After a two -ear wait, the 149th Open Championship at Royal St. George’s has arrived.
There are plenty of angles and ways to go about piecing together your DFS lineups, so let’s take a look at the best players to target in guaranteed prize-pool tournaments (GPPs) as we head to Sandwich, Kent, England.
This week’s DFS GPP breakdown will be organized into discrete tiers based on players’ DraftKings salaries:
- Top Tier: $10,000 and above
- High-End Pivots: $9,000 to $9,900
- Fair-Value Plays: $8,000 to $8,900
- Underrated: $7,000 to $7,900
- Sleeper Picks: $6,000 to $6,900
2021 British DFS GPP Breakdown
The following players have DraftKings salaries of $10,000 or higher.
Jon Rahm ($11,300)
Rahm certainly seems to be the safest play when evaluating all of the golfers priced over $10,000 this week. Currently the best golfer in the world, Rahm has shown no signs of slowing down.
Royal St. George’s should be a perfect fit for Rahm-bo. He hits it long and straight off of the tee, plus he’s an excellent bunker player. The $11,300 price tag is hefty, but it might actually drive some ownership off of him, making the Spaniard a more viable play in GPP action.
Brooks Koepka ($10,700)
I wrote this in my U.S. Open DFS preview and I am using it once again this week:
“This one is pretty simple: Play Koepka at major championships.”
Brooks is quite easily the best major championship player in golf. At the U.S. Open, he entered the event in relatively poor form and more than delivered in relation to his price tag. He comes in to Royal St. George’s now off back-to-back top-5 finishes, where he has gained an average of 8.6 strokes tee to green in those starts.
I expect the four-time major champion to be there one way or another come Sunday.
The following players have DraftKings salaries ranging from $9,000 to $9,900.
Justin Thomas ($9,600)
While the Open Championship doesn’t feel like a natural fit for Thomas, recent events have shown that he’s making a concerted effort to change that. After missing two consecutive cuts at The Open in 2017 and 2018, Thomas finished T11 at Royal Portrush in 2019. The 28-year-old has placed an added emphasis on playing more in Europe the past few years to refine his skills on links tracks. Thomas has played in the two most recent Scottish Open’s, finishing tied for ninth and tied for eighth in those two starts.
Thomas’ appearance at The Renaissance Club last week was very encouraging for his chances at Royal St. George’s. He gained 4.5 strokes off the tee, which had been a cause for concern during much of the season. He seems to have gotten his driver back on track just in time to contend this week. Thomas’ around-the-green game is always spectacular, but it was on full display in Scotland where he 6.2 strokes and led the field. Being able to get up and down from difficult spots will be crucial this week and there is no one I trust more to do so than Thomas.
Viktor Hovland ($9,100)
Keeping the ball in play off the tee, while also hitting it long enough to cover some dangerous fairway bunkers, will be one of the keys to success. Hovland is as consistent as they come with the driver, gaining strokes off the tee in 17 of his past 18 events.
While this is his first Open Championship start, the Norwegian is no stranger to European golf. The 23-year-old star won the BMW International Open in his most recent start, plus he had a sixth-place finish at the Saudi International earlier this season. The concern for Hovland has been his around the green play, but he might have turned a corner recently. He has gained strokes around the green in three of his past four events.
The following players have DraftKings salaries ranging from $8,000 to $8,900.
Patrick Reed ($8,800)
Reed might be underpriced relative to his win equity. In order to win a GPP you must have the winner, and I wouldn’t put it past Reed to get it done.
The former Masters champ is excellent around the green and can make difficult par saves as well as any player in the world. At a difficult scoring event with an emphasis on strong chipping and putting, that should come in handy.
Tommy Fleetwood ($8,000)
Fleetwood is a boom-or-bust play. There will undoubtedly be enormous pressure on him to perform in his home country of England and difficult to project how he will respond to it. Will he be Shane Lowry who rode the energy of the fans at Royal Portrush or will he be Rory McIlroy who couldn’t overcome the early jitters? If the answer is the former he is an extremely high upside play at $8,000.
The following players have DraftKings salaries ranging from $7,000 to $7,900.
Marc Leishman ($7,700)
Leishman is a golfer who has what I covet most when making GPP selections: win equity. Leishman is the antithesis of that. With 6 career PGA TOUR wins, he has gotten the most out of his talent to this point in his career.
Additionally, the Aussie should be a perfect fit for the 2021 Open Championship. Historically, golfers who have won that season have won this event, and Leishman accomplished that with at the Zurich Classic (with Cameron Smith as his partner). He also comes into the tournament with a strong finish in his most recent start, having finished 3rd at the Travelers Championship where he narrowly missed getting into the playoff.
The Open Championship is most definitely an event where past success is important and may indicate future success. Nine of the past ten Open Championship winners have had a previous top 10 in the event. Leishman passes that test with flying colors, as he has three top-6 finishes in the past Open Championships including a playoff loss to Zach Johnson in 2015.
One of the most difficult aspects of Royal St. George’s are the pot bunkers on the course. The 37-year-old Australian has the necessary skill to manage those bunkers as he ranks 9th in the field (past 24 rounds) in sand saves gained. While driving of the golf ball has been a concern for Leishman at times, he gained 4.5 strokes off the tee in his most recent start at The Travelers, indicating that his driver may have come around.
If Leishman gets in the mix Sunday, he has the mettle to go toe to toe with an elite player and win the Claret Jug.
Lee Westwood ($7,500)
The 48-year-old Englishman has had an excellent season with two second-place finishes back in March. Although he has cooled off since, he showed last week in Scotland he should not be a forgotten man at Royal St. George’s.
If there is any event where age is not a major factor, it’s the Open Championship. Westwood helped to prove that by finishing fourth in 2019 as a 46-year-old. The average age of winners is higher at The Open than any of the other three majors and I am confident that age won’t preclude Westwood from coming out on top. The putter has let Lee down in the past, but he has been a better putter in Europe than in the United States. After gaining 4.8 strokes with the putter last week, “Westy” should be able to roll that momentum into the slower greens in England.
The following players have DraftKings salaries ranging from $6,000 to $6,900.
Kevin Kisner ($6,900)
After playing very poorly for much of the season, Kisner has suddenly turned it around. Coming off of back-to-back top-10 finishes — where gained strokes in every significant category — he’s certainly peaking at the proper time.
Kisner will be the first one to tell you that he has a tough time competing at many tracks on the PGA Tour. Royal St. George’s is a shorter course where short game and putting will be at a premium. This is a golf course where the 37- year-old can compete.
Lucas Herbert ($6,800)
Herbert is absolutely on fire right now. After finishing in the top 20 in two consecutive starts on the PGA TOUR, the Australian went out and won the Irish Open. Last week, many expected (understandably so) the 25-year-old to regress a bit after enjoying such an important win, but that wasn’t the case. Herbert finished fourth at the Scottish Open in a star-studded field that featured Rahm, Thomas and Rory McIlroy.
Herbert is an underpriced high upside play that can serve as the last man in to GPP lineups.
Pictured above: Jon Rahm
Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images