Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Fantasy Golf: The British Open Preview

For those tuning-in to the Fantasy Golf Report for the first time, I have to warn you that it usually starts with a preamble that ranges from self-deprecating to self-aggrandizing before getting into the "expert" analysis. Sometimes I get into a bit of a flow on this part and really put the "ramble" into "preamble." Today is one of those days so please bear with me. 

On Saturday mornings I play basketball with a group of guys who've been "running" together for about twenty-five years. Normally we have about thirteen to fourteen players so you take a game or two off and can still barely get out of your seat after breakfast at the deli. 

This week, however, we only had eight because it gets harder to rally guys to run around a gym with no air conditioning as the temps climb towards 100 and the ages climb towards 60. We actually only had six but got up to eight thanks to a couple of subs including a big guy named Marco who had a smooth Eastern European style game and the accent to go with it. I almost started calling him The Joker (who is Serbian) but then remembered that calling a Croatian a Serbian or vice versa could end-up being the last mistake you ever make so ESPN's 30 for 30 series may have saved my life that day. 

We ran 4v4 for ninety minutes and, despite having Marco on our squad, one of my other teammates decided to start shooting with the discretion of J.R. Smith and the effectiveness of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. After losing the first two games, I reconfigured the offense so that it no longer involved him touching the ball which can get a little awkward in a 4v4 scenario but he brought it upon himself. There's a code and if you don't know it, we can't really help you. Two wins later and vindication was mine. 

Not anticipating the CrossFit workout I was going to get that morning, I had previously agreed to play an interclub golf match a couple hours later. On top of that and after months of struggle with my swing, I had finally relented the day before and taken a lesson. So I rode into competition on three Bud Lights, two dead legs and one swing surrounded by scaffolding and caution tape. 

My partner for golf was a nice fellow with whom I had never played before and, based on his attempts at helping me manage my emotions, no one had adequately prepared him for the experience of playing with me under adverse conditions. Instead of going into specifics from that round, allow me to offer a few guidelines for future partners:
  • This first one is by far the most important. It is a generally accepted principle of sports psychology that athletes perform better when they practice positive self-talk. Let's say for the sake of argument that applies to 95% of all competitors which leaves 5% of us who need to repeatedly tell ourselves "you fucking suck." What the other 95% don't understand is that what motivates us is proving that voice wrong. And I am way out at the far end of that 5% . . . no further than that . . . keep going.*
  • If I'm in trouble off the tee and you say "I've got this", then you better damn well have this. Don't say it every time unless you plan on being the most clutch mutherfucker walking the streets and I'm guessing you’re not or we wouldn't have been paired in this half-ass match together. 
  • I will not avoid uncomfortable interactions with our opponents. I rarely if ever talk trash but, if you start getting squirrely with the rules or douchy with the etiquette, it's going to get weird. Especially if I'm drunk so watch your ass after we make the turn.   
So if you repeatedly try to console me with "don't worry about it" or "don't sweat it", I will tell you to stop. Yes that moment will be awkward but it will also be in the best interest of the team. 

For the record, we won the match on 17. I told my partner to stop trying to lift my spirits on 8, he made a clutch par on 9 and the uncomfortable interaction with our opponents occurred on 10. See? Just stick to the script and everything will workout just fine.   

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Hoping this is still available when I drive my son back to school in Memphis next month because I've been craving a straight Bud Light for like two years now. 


GOLF ANALYSIS

I am a sucker for a sports fairy tale so I can't escape the feeling that Rory is going to win. He has emerged as one of my all-time favorite athletes and his recent heartbreaks have only strengthened our bond and made him more relatable. I know another LIV Golf dickhead is going to ruin it this week so I've hedged against that in my picks but hey, a man can still dream. 

If you're picking one guy and you've used-up most of your resources by now, it feels like you have to go LIV because: (a) you've got three or four of the top ten favorites at your disposal and, (b) this is your last chance to use one unless you're in some really weird ass league with Greg Norman or a Saudi prince. 

My first instinct was Tyrrell Hatton. The pros are that he just won the LIV event by 6 shots, he finished T5 the last time the Open was played at Royal Troon and he's got a great pairing with Rory and Max Homa in the morning on Thursday. The con is that he's at best a poor man's Lee Westwood with a very spotty record in the majors for a player of his caliber. 

Then I switched to Jon Rahm but then I watched his press conference and I don't think I've ever seen a man exude less confidence. After seeing that I'd say whatever his realistic goals were for this week should be lowered to just not killing a spectator.    

It's hard to ignore Bryson DeChambeau's major record this year and the fact is that, if he's going to win a Claret Jug, this is the most likely place for him to do it. But unlike Pinehurst, an Open course will not forgive wayward drives with lies from which you can play controllable shots. At least I hope not.

Brooks Koepka is intriguing because he has four top tens in his last seven Opens and you know the rise of DeChambeau is making his skin crawl. Unfortunately, he totally screwed me at the U.S. Open so he's still beyond FGR consideration. That pretty much leaves Cam Smith and Joaquin Niemann who don't really interest me but always reliable Louis Oosthuizen does at his price so he makes the list as a sleeper. 

If I ultimately decide that I can't stomach a LIV pick (and that feeling is growing with each paragraph), then I'm taking a very long hard look at Cameron Young who has played in two Opens with a runner-up and a T8 to show for it. He also comes in off T9 and T6 finishes in his last two starts. Frankly I find his +6000 odds astonishing if not insulting.    

And that brings us to one Jordan Alexander Spieth, winner of the 2017 Open Championship and owner of four other top tens including a runner-up in 2021. To call his season to date mediocre would be generous and he just missed the cut at the Scottish Open but there's something about this event that brings-out the best in him even when he's not at his best. I think it's time to stop typing before I talk myself into something I might regret. 

So where does that leave us? I think I've talked myself out of every LIV guy (which alleviated that developing pain in my gut area). Rory isn't available and neither are Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland so it appears that all paths now lead to . . . 

One and Done Pick: Cameron Young
This was already starting to make 
a lot of sense after half a bottle
of wine on a Tuesday night.

Other Guy I'd Pick: Tyrrell Hatton  

Sleeper Pick: Rasmus Hojgaard

DraftKings Top Ten Values

Rory McIlroy

$11,400

Collin Morikawa

$9,900

Viktor Hovland

$9,700

Tyrrell Hatton

$9,500

Tony Finau

$8,700

Jordan Spieth

$7,900

Cameron Young

$7,500

Louis Oosthuizen

$6,800

Rasmus Hojgaard

$6,500

Matteo Manassero

$5,400


Footnote

By way of example, I was once playing a doubles tennis match with a superior partner and against superior opponents who recognized my dogshit backhand and were good enough to exploit it. After losing four straight deuce points only to have my partner hand me another chance each time, he finally stopped talking to me and wouldn't even look at me which was fine because I was too busy completely eviscerating myself to really notice. I smoked the next backhand return down the middle for a winner and then we cruised to a mostly silent victory after which his wife who had been watching said, "well thank god you finally stopped trying to encourage him."    

                                     THE SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE MONTY
                                    HISTORICAL PERFORMANCE CHART

The glaring omissions from above would be Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Tiger Woods. It doesn't feel like this is the year for the first two but thanks to Colin Montgomerie's unique gift for only saying things that end-up confirming he's a jackass, Tiger now has a bit more motivation to at least make the cut and I like his chances. 

 

DK Price

2023

2022

2021

2019

2018

Scottie Scheffler

$12,800

T23

T28

T8

DNP

DNP

Bryson DeChambeau

$11,500

T60

T8

T33

MC

T51

Rory McIlroy

$11,400

T6

3rd

T46

MC

T2

Xander Schauffele

$11,200

T17

T15

T26

T41

T2

Jon Rahm

$10,400

T2

T34

T3

T11

MC

Ludvig Aberg

$10,100

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

Collin Morikawa

$9,900

MC

MC

1st

DNP

DNP

Viktor Hovland

$9,700

T13

T4

T12

DNP

DNP

Tyrrell Hatton

$9,500

T20

T11

MC

T6

T51

Tommy Fleetwood

$9,300

T10

T4

T33

2nd

T12

Patrick Cantlay

$9,100

T33

T8

MC

T41

T12

Brooks Koepka

$9,000

T64

MC

T6

T4

T39

Cameron Smith

$8,900

T33

1st

T33

T20

78th

Tony Finau

$8,700

MC

T28

T19

3rd

T9

Hideki Matsuyama

$8,500

T13

T68

DNP

MC

MC

Tom Kim

$8,300

T2

T47

DNP

DNP

DNP

Shane Lowry

$8,200

MC

T21

T12

1st

MC

Matt Fitzpatrick

$8,100

T41

T21

T26

T20

MC

Wyndham Clark

$8,000

T33

T76

DNP

DNP

DNP

Jordan Spieth

$7,900

T23

T8

2nd

T20

T9

Joaquin Niemann

$7,800

MC

T53

T59

MC

DNP

Robert MacIntyre

$7,700

T71

T34

T8

T6

DNP

Brian Harman

$7,600

1st

T6

T19

MC

MC

Cameron Young

$7,500

T8

2nd

DNP

DNP

DNP

Justin Thomas

$7,400

MC

T53

T40

T11

MC

Min Woo Lee

$7,400

T41

T21

MC

DNP

DNP

Max Homa

$7,300

T10

MC

T40

DNP

DNP

Corey Conners

$7,300

T52

T28

T15

MC

DNP

Sam Burns

$7,200

MC

T42

T76

DNP

DNP

Sahith Theegala

$7,200

MC

T34

DNP

DNP

DNP

Will Zalatoris

$7,200

DNP

T28

W/D

DNP

DNP

Dustin Johnson

$7,100

MC

T6

T8

T51

MC

Sepp Straka

$7,100

T2

MC

DNP

DNP

DNP

Akshay Bhatia

$7,000

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

Matthieu Pavon

$7,000

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

Sungjae Im

$6,900

T20

T81

DNP

MC

DNP

Justin Rose

$6,900

MC

DNP

T46

T20

T2

Jason Day

$6,900

T2

DNP

MC

MC

T17

Davis Thompson

$6,900

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

Ryan Fox

$6,800

T52

MC

T67

T16

T39

Si Woo Kim

$6,800

MC

T15

DNP

MC

T67

Louis Oosthuizen

$6,800

T23

MC

T3

T20

T28

Adam Scott

$6,700

T33

T15

T46

MC

T17

Russell Henley

$6,700

MC

T62

MC

DNP

MC

Nicolai Hojgaard

$6,700

T23

T53

DNP

DNP

MC

Byeong Hun An

$6,700

T23

DNP

T26

T32

T51

Dean Burmester

$6,700

DNP

T11

T40

DNP

DNP

Rickie Fowler

$6,600

T23

DNP

T53

T6

T28

Keegan Bradley

$6,600

MC

MC

MC

MC

79th

Abraham Ancer

$6,600

T49

T11

T59

MC

MC

C. Bezuidenhout

$6,600

T49

T68

T53

MC

DNP

Adrian Meronk

$6,500

T23

T42

DNP

DNP

DNP

Rasmus Hojgaard

$6,500

MC

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

Billy Horschel

$6,500

MC

T21

T53

MC

DNP

Jordan Smith

$6,500

T41

T47

DNP

DNP

MC

Denny McCarthy

$6,400

MC

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

J.T. Poston

$6,400

T41

MC

DNP

DNP

DNP

Tom Hoge

$6,400

MC

MC

DNP

DNP

DNP

Harris English

$6,300

MC

MC

T46

DNP

DNP

Kurt Kitayama

$6,300

T60

T72

MC

MC

DNP

Adam Hadwin

$6,300

DNP

DNP

MC

T57

DNP

Eric Cole

$6,300

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

Victor Perez

$6,200

T41

T34

MC

DNP

DNP

Thor Olesen

$6,200

MC

DNP

DNP

T57

T12

Henrik Stenson

$6,200

T13

MC

MC

T20

T35

Tiger Woods

$6,200

DNP

MC

DNP

MC

T6

Sam Horsefield

$6,200

DNP

DNP

T67

MC

DNP

Sebastian Soderberg

$6,200

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

Chris Kirk

$6,100

MC

T42

MC

DNP

DNP

Phil Mickelson

$6,100

MC

MC

MC

MC

T24

Matthew Wallace

$6,100

MC

DNP

T40

T51

MC

Emiliano Grillo

$6,000

T6

MC

T12

MC

MC

Padraig Harrington

$6,000

T64

MC

72nd

MC

MC

Lucas Glover

$6,000

DNP

DNP

MC

T20

DNP

Maverick McNealy

$6,000

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

Nick Taylor

$5,900

MC

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

Brendon Todd

$5,900

T49

DNP

MC

DNP

DNP

Mackenzie Hughes

$5,900

DNP

MC

T6

DNP

DNP

Shubankar Sharma

$5,900

T8

DNP

DNP

T51

T51

Ben Griffin

$5,900

MC

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

Gary Woodland

$5,700

T55

MC

MC

MC

T67

Francesco Molinari

$5,500

MC

T15

MC

T11

1st

Zach Johnson

$5,500

T55

MC

DNP

MC

T17

Matteo Manassero

$5,400

DNP

DNP

DNP

MC

DNP

Ernie Els

$5,100

MC

MC

MC

T32

MC

Darren Clarke

$5,000

MC

MC

MC

MC

MC

John Daly

$5,000

MC

MC

DNP

DNP

MC


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