Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2023 Open Championship picks with a special visit from the self-proclaimed “Big Game Hunter” Tim Anderson for his favorite selections for this week’s event at Royal Liverpool. plays from each range.
2023 The Open Championship Field
- 156 Players | Top 70 & Ties Make The Cut
- First Tee: Thursday, July 20
- Defending Champion: Cameron Smith
Although the detente between PGA TOUR/LIV Golf/DPWT may issue in a Monroequse era of good feelings moving forward, this will be the final time we’ll get to see ALL of the world’s best in one place at one time in 2023. Now, insignificant team golf and a cash-grab playoff system with a trophy that would have you going full Last Crusade if asked to pick it out from a pile is compelling stuff, but it really would be nice to have a few more of these during the year. It has made the Major championships more significant, however, which has been nice.
The field is set at 156 players for the 151st Open Championship, the low 70 and ties will continue through the week, and DraftKings has decided to shake up the pricing format this week. It’s the world’s oldest Open Championship so maybe it’s an homage to return to vintage DraftKings pricing structure? The top players have been given a slight boost in salary, but now the bottom end of the field is available below $6K. This modest adjustment to the salary ranges provides the ability for more varied lineup builds depending on your risk tolerance.
It’s quite easy to make a fully balanced lineup that is complete with six options you’ll likely pretty be comfortable with from top to bottom. That involves avoiding the players with the highest probabilities of winning to give yourself a false sense of safety with the last player in a lineup. This is the Open Championship, an event with the potential to have weather completely wipe out an entire wave of players. Nothing is safe.
That doesn’t mean a balanced build is the wrong idea. It very well may work, but if you’re comfortable at the bottom of the pricing, you don’t necessarily have to play Scheffler and Rory in the same lineup to utilize the savings in the $5K and low-$6K range. And, there are some viable options down there that will be completely unknown to most golf fans in North America. You’d be surprised how few people wake up at 5 a.m. to binge the Dutch Open. I got you covered with some risky options from the bottom.
2023 The Open Championship Course
- Course: Royal Liverpool
- Yardage: 7,383
- Par: 71
- Greens: Bentgrass + Poa Annua + Fescue
Par 3’s (4) - Average distance: 188 yards
The average length is dragged down by the 136-yard 17th hole, which could lead to some fireworks if this comes down to the stretch. The two 3’s on the front measure over 200 yards and provide a nice challenge over a four-hole stretch after five holes that aren’t intimidating from a distance perspective.
Par 4’s (11) - Average distance: 444 yards
The majority of the 4’s play over 425 yards and under 460, but there are extremes on either tail with the longest Par 4 coming in 140 yards longer than the shortest. The back-9 is 261 yards longer than the front-9 and the 4’s play a big role — with four of five measuring longer than the course average for a Par 4.
Par 5’s (3) - Average distance: 583 yards
Two 5’s that measure north of 600 yards highlight what should be a fun race to the finish (Holes 15 and 18). The remaining Par 5 should be gettable for everyone in the field (520 yards) and comes right after a short Par 4 (367 yards), giving players a nice opportunity to get rolling early in their weekend rounds.
2023 The Open Championship Winners
- 2022: Cam Smith -20
- 2021: Collin Morikawa -15
- 2019: Shane Lowry -15
- 2018: Francesco Molinari -8
- 2017: Jordan Spieth -12
2022: Cam Smith: Finished Top-10 at The Renaissance Club and has a trio of top-15 finishes in his five events leading into The Open. Smith was Top-15 at two of the three preceding majors but did miss the cut at the US Open.
2021: Collin Morikawa: Famously flamed out at the Scottish Open the previous week, it was his first start since a Top-4 finish at the US Open. His “form” is a bit loose but he had rattled off five straight Top-15’s entering play and was Top-20 at all three of the preceding majors.
2019: Shane Lowry: Like Morikawa, Lowry made a cameo on the European Tour (two weeks previous at the Irish Open; T34) before his win at The Open. He was Top-28 at the US Open and was Top-10 in each of his three events before that showing. After missing the cut at The Masters, he went Top-8 at the PGA before the aforementioned 28 at the US Open (75 on Thursday, 70 or better in the final three rounds to leave a good taste in his mouth).
2018: Francesco Molinari: Finished Top-2 the week prior at TPC Deere Run (thanks to a final round 64) and that came on the heels of winning Quicken Loans in his event before the JDC and a 1st/2nd run through Wentworth and the Italian Open the month previous. He was Top-25 in both of his major events before The Open victory (Top-20 at The Masters and Top-25 at the US Open).
2017: Jordan Spieth: Spieth had nearly a month to prep for this event following his win (in a playoff over Daniel Berger) at the Travelers. In the two majors prior to The Open this season (the PGA was played in August at the time), Spieth finished Top-11 at the Masters and Top-35 at the US Open.
Youth has been served here for the most part, as three of the past five winners have still yet to celebrate their 30th birthday. And in the two exceptions, we have Xander Schauffele in the mix in 2018 and Bobby Mac (best Sunday of any Top-10 finisher) right up there the following year.
2014 (at Royal Liverpool): Rory McIlroy: McIlroy decided to double-dip on the Euro Tour between Majors. He missed the in Ireland, before churning out a T14 in Scotland the week before the Open at Royal Liverpool. This was his 11th PGA-sanctioned (or co-sanctioned) tournament of the season and he was Top-25 at each of the ten prior, including an 8 at Augusta and a 23 at Pinehurst). And guess what? The form didn’t end at Liverpool as peak-Rory went on to win his next two events (WGC Bridgestone and the PGA Championship). In addition to cameos in Ireland and Scotland in the weeks before The Open, Rory also won the BMW PGA Championship any Wentworth in May.
2023 The Open Championship Course
Hosting its third Open this millennium, Royal Liverpool has been the course most willing to change in the Open Rota. Since the last Open in 2014, there have been adjustments made throughout the course, with additional bunkering, harsher run-off areas, pushed tees boxes, and even a new hole.
The first difference you’ll find is on the scorecard as it is now playing as a Par 71. The Par 3, 17th hole has been rotated 180 degrees (empirically 7.35 Nick Lacheys) to create an infinity effect with the back of the green now showing the water. It’s only a short Par 3, but big numbers exist left, right, and long.
A new tee on the 15th hole has extended the Par 5 by 50 yards and now plays as 620 yards. Despite its length, it appears better to go for the green in two rather than layup because of the thin fairway section before the putting surface, which could bring bigger numbers into play.
No. 4 is a drivable Par 4 but comes with risk. Out of bounds is about 20 yards left of the green which is entirely in play with wayward drives or if the wind really starts to blow. There are six OB areas littered across the grounds, which will have a few players ejecting over the course of the week if they get too aggressive. A lot of it will depend on conditions. In 2006, when Tiger decided to leave the driver in the back the entire week, the conditions were firm and fast enough to allow for that style of play. During Rory’s in 2014, conditions were damp and drivers were able to hold the fairway pretty easily. Being that aggressive made sense.
While driving it long and straight is a guaranteed way to win at almost any course, accuracy still meant more in 2014 to the top of the leaderboard than distance. This year’s forecast appears to fall somewhere in the middle of the two. There’s been intermittent rain in the region over the past couple of weeks but it doesn’t appear like it’s going to be soggy over the weekend.
With all that OB and random dangers lurking off the fairways like gorse bushes, both styles of aggression and passive play may both be on the table on most of the Par 4s since they aren’t too long. It just depends on how comfortable players are from certain distances but you better believe they want to be in the fairway.
2023 The Open Championship Picks
Scottie Scheffler ($12,500/+800)
Just make life easy on yourself, whether it’s DFS or on DraftKings Sportsbook. No one is safe in golf, but Scheffler is as close as you’ll get to finding his name on a Sunday leaderboard. He doesn’t have a finish worse than Top-12 in 2023, which seems impossible but what makes it even better is that he’s done all this without being able to make a 3-foot putt. Secondly, regardless of conditions, he has the game. Gale-force winds that are firm and fast but soggy as hell — not an issue. I understand Rory just won in Scotland, but it seems crazy he’s not the favorite this week.
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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 2023 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Podcast of the Year and was a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time.
Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Sports Betting, Daily Fantasy, and Traditional Season Long Fantasy).
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skills and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.