Fantasy Insider: The Open Championship
By Rob Bolton, Fantasy Insider
It's always difficult to understand this in real time, but when you compare The Open Championship against all of the tournaments on the PGA TOUR schedule, it stands the best chance of disappointing you relative to your expectations. The weather almost always plays a role, but links golf is simply a different style of play. It usually requires experience and a host of other smart angles, such as taking what the course gives and not trying to bite off too much.
Luck is the primary variable, even for the most conservative. And this has nothing to do with how you fare. There's a chasm between the traditional sense of managing misses and embracing the humps and the bumps that are certain to deflect the golf ball.
For these reasons, it's a terrific week to ride the third rail as it were. Invest in calculated risks and have fun with the process. There's a high probability that league winners at Muirfield will be luckier, not better, than you.
On a Roll
Rickie Fowler ... With a T10 at the U.S. Open and two more top 25s since to pad a solid season overall, no other golfer populated my email more as an omission in the Power Rankings. And with a 3-for-3 slate at The Open Championship with a T5 (2011) and a T14 (2010), he's up for the task on a links layout. By all means, have your way with him in all formats.
Branden Grace ... While he tied for 18th at the Masters, his game didn't translate to the U.S. as well overall during his recent junket in which he made nine starts in a four-month period. However, he's logged top 25s in his last three starts on the European Tour, including a T3 at the Volvo World Match Play Championship and a playoff loss at last week's Scottish Open. He's proven streaky, so ride the momentum this week.
Graham DeLaet ... Arrives with a consecutive cuts made streak of eight, three of which going for a top 10. Ranks second on the PGA TOUR in total driving, first in greens hit, ninth in proximity to the hole, 15th in scrambling and 14th in adjusted scoring. Didn't crack the Power Rankings because he's a first-timer in this major.
Angel Cabrera ... On the short list of snubs in my Power Rankings, but don't read into that as a slight. Since his playoff loss at the Masters, he's added three top 15s, including in each of his last two starts. By all accounts, he's in a great place outside the ropes, which helps explain the success on the inside.
Martin Kaymer ... Top 15s in his last two starts in Germany and France. Top 15s in two of his last three starts in this major.
Martin Laird ... Full-season gamers will take his long-term value and run to the bank. After missing two cuts following his win at the Valero Texas Open, he's 6-for-6 with T5s at THE PLAYERS Championship and last week's Scottish Open.
Richard Sterne ... A popular choice this week now that he's returned to the global scene. Solo second at the French Open two weeks ago, his fifth top 10 of the year.
Jamie Donaldson ... Too high in the Official World Golf Ranking (37th) to be a Sleeper, but to many American golf fans, that's exactly what he is. Two wins worldwide in the last 12-and-a-half months and top 10s in his last two starts. Ranks 41st on the European Tour in scoring average and 11th in the Race to Dubai.
Camilo Villegas ... Shared the 18-hole lead at the John Deere Classic before settling for a solo 71st-place finish, but it was his seventh consecutive cut made. Two top 10s and another three top 20s on the season. Best finish among three cuts made in four starts at The Open Championship was a T13 in 2009.
Horses for Courses
Stewart Cink ... The 2009 champ has three top 10s this year, including a season-best fifth-place finish in his last start at the AT&T National.
Tom Watson ... Every 10 years or so, there's a guy in which gamers love to invest just once, just to say that they did. Watson won at Muirfield in 1980 and owns five replicas of the Claret Jug. Snaring a top 25 this week would be the brass ring, relatively speaking in our world. Since his playoff loss at Turnberry in 2009, he added a T22 at The Open in 2011.
Not So Fast
Bubba Watson ... Could be the most compelling case of a guy whose skill set could reach an entirely different level after more experience in this tournament given he plays his game in the air much like links golf is played on the ground. Until then, save the lefty for the U.S.
Louis Oosthuizen ... The 2010 Open champion snuck a T17 at Greenbrier in between injuries to his neck and hip and the birth of his third child. Unfortunately, it's the anomaly of the sample size.
Jason Dufner ... While impressive, his T4 at the U.S. Open remains his only top 10 in his last 14 starts. It's also his only top 30 in his last seven. Only cut made in three appearances at The Open Championship resulted in a T31 last year.
Thorbjorn Olesen ... Off his game for months. The turning point may be due to the injuries he suffered in a car crash the Wednesday of the Shell Houston Open. He's continued to compete but the results haven't been there. Tied for ninth last year to earn an invitation this week. Has since climbed inside the top 40 of the Official World Golf Ranking, but has missed six of his last eight cuts. Solo 67th at last week's Scottish Open.
Kyle Stanley ... Since a solo 73rd at the U.S. Open, he's missed three straight cuts. His putting is regressing again, too.
Tim Clark ... Even if he was playing well, his record would force the fade. Since a T7 at Colonial, he's 1-for-3 with a T58 at the Travelers Championship. He's also missed the cut in his last four starts at The Open.
Bud Cauley ... Making his debut in this major. Only cut made over his last five starts resulted in a T64 at the AT&T National. His last top 10 anywhere occurred at last year's Barclays.
Marcus Fraser ... Since a playoff loss at the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea in April, he's gone 0-for-5.
Back in the Saddle
Peter Hanson ... Maybe. A "disc problem" in his back could prevent him from competing. He had to withdraw from The Greenbrier Classic during the weather delay in the final round when he couldn't return to the course due to the injury.
Jeff Overton ... Hopeful to play the Sanderson Farms Championship. Had to withdraw during his second round of the John Deere Classic with a wrist injury.
Bobby Gates ... Scheduled to compete in the Sanderson Farms Championship. Withdrew after one round in the Quad Cities last week due to a sprained wrist.
Steve Stricker ... Celebrating his 20th wedding anniversary.
John Daly ... Recovering from surgery on his right elbow.