The third major tournament of the year is fast approaching as The Open Championship, typically referred to as The Open or The British Open, is set to take place starting Thursday, July 20th in Southport, England. The course that it will be played at this year is known as Royal Birkdale Golf Club. It is a Par 70 measured at approximately 7,156 yards. This course has hosted The British Open only once in the 21st century and that was in 2008 when Padraig Harrington. The leaderboard in 2008 had some pretty abysmal scores as Harrington took the win finishing a total of +3, so it is safe to assume this is a fairly difficult course. That being said, the most important statistics to research golfers with for this tournament are Par 3 scoring average (175-200 yards), bogey avoidance, SG:Approach, and driving accuracy. As you might be wondering, this is definitely a course that suits the accuracy and finesse rather than the long bombing drivers. It is heavily apparent if you look at the top of the 2008 leaderboard seeing Jim Furyk and Henrik Stenson who have both heavily established themselves as elite golfers in the accuracy department. Now let’s get into some picks!
High Price Tier ($9,000 +)
Hideki Matsuyama DK $9,500 FD $9,000
The 25 year old Japanese who is ranked the 2nd best golfer in the world according to the OGWR has been playing very good golf as of late. Having made 12 of his last 13 cuts, Matsuyama has his best performances as of late coming from the Major tournaments. He finished T2 at the US Open and T11 at the Masters. This is huge for his upside as it shows he has a recent, proven ability to compete at a high level. Moreover, Matsuyama has made 3 of 4 cuts in all of his appearances at this tournament in the past 4 years. As for his statistics, there is a lot to like about him at this specific course. First of all, he ranks 22nd in SG:Approach and despite ranking 81st in driving accuracy, he is 8th best in SG:Off-the-Tee so his tee game definitely should halt no concern. He has a low sample size when it comes to Par 3 (175-200 yards) but, overall, his ranking of 106th is right around tour average at 3.070. Lastly, his bogey avoidance is one of the best in the PGA . He ranks 7th with a 13.33% chance of making bogey or worse. Looking for his first career major win, Matsuyama will certainly be striving for victory this week at the 2017 Open Championship.
Mid Price Tier ($7,000 – $9,000)
Bernd Wiesberger DK $7,600 FD $6,500
Bernd Wiesberger might be a name that some of you have never heard of before. This is because he mainly participates in European Tour events, along with the Major Events. With this tournament taking place in Europe this week, it’s essentially homefield advantage for him. Anyhow, Wiesberger has been putting up solid results as of late. He put up 8 consecutive top 30 performances coming into his most recent tournament, last week, in which he finished T51. One of those Top 30s was a T16 at, another major he has participated in this year, the US Open. He has shown a strong ability to compete in elite level tournaments clearly from this finish and also his T12 at the Players and T43 at the Masters. Having competed at the Open each of the last 4 years, Wiesberger has made two of the cuts with his best finish, only a T64, in 2013. Luckily for him, it is a different course every year pretty much so these results do not matter that much per say. Moreover, since he is on the European Tour, he does not qualify for the PGA statistics and rankings. That being said, the European Tour website has their own statistic system and Wiesberger ranks fairly highly in the accuracy department. He is 35th in driving accuracy (67.2% , 8.5% higher than tour average), and 27th in GIR. He does have a low sample size/non-qualified statistics on the PGA Tour Statistics page and, if his stats met the minimum rounds required, he would rank 3rd in SG:Approach, and 2nd in driving accuracy. As you can see, Wiesberger suits the course very well and is certainly on pace to continue his superb major results this year.
Low Price Tier (<$7,000)
Kevin Kisner DK $6,700 FD $6,700
Kisner has all the tools necessary to compete at a high level this week. With a PGA tournament win in his back pocket which came near the end of May at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational along with 5 top 10 finishes in his last 15 events, he is definitely in proper form to succeed this week. Last week at the John Deere Classic, Kisner was very accurate as he finished the tournament 6th best in the field for GIR%. Additionally, he only made 5 bogeys all week. His satisfactory T44 finish was mainly due to his inconsistency of making birdies. Nevertheless, the low bogey amount and good accuracy is definitely a good sign coming into this week. Moreover, Kisner has participated at this tournament twice in his career, despite not playing at the same course. Although it does not mean much, he made the cut finishing 76th last year after missing the cut in his first appearance in 2015. Kisner’s statistics show an unbelievable fit for this course. For accuracy, both off the tee and in his approach shots, Kisner shows a superb ability to get the job done. He ranks 10th in driving accuracy and 18th in SG:Approach. In terms of his Par 3 scoring average (175-200 yards), Kisner has played 72 of these specific holes and has maneuvered with only 210 strokes giving him a very good scoring average of 2.917 which is 7th best in the PGA. Lastly, in bogey avoidance, Kisner has a very respectable 15.15 % (makes bogey) which is 34th lowest in the PGA. Looking for his first career top 10 at a major tournament, Kisner has a heavily favorable price tag considering his upside, consistency, and course fit.
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As our main PGA writer, Gabriel D’Antonio knows all the ins and outs of golf. As a team golfer for many years, Gabriel knows how to spot the best PGA players. And as a fantasy sports player, Gabriel knows the ins and outs of winning! Check out his articles when it comes time for the pros to hit the links.