2018 British Open: Fantasy golf power rankings

GULLANE, SCOTLAND - JULY 12: Rickie Fowler of USA reacts to a birdie putt on hole four during day one of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Gullane Golf Course on July 12, 2018 in Gullane, Scotland. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

2018 British Open: Fantasy golf power rankings

Fantasy

2018 British Open: Fantasy golf power rankings

“Carnasty.”

Arguably the toughest British Open venue, Carnoustie Golf Links, is back as host for the first time since 2007.

But the famed course could play much differently this time around. A firm and fast setup is expected as the area has gotten little rain in recent months. As Tommy Fleetwood said, “I’ve never played it this firm or fast, shots that you’ve hit (before) have literally no relevance for a lot of it.”

But it will demand a player control his ball from tee to green. Links lovers are always welcome at the British Open, so it doesn’t hurt to pick a guy who’s had success the past two weeks, at the Scottish and Irish opens. Also, the last two winners at Carnoustie were first-timers, so whatever that’s worth.

And Muirfield in 2013 lacked rain, so that could be a gauge, too.

Some stats to consider: strokes gained tee to green, driving accuracy, bogey avoidance, strokes gained around the green and ballstriking (combines GIR and total driving).

Here’s a look at my top 25 fantasy options for Carnoustie, listed along with their odds to win from British bookmaker Ladbrokes in parentheses:

1. Rickie Fowler (16-1): Embraces this type of golf as he tied for sixth last week at the Scottish Open. Has notched five straight top-20s entering this week, as well. Ranks fourth in bogey avoidance and top 30 in SGTTG, SGATG and ballstriking. Also fits the first-timer major winner profile.

2. Justin Rose (16-1): Opened in 75 in 2007, but rallied to finish T-12. T-9 at Scottish last week was his fourth straight top-10 finish. Ranks 15th or better in SGTTG, SGATG, ballstriking and bogey avoidance.

3. Dustin Johnson (12-1): Looking for redemption after letting title slip through his grasp at Shinnecock Hills last month. Though just three of his 15 major top-10s have come in British Opens. Ranks first in SGTTG and third in bogey avoidance.

4. Tommy Fleetwood (20-1): Holds the course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63, though that was in soft conditions at the Dunhill Links. Has been quiet since runner-up at U.S. Open (T-59, MC), but he possesses the tee-to-green (13th) and around-the-green games (18th) to get the job done.

5. Paul Casey (40-1): Was T-27 here in 2007 and has two top-10s in British Opens. None since 2010, though he was T-11 last year. Ranks 21st or better in SGATG and ballstriking, and is eighth in SGTTG. Since last year’s British Open, he has 18 top-20s, including a win and six other top-5s.

6. Henrik Stenson (25-1): Monitor his elbow injury, which forced him to pull out of the Scottish Open. But if he’s healthy, he can win. He was runner-up in 2013 before winning Claret Jug in 2016. He ranks first in driving accuracy and bogey avoidance, and third in SGTTG. T-6 or better in four of last seven starts.

7. Tiger Woods (25-1): Prepare to see a lot of stingers off the tee. Tiger is ranks sixth in SGTTG and fourth in SGATG this season. Owns three Claret Jugs and has a nice record at Carnoustie – T-7 in 1999, T-12 in 2007.

8. Patrick Reed (40-1): Has cooled off since torrid stretch that included Masters win, though he was T-23 last week at the Scottish. Ranks third in SGATG and 23rd in SGTTG. Really embraces links golf and has two top-20s in four British Open starts.

9. Sergio Garcia (25-1): Has picked up some momentum with T-12 and T-8 finishes in Europe recently. Lost to Padraig Harrington in a playoff here in 2007. Never mind that DFL in 1999. Has 10 career top-10s in British Opens.

10. Rory McIlroy (16-1): Not the biggest fan of firm-and-fast links conditions, but he does have three straight top-5s, including a win, in his last three British Opens. T-28 at the Irish Open two weeks ago. Ranks 10th in SGTTG.

11. Jordan Spieth (20-1): The defending Champion Golf of the Year is struggling with the putter, but ballstriking-wise he’s been good. He ranks top 25 in SGTTG, SGATG, ballstriking and bogey avoidance. Despite no top-20s in last six starts, he could surprise.

12. Justin Thomas (25-1): Ranks fourth in SGTTG and 30th in bogey avoidance. T-8 in his last start, at the French Open. Went 67-80 to miss the cut last year at Royal Birkdale. Tasty odds, though.

13. Zach Johnson (80-1): Has three straight top-20s entering this week. T-16 or better, including a win, in six of last seven British Opens. Was T-20 here in 2007. Ranked 13th in bogey avoidance, 25th in SGATG and 30th in SGTTG.

14. Francesco Molinari (25-1): Ranks second in SGTTG, T-6 in ballstriking and T-36 in SGATG. First twice and second twice more in last five starts. However, he has just one top-10 in 10 career British Open starts and MC in 2007.

15. Brooks Koepka (25-1): Statistically, he hasn’t been great this season. But he does have another U.S. Open trophy to show for his efforts this season. Has gone T-10, T-6 in last two British Opens.

16. Alex Noren (33-1): Making first start since win in France. Strong ballstriker, though his PGA Tour rank is slightly low (36th). Only two major top-10s have come in British Opens.

17. Jon Rahm (20-1): Has five top-5s in last seven worldwide starts, including a T-4 at Irish Open. Still learning what it takes to win a major, though. Ranks 20th in SGTTG and ballstriking.

18. Russell Knox (66-1): Won Irish Open, but then struggled with 75 Sunday to slip to T-49 at Scottish. Ranks T-19 in bogey avoidance, 23rd in driving accuracy, 26th in ballstriking and 44th in SGTTG.

19. Branden Grace (40-1): Has made all seven cuts in the British Open, including last year’s T-6 at Royal Birkdale, where he shot 62 in the third round. The 2012 Dunhill Links winner is well-rested, having not played since T-25 at U.S. Open.

20. Jason Day (33-1): Hits it too high for this type of golf. And his one top-20 in seven British Open starts shows. He’s improved his ballstriking as the season has gone on, though, and ranks 39th in SGTTG to go along with his 26th in bogey avoidance and Tour lead in SGATG.

21. Keegan Bradley (100-1): Leads Tour in ballstriking, is 11th in driving accuracy, 12th in SGTTG and is gaining percentage points around the greens. Has three top-20s in last four British Opens and was T-13 in last start, at the Greenbrier.

22. Ian Poulter (66-1): Has been worse than T-30 just once in last nine worldwide starts. T-30 last week in Scotland. Has three top-10s in British Opens, was T-27 in 2007 and T-14 last year. Ranks 36th in SGTTG.

23. Marc Leishman (40-1): T-6 or better in three of last four British Opens. But does rank outside top 50 in all of our target stats except for SGATG (T-34). No top-10s since runner-up at Nelson.

24. Tony Finau (100-1): Has seven top-25s in last nine starts. Ranks 16th in SGTTG. T-18, T-27 in first two British Open starts.

T-25. Tyrrell Hatton (40-1): T-16 or better in three straight starts, including T-9 at Scottish. Won the Dunhill Links in 2016 and ’17. He’ll need the putter to get really hot to contend this week.

T-25. Louis Oosthuizen (66-1): T-5, T-13, T-16 in last three starts. Owns a win and a T-2 in the British Open, but has missed his last two cuts in the game’s oldest major. Ranks 10th in SGATG.

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