Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2022 Open Championship Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from St Andrews. Plus, Tim Andercust reales his FREE MONEY and the most cursed players of the week.
2022 British Open: Field
156 Players | Top 65 & Ties Make The Cut
First Tee: Thursday, July 14
Defending Champion: Collin Morikawa
The entire gang is getting back together one last time in 2022, and there really couldn’t be a better location. The Old Course at St. Andrews is playing host to the historic 150th Open Championship; potentially the final time we get the entire collection of the world’s best players together in the same tournament. The status of LIV TOUR players remains an unknown in future Major championships. This week, however, they’ll be in the field.
While it’s easy to write off any LIV player’s chances at The Open immediately — as the prevailing sentiment is they’ve taken a cash grab in the face of actual, competitive play — the Scottish Open may have told a bout of a different story. After launching a successful legal challenge, after the DP World Tour suspended him, Ian Poulter was allowed to play in the field at the Renaissance Club last week. Because of this, Adrian Otaegui, Brendan Grace, and Justin Harding all took the opportunity to enter the field as well. Poulter was a disaster, opening with a 78 and finishing +10 overall. The other three all made the cut and performed relatively well.
In the field of 156 players, where only the top 65 and ties make the cut, I’m not claiming a LIV player is going to win at St. Andrews, but there’s a compelling case to be made the market and public will undervalue their chances. These guys aren’t dead in the water.
Unlike Daniel Berger’s chances. He’s not winning this year. The same back injury which forced him out of the John Deere Classic has now taken him out of competition at the Old Course. He’s been replaced in the field by Sahith Theegala.
Beyond Berger, every other player you’d want to be in competition will be lacing up their spikes in Scotland. Even three-time Claret Jug hoister (twice at St. Andrews) Tiger Woods. After returning from his severe injuries at this year’s Masters, Woods played again at the PGA Championship the following month and once again made the cut. Unfortunately, his body started to give out before Sunday and he withdrew after three rounds. Tiger decided to skip the 2022 US Open to focus entirely on this Open at St. Andrews.
It’s easy for Tiger to say that this particular Open, the 150th incarnation, carries so much meaning. He wants to give himself his best possible chance to contend this year because who knows what kind of shape his body will be in the next time the rota comes back to the Old Course. Realistically, this should be Tiger’s move every year henceforth. The USGA’s commitment to growing the rough as long as possible doesn’t appear like it will change anytime soon; not a situation Tiger likely wants to put his back through ever again. The Open Championship, while having some temperamental fescue to hack out of, doesn’t have nearly the same sort of ubiquitous long grass that caused Big Cat’s catastrophic injury.
For the rest of his career, Augusta National and The Open are always going to be two best chances to (at Majors) to showcase something special again. Tom Watson got himself to a playoff at almost 60-years-old; Tiger will have a moment in Great Britain again. Can it be this year? Never doubt him. However, he did look expectedly rusty at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland last week, take whatever you want away from that. He’s spent the past week playing with Rory McIlroy in Ireland on links style courses to prepare himself for the test ahead.
2022 British Open: Key Stats
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Driving Distance Gained
- Par 4s Gained
- Strokes Gained: Around The Green
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2022 British Open: Course
- Course: St. Andrews (Old Course)
- Yards: 7,297
- Par: 72
- Greens: Half Fescue; Half Bent & Poa
2022 British Open: Past Winners
- 2021: Collin Morikawa -15
- 2019: Shane Lowry -15
- 2018: Francesco Molinari -8
- 2017: Jordan Spieth -12
- 2016: Henrik Stenson -20
- 2015: Zach Johnson -15
Past Winners at St. Andrews
- 2015: Zach Johnson -15
- 2010: Louis Oosthuizen -16
- 2005 Tiger Woods -14
- 2000: Tiger Woods -19
- 1995: John Daly -6
- 1990: Nick Faldo -18
- 1984: Seve Ballesteros -12
- 1978: Jack Nicklaus -7
- 1970: Jack Nicklaus -5
NOTE: Of this group only Oosthuizen and Daly do not also have a victory at The Masters. Oosthuizen best finish was 2nd; Daly 3rd.
2022 British Open: Notes
The Old Course at St. Andrews first hosted The Open in 1873, and 2022 will be its 30th turn in the rota as host venue. Yes, changes have been made over the past century, but there’s only so much that can actually be altered at the home of golf. There’s no more room for expansion.
What remains is a layout that looks quite similar to the classic footage you’ll inevitably consume this week leading up to the first tee. The course is a par 72, playing a shade over 7,300 yards, with a completely exposed layout and nothing to protect the course from the coastal gusts swirling in from St. Andrews Bay.
That wind is the key to this entire event. If the wind stays down, you may see someone challenge -20. Tiger holds the Old Course record at -19 in 2000 (Nick Faldo was -18 en route to victory in 1990). Thing is, the wind will eventually crop up at some point, potentially creating a massive disparity in the two waves the first two rounds. Unfortunately, predicting weather is a difficult task anywhere in the world, but coming up with an accurate forecast outside a quarter mile from the water in Scotland, a slightly larger challenge.
From a DraftKings perspective, monitoring the forecast all the way up until lineup lock (2:30 a.m. ET Thursday), will give you the best chance at making the proper decision. Even if there is no clear wave advantage, allocating your lineups with all six of your players teeing off within the same 90 minute window, from both sides of the draw, could give you a significant advantage should part of the field get annihilated with the wind. The Open is the only tournament of the year which forces each golfer to start on the first hole. There are no split tees. So, the event with the most impactful weather actually spreads out the tee times that we’ll get the longest rounds and largest window for weather to change with fewer players on the course. All in the interest of making it fair; insomuch that each player sees the same holes in the same order.
It may not prove to have any advantage whatsoever, but if it’s equal, you’ll at least have put yourself into a position to get lucky with the weather. The downside being you’re now equal to every other lineup that didn’t take this into consideration.
With a unique layout of only two par 5’s and two par 3’s, deduction would dictate par 4 scoring is going to be the great separator. At the 2015 Open, only one player who finished inside of the top 10 for the week in par 4 scoring finished outside the top 10 on the leaderboard. Hideki Matsuyama was T7 in par 4’s Gained, but was T18 on the leaderboard.
Interestingly enough, despite being a course accessible for almost any length off the tee, driving distance has played a significant factor in determining the Champion Golfer of the Year at St. Andrews. Clearly, it’s not the only thing that matters; Zach Johnson won in 2015 as evidence, but that year each of the top-five distance leaders for the week all finished inside the Top 10.
Number six that week was Graham DeLaet who finished in a tie for 68th. That shouldn’t be overly surprising, as the recently retired Canadian was notorious for his struggles around the greens. When you’re gassing it up off the tee on these short par 4’s and you have no game from 60 yards and in, it’s going to be a longgggggggggg week of chasing your ball around the grounds. Distance isn’t the only thing that matters, especially if there’s no short game associated with it, but in blustery conditions, it can simplify the approach play on the par 4’s and 5’s by allowing the players to keep the ball low and still go at the greens since they’ll be much closer to the hole.
In perfect conditions, extremely good wedge play and putting (ala Spieth and Zach Johnson in 2015) can work just as well. Those are far more difficult skills to predict week-to-week, whereas distance is about the most repeatable skill in golf. In perfect conditions, there’s a large percentage of the field that can truly contend at St. Andrews. If someone has an elevated wedge and putter for four rounds, Brendon Todd and Kevin Na have the proper skills to win. Since that’s the case, it’s always better to plan for the worst. If the worst hits, you’ll want the Cameron Smith types. Well, at least how Smith escaped danger at THE PLAYERS Championship this year.
Players who you feel confident can get it up and down with a creative chip and make the seven footer to save par or bogey. There aren’t many, frankly. Off the top of my head, Smith, Spieth, JT, Scheffler and Patrick Reed are the ones that instantly come to mind. But the numbers reveal other options…
This may all be getting too specific. I concede that. However, there has been one distinct winning trend at Open Championships over the past decade: Since 2011, outside of Ernie Els in 2012, each Champion Golfer either had a win or three top-10’s in their six starts prior to raising the Claret Jug. And while overall Open experience has mattered (only Collin Morikawa had fewer than four previous Open appearances before winning), no one since Paddy Harrington in 2008 (who won for the second straight year) had finished better than T30 in their previous Open start. In fact, seven of the past 12 winners had missed the cut in their Open before becoming champion.
2022 British Open: Picks
Spieth and The Open are the perfect cocktail, regardless of his form. A par miss inside 10-feet kept him out of the playoff at St. Andrews in 2015. That’s when he was peak-of-his powers Spieth, so that makes sense. Eventually he’d become the Champion Golfer of the Year, outlasting Matt Kuchar down the stretch in 2017, good for his third win that season. Then came the struggles. From 2018 through the Waste Management in 2021, Spieth went through a swing change and all evidence of the world’s best player evaporated. Except at The Open.
In eight Open appearances, Spieth has never missed a cut, while posting a win, a runner up, four top-10’s, and six top-30’s in his past six starts in the oldest Major Championship. Even when his game was in shambles, Spieth’s creativity from 50 yards and in on these courses always gave him an advantage on the field, along with his ability to know which long putts to get aggressive with and which to attack defensively. I understand this sounds like something one of those old scouts in Moneyball would have said, and gotten fired over, but Spieth’s ability at The Open isn’t a skill you’re ever going to be able to quantify. You just know it when you see it.
The players currently competing on the LIV TOUR are going to be a value relative to if they were still on the PGA TOUR. It doesn’t mean they’ll be any good, mind you, but the betting odds and DraftKings popularity will be at a discount. A scan of Oosthuizen’s 2022 performances wouldn’t reveal anything enticing. His best PGA TOUR finish was a T14 Super Bowl weekend in Phoenix. Not great.
Obviously, in two turns at St. Andrews he’s finished first and second, that’s always nice to have in your back pocket, but it’s actually his play since leaving the PGA TOUR which speaks of an upswing. Were his mediocre results before leaving a product of Louis losing a step? Maybe. Was an injury the culprit? Maybe. It could be all, it could be none. It could also be a string of random results all occurring consecutively. But since Louis left, he’s played four times. He struggled to a missed cut at the US Open, and churned out three top-10’s.
Now, the two showings in the first two LIV events aren’t super impressive since it’s a three-day event in a limited field. Conversely, the field in Portland was substantially better than what was going on at the John Deere Classic the same week. If you subbed out the LIV events, and said those were the John Deere and Rocket Mortgage, we’d be talking about Louis’ great form right now. He also finished T8 in Munich on the DP World Tour during this stretch too. Because of his course history, he won’t be completely overlooked on DraftKings, but with his price elevated, and popular names (Sam Burns, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Tony Finau) surrounding him, there’s a chance you will get Louis at massively reduced ownership in the Millionaire Maker. And realistically, his chances are about the same, on paper, as the others in his price range.
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was a finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
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