Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fantasy Golf: The British Open Preview Part 2

Before we get to the FGR picks below, please indulge me in one of my favorite pastimes - the bashing of other golf publications ("other publications?") for being completely devoid of any creativity, insight or imagination. The stale bagel that is golf writing is essentially what inspired the Fantasy Golf Report in the first place so let's go ahead and pay homage to it. Again.

This week's target is Golf Digest which recently posted its 11 Sneaky British Open Picks. First of all, what in the hell does that even mean? What's sneaky - Golf Digest or the players it picked? I'm assuming it's the latter because Golf Digest couldn't sneak-up on a dead cat as evidenced by this piece in which its computer model for the British Open picks Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott. That must have been some computer to take the top ten players in the world, sub Brooks Koepka for Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott for Alex Noren AND THEN re-rank them. I'd hate to square-off against that obvious offspring of Deep Blue in a game of Chutes and Ladders.


So let's see what Golf Digest came-up with when they decided to think outside the box and get their sneak on. Go ahead boys. Lace-up those spikeless golf shoes we know you wear around the office and dazzle us.       


Paul Casey: He's the 16th ranked player in the world and finished 6th at the Masters. He also finished tied for 7th the last time the Open was at Royal Birkdale. Not exactly Todd Hamilton or Ben Curtis. We're not off to a very sneaky start. 


Rickie Fowler: Ok now we've moved up to the10th ranked player in the world who also has previous British Open finishes of T2nd and T5th. His odds this week are 14 to 1 which puts him second behind only Jordan Spieth. Kind of seems more obvious than sneaky but hey, it's not like they picked a recent champion.


Yes I think we can all agree that
it would be hard to picture Zach
Johnson holding the Claret Jug.
Zach Johnson: He finished T9th in 2012, T6th in 2013 and oh yeah, he won the damn thing way back in 2015. If they had made this sneaky list in 1974, there is little doubt that Tom Watson would've been on it.   

Martin Kaymer: Kaymer's sneaky qualifications include two majors with the most recent being the 2014 U.S. Open which he won right after winning the Players. He also has a WGC title to go along with eight European Tour wins. Clearly no one would see him coming this weekend.

Matt Kuchar: Kuch is the 18th ranked player in the world and finished T4th at this year's Masters to go along with his seven other top tens in majors and his seven PGA Tour wins. Other than that and being considered one of the best players yet to win a major, Kuch is a total darkhorse.   

Marc Leishman: OK here we go. Leishman is ranked a lowly 34th in the world so now we're getting somewhere but wait. He finished T5th at the 2014 British Open and lost to Zach Johnson in the 2015 playoff. He also has the same odds (45 to 1) as 2013 champ and 2016 runner-up Phil Mickelson so if he's sneaking by anybody, it sure as hell ain't the bookies. 

Alex Noren: Noren is the 9th ranked player in the world and he's won five times in the past fifty-three weeks. Maybe he's considered sneaky because he's Swedish but he's not Henrik Stenson. At least I don't think he is. Has anyone ever seen them in the same place? Now THAT would be sneaky. 


Louis Oosthuizen: The 2010 champion and 2015 runner-up? Come on. Now you're just fucking with us. (At this point I feel compelled to swear that I did not make this list up just to mock Golf Digest. It's like they did it for me. I know right).


Thomas Pieters: Pieters is the 30th ranked player in the world and he finished T4th at the Masters and T5th at the WGC-Mexico. Almost everyone who follows golf thinks he's on the verge of winning a major now but that would come as a complete surprise to the folks over at Golf Digest because apparently what they're actually publishing is a cooking magazine with a really misleading name.  


Ian Poulter: Despite the fact that Poulter just finished 2nd at the Players and he's got three top tens at the British including a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T3rd in 2013, I guess he could be considered a sleeper based on his erratic play of late. Only one problem, he's everyone's freakin' sleeper this year which officially negates his sleeper status. And you you know what that makes him don't you? That's right. NOT SNEAKY! 


I think I hear Patrick.
Patrick Reed: Patrick Reed has sucked lately with only one top ten in a full field event since last fall. (Believe me, as a stakeholder, I've been paying attention). So, to the extent that a brash loud-mouthed 22nd ranked player in the world can be described as sneaky, we'll begrudgingly give Golf/Cooking Digest this one. We're dicks but we're fair.

Well that was fun. Now let's get down to the real business of picking favorites and underdogs as opposed to dipping half a toe in the water on a list of pseudo sleepers.

THE FGR BRITISH OPEN VALUE PICKS

There's a lot of love for Jordan Spieth ($11,600) this week and for good reason. He's hot and when he gets hot, he tends to stay hot. If you ignore the U.S. Open at TPC Erin Hills, his last three finishes are T2nd, T13th and a win at the Travelers when he didn't appear to have his "A" game. He's going to win at least a couple British Opens because he doesn't mind scrapping it around in the wind and he loves to grind. He's like an Ian Poulter who can close. 

Sergio Garcia ($10,600) and Adam Scott ($8,500) have the dubious distinction of pocketing the most money at the British Open without winning it. The people who knock their putting coming into this event are the same ones who can't decide whether the Open favors a ball striker or a putter. This just in. The Open doesn't appear to have a type when you consider it's been won by everyone from Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy to Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard. The one thing that both Sergio and Scott excel at is pummeling irons through the wind and that always plays around these parts.   

As noted above, Louis Oosthuizen ($8,300) won this thing in 2010 and came within a putt of winning it again in 2015. He's had moderate success in other years so he's a feast or famine pick which is why I backed-off him as my one and done guy. On the other hand, he hasn't missed a cut since this time last year so maybe I need to rethink that five times and change my pick every two hours tomorrow.


Charl Schwartzel ($7,300) is a bit of an enigma but, if he's been steady anywhere, it's at the Open where he has five top 20's. Ignore the fact that he's coming-in off a run of M/C, T2nd, T35th, W/D, M/C and a 3rd at the Masters because that's just his way. And speaking of enigmas, I give you Padraig Harrington ($7,200) who has returned from injury to some fairly steady play including a T4th in Scotland. He also has two Open titles to his credit including the last one played at Royal Birkdale. (Editor's Note: Paddy is way too trendy this week and the FGR is being a jackass on this one so look elsewhere in this price range like Francesco Molinari at $7,300 . . . but you didn't hear it from me).

Never gets old.
Now we get to the real values and you have to love the majors because of the talent down in the low $7,000's and high $6,000's. Andy Sullivan ($7,000) finished T9th last week and he's just the kind of stocky Brit built for the Open as evidenced by his T12th last year. (We're also intrigued by Thorbjorn Oleson at $7,000).

Steve Stricker ($6,900) is a bit of a sentimental pick but he finished 4th at last year's Open and he would've won the John Deere Classic last week if he hadn't botched the front nine on Thursday. Brandt Snedeker ($6,800) loves this tournament and is getting his act together at just the right time coming-off a T9th and T14th. If he's going to win a major, it will be a British Open. (Editor's Note: Right on cue, Snedeker drops-out with his 47th rib injury. Go with Oleson or Soren Kjeldsen at $6,900 instead).

And finally, for my bargain pick I was going to go with Rafa Cabrera-Bello but I see him as more of a top twenty threat than a guy who could actually win. So instead I'm going with Daniel Berger ($6,700). He's been on absolute fire lately with a win, a 2nd and a T5th which have propelled him to No. 20 in the world. His major resume is somewhat limited but you gotta start somewhere and he's the kind of guy who will carry that as a chip on his shoulder.

FOUR PLAYERS I'M AVOIDING LIKE THE BLACK DEATH

Tommy Fleetwood ($9,800) is getting way too much attention for a guy who's only made two cuts in majors and is zero for three at the Open. Look for him on the list of notables not playing this weekend. 

People always gravitate towards Shane Lowry ($7,900) this week because he looks like he should win a Claret Jug but the fact is that he's missed the cut in three of his last four majors along with his last two Opens (remember that beards are always hiding something). So many better options in that price range (Marc Leishman and Lee Westwood to name a couple). 

We've discussed Ian Poulter ($7,500) and all I can think about is that second shot on the 72nd hole at the Players that almost vacated the property. A couple of those this week and he's toast. 

And finally, there's Peter Uihlein ($6,800), the fountain of unrealized European potential (where he plays not where he's from). One of these years he's going to break through (maybe) but he's only played in three majors since 2011 and he hasn't made the cut in any of them so how in the wide world of fuck is he the same price as Brandt Snedeker and more expensive than Kevin Kisner, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Jason Dufner and Bill Haas to name just a few? Love him @PeterUihlein on Twitter but hate him on DraftKings this week.                   


Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.