The year’s final major returns to Royal St. George’s this year after being canceled in 2020 due to COVID. Darren Clarke won the Claret Jug the last time The Open went to Royal St. George’s in 2011.
Players should be especially focused this year as it is the last chance to win a major this season, capping a packed season where this week marks the sixth major of the season.
Besides Greg Norman’s victory in 1993, each Open held at Royal St. George’s has had a winning score of -5 or higher. Most links courses include plenty of deep rough, but some give players more room to miss than others, and Royal St. George’s leaves very little room for error.
Difficult golf courses usually place a premium on good ball striking, and the slower greens at The Open may narrow the gap between good putters and bad this week. The fairway pot bunkers are significantly more penal that the ones typically found in the US, which makes length off the tee even more important, as players who can carry those bunkers will have a huge advantage.
FanDuel’s golf tiers format has tiers A, B, C, and D in order from favorites to long shots. There are also two extra tiers that allow players to pick anyone else in the field.
The pick: Jon Rahm
Rahm is on a heater right now. He played the best tournament of his career through 54 holes at The Memorial before having to withdraw due to a positive test for COVID, then bounced back to win his first major title at the US Open. Rahm easily could’ve had a letdown in his return at the Scottish Open, but he picked up right where he left off, finishing two shots out of the playoff.
Rahm is second behind Bryson DeChambeau in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee in his last 24 rounds. He is plenty of experience being in contention as he leads the Tour in top-10 finishes and has been consistent as he has the lowest scoring average on Tour entering the week. It seems as if Rahm won the US Open with his B game, so if he’s on his A game this week, he’ll be tough to beat.
The pick: Collin Morikawa
On a golf course that places a premium on good ball striking, I’ll take the best ball striker in the world. Morikawa has been one of the best players on Tour overall, ranking at the top in SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Approach. He is also a respectable 31st in SG: Off-the-Tee.
Morikawa’s Achilles heel has always been his putting, as he ranks 172nd on Tour in SG: Putting. The slower greens should help his putting this week, and Morikawa is in great form. He has top-15 finishes in each of his last five individual starts—he missed the cut in the Zurich team event—including a T8 at the PGA Championship and a T4 at the US Open as well as a solo second at the Memorial.
The pick: Paul Casey
With just three PGA Tour victories, Paul Casey still flies under the radar to US golf fans. But he has 16 international victories and has traditionally saved his best game for the biggest events. Casey’s season includes a T5 at the Players, a T4 at the PGA Championship, and a T7 at the US Open.
Casey has similar putting stats to Morikawa, but the rest of his game looks rock solid. Casey ranks second in SG: Approach and 7th in SG: Tee-to-Green as well as 15th in SG: Total. His short game is well suited to Royal St. George’s as Casey is 29th in SG: Around the Green. But Casey is 8th in scrambling from the rough at just over 65 percent, so he should be able to handle the tough lies around the greens.
Casey has yet to breakthrough for a major win, but he has four top-5 finishes and 12 top-10 major finishes in his career. He will look to be the first Englishman to win The Open since Nick Faldo in 1992.
The pick: Scottie Scheffler
Scheffler has yet to record a victory on the PGA Tour, but his game has been trending up for what feels like forever. Scheffler has recorded seven top-10s and 12 top-25s in 21 events this season, including a runner-up finish at the WGC Match Play.
Scheffler has also had success in major championships this season, posting top-25s in all four majors thus far, including top-10s at the PGA Championship and US Open. Scheffler is also in good form with a 12th place finish at last week’s Scottish Open.
Scheffler has the long game and short game to play well this week, ranking 15th in SG: Tee-to-Green and 36th in SG: Around the Green. He’s also been consistent, ranking 32nd in SG: Tee-to-Green. He could have a good chance to make his professional win count this week.
The pick: Abraham Ancer
I’ll take another flusher here. Ancer ranks 25th in SG: Off-the-Tee and 30th in SG: Approach as well as 22nd in SG: Total. He also ranks 31st in SG: Tee-to-Green. His short game hasn’t been great (123rd in SG: Around-the-Green) but his good putting has saved him.
Ancer’s results have been as consistent as his stats, as he has six top-10s and 15 top-25s in 22 starts this season. He is also in good form as of late with five top-15 finishes in his last six starts, including a runner-up finish at the Wells Fargo Championship and a solo fourth at the Travelers Championship. Ancer has yet to make a cut at the Open, but he finished T8 at the PGA Championship and hopes that success carries over to this week.
The pick: Harris English
Everybody is sleeping on a guy who has made it to 12th (!!) in the Official World Golf Ranking. English has two wins this season and has four top-15 finishes in his last five starts, including his win at the Travelers and a solo third place finish at the US Open. English also finished in solo fourth at Winged Foot. English has called himself a grinder, and his grind it out mentality should give him a chance at Royal St. George’s.