This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Royal Portrush Golf Club (7,344 yards, par-71)
$1,935,000 and 600 FedEx Cup points to the winner
Rain showers, chilly temps, clouds and more rain showers are in the forecast for Portrush, Northern Ireland as we may go the entirety of 2019's final major championship without seeing a ray of sunshine, but that doesn't mean the Open won't be a doozie as 156 of the world's best golfers have earned their spot in such a historic event overseas. The wind will certainly be howling come Sunday afternoon in the moments leading up to the next major champion hoisting the Claret Jug. Storylines include betting favorite Rory McIlroy's quest to evade the mental demons that accompany such heightened expectations in his native country, while Tiger Woods makes his first appearance in tournament play since adding another top-25 at the U.S. Open in mid-June. Defending champion Francesco Molinari will obviously be in attendance as well, but he's gone five straight starts without a top-15 result heading into the Open. He's still worthy of lineup consideration, but let's dive into our value plays and strategy in FanDuel contests this week.
2018 - Francesco Molinari
2017 - Jordan Spieth
2016 - Henrik Stenson
2015 - Zach Johnson
2014 - Rory McIlroy
2013 - Phil Mickelson
2012 - Ernie Els
2011 - Darren Clarke
2010 - Louis Oosthuizen
2009 - Stewart Cink
Key Stats to Victory
There unfortunately isn't much recent data to explore when it comes to examining Royal Portrush as the Open hasn't been played here in nearly 70 years, but we do know Jamie Donaldson broke 70 in all four rounds and fired a 72-hole overall score of 18-under-par to win by four at the 2012 Irish Open. The layout and conditions should be much tougher this time around, however, so don't necessarily expect 56 players to finish in the red numbers like we saw at the aforementioned Irish Open hosted here. Undulating fairways and elevation changes from tee to green will require precision off the tee and into putting surfaces, which may be difficult to hold despite their slower pace on the Stimpmeter.
FanDuel Value Picks
Brooks Koepka, $12,200 - The World No. 1 doesn't need any additional help from outside sources in order to contend in majors, but he'll get exactly that, as Koepka's caddy hails from Portrush, Northern Ireland. Ricky Elliott, who grew up playing the Dunluce Links layout at Royal Portrush Golf Club, will have plenty of insider knowledge to share with his player as the tournament wears on. Koepka currently tops the PGA Tour's official money list for the 2018-19 campaign thanks in large part to his win at the PGA Championship, while he also ranks sixth in GIR percentage and ninth in birdie average.
Justin Rose, $11,600 - Significant improvements with the flat stick over the past two seasons have Rose up to fourth on Tour in SG: Putting heading into the Open Championship, which could be the difference maker as he looks to add a second major victory to his career resume. Having strayed from competition since tying for third at the U.S. Open, he's gained an average of four strokes putting throughout his last five tournaments and he hasn't lost strokes off the tee since the Desert Classic in mid-January.
Bryson DeChambeau, $10,600 - Rounding back into form on the heels of a spring slump, DeChambeau went T8-T2 at the Travelers Championship and 3M Open to pick up stream ahead of the Open. He nearly forced a playoff in Minneapolis when he drained a short eagle putt on the par-5 18th, but Matthew Wolff's closing heroics left DeChambeau hopeless alongside Collin Morikawa in a tie for second. Nonetheless, DeChambeau has gained at least 3.3 strokes putting in each of his last four starts and he gained a combined total of 13.9 strokes tee to green at the 3M and Travelers.
Matt Kuchar, $10,000 - Residing atop the FedExCup standings with two wins and a pair of runner-ups this season, Kuchar's ownership should absolutely pop at such an affordable price. He's 11th in driving accuracy, fifth in GIR percentage, eighth in scrambling and third in both par-4 and par-5 scoring. He'll look to make it three straight top-10s at the Open Championship after placing 2-T9 in 2017 and 2018.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Marc Leishman, $9,700 - The Aussie may fall a pinch under the radar in this spot as popular Euros in Paul Casey, Matt Wallace, Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger surround Leishman in cost, but the latter should still foster attention after gaining strokes on approach shots in 11 consecutive measured starts from the Sentry Tournament of Champions to the U.S. Open. His ball striking stumbled a bit during his most recent showing at the Travelers Championship, but 6.1 strokes gained with the flat stick made up for it as he still tallied a top-25 finish. Leishman sneakily sits at 14th in the FedExCup standings and he's placed T6 or better in three of the last Open Championships.
Eddie Pepperell, $9,400 - Back soreness had been a concern for the Englishman following a missed cut at the PGA Championship, but Pepperell returned from a nearly two-month absence in promising fashion at the Irish Open where he tied for fourth before also making the cut this past week in Scotland. The top-5 performance two weeks ago in Ireland allowed Pepperrel to reach a career-best 32nd in the OWGR, while he currently ranks second in par-5 scoring, 17th in scrambling and eighth in putts per round on the European Tour. He also tied for sixth at the 2018 Open in just his second career appearance at the event.
Rory Sabbatini, $8,500 - A missed cut at the 3M Open ended an impressive run from the Honda Classic to the Rocket Mortgage Classic that included six top-20s and 12 straight cuts made, but even with the MC he's still gained an average of 4.5 strokes from tee to green over his last 10 starts. Sabbatini's 2018-19 resurgence earns him a spot in the Open Championship field for the first time since 2011, but he's now 23rd in SG: Around-the-Green, 30th in birdie average, 22nd in one-putt percentage and 26th in scrambling.
Mike Lorenzo-Vera, $8,300 - The 34-year-old Frenchman's crafty short game has kept him from missing a single cut worldwide since late January's Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and he's notched a trio of top-10s throughout his last four starts on the European Tour with a T16 at the PGA Championship mixed in there as well. Lorenzo-Vera ranks fourth among his Euro peers in sand-save percentage, 22nd in scrambling and 27th in putts per round en route to joining the OWGR's top-100 in late May. He made the cut during his Open Championship debut in 2017 before failing to qualify last year.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
The Open Championship tends to cater towards players with a proven track record on links-style courses who also don't mind playing in brutal conditions, so the difficulty in measuring such factors can make it one of the toughest events for 'experts' to handicap. Experience and short-game prowess are two essential factors when determining potential winners, but ball striking still remains paramount from a DFS standpoint where par breakers are a necessity. With 10 players coming in at $11,000 or more on FanDuel, balanced lineups may take a back seat to a studs and duds approach especially in tournament formats.