AP Game Theory Decisions – The Open Championship
John Deere Classic review: My theme for the week was to pair two of the studs up top + mix in a few value long shot plays. I ended up going 100% Zach Johnson, Chez Reavie, and Chad Campbell. Zach & Chad were excellent & Reavie missed the cut. Despite the Reavie MC I still ended up making a little bit of money. All in all, it was a fine week.
The Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links
The British Open, golfs oldest championship, returns to the course many dub ‘CarNasty’. Carnoustie Golf Links is a 7,400 yard par 71 course. Many claim this to be the toughest course in the Open rotation, but that really depends on the weather. An abnormally hot June & July has baked out this course. This is important for two reasons; (1) the very firm fairways are adding a lot of distance to a players shot, and (2) I’ve heard the rough & fescue aren’t as penal due to the hot temperatures stressing out the grass. A few comments from the players;
“But with this much sun” – it hasn’t rained much, if at all, over the past six weeks – “the fescue grass can’t grow. It just dies,” he said. “It’s a lot thinner than other years, so unless they can magically grow it thicker the next few days, it’s pretty safe to assume we can be aggressive.” – John Rahm
“it’s amazing how this course doesn’t change. It is right in front of you. It’s hard – probably the most difficult one we play in the whole rotation. Right now the fairways are faster than the greens. It’s a risk-reward golf course, and the way it is set up right now it will play very narrow because of the fairway speed” – Tiger Woods
Hole 1 – You have bunkers on the right and the left towards the middle of the fairway. A long, straight tee shot could easily carry these bunkers, leaving a 100yard approach shot to the green. The fairway gets very narrow around 320-330 yards. This is a risk-reward type of hole. Whoever gets that perfect run off the fairway will be set up for birdie.
Hole 2 – It is roughly a 250-yard carry to clear the middle bunkers. The further out you go, the narrower the fairway gets. I’d guess most players take out some sort of driving iron which could produce a similar yardage as a driver on a normal course.
Hole 3 – The burn (water area) comes into play on this short par 4. 322 +/- yards to carry the burn, I can’t see any player going for this green. This hole is all about position and accuracy.
Hole 4 – Bunkers can be found at either side of the fairway around 270 yards. The fairway appears to be narrow, but an accurate drive will leave a player with a birdie opportunity to a front pin.
Hole 5 – Another dogleg with a burn around the 300-yard mark. The bombers could carry this burn/ditch but bunkers come into play 350yards out. For most players, this will be an iron off the tee.
Hole 6 – “Hogan’s Alley” a 580 yard par 5 with two fairways. The left fairway (not in the screenshot) is very narrow, but leaves a better approach angle to the green. With the fairways running so fast, I imagine most players will take the right fairway. Most players will be able to reach this green in two.
Hole 10 – Bunkers can be found on the right and left side of this fairway. Taking driver off the tee could bring the burn into play, if these fairways are running as fast as everyone claims. But a shorter club off the tee will bring the fairway pot bunkers into play. This hole is very much risk reward.
Hole 12 – they call this hole the “Southward Ho”, a 500 yard par 4 with bunkers guarding the right side of the fairway 290 yards out. Players will have a very long carry with ditches on both sides of the fairway. This is a hard hole where birdies will be tough to come by.
Hole 14 – a 513 yard par 5. Out of bounds comes into play if you go to far left and bunkers are the primary defense for this short par 5. Accurate ball strikers should be able to navigate this hole to make birdie. Aggressive bombers could put themselves into position for an eagle with a big drive and a wedge into this green.
Hole 15 – a long 472 yard very difficult par 4. Fading the ball will bring the bunkers on the right into play, and there is trouble all along the left side of the fairway. A perfect tee shot could lead to a very long runout and leave someone in great position.
Hole 17 – ‘one of the greatest finishing holes in all of golf’. The 17th has a burn ranging from 280-300 yards from the tee. Rahm and a few other bombers stated they were taking driver off the tee leaving just a wedge in hand. This could be the make or break hole on Sunday.
Hole 18 – A very difficult finishing hole with the burn running across the front of the teeing area and up both sides of the fairway. You also have pot bunkers to deal with on the right side of the fairway. If conditions are calm and fast, a long accurate drive could take all of this danger out of play.
Here are a few photos during the players practice rounds to give you an idea of what they will be dealing with;
Photo credit; Scotty Gange, @Scotty_G6 on twitter
So, what are my final thoughts on Carnoustie? Two things come to mind, the more experienced players keep saying ‘this is one of golfs toughest tests and that accuracy is vital to survive Carnoustie’. . . while the young bombers say they will take as many drivers as they can due to the current state of the golf course. The factor that could change everything is weather. Carnoustie resides right on one of Scottlands coasts and winds can pick up and change at any moment. If winds pick up, I think we will see Carnoustie test these players. If the wind is a non-factor, we will probably see some very nice scores.
Course Form (Golfer Stats)
- Elite tee to green player
- Elite ball striker
- Solid history in major championships
- Solid around the greens & bunker players
- Solid on links courses or playing in the wind
Elite Cash (10K+) – Justin Rose 10,200
Rose is coming into the Open Championship in elite form. He has made 17/17 cuts, 12 top 10’s, and 3 wins in 2018. Over his last 12 rounds, he ranks first vs the field in strokes gained tee to green and grades out in the top 15 in every other major category I am looking at.
Elite GPP (10K+) – Rory McIlroy 11,000
Rory is currently projected to be right around 7% owned. He has been quite volatile year to date; 12/16 cuts made, 6 top 10’s, and 1 win. However, Rory’s recent history in the Open Championship speaks for itself. He won in 2014, 5th in 2016 and 4th last year. At under 10%, Rory makes for a great leverage play vs Rose and DJ in tournaments.
Elite Cash/GPP (9K+) – Brooks Koepka 9,200
Draftkings just isn’t giving Koepka the respect he deserves in majors. Koepka’s performance in majors shouldn’t go overlooked this week. After his US Open win last year, he followed it up with a 6th place finish at the British Open. Two of his major wins have come on links style courses. At 9,200, I think he is a steal on draft kings and makes for an excellent cash or GPP play.
Mid Range GPP – Tyrrell Hatton 7,900
Most models use PGA tour stats, which is why many Euro players aren’t going to pop. Hatton is a guy with excellent course history at Carnoustie. Hatton is the back to back winner at the Alfred Dunhil Links Championship (2016 & 2017) and shot rounds of 67 & 65 at that tournament in 16′ & 17′.
Value Cash – Tony Finau 7,200
Much like Brooks, I believe this is a pricing miss for draftkings. Given Finau’s current form and recent performance in majors, I figured he would be priced much closer to 8k. Finau will be very popular this week. For me, he is a cash game lock and a GPP fade due to ownership.
Value Cash/GPP – Zach Johnson 7,200
Zach was in the field back in 2007 and had a very respectable top 25 finish. Much like his record at the John Deere, his history and performance at the Open Championship should not go overlooked. Zach isn’t a long hitter but he will benefit from the roll outs on these firm fairways. He is an excellent iron player and has finished inside the top 15 three years in a row. Oh yeah, he also won in 2015.