The third Major of the 2018 Season is here – The Open at Carnoustie in Scotland, or, as it’s commonly known in golf circles, “Carnasty”.
As is always the case for the Open, it is a links-style course that is common on the European Tour and uncommon on the PGA Tour. It gives a slight advantage for those golfers who play more on the Eurpoean side than the PGA side; on the other hand, it’s not a deal-breaker either, with Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods winning it in prior years. Carnoustie isn’t always the Open venue, but it’s pretty well known on the European Tour as a part of the Alfred Dunhill Links.
One thing to keep in mind this week is that Scotland over the last month has had record temperatures not seen since 1976. That has meant longer tee shots in practice and extremely firm fairways that carry longer, but it also has meant that some of the nasty weather that usually accompanies Open Championships might not be around, most notably when it comes to wind. Many Opens have been played in rain, wind and drizzle; this one seems like it’s going to be played in almost Spain-like conditions. That’s an enormous difference.
If this were a traditional Open I would look at links specialists and wind specialists very closely. However my thought is that scrambling, driving accuracy off the tee and overall experience will be very important. I have gone back and forth about long ball strikers vs. accurate short hitters, and I think accuracy will be the difference. Lots is being made of the rough not being that punishing, but I’m not buying it completely.
Rory McIlroy ($11,000 – DraftKings, $11,500 – FanDuel)
Few players are the combination of course experience and golfing tools as Rory here. Though not a true super-accurate driver, his scrambling and and carry look good here for a high finish. Might be more of a cash play than a GPP play, depending on how much salary you’re thinking about.
Rickie Fowler ($9,700 – DraftKings, $11,400 – FanDuel)
Is it finally time for Rickie to win his first major? He did well last week at the Scottish Open, and the links are unlikely to faze him much as his scrambling ability and putting, when he’s on, is hard to beat.
Francesco Molinari ($8,600 – DraftKings, $10,400 – FanDuel)
Of the European golfers, there have been few guys on the planet who have been striking the ball better than the Italian. Striking and scrambling is his forte, but can he keep up his torrid pace to win this?
Ian Poulter ($7,800 – DraftKings, $9,400 – FanDuel)
Poulter has been one of my favorite golfers the last few months with his passion and his tremendous ball-striking accuracy. He seems like he is the type of guy who can really leverage that local knowledge to make a run at the win, like he did in the first two rounds of the Open last year.
Zach Johnson ($7,200 – DraftKings, $9,700 – FanDuel)
Straight-hitting Zach has been around the block and has a game that is very well suited to links golf. Properly priced on FanDuel, he’s priced so badly on DraftKings it looks like he could be very chalky. In fact, the first question you might want to ask yourself is draft, or fade?
Jorge Campillo ($7,200 – DraftKings, $7,200 – FanDuel)
Campillo is a very good Spanish ball striker on the European Tour and is priced for a song on FanDuel. A great finish a couple of weeks ago in the links-style Irish Open (T3) and four straight made cuts should really make you take note, especially on FanDuel as the final salary-saving roster spot.
Other Notables I Like:
Paul Casey ($8,700 DK, $11,000 FD) – A model of consistency and, like Fowler, on the brink of winning one of these Majors
Branden Grace ($7,900 DK, $10,00 FD) – Seems to really pop on links-style courses and might really rip this course to shreds in low wind
Eddie Pepperell ($7,000 DK, $7,400 FD) – A late qualifier from the Scottish Open thanks to a torrid 64 on his final day, this Englishman has been inconsistent but is a solid links man and could be a major surprise