2023 PGA DFS: The Open Championship DraftKings Preview

by Keith Flemming
2023 PGA DFS: The Open Championship DraftKings Preview

The best golfers in the world tee it up at Royal Liverpool in England this week for the final golf major of 2023. That brings me to my 2023 PGA DFS: The Open Championship DraftKings Preview.

It's hard not to fall in love with Open Championship golf. Links-style golf is arguably the game of golf at its purest form. A majority of golf courses in the states can be attacked by a bomb-and-gouge approach. Due to Royal Liverpool's pot bunkers, gorse bushes, thick fescue, and out-of-bounds lurking just off-the-fairways players will not be able to implement that strategy. Instead, players will need to think their way around the course and use their creativity to avoid trouble.

Links-style courses generally play firm and fast off the tee and on approaches. This limits the typical advantage for players with elite distance at major championships and increases the number of players who can contend. When you add the unpredictability of the weather on links-style golf courses, you can see why The Open Championship is a tough event to predict.

The last two winners of Open Championships held at Royal Liverpool were Tiger Woods in 2006 and Rory McIlroy in 2014. Bobby Jones completed the second leg of his eventual grand slam in 1930 here and his victory was the last by an amateur in the event's history. Whoever ends up hoisting the Claret Jug next weekend will join some of the greatest names in the game of golf as Open Champions at Royal Liverpool.

You can find me on Twitter @KeithFlemming to keep the conversation going! Be sure to listen to my weekly guest appearance Wednesdays at 1pm eastern on The Inside Drive on ESPN Northwest Radio. 

2023 PGA DFS: The Open Championship DraftKings Preview

Venue (Royal Liverpool Golf Club)

Royal Liverpool features hazards in close proximity to its fairways, daring players to take high-risk, high-reward tee shots. Internal out-of-bounds is in play on six holes at Hoylake. Players may choose to lay further back off the tee at the expense of longer approaches into the greens. A method Tiger Woods executed beautifully in his win in 2006 by not taking the driver out of his bag the entire tournament.

The Par-71 features three par-5s, four par-3s, and 11 par-4s. The players best scoring chances will come from the par-4 4th and par-5 5th, both reachable for potential eagle opportunities. The course features seven par-4s measuring over 450 yards and three par-3s over 190 yards, making long iron play crucial for success.

Given its exposure to high winds off the coasts, the fescue-based greens will run slow by PGA Tour standards. This is the typical green speed for link-style courses. The oversized greens create flexibility to move pin locations around each day, with runoffs surrounding the greens to give players options around the greens.

Course Comps

Instead of listing Open venues that are similar to Royal Liverpool, I am using data from Open Championship Tournament History.

Ten players avoided missing the cut over the last five Open Championships (minimum 3 starts):

  1. Jordan Spieth
  2. Tommy Fleetwood
  3. Tony Finau
  4. Xander Schaufflele
  5. Robert MacIntyre
  6. Rickie Fowler
  7. Justin Rose
  8. Danny Willett
  9. Thomas Pieters
  10. Thorbjorn Olesen

Top 10 players in Open Championship Event History:

  1. Jordan Spieth
  2. Tommy Fleetwood
  3. Rory McIlroy
  4. Tony Finau
  5. Xander Schauffele
  6. Brooks Koepka
  7. Shane Lowry
  8. Francesco Molinari
  9. Shane Lowry
  10. Rickie Fowler

Top 20 in Strokes Gained Total on Links-Style Golf Courses:

  1. Jordan Spieth
  2. Tommy Fleetwood
  3. Rory McIlroy
  4. Tony Finau
  5. Brooks Koepka
  6. Shane Lowry
  7. Francisco Molinari
  8. Robert MacIntyre
  9. Jon Rahm
  10. Rickie Fowler
  11. Alex Noren
  12. Justin Rose
  13. Dustin Johnson
  14. Cam Smith
  15. Victor Hovland
  16. Patrick Cantlay
  17. Matthew Fitzpatrick
  18. Danny Willett
  19. Louis Oosthuizen
  20. Henrik Stenson

Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained Off The Tee (7200+ yards)
  • Par-4 Scoring: 450+
  • Par-5 Scoring: 600-650
  • Strokes Gained Putting (Slow Greens/3-Putt Avoidance)
  • Strokes Gained Approach (Proximity 200+)
  • Strokes Gained Total (High Winds)
  • Course and Comp Course History

SG:Off The Tee Top Ten:

  1. Scottie Scheffler
  2. Patrick Cantlay
  3. Viktor Hovland
  4. Bryson Dechambeau
  5. Rory McIlroy
  6.  Joaquin Niemann
  7. Gary Woodland
  8. Corey Conners
  9. Tyrrell Hatton
  10. Cameron Young

SG:Off The Tee Short/Positional Courses Top Ten:

  1. Bryson Dechambeau
  2. Jon Rahm
  3. Corey Conners
  4. Rory McIlroy
  5. Scottie Scheffler
  6. Patrick Cantlay
  7. Sungjae Im
  8. Brian Harman
  9. Brooks Koepka
  10. Collin Morikawa

Top 30 in Strokes Gained Approach and Around The Greens:

  1. Scottie Scheffler
  2. Rory McIlroy
  3. Tommy Fleetwood
  4. Hideki Matsuyama
  5. Rickie Fowler
  6. Russell Henley
  7. Justin Rose
  8. Tony Finau
  9. Wyndham Clark
  10. Jordan Spieth

My 2023 PGA DFS: The Open Championship DraftKings Lineup

Brooks Koepka ($10,400)

I learned my lesson earlier this year at The Masters when I left Koepka out of my lineup. He was in my lineup when he won the PGA Championship a month later and at the US Open where he finished in 17th place. Koepka has eleven top-5 finishes in major championships since 2017. In that same span, he's finished in the top-20 in 16 of his 20 Majors appearances.

He is the safest bet at major championships in golf and there are four players more expensive on DraftKings this week. Brooks is a good fit for this course and a major championship. He's finished inside the top 6 in three of his last five Open Championships. He's fifth in total strokes gained at Open Championships over the last five years and ninth in total strokes gained on links-style courses. Koepka is the best value at this price on DraftKings and on betting boards at his current odds.

Another option in this price range: Scottie Scheffler ($12,500) Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were number one on tour in strokes gained total the years they won at Royal Liverpool. Scottie Scheffler is number one on tour in 2023 in total strokes gained.

Rickie Fowler ($9,800)

I have had a ton of success this year including Rickie Fowler regularly in my DraftKings lineups and plays from this article. Fowler has rewarded me with nine top-15 finishes in his last eleven events on tour, including four top-10 finishes in his last six events.

Fowler has nine top-30 finishes for his career at Open Championships. In the last five years, he's 8th in total strokes gained on links courses and 10th in total strokes gained at the Open Championship. I said earlier this year that Fowler would both win his first event in years and pick up his first major championship victory. I think there is a great chance Fowler proves me right this week on both fronts.

Another option in this price range: Wyndham Clark ($8,700) Clark has two wins in his last six events and looked comfortable in similar conditions last week at the Scottish Open. (Finishing 25th)

Tony Finau ($8,200)

Tony Finau is one of eight players in the field gaining over two strokes gained per round over the last five Open Championships. Only Finau and Rose are under $9,000 for those eight players this week on DraftKings. In his six career Open starts he's finished inside the top 30 in every one of those starts.

I think Finau will be low-owned this week despite his DK price being such a value due to his recent form. He hasn't had a top-25 finish in his last five events. I think people passing on Finau this week at this price will be a big mistake.

He is one of only ten players top 30 in the field in strokes gained approach and strokes gained around the greens. Finau is also 7th in the field tee-to-green and 11th in ball striking. Ball strikers thrive at Open Championships and you are getting one of the best ball strikers on tour at a discount price this week on DraftKings.

Joaquin Niemann (7,500)

I think Royal Liverpool is the kind of course that Niemann can do well at by just excelling at what he normally does. He's 7th in the field in strokes gained off-the-tee and 13th in ball striking. Niemann is one of the ten players in the field who is above average in strokes gained off the tee, approach, around the greens, and proximity from 200 plus yards.

He's made the cut in consecutive Open Championships and finished inside the top-35 in two-of-three majors this season. What I love about Niemann the most this week is his potential value in terms of scoring on DraftKings. He is 21st in the field in DK scoring but there are 36 golfers who are more expensive this week.

Another option in this price range: Jason Day ($7,800) Day is top-15 in the field in strokes gained off the tee, around the green, putting, and short game.

Brian Harman ($7,300)

What if I told you that Brian Harman is top-30 in OWGR, has three straight top-20s on tour, back-to-back top-20s at The Open, plays his best golf on positional courses, and is only $7,300 this week on DraftKings? Would that be something that interests you? It caught my attention and I have Harman in a majority of my lineups this week.

Harman is 8th in the field in strokes gained off-the-tee on positional courses. His 12th-place finish last week at the Scottish Open was his third straight top-20 finish on links-style courses. I love top-5 and top-10 prop bets on Harman this week and I even like throwing a few dollars on him to win at 170-1.

Jordan Smith ($6,800)

I included Jordan Smith in my DraftKings article last week due to his success on links-style courses. That trend continued as he finished 12th with four rounds in the sixties. Smith is top-35 in the field this week in ball striking, approach, and off-the-tee. He's a great value at this price on DraftKings for a player who gains nearly a stroke per round on links courses.

Another option in this price range: Louis Oosthuizen ($6,800) Don't sleep on Oosthuizen at The Open. He has three career top-10 finishes at the event and averages gaining 1.41 strokes on the field per round on links courses.

Now that you have read the 2023 PGA DFS: The Open Championship DraftKings Preview, be sure to check out the rest of our golf content, including my show Two off the Tee on the Fantasy Six Pack YouTube Channel Tuesday night. Each week, my cohost Allen and I will break down the tournament for that week and give betting/DFS plays. 

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