Golf

2018 Open Championship Preview: Predictions, picks, fades, fantasy golf

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 Open Championship Preview: Predictions, picks, fades, fantasy golf

Golf's oldest major, the Open Championship, returns to Carnoustie in Scotland for the 147th edition of the prestigious links golf tournament.

As the best golfers in the world head to the United Kingdom for what is likely to be a challenging weekend of golf, there is no clear-cut favorite. But with Tiger Woods back in the fold, and Rory McIlroy still the face of European golf, the picks and predictions vary from popular superstar to unheralded golfers. 

The panel of golf experts offering their predictions, picks and analysis are:

Chris Garosi, The Fantasy Fix
Geoff Feinberg, DraftKings Live/The PME Experience
Garrett Johnston, NBC Sports Washington
Kenny Kim, Fantasy Golf Degenerates Podcast
Doug McKinney, NBC Sports Washington/Sports Junkies
Matt "Valdez" Myers, 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies

2018 Open Championship Picks

Geoff Feinberg: Rickie Fowler
Picking Rickie is either met with one of two responses. The first being "ugh, you're crazy he has no business being included in this part of the odds board, he can't event win normal tour events anymore" Or like-minded people who believe his time is NOW. He checks two very important boxes for me that once again have me all-in, current form and scrambling. 

Chris Garosi: Tyrell Hatton
I wouldn’t blame you if you pick favorite Dustin Johnson. He checks all of the boxes. However, I’m going with Tyrell Hatton based on his work on at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (which includes Carnoustie as one of the courses) where he’s won twice. His Open Championship record is abysmal with just one made cut (a T5 in 2016) in six starts which may speak to the poor fit his temperament has when paired with a course which requires patience and an even-keeled nature. He’s comes in with three straight top 10 finishes including a T9 at last week’s Scottish Open.

Garrett Johnston: Justin Rose
He nearly won the US Open and his distance with driver and accuracy with the irons make his second major win a formality.

Plus, look at the age of winners here in 99 (Paul Lawrie) and 07 (Padraig Harrington), this course is for no spring chickens. Rose is a vet like they were.

Kenny Kim: Tiger Woods
If Tiger is going to win a Major this year, this week looks like his best chance. His iron game and scrambling have been near the best on Tour for the last couple of months. His big weakness this year has been off the tee but that should be muted this week with less than a driver in his hands off most tee boxes at Carnoustie. The last time we’ve seen an Open Championship this baked out and dry was at Royal Liverpool in 2006. The winner, Tiger Woods.

Doug McKinney: Marc Leishman
I spent more time trying to filter through who I liked for this week's Open than actual work this week. 

Dustin Johnson. Rickie Fowler. Paul Casey. Brooks Koepka. It's ThunderDome just trying to pick one. 

So I'm going to stick with my gun - Marc Leishman - who was my call to win this event at the start of the season.  I can bore you with the stats, course/tourney history, and recent form...but I do enough of that in the rest of my picks.  Cliff notes version: his stats are sexy, he has plenty of Top 10's in this major and he's playing solid golf.  His game fits The Open and as I've mentioned countless times when talking about the Virginia Beach resident; he is one of the best wind players in golf.  So bring on the gusts and let's go Team Leishman. I'm also one day older than he is, so there's that.

Matt Valdez: Brooks Koepka
Has the length to hit iron off the tee since fairways are so baked.  Two-time U.S. Open winner actually made his chops on the European Tour.  Sneaky familiar with links style golf and always plays well at majors.

 

2018 Open Championship Sleeper Picks

Geoff Feinberg: Patrick Reed, Tyrell Hatton 
I might be overstepping my bounds on what constitutes a sleeper but in these stacked fields of 2018 it seems like anyone who isn't publicly considered a 'super elite' and with that, I present our 2018 Masters champion who also managed to finish with a big performance at the US Open Patrick Reed. Reed is quickly becoming one of the top "big game hunters" on tour and his current odds of 40/1 is flat out disrespectful. As much as I am the guy banging the drum for Fowler I can admit his betting number is way too low but this Reed # is equally egregious to be this high. 

Ty Hatton at 50/1 is also someone I expect to represent well this week, he's a two time Alfred Dunhill Links champion and is also flashing some very good current form. 

Chris Garosi: Zach Johnson
It seems odd to make Zach Johnson a sleeper, but his odds are far too long for a golfer with an Open Championship record like his. Carnoustie was the site of ZJ’s first cut made at the Open in 2007 and he’s made every cut since. Johnson has three straight top 15s at the Open and five of his last six starts at this major have put him in the top 15 including a win in 2015. 

Garrett Johnston: Tony Finau
Top 30s in both his Open appearances. Says he absolutely loves Links golf and he believes his game is built to WIN major championships.

Kenny Kim: Jason Day
It’s not often we can call Day a sleeper but it seems like no one is mentioning him this week. This could be due to his less than stellar finishes at The Open over the years but being the best in the field in scrambling and putting can go a long way this week especially if the weather turns bad. His last Top 10 at The Open came in 2015 when he was playing lights out all season. He’s been playing exceptionally well this year and it could lead to a surprisingly high finish at Carnoustie.

Doug McKinney: Francesco Molinari
It depends on how you define a sleeper pick, because Molinari is inside the Top 15 in world rankings and it'd be a shame if the golf world would sleep on a Top 15 player.  For the point of this exercise, we will allow it because it seems that our dear Italian friend is not getting the pub and love he deserves...even if he is one of the hottest golfers in this solar system.  His last 5 appearances read: 1-2-t25-1-t2.  Sweet Christmas.  Really the only thing he has going against him is that Kenny Kim picked to fade him this week (I don't usually like going against KK's advice).

Matt Valdez: Russell Knox
Knox was in top form and won two weeks ago the Irish Open.  He's a hometown favorite, but I'm a bit skeptical since he's playing with Tiger Thursday and Friday.

 

2018 Open Championship Longshot Picks

Geoff Feinberg: Emiliano Grillo
The books don't seem to afraid of anyone pushing triple digits this week and its hard to blame them when considering recent major history  (minus my friend Willet of course) so this has led to some incredible drift up the odds boards for some guys that I couldn't resist laying it on but my favorite of the bunch is my Grillo 250/1 ticket. 

*Keep an eye on the status of Bryson if we get positive health reports that 100-125/1 must get tickled. 

Chris Garosi: Danny Willett
2016 Masters winner Danny Willett seemed to fall off the face of the Earth soon after his first major win. Some of that could be attributed to a hangover (both from winning and celebrating that victory). However, Willett struggled with injuries in 2017 and could never get untracked. Is he back (see what I did there)? He’s made back to back cuts for the first time since late 2017 (and those were T68 and T57). He has two top 10s in his last five tourneys and was T19 at the Scottish Open last week. He has two top 15s in his six Open starts.

Garrett Johnston: Bernhard Langer
The course will be playing fast. Remember when Turnberry played fast on 2009? 59 year old Tom Watson had a putt to win on the 72nd that week, Langer is older and has the patience for The Open’s hardest course.

Kenny Kim: Matthew Southgate
Southgate might not be too well known on this side of the pond but he is an extremely talented links player. He finished 6th and 12th at The Open the last two years, came in 2nd last year at the Irish Open, and has a TP Tour win at Royal St. Georges a few years back. He was at or near the top of the leaderboard after round 1 the last two weeks at the Irish and Scottish Opens and is ranked 15th in greens in regulation on the Euro Tour this season.

Doug McKinney: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood
I know it's been 26 years since the last time an Englishman has won this event, so that's why the aforementioned are paired in the "Longshot picks" category.  With that said, I expect both to place in the Top 25 this weekend.  Fitzpatrick, isn't a long striker, but he should be in good position often with the fast fairways in play.  Including The Masters, Fitzy has placed inside the Top 40 in 7 of 8 cuts where he saw the weekend (including a t38 @ Masters, t8 @ BMW PGA Championship and t12 @ U.S. Open) in his last overall 9 events.  His track record is okay at Open Championship, but I'm expecting the good form to continue.  As for Westy, Americans haven't heard much from the well-traveled vet this past year, as he has opted to play on the European Tour.  Westwood will be teeing it up in his 80th major of all-time, with 0 wins to show for...but plenty of near-misses.  He has a remarkable 18 Top 10 finishes in Majors, including 5 at this tournament.  The 45-year old has a decent course history here, has been playing pretty solid golf as of late and should be motivated to remind people of just who he is.

Matt Valdez: Haotong Li
Li plays mostly on the European Tour and has 6 wins at 22.  Outdueled Rory at the Dubai Desert Classic this year.  Finished 3rd at The Open last year.  T32 and T16 in the Masters and US Open this year.  

 

2018 Open Championship Fade Picks

Geoff Feinberg: Jordan Spieth 
Seems like the easy call for some nowadays but lets not forget who was banging that drum very early so I cant not stay on brand, dont worry if he wins ill be wearing egg on my face to go w my empty pockets. 

Chris Garosi: Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson looks like a new man with three wins this calendar year. Perhaps he’s worth a look based on his rejuvenated form. However, he’s never enjoyed the Open Championship irrespective of where it’s held. His best finish in nine starts is a T23 back in 2012 and is his only top 25 in nine starts.  

Garrett Johnston: Dustin Johnson
He’s the fade specialist in recent majors. Led by 4 at US Open through 36 and faded and also faded after leading through 36 in this championship in 2015.

Kenny Kim: Francesco Molinari
This is a tough one for me because I have made a bunch of money rostering Molinari the last month or so but I won’t be rostering him this week. First off I expect his ownership to be very high on DraftKings which automatically makes him less appealing. Secondly, his great performances the last month and a half have come on easier courses with a high birdie rate. I think the difficulty of this course and lack of true birdie-able holes will hurt him.

Doug McKinney: Henrik Stenson
Health and that's really the only factor.  He missed the cut here back in 2007, but I really wouldn't take that much into consideration seeing his good form as of late.  There are safer options out there to pick with the 2016 Champion Golfer of the year not 100% right now.  (Also tip of the cap to yours truly: last time I faded Stenson was in 2017 U.S. Open, where he missed the cut)

Matt Valdez: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson
Bubba HATES links golf.  It's hard to shape and curve a shot with lots of wind.  He's never finished better than 23rd at an Open Championship.  

Phil is in a weird place. He peaked with his win in Mexico and so lost, he violates a rule every other week.

 

2018 Open Championship DraftKings "Price is Right" Bargain Picks

Geoff Feinberg: Dylan Frittelli ($6,800), Emiliano Grillo ($6,800) 

Chris Garosi: Matthew Southgate ($6,900), Eddie Pepperell ($7,000), Stewart Cink ($6,600), George Coetzee ($6,700)
I imagine everyone is going to be on Matthew Southgate as the bargain or sleeper pick of the week. But, if you want to win, you can’t go with the crowd. If it’s a links course I’m always on Eddie Pepperell and I’m usually on an island by myself with him.

He’s a late entrant to the DK game as he got into the Open Championship after finishing second at the Scottish Open (a links course). Oh, he also won the Doha Qatar Masters earlier this year (certainly a links-style course if only based on the past winners and certainly because of the exposed nature of the course).  Throw in a T7 at the Alfred Dunhill Links in 2017 (in which Carnoustie is one of the courses in the rotation) and I’m all over Eddie.

Stewart Cink looks like the free space of the week. He won at Turnberry in 2009, finished T6 at Carnoustie in 2007. He’s in excellent form with two top-five finishes in his last three events on Tour. 

South African George Coetzee is another interesting, inexpensive option for GPPs based on his work in Doha (four top 15s in six starts).

Kenny Kim: Zach Johnson ($7,200)
Zach Johnson at $7,200 seems very cheap to me. You’re looking at a guy whose game fits a links style golf course. He’s accurate off the tee, good with his irons, has a tremendous short game, and is an above average putter. His track record at Open Championships speaks for itself with six Top 16s in the last seven years including a win in 2015.

Doug McKinney: Paul Casey ($8,700), Patrick Reed ($8,400), Matthew Fitzpatrick ($7,600), Lee Westwood ($7,200)
I already talked about Fitzpatrick and Westwood.  My money is on Casey to finish inside Top 10, so the fact he is available for under 9 grand is a steal.  Patrick Reed, for whatever reason, is going to continue to be severely under-owned...and I love that trend.  

Matt Valdez: Emiliano Grillo
Not long off the tee, but won't matter with fairways like glass.  Didn't play well at majors last year but had a lingering injury.  Didn't play well at Shinnecock but no one did.  Just think the course sets up well for Grillo.  Fairways and Greens should keep him on the leaderboard.

Ranking Maryland's best public golf experiences

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NBCSW

Ranking Maryland's best public golf experiences

The Washington, D.C. region boasts some of the best golf experiences on the east coast.

The D.M.V is home to some best country clubs in the world including Congressional C.C., who was recently awarded eight PGA of America Championships.

But let’s remember there’s a strong presence of public courses as well, especially north of the beltway and west of Baltimore.

We’ve selected five categories for the best of public courses in that specific region and recently did a segment on DC Sports Live detailing these: 1) Best 18th hole, 2) Best View, 3) Best Value, 4) Best 19th Hole, and 5) Best Par 3.

Ranking Maryland's best public golf experiences

Best 18th Hole:

No. 18, Par 5, 547 yards. Whiskey Creek Golf Club, Ijamsville, Md.

As golfers, let’s face it, we’re greedy. We always want to end with a birdie. The 18th at Ernie Els and J. Michael Poellot-designed Whiskey Creek in Ijamsville, Md. gives that possibility.

There’s no other finish quite like it in the region. A picturesque tee shot with a view of the clubhouse is only slightly interrupted by a memorable obstacle sitting smack in the middle of the downhill par 5’s fairway: an old stone house.

It’s the remains of a Prohibition-era farm that used to distill whiskey and float the barrels down the creek to load in wagons (hence the name Whiskey Creek).

But enough of the history lesson, let’s remember that the house is part of the course. You read that right. You’re free to play it where the ball lies, even up against the stone wall should your drive land there. But you can also take an unplayable drop.

“You can opt for the safe (tee) shot and hit it to the right of the house which gives you a longer shot in or forces a layup,” Head Golf Professional Michael Jerolamon says. “You could also go left of the house which gives you a good opportunity to go for the green in two.”

What if you can’t make up your mind?

“I always jokingly tell guests to just aim at the house and swing as hard as you can so you miss it just right or left.”

The green is protected by a small pond with bunkers front, back, and left that come into play even more the further out you are on your approach.

“It’s a great finishing hole because there’s a huge risk/reward,” Jerolamon says.

More info: Whiskeycreekgolf.com


Best View: Honorable Mention

From the elevated clubhouse at P.B. Dye Golf Club, Ijamsville, Md.

"The view from the clubhouse overlooking pretty much the entire course is probably the best view, looking into Sugarloaf Mountain," says Head PGA Pro and General Manager Jon LeSage.

"You can see 16 holes, kind of like at Oakmont C.C., you can see the majority of the course."

The most scenic hole is the downhill par 3 11th with its island green and the surrounding hills behind it.

The course also boasts a nice practice facility with three simulators.

Upcoming events include the 10th Annual Turkey Day Shootout November 10, benefitting Toys for Tots, and the 1st Annual P.B. Dye Cup which launches on November 9, an 11 a.m. shotgun start.

More Info: pbdyegolf.com


Best View:

From the clubhouse, looking in any direction. Musket Ridge Golf Club, Myersville, Md.

I don’t know about you, but my favorite part of every golf course is the views. Musket Ridge has no shortage of those, from the 200-foot elevation drop on the first to the vast panoramic views from the clubhouse looking over the foothills of the Catocin Mountains.

“They’re unquestioned,” Head Golf Professional Josh Ricketts says of the views. “It’s the finest piece of property in Frederick County for sure.”

“It’s got to be the best view and setting in most of Maryland public golf, if not the best.”

And it’s not just about the golf as there are numerous events and weddings held at the course’s Catoctin Hall, also perched near the clubhouse.

“But the setting is not only for the golfer, but for the general public who want a nice, relaxing spot to come out and take in the view,” Ricketts said.

A full-service bar and restaurant are available there as well with a strong food and libations selection.

Upcoming events include Annual Turkey Shoot November 18 and Toys for Tots on December 1.

More info: Musketridge.com
 

Best Value: Honorable Mention

Northwest Golf Course, Silver Spring, Md.

Hosted 2017 US Open Local Qualifying, a couple Nike Tour and Buy.com Tour events in previous years.

“It’s a great championship course that the public has access to,” General Manager Billy Cullum says.

Weekday rates: $37-$50 to ride, $22-$35 to walk
Weekend rates: $37-$85 to ride, $22-$60 to walk

More info: Mcggolf.com

Little Bennett Golf Course in Clarksburg, Md.

Big doglegs, Elevation drops, risk-reward, forced carries off tee ... Little Bennett brings the heat.

And the view from the clubhouse deck overlooking the ninth and eighteenth greens is pretty sweet.

“We have a really good deal on weekdays that can’t really be beat anywhere else,” says General Manager Jeff Blake. “You get green free, cart, fee, range balls, lunch included, and free replays if it’s available, all included for $41.

So I think that right there is one of the better deals in the area if not the best deal for public golf courses up here.”

More info: Mcggolf.com

Best Value:

Compass Pointe Golf Course in Pasadena, Md.

Variety, nice views, good course conditions and layout for the price. It’s hard to beat Compass Pointe Golf Course. It’s got 36 holes and prices vary between $38-$50 for 18 on weekdays. $44-$68 for 18 on weekends.

One of the major factors for value here is the large grass driving range. You’d be surprised how many of the public courses in the region that don’t have this option.

It’s huge, especially for those of us who want as real a pre-round warmup as possible. The Two courses are the North (6,709 yards from the blue tees, 133 Slope) and West Course (6,590 from the blues, 128 Slope).

“The North course is the most popular side,” says General Manager Michael Senneca. “The first five holes are set up like a links-style golf course.”

“The Westside is more of a shot makers course.  Most golfers have to hit less than a driver on many tees.”

The courses are run by Billy Casper Golf.

More info: Compasspointegolf.com

Best 19th Hole:

Whiskey Creek Golf Club, Ijamsville, Md.

The best hole in golf is always the 19th. Doesn’t everyone want the end of their personal emails to say “Sent from the 19th hole”? I know I do.

One of my favorite parts of the game is the people and the story-telling and camaraderie that comes during and after the round.

Whiskey Creek has a sweet spot for this. They’ve got a large deck that veers around three sides of the clubhouse to see the finishing holes on each side.

When you’re called Whisky Creek, you’d expect a generous selection of whiskey.

But this place takes it to another level with $13 Scotch Whiskeys, $12 Bourbon Whiskeys, and $9 Rye Whiskeys, and a full-service restaurant as well that feels like you’re in a ski lodge.

More info: Whiskeycreek.com

Best Par 3:

No. 17 188 yards (blue tee). Worthington Manor Golf Club, Urbana, Md.

A gorgeous, severely downhill par 3 set in the only densely wooded area on the course. 223 yards from the back tees, this hole is a brute. Most of the course is open so if it’s a windy day then you’ve got some math to do on this tee box.

Not only do you factor in the major elevation drop, but how much the tall trees are likely to keep the wind down.

A big bunker guards the  left side and thick rough surrounds the rest.

"The green is very narrow, and when the pin’s in the back it’s a very difficult hole," Head Pro Ed Coyle says. "You don’t have much room for error."

"Short is your only real bailout. If it’s a calm day, it’s usually a club less down the hill."

It’s one of the prettiest settings in this region. And the course is phenomenal as well with a 19th century Manor turned-clubhouse and a rustic barn turned-cartbarn.

Worthington Manor is proud to have hosted U.S. Open qualifying for ten years and will be only the third public course in 98 years to host next summer’s Maryland Open.

More info: Worthingtonmanor.com

PGA to bring Ryder Cup, other top events to Congressional

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USA TODAY Sports

PGA to bring Ryder Cup, other top events to Congressional

The PGA of America is bringing its biggest championships to Congressional over the next two decades.

Nearly three months after the PGA Tour ended another run outside golf-rich Washington, the PGA of America announced an agreement for the club to host the Women's PGA Championship twice, the Senior PGA Championship twice, the PGA Championship (2031) and the Ryder Cup (2036).

Congressional also will host the Junior PGA Championship and the Professional National Championship, along with an annual event designed to introduce golf to veterans.

"We are excited to bring major championship golf back to Congressional and to represent our country and the nation's capital as host of the 2036 Ryder Cup," said Bev Lane, the club president.

Congressional, across the Potomac River in Bethesda, Maryland, previously hosted the 1976 PGA Championship won by Dave Stockton, whose 1-over 281 remains the last time no one broke par at the PGA Championship.

The club received greater notice when it hosted the 1964 U.S. Open, which Ken Venturi won while battling severe heat and dehydration. Ernie Els won his second U.S. Open title in 1997, and Rory McIlroy set the U.S. Open scoring record at 16-under 268 on a rain-softened course in 2011.

The Ryder Cup has become the biggest draw, though fans will have to wait 18 more years. McIlroy will be 47 and might be an obvious choice for European captain.

Unique about this deal is that Congressional gets all the PGA of America has to offer.

It starts in 2022 with the Women's PGA Championship. The Junior PGA Championship (boys and girls) will be held in 2024, with the Senior PGA in 2025, the Women's PGA returning in 2027, the Professional National Championship in 2029 and then the PGA Championship in 2031.

The other Senior PGA will be in 2033.

John Easterbrook, the interim chief executive of the PGA until Seth Waugh takes over, described the partnership as "monumental in scope and stature."

It at least keeps golf in Washington, though not every year.

The PGA Tour first came to Congressional in 1980 with the now-defunct Kemper Open, and it stayed there for seven years until moving around the corner to the TPC Avenel, which was not received well by the players and the quality of the field soon deteriorated.

Tiger Woods brought golf back to Congressional with his AT&T National in 2008, built around a military theme, and it was played there seven times, most recently in 2016 when Navy veteran Billy Hurley III won.

Quicken Loans did not renew with the Tiger Woods Foundation, taking on a new tournament in Detroit next year, leaving Washington without top-level golf again.

Congressional last year began hosting "PGA HOPE," which stands for Helping Our Patriots Everywhere. It is offered at no cost to military veterans. Congressional will continue to host the program each year under the partnership.