Golf

Francesco Molinari wins Open Championship for first career major title

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USA TODAY Sports

Francesco Molinari wins Open Championship for first career major title

It was only a mere three weeks ago that Francesco Molinari closed with a final round 62 en route to a dominant eight-shot victory at the 2018 Quicken Loans National. 

On Sunday, his eight-under total was good enough for a two-shot win over Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

The 35-year-old played his final round alongside Tiger Woods, who shot a 5-under-par 66 in Saturday's third round that left him at 5 under through 54 holes and four shots back of the leaders. His 66 was his first weekend round in the 60s in the Open since 2007.

The 14-time major winner had to settle for a closing round of 71 on Sunday. It was his first Open since missing the cut at St. Andrews in 2015.

Molinari continues to be one of the world's hottest golfers, notching his third win in the last five starts. 

Some of golf's best weighed in on Sunday: 

When it was all said and done, on a day that featured difficult Carnoustie wind conditions, Francesco Molinari emerged victorious hoisting the Claret Jug. 

2018 PGA Championship Predictions: Fantasy Golf sleepers, fade picks

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 PGA Championship Predictions: Fantasy Golf sleepers, fade picks

The final major golf tournament of the season takes place this weekend at Bellerive Country Club in Town And Country, Missouri. Bellerive last hosted the PGA Championship in 1992 when Nick Price captured the first of his three major titles.

Will Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka or Francesco Molinari claim their second major title of 2018? Can Dustin Johnson, the world's top golfer, capture his first major title since 2016? What about Tiger Wood? There are so many questions that will get answered between Thursday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 12.

If you are looking for the best insight and analysis to help you win at fantasy gold, you've come to the right place. 

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

Chris Garosi, The Fantasy Fix
Geoff Fienberg, DraftKings Live/The PME Experience
Kenny Kim, Fantasy Golf Degenerates Podcast
Doug McKinney, NBC Sports Washington/Sports Junkies

PGA Championship 2018 Fantasy Golf Picks and Predictions

PICKS TO WIN

Geoff Fienberg: Dustin Johnson
The No. 1 player in the world has four Top 5 finishes in his last five5 starts and I expect another outstanding finish this week. I don’t want to live in a world in which Dustin Johnson has the same amount of majors as Keegan Bradley and a cavalcade of others so I’m looking forward to him getting No. 2 this week.

Chris Garosi: Dustin Johnson
I’ll stick with the favorite this week and go with Dustin Johnson. He’s finished in the Top 10 in five of his last six tournaments, missing the cut at The Open Championship. He may be in the best form of his life and perhaps the best form of anyone in the field.

Kenny Kim: Rory McIlroy
McIlroy is in solid form entering the 2018 PGA Championship. He was in the final pairing last week at Firestone and was in contention on the back-nine Sunday at Carnoustie. His length off the tee should be helpful at a wet Bellerive and the soft conditions should help with his approach game as well. The course favors golfers who hit a draw off the tee and McIlroy does that with the best of them. If he putts like he did last week, he could run away with it.

Doug McKinney: Brooks Koepka 
Why not? All Koepka does is compete at golf’s four prestigious in-season events. Since whiffing in his first two major appearances, Koepka has only made 17 straight cuts, including 11 Top 15 finishes and seven Top 10’s. Oh right, he also has two U.S. Open titles. The Florida State product has gone T-15 / T-5 / T-4 / T-13 in his last 4 PGA Tour visits. Bellerive is built for Koepka’s profile: long off the tee, maintain strokes gained tee-to-green and greens in regulation.  

SLEEPER PICK

Geoff Fienberg: Bryson DeChambeau
 The only player at Firestone to improve his score all four rounds. He'll never stop grinding for us and when you believe it is the Summer of Bryson how can one resist odds being posted as high as 80/1? Alex Noren was a close second for me here flirting in that 50-60/1 range.

Chris Garosi: Patrick Cantlay 
Since I went with chalk at the top, let’s dive a bit deeper for a sleeper. Patrick Cantlay tees it up for his second PGA Championship this week off a T6 at Firestone last week. He has three top 15 finishes in his last five events. He’s No. 31 in Strokes Gained: Approach, No. 11 Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and No. 8 Strokes Gained: Tee to Green on the year.

Kenny Kim: Bryson DeChambeau
DeChambeau impressed me last week by improving every round after shooting an abysmal 75 Thursday at Firestone. He could have given up but instead grounded out a Top 30 finish. He has all the tools to win here: length off the tee, sharp long irons, good approach stats, and his putter has improved the back half of this year. He’s also one of the top golfers on Tour at long par 4s. He has a lot to play for as he is one spot out of automatically making the Ryder Cup team and a strong showing this week will go a long way in his bid to make the team.

Doug McKinney: Paul Casey
I really wanted to slot Jon Rahm with the sleepers, because rarely anyone is giving him a shot to win…but I’ll play the game and go with someone who is even less talked about. The two-time PGA Tour winner – cough, cough he has 13 European Tour victories, mind you – is an older, British version of Rickie Fowler. Consistently making the weekend at Majors, usually near the top of the leaderboard (Nine Top-10’s on his record) and just has not put together four rounds together at the same time. 

Sound familiar right? The biggest difference between the two is that Casey is older and Fowler flashes a lot of orange. Casey’s iron play has been impressive this season and his tendency for higher than average ball-flight should come in handy this weekend.

LONGSHOT PICK

Geoff Fienberg: Beau Hossler
 The young Hossler is a brick house filled with immense talent and I’ve been sucked into the 150/1 price tag. Luke List and Gary Woodland also have my attention at numbers north of 100/1.

Chris Garosi: Kevin Chappell
 Kevin Chappell sits No. 27 in Strokes Gained: Approach and that’s enough for me to risk him this week as a longshot. I also always look at Cameron Smith on any par 70 course. Even though it’s been an up and down season for the youngster, he’s had a small uptick in play recently and perhaps it’s the start of something. 

Kenny Kim: Kyle Stanley
Stanley had a strong showing last week and his game should fit the needs of this course. He hits a ton of fairways, has excellent iron-play, and he is longer than you might think off the tee. Last week he averaged well over 300 yards with his driver. He hasn’t had too much success at Majors but has shown the propensity to do well in strong fields this past year. He has two Top 5s in the WGC events this season and has a runner-up finish at The Memorial. A Major breakthrough is not out of the question for him.

Doug McKinney: Gary Woodland
I picked “Woody” as my longshot for the U.S. Open and he “rewarded” me with a T-36. Two great rounds sandwiched in with two bad ones. He is coming off a solid performance in Akron and is fifth in strokes gained off the tee this year. He catches flack for his short game, but I think the other facets of his game will mask that problem this weekend.

FADE PICK

Geoff Fienberg: Francesco Molinari
Winning at Wentworth changed his career but winning at The Open has changed his life forever, from a strictly to win prospect I’m going to say ‘Cesco has run out of W's for 2018. 

Chris Garosi: Justin Rose
 Rose should be near the top of every card this week, but he withdrew last week with a back injury which gives me pause. You can find any number you want that will point you to Rose being a true contender, but I’m not risking it with him this week. 

Kenny Kim: Tiger Woods
It hurts my soul writing this but I think Tiger is a fade this week. This is his first full season on Tour in FIVE YEARS! There is no way his body can be used to the amount of golf he has played this season. His average swing speed has decreased in each of his last five tournaments and we’ve seen him struggle on weekends his last few outings. I don’t see a miraculous energy boost in his game this week no matter how much Monster he drinks.

Doug McKinney: Sergio Garcia
I don’t think he’s going to be a popular pick in the first place, but the 2017 Masters winner has missed the cut in his last four Majors. He hasn’t been able to drive the ball accurately this year. I wouldn’t roster him in any of my 30+ line-ups or betting plays.  

BARGAIN BUILDER

Geoff Fienberg: Ricky Fowler ($10,200)
It seems like many golf people are getting Fowler fatigue but he’s going to have a great week on a ball strikers/putters course.

Chris Garosi: Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($7,300), Eddie Pepperell ($7,000)
At $7,300, Cabrera-Bello is an outrageous bargain. You want stats? Ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach (if you like fancy stats) and 12th in GIR% (if you’re more of a simple stats kind of player). How about 31st in Total Driving? He’s coming of a T17 at Bridgestone and form at Bridgestone has seemed to be a good indicator for success at the PGA Championship. Maybe even play him as your top Spaniard if you’re into such things.

Kenny Kim: Jason Day.
I would consider Jason Day a Top 5 favorite to win this week but he is only the twelfth highest priced golfer on DraftKings. This is by far Day’s best Major and he is coming in with good form. We all know how good he is with the putter and out of the bunkers but what makes him a favorite for me is his improved iron play. If he gains anywhere near the 4.7 strokes he gained with his irons last week, he’ll be in contention on Sunday.

Doug McKinney: Jordan Spieth ($10,700), Rickie Fowler ($10,200).
Not a lot of love for the 2018 Masters winner, but I’ll roster him a bunch at that price. Patrick Reed could end the Majors season the way he started it.

 

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.