/Minus relative to the baseline:
- Odds Score: +5.82
- Top-10 Odds Score: +4.96
- Long-Term Missed Cuts: +4.69
- Recent Birdies: +4.29
- Recent Greens in Regulation: +4.23
- Recent Driving Accuracy: +4.04
- Recent Adjusted Round Score: +3.74
- Long-Term Birdies: +3.37
- Long-Term Scrambling: +3.25
- Long-Term Adjusted Round Score: +3.13
- Long-Term Driving Accuracy: +3.05
- Long-Term Greens in Regulation: +2.89
- Recent Par-4 Scoring: +2.89
- Recent Par-3 Scoring: +2.61
- Long-Term Driving Distance: +2.50
- Recent Scrambling: +2.48
- Recent Missed Cuts: +2.20
It isn’t too shocking to see both top-10 and outright odds backtesting as the top-two metrics because longshots aren’t typically winning this tournament. Utilizing top-10 odds has been one of my favorite ways to leverage pricing discrepancies among golfers, along with Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score).
Royal Portrush checks in as a par-71, 7,337-yard course, and unlike the PGA Championship, this won’t be a bomber’s track. Accuracy off the tee will be important, which shows up in the backtesting. This will be a “hit your spots” venue; golfers will have to have precision hitting into greens and off the tee. If they miss in certain spots, it’ll be very penalizing.
Course manager Graeme Beatt also emphasized this:
“And it’s generally quite a windy place, so the players are going to have to manage their way around the golf course; it’s not a course where you can just bomb it down the fairway off every tee unless you are very, very confident. And if you miss the fairways and the greens in the wrong places, it can make it quite difficult.”
Additionally, keeping it in the fairway will be crucial this week to avoid the thick rough, but this course also features wide fairways, which could help mitigate that:
“And there are differences in the way it plays: the rough is probably a bit more challenging than some of the other links courses, but then our fairways are quite wide as well.
Since picking spots on approaches and the fairway will be critical here, I want golfers who rate well in Strokes Gained: Approach, along with total driving, which you can find on the PGA Tour site. Total driving just averages golfers’ driving distance and driving accuracy.
Further, if/when golfers are going to miss greens, I want them to be able to recover from those shots, which is why scrambling is another key metric to factor. Both recent and long-term scrambling showed up in the backtesting.
Overall, four of the top-seven metrics in the backtesting involve recent form, so I’ll be keying in on guys who are striking it well heading into the tournament and have shown some success at British Open events and at links-style courses.
Golfers who fit the mold of guys I want are players like Henrik Stenson, who has hit 72.2% of fairways over the past 75 weeks and ranks first in Strokes Gained: Approach over his last 24 rounds. Stenson’s 61.6% scrambling rate over the same time frame rates inside the top 15 in the field. He also is a former winner of an Open Championship and carries four top-10 finishes at these events.
An example of someone who might not fit this mold is Jason Kokrak. His ball-striking has been excellent this year, but he missed the cut at last year’s Open Championship, and he doesn’t have a great short game. Over the last 75 weeks, he owns a weak 53.6% scrambling rate; over his last 24 rounds, he ranks 111th in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green.
Also, don’t forget to check the wind leading up to lineup lock, and be sure to leverage our Wind Scores in our Player Models if there is going to be a favorable weather draw for a certain wave of tee times.
Key metrics: Scrambling, Strokes Gained: Approach, Total Driving, Greens in Regulation
And as usual, I like Long-Term and Recent Adjusted Round Score as catch-all metrics.
My full PGA DFS breakdown for the Open Championship will be posted later in the week.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more golf coverage.
Pictured above: Henrik Stenson
Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports