Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fantasy Golf: The British Open Preview

Kind of a good news/bad news situation for the FGR this week. The good news is obviously that it's British Open week which means I'll have something to entertain me at work on Thursday (the FGR does not work on Fridays) and we get to look forward to Peter Alliss regaling us with lines like "one good thing about the rain in Scotland . . . most of it ends-up as Scotch" and "it's a funny old game . . . one day you're a statue, the next you're a pigeon." (Based on my actual golf performance to date, I have unquestionably been the statue in 2016). 

The bad news is that we're flirting with yet another lackluster writing effort which has become something of a trend for the FGR lately. This week's excuse is that I'm under the gun gearing-up for the most ill-conceived family adventure since Clark W. Griswold uttered the famous last words, "why aren't we flying? Because getting there is half the fun. You know that." (I love that he added that last condescending "duh" line which serves to heighten the effect of his buffoonery later in the movie. Every dad can, has and/or will identify with that. It's our destiny). 

The bad news may, however, yield some good news later because, though we are not driving across the country, we will be attempting to do something as a family that is sure to be fraught with golden nuggets of writing material even if it somehow defies all odds and goes well (my unbridled optimism as a travel partner makes me the gift that keeps on giving). Just know that if there is no PGA Championship preview in two weeks, it means they're probably still scraping me off a rock or I didn't get the antidote for whatever bit me in time. But we'll leave that out there as a tease for now. Let's get down to the business at hand.

Do you recognize Todd? Good,
because this is Scott Verplank.
The last time the British Open was played at Royal Troon in 2004, Todd Hamilton (who most people couldn't pick out of a line-up if he was wearing a Taylor Made hat) won in a playoff over Ernie Els which was basically like near-sighted Phyllis from accounting showing-up in the bottom of the 9th at the company softball game, ripping the bat out of Joe the forklift driver's hand while saying "I got this shit" and then smoking a bases-clearing triple into the gap for the win. In other words, it was so unlikely and Hamilton's career proved to be so unremarkable,* that his win at Royal Troon tells us almost nothing about the course and what type of player will succeed on it.

The rest of the top ten from that year, however, is a treasure trove of scouting information. Six of the next nine finishers in 2004 were (in order) Els, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love, III, Retief Goosen, Mike Weir and Tiger Woods, all of whom ended 2004 ranked in the top ten in the world. Also finishing top ten that year were Lee Westwood, Thomas Levet and Scott Verplank who were all Ryder Cup caliber players. Vijay Singh, who's high ball flight game fits a British Open about as well as my temperament fits being a chess coach (YOU CALL THAT CASTLING . . . WHY DON'T YOU JUST GIVE HIM THE KING?!?), finished T20th.    

So it appears that Royal Troon favors the ball-striker over the scrappy Seve Ballesteros like scrambler/putter, especially when you consider that when they played there in 1997, Davis Love, III had another top ten along with other suspect putters who hit the crap out of the ball like Fred Couples, Tom Watson and Darren Clarke. When you plug that salient analysis into the FGR 2000, it spits-out a message that says "don't overthink it dumbass" (the FGR 2000 is an ornery prick) and then offers-up Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy all of whom have been on fire lately (save for Rory's hiccup at the U.S. Open). But you knew that already so let's continue reading and see what it predicts beyond the elite level.

There's a lot to like in the rest of the top 20 but, if I have to single-out just a few based on their ability to hit fairways and greens along with some past British Open success, I'm going with Sergio, Louis Oosthuizen, Danny Willett and Martin Kaymer. Looking deeper down the list, we're anticipating good things from Paul Casey (66/1), Rafa Cabrea-Bello (80/1), Marc Leishman (80/1), Chris Wood (90/1) and Kevin Chappell (125/1). For a longshot, I'm willing to go as far as Jon Rahm at 200/1 but no further. The Open has gotten very chalky lately with the best in the world dominating the leaderboard, however, there is always one fearless newcomer who crashes the party and that should be Rahm considering his recent strong showings at the U.S. Open (T23) and Quicken Loans National (T3).

Hey you know what? That didn't end-up completely sucking. Not to mention, we haven't even gotten to the always popular British Open inspired Rosie Jones gallery yet. This annual Google search always makes me feel supercalifragilisticbrexpialidocious (see what I did there?).

First you establish the
British connection . . .
The British Open Odds

1. Jason Day - 8/1
2. Jordan Spieth - 9/1
3. Dustin Johnson - 9/1
4. Rory McIlroy - 10/1
5. Branden Grace - 20/1
6. Adam Scott - 22/1
7. Sergio Garcia - 25/1
8. Rickie Fowler - 28/1
9. Justin Rose - 30/1
10. Henrik Stenson - 30/1
11. Shane Lowry - 35/1
12. Phil Mickelson - 35/1
13. Louis Oosthuizen - 40/1
14. Lee Westwood - 40/1

The One and Done Pick: Louis Oosthuizen

The Sleeper Pick: Rafa Cabrera-Bello

. . . and then you make your point.***
Fifteen** Guys We Like in DraftKings

Jason Day - $12,300
Dustin Johnson - $12,000
Rory McIlroy - $11,900
Sergio Garcia - $10,000
Danny Willett - $9,200
Louis Oosthuizen - $9,000
Martin Kaymer - $8,400
Paul Casey - $7,900
Jim Furyk - $7,700
Chris Wood - $7,600
Marc Leishman - $7,400
Francesco Molinari - $7,000
Rafa Cabrera-Bello - $6,900
Kevin Chappell - $6,800
Jon Rahm - $6,600


* Nothing against Hamilton but his next best finish at any major was a tie for 15th and he's missed the cut in 8 of the 11 British Opens since his win with the high water mark being a tie for 32nd in 2008. At least Ben Curtis won three tournaments and had two other top ten Open finishes to go with his win even if watching him play golf was like watching a video of someone else watching paint dry.  

** Why fifteen players? Because if you're building six-man teams on DraftKings, giving you more than fifteen would be a waste of both of our time. Any other questions you didn't ask that you want me to answer like a D-bag? No? Good.

*** If you'd like to do some additional research on this topic (which I highly recommend), I'd recommend the key words "Rosie Jones Hot" and then keep your eye out for the red and white stripes. The censors denied us on that one. 

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