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DraftKings PGA: Open Championship

Len Hochberg

Hochberg covers golf for RotoWire. A veteran sports journalist, he contributes to Sports on Earth and was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years.

THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

Purse: $8.439M (approx. after converted from pounds)
Winner's Share: $1.53M
FedEx Cup Points: 600 to the Winner
Location: Ayrshire, Scotland
Course: Royal Troon Golf Club
Yardage: 7,190
Par: 71
2015 champion: Zach Johnson

Tournament Preview

This is the 145th edition of the Open Championship, and the ninth at Royal Troon, which incidentally just voted to accept women members, thereby keeping it in the Open rotation. Troon is a classic out-and-back links setup, meaning the ninth hole is farthest from the clubhouse. Golfers will hit into the wind throughout the second nine. As Gary Player once said, Troon's back nine is "the most difficult in the world when the wind is blowing." Troon features the longest and the shortest holes in the Open rotation. There's No. 6, called "Turnberry," which tops out at 601 yards. Then there's No. 8, the famed "Postage Stamp," at just 123 yards. It was there in the first round in 1973 that 71-year-old Gene Sarazen hit a 5-iron for a hole-in-one. The toughest hole on the track is the 11th, "The Railway," a par-four, 483-yarder that played to a 4.41 stroke average in 2004. It's also where Jack Nicklaus made a quintuple-bogey 10 in 1962, when the hole played to a par-five. The fairways are wide open, but driving accuracy is still important, with plenty of trouble lurking. There are pot bunkers all over, and most holes feature severe slopes around the greens, sending supposedly wonderful approach shots scurrying off the putting surface. For that reason, scrambling may be the most important stat to consider. Golfers will also have the option to putt from long distances, so lag putting and three-putt avoidance will go a long way in determining the champion. Interestingly, the last six winners at Troon have been Americans: Todd Hamilton (2004), Justin Leonard (1997), Mark Calcavecchia (1989), Tom Watson (1982), Tom Weiskopf (1973) and Arnold Palmer (1962). Rory McIlroy will play for the first time since winning the Open in 2014; he missed the defense of his title with an injury. Colin Montgomerie, 53, whose father was once Troon's club secretary, will return to the Open after a six-year absence, having squeaked in via a qualifier. He is in the first group off the tee on Thursday morning and will hit the first shot of the Open. As for the weather, it's Scotland, and rainy, windy conditions are in the forecast. That would make the back nine every bit as brutal as Player stated.

Key Stats to Winning at Royal Troon

Total driving
Greens in regulation
Scrambling
3-Putt Avoidance > 25 Feet

Past Champions

2015 - Zach Johnson
2014 - Rory McIlroy
2013 - Phil Mickelson
2012 - Enrie Els
2011 - Darren Clarke
2010 - Louis Oosthuizen
2009 - Stewart Cink
2008 - Padraig Harrington
2007 - Padraig Harrington
2006 - Tiger Woods

Champion's Profile:

Back in 2004, Todd Hamilton, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, who finished first, second and third, all excelled in scrambling. Really, they were sound in all areas, including driving distance and accuracy (total driving), greens in regulation, scrambling and putts per GIR. With the aforementioned sloping drop-offs that will carry balls off the green, long putting will be a big factor. That's why one of our key stats is 3-putt avoidance from outside 25 feet. If the wind is blowing as strongly as forecast, driving on the back nine will be brutal, giving a big hitter such as Dustin Johnson a significant advantage.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Jason Day - $12,300 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 8-1)
Dustin Johnson - $12,000 (9-1)
Rory McIlroy - $11,900 (10-1)
Jordan Spieth - $11,700 (10-1)
Adam Scott - $10,600 (20-1)
Sergio Garcia - $10,000 (20-1)

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Branden Grace - $9,700 (25-1)
Henrik Stenson - $9,500 (25-1)
Phil Mickelson - $8,600 (30-1)
Martin Kaymer - $8,400 (40-1)

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Chris Wood - $7,600 (80-1)
Andy Sullivan - $7,200 (60-1)
Francesco Molinari - $7,000 (100-1)
Rafael Cabrera-Bello - $6,900 (80-1)

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Danny Lee - $6,300 (100-1)
Soren Kjeldsen - $6,300 (150-1)
Ryan Moore - $6,200 (200-1)
Russell Henley - $6,200 (250-1)

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Cash Game Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Dustin Johnson - $12,000
Adam Scott - $10,600
Martin Kaymer - $8,400
Francesco Molinari - $7,000
Russell Henley - $6,200
Marcus Fraser - $5,800

Johnson is not only the hottest golfer going, he'll also be able to drive the ball into the teeth of the wind far better than anyone else. Scott has four straight top-10s in the Open Championship, and is even one of the small number of golfers familiar with Troon from 2004, when he tied for 42nd. Kaymer quietly has three top-12s in the past six Opens, and has top-13 showings in four of his past five outings overall. Likewise, Molinari has done well under the radar at the Open, making four straight cuts, with two top-15s. With only $12,000 left, finding two more golfers is akin to successfully whacking our way out of a pot bunker. Henley and Fraser both tied for 20th last year, and Henley is a pretty good scrambler and putter.

Higher-Risk Tournament Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)


Jordan Spieth - $11,700
Louis Oosthuizen - $9,000
Phil Mickelson - $8,600
Rafael Cabrera-Bello - $6,900
Andy Sullivan - $7,200
Rafael Cabrera-Bello - $6,900
Tyrrell Hatton - $6,600

Last year at this time, categorizing Spieth as high risk would've been laughable, as he was going for a third straight major. He just missed. He's surely not on top of this game now, but he did tie for third at the WGC-Bridgestone two weeks ago. Among the six $10,000-or-more golfers, there's a good chance Spieth will have the smallest ownership. Oosthuizen not only is a former Open champion but just missed a second title last year, losing to Zach Johnson in a three-way playoff. As we are fond of saying, nothing says "high risk" like Phil Mickelson. But he won the Open just three years ago (his most recent win worldwide), and did finish third at Troon long ago. And potentially no one is better around the greens. Sullivan does not have much major experience but already has displayed a feel for big events. He tied for 30th in his debut Open at last year. Plus, $7,200 extremely low. We originally had Chris Wood ($7,600) in our lineup, but there were reports he was considering withdrawing with a neck injury, as he did from the Scottish Open. So we changed two golfers, going with Cabrera-Bello and Hatton. Cabrera-Bello has not fared all that well in priors Opens, but we're hoping the big hitter can stand up to the potentially fierce winds on the back nine. Hatton is coming off a solo second at the Scottish, and that $6,600 price tag was set beforehand. Despite no success in prior Opens, he likely is worth more than that price, and is better suited to reach the weekend for the first time.

Editor's Note: The High-Risk Tournament Lineup changed after reports of Chris Wood's possible withdrawal with neck injury.
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