The Open: Fantasy Golf Preview

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The third major of the year begins at Royal Birkdale on the 20th July, and we've been crunching the stats to see who is best placed to be in your fantasy team this week. 

It's one of the most wide-open contests that we can remember at The Open, but links golf can really be anyone's game - especially given the tough conditions forecast this week. 

Sergio Garcia finally ridded of the title of best player never to have won a major at the Masters earlier this year, but there are a few still hoping to shake off their claim to that particular label. 

Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar and Paul Casey are among those vying for the unwanted accolade, but with good form from all four players recently it wouldn't be a surprise if one of them made it the eighth time in a row there would be a first time major winner.

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The Open: Tee Times
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There are also several two-time winners already on the PGA and European Tour's in 2017 that have shown they are capable of victory this season. Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and hometown favourite Tommy Fleetwood will all be hoping they can make it three wins in less than 7 months this week at Birkdale. 

Then there is the 2008 Royal Birkdale Open Champion Padraig Harrington, who finished 4th at the Scottish Open this week, and you probably shouldn't rule out other 2017 winners such as Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama, Alex Noren and Rafa Cabrera Bello. 

So who SHOULD be in your Fantasy team this week?

The Open: Fantasy Golf Picks

Dustin Johnson: Fantasy Price £15m
The World No.1 hasn’t had much success in the last two majors, falling down some stairs and being forced to withdraw on the eve of the Masters, and then missing the cut at the US Open. Before that he had seemed untouchable with three victories in a row, but he was striking it well during the practice round and has three top 10s in his last six Open starts so we won’t be ruling him out! 

Jordan SpiethFantasy Price £15m
With two victories in 2017 already at Pebble Beach and the Travelers Championship, Jordan Spieth could be a real contender this week. His hole out bunker shot on the first play-off hole at the end of June was the last tournament he played in, and his stats show how consistent he has been. Spieth has has 11 top 25 finishes in his last 16 events and is ranked 1st for approaches to the green, 2nd for both scoring and birdie average and 5th for greens in regulation. He was T30 in the Open last year and 4th the year before.

Henrik Stenson: Fantasy Price £15m
Although he started with a 2nd place finish in Dubai in January, the defending Open champion hasn’t had the best start to 2017. But despite five missed cuts (all in the US) in 13 events, he’s been playing a lot better over this side of the pond. His last two events? T10 at the BMW International Open and T26 at the Scottish Open last week.

Sergio GarciaFantasy Price £14.5m
The 2017 Masters and Omega Dubai Desert Classic Champion came very close to winning the BMW International Open a couple of weeks ago, and he hasn’t missed a cut all year. His worst result in 2017 is T49 at the Genesis Open in February, and he hasn’t finished outside of the top 30 since then. Garcia seems to have broken the major curse, and we wouldn’t be surprised if he picks up another major trophy this year.

Rickie Fowler: Fantasy Price £14.5m
Fowler has been in contention in both of the first two majors of the year already, holding a share of the lead through the first couple of days at the US Open and ending up 5th (his best result in a major since 2014). He’s already had a win at the Honda Classic this year, and he performed well at the Scottish Open last week -  making his seventh top 10 finish in 14 starts. He’s ranked third for strokes gained putting and 1st for scoring average, sand save percentage and scrambling from the fringe,   

Hideki Matsuyama: Fantasy Price £14.5m
Matsuyama came close to challenging Koepka on the final day at the US Open last month, claiming the World No.2 spot in the process to become the highest ranked Japanese player in history. Matsuyama definitely has his sights on his maiden major. The US Open was his last appearance, but he's still ranked 8th for scoring average and 8th for greens in regulation, so whether he performs well or not will depend on whether he gets a hold of the greens this week. If he does, don't be surprised if he wins. 

Paul Casey: Fantasy Price £13.5m
Before struggling at the weekend, Paul Casey looked like he had a real shot of winning the US Open as he held a share of the lead heading in to Saturday. He ended up 26th, but with a 6th place at the Masters - a major title certainly looks in sight for Casey. With four top 10s in seven starts he could be a great bet this week, aided by his T5 finish at the Travelers Championship a few weeks ago. 

Jimmy Walker: Fantasy Price £13m
The 2016 US PGA Championship has had a bit of a mixed bag of results, so may be a bit of a risky bet this week – but we watched him practice and he’s striking it well. Walker finished T18 in his last event at the Greenbrier Classic, the same position he finished at The Masters in April. The rest of his stats aren’t particularly strong, but Jimmy is ranked 1st for overall putting on the PGA Tour which could be a key this week.

Alex NorenFantasy Price £13m
With five wins in the past year, Noren has moved to World No.9 in the rankings and has been a formidable player when on form. His form this year has been a bit up and down, shown by his past five results (T106-T10-T115-T15-1st)

Matt Kuchar: Fantasy Price £13m
Kuchar hasn’t teed up since his T16 finish at the US Open, which was his worst finish in his last four starts – so there’s definitely a case for his maiden major here. He was 4th at the Masters, but he will have to adapt to the links conditions. He’s made five consecutive cuts at the Open, with his best finishes coming in 2012 (T9) and 2013 (T15).  

Jon Rahm: Fantasy Price £12m
The Spanish rookie has taken the golf world by storm this year, winning on both the PGA Tour and European Tour in 2017 – including his last start at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open two weeks ago. He’s had five other top 5s and two top 10s in 14 starts, and although this is only his second Open Championship, we have a feeling he could potentially be up there.

Andy SullivanFantasy Price £12m
Sullivan has been flying under the radar a little bit of late, but comes in to The Open with two top 10 finishes in his last five starts which includes a T9 finish at the Scottish Open last week thanks to a disappointing finish on Sunday. Need more convincing? He finished 12th in the event last year. 

Tommy Fleetwood: Fantasy Price £10.5m
The hometown favourite and World No 14 is currently ranked 1st in the Race to Dubai and has won twice on the European Tour already in 2017 – the last of which came at the Open de France in the first week of July. He’s had four other top 5s, including a 4th place finish at the US Open and second in the WGC Mexico. His last result was a T10 at the Irish Open. 

Soren Kjeldsen: Fantasy Price £10.5m
He may not be the longest hitter, but Kjeldsen hits it pretty straight, and with a T9 finish at the Scottish Open last week and bad conditions forecasted - we think he is a great outside bet this week. The Dane has had a mixed season, starting with a few missed cuts on the PGA Tour before a T5 in the WGC Dell Match Play and his top 10 last week. 

Ross Fisher: Fantasy Price £10m
Fisher has been banging on the door a lot this year yet not quite pulled off the win, but it's why our staff writer Michael Catling is backing him this week. In his last 11 events, Fisher has had three top 5s and three top 10 finishes, and comes in to the Open having ended T35 at the Scottish Open with a final round 69. 

Ian Poulter: Fantasy Price £8m
Poulter heads to the Open this having had a T9 finish at the Scottish Open, and with a T2 finish at the Players Championship in May, he is a great outside pick this week. Poulter had to earn his place in the third major of the year through final qualifying on the 4th July, but he hasn’t missed a cut since April in Texas and looks comfortable on the course.

Padraig Harrington: Fantasy Price £7.5m
The three-time major champion returns to the scene of his second Open Championship victory (in 2008) this week, and comes in with huge confidence thanks to a string of good results. He struggled with injuries and ended up having surgery earlier this season, but it doesn't seem to have hampered anything but a difference with the follow through on his swing. His last four results? T4-T42-T17-T31.

The Open: Expert Picks

Kit Alexander: Senior Editor, Golf World
Winner: Jordan Spieth (£15m)
Outside pick: I think it’s pretty likely it’s going to be another first time winner outside of the top 30 in the World. Paul Waring (but he's not in the fantasy game) and Martin Laird (£7.5m) for me.

Camilla Tait: TG Digital Editor
Winner: Garcia (£14.5m), honestly wouldn’t be that shocked if he made it two in a year. I think Rickie Fowler (£14.5m) also has a good shot at it.
Outside picks: Either Harrington (£7.5m) or Soren Kjeldsen (£10.5m)

Chris Jones: TG Editor
Winner: Tommy Fleetwood (£10.5m)
Outside pick: Ian Poulter (£8m)

Nick Jones: Golf World Editor
Winner: Either Matt Kuchar or Padraig Harrington (£7.5m)
Outside pick: Ian Poulter (£8m) or Paul Casey (£13.5m)

Michael Catling: TG Staff Writer
Winner: Alex Noren (£13m)
Outside Pick: Ross Fisher (£10m)

Royal Birkdale: Course Guide