2022 Open Championship Fantasy Golf Picks, Power Rankings Include Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Cam Smith, Xander Schauffele
The Open Championship returns to the Old Course at St. Andrews. Despite the rumors, rumblings, potential lawsuits and federal investigations dominating the news, all is well in the world of golf again.
There’s not much I can tell you about the golf course that you don’t already know. It’s the world’s greatest links, a strategic masterpiece, testing a player’s creativity, discipline, ballstriking, chipping, pitching, thinking and putting as he tries to claim golf’s oldest championship.
Because the weather can ruin a man’s chances before he tees off, we’ve added five bonus plays to help you navigate the board this week. Pay close attention to the weather forecast, it’s changing by the hour. Wait as late as possible to set your lineups. Perhaps neither side has a decided advantage but by all means heed the wind.
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Before we get to the 2022 Open Championship fantasy golf picks, here are a few more notes on what to expect:
- The Old Course is a par-72 measuring approximately 7,300 yards but dry conditions have the course playing firm and fast.
- There are 14 par-4s and only two par-5s and two par-3s.
- Avoiding the fairway bunkers and the subsequent double bogeys is key to winning the Claret Jug. So is avoiding 3-putts on some of golf’s largest greens.
- A strong short game is a must. Look at past champions: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Seve Ballesteros, Zach Johnson; they are among the best around the greens at their peak. Jordan Spieth, Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman came close in 2015, the last time The Open was at St. Andrews.
- Success in The Open, at St. Andrews or other links and majors in general weighed heavily in this week’s projections.
- Half of the players who finished in the top 10 here in 2015 were ranked in the top 10 in the world entering the tournament. The cream will rise over 72 holes.
2022 Open Championship Fantasy: Bonus Picks
30. Brooks Koepka. Loves the Old Course and links golf in general, landing in the top 10 last time The Open was at St. Andrews. But current form uninspiring.
29. Collin Morikawa. Have to include the defending champion based on his major record alone (four top-5s in last five majors) but 30th in field in SG: Total over last 36 rounds.
28. Webb Simpson. Played the weekend in eight of nine Open appearances. Firm conditions will help him and gained 5.6 shots Tee-to-Green two starts ago at Hartford.
27. Will Zalatoris. Don’t love him on slower greens (and in the wind) but his major pedigree speaks for itself. Probable low ownership option.
26. Louis Oosthuizen. Hard to argue with his St. Andrews record, romping to victory in 2010 and losing in a playoff in 2015. Struggled in majors this season but the Old Course should grab his attention.
2022 Open Championship Fantasy: Longer Shots
25. Jordan Smith. He’s a top-20 machine on the DP World Tour and racked up another last week despite a disappointing Sunday.
24. Brian Harman. Rarely strays out of position off the tee and has an elite short game, which should set up birdie opportunities on the Old Course’s shorter par-4s. Leads field in 3-putt avoidance over the last 50 rounds.
23. Corey Conners. Finished a crackling T-15 last year in his debut at The Open despite closing with 3-over. Ranks sixth in the field in SG: Ballstriking over the last 50 rounds and top 15 in par-4 scoring.
22. Marc Leishman. Another of the playoff victims from 2015, he was impressive in a T-14 at Brookline and has a sparkling fit of avoiding double bogeys, scrambling at a high rate and putting well on slow greens.
21. Chris Kirk. Medium-length hitter with elite short-game skills. Finished top 10 in Canada and played four rounds on a windswept links last week in Scotland. Top 25 in par-4 scoring. Has eight top-25s in 21 starts and finished T-5 in PGA on slower greens.
2022 Open Championship Fantasy: Mid-Range Contenders
20. Joaquin Niemann. Elite power and improved short game should generate bountiful birdie bids at the Old Course. Solid showing last week in Scotland (T-16) only boosted his strong record in the wind.
19. Tyrrell Hatton. Major record is disappointing as he generally loses his mind over this or that by week’s end. Perhaps the Old Course, where he’s twice won the Dunhill Links, contended twice more and has a career scoring average of 70.06, can soothe his angry soul.
18. Kevin Kisner. Been a strange season for Kiz but he tends to rise to the occasion on the shorter courses where he can compete—see top-10s at Travelers, WGC-Match Play and Players this season. In the hunt late at the 2019 Open, he putts great on slower greens.
17. Max Homa. He’s a top-20 machine, cracking that barrier in eight of his last 11 starts, including against elite fields at the PGA, Memorial and Scottish. Can struggle a bit on slower greens but he’s top 25 in the field in ballstriking, windy scoring and proximity from 75-100 yards.
16. Patrick Reed. He’d love nothing more than to be a factor on the weekend and carry the flag for LIV Golf. His miss is generally to the left which is the more forgiving side at the Old Course and his short game skills remain among the best in golf. Rarely 3-putts.
15. Jon Rahm. I expect to see the Spaniard scowling early and often. Often plays as if he’s waiting for the next bad break and links golf can be quirky. That being said, he finished T-3 last year at Royal Birkdale, plays par-4s better than anyone in the field and is arguably the best driver on the planet.
14. Scottie Scheffler. I believe Scheffler’s game and creativity are an ideal match for links golf (finished T-8 at Birkdale last summer) and the correlation between success at Augusta National and St. Andrews is strong. How much is in the tank after his meteoric rise to No. 1?
13. Patrick Cantlay. Current form is sizzling. Last 6 individual starts: 2-MC-3-14-13-4 and won Zurich with Schauffele in that stretch. Of course the MC is at the PGA Championship, fueling the questions around his suspect record in golf’s major championships. Leads the field in avoiding doubles and ranks top-10 in par-4 scoring as well as scoring in the wind.
12. Seamus Power. Not many have performed better in the majors in 2022 (27-9-12) and he thrives on shorter courses—and conditions will make St. Andrews play several hundred yards shorter than the number on the scorecard. Ranks 10th in par-4 scoring and handy around the greens.
11. Tommy Fleetwood. He has broken par in 21 of 22 rounds at the Old Course, a nugget borrowed from Ben Coley’s excellent player guide. Was a late putt or two from having a shot in Scotland last week. Finished fifth at the PGA and 14th at the Masters. Trust his links ability. Could be a real threat if he can have a strong week with the driver.
2022 Open Championship Fantasy: Best Bets
10. Matt Fitzpatrick. Sweeping the Opens in the span of a month would make for quite a summer. Saw only positive signs from him last week in Scotland and his developed power off the tee gives him all the tools to remain among the game’s elite for the next decade.
9. Justin Thomas. He soared to the top of the model and may end up on the betting card. Best wind player, best from 75-125 yards, avoids double bogeys and 3-putts, crushes the par-4s. Lackluster record in the Open (T-11 in 2019, two missed cuts in the last five years) and a disastrous two days at the Renaissance Club deterred me from slotting him higher.
8. Dustin Johnson. In the Portlandia episode of LIV Golf, he battled Branden Grace to the final holes. Opened the 2015 Open with 65-69 but stumbled to a pair of 75s on the weekend. Feels like value for a player who rarely 3-putts and could have multiple eagle putts per day.
7. Sam Burns. Started strong in Scotland but struggled in the wind in the second round and could never gain any momentum on the weekend. He finds a winning gear when in the hunt and doesn’t seem real concerned with grinding for 32nd place. I like his style. There were 12 categories in the model. He’s top-30 in every one. You don’t win four times in 12 months without a world class short game.
6. Shane Lowry. Other than the emotional victory at Portrush in 2019, his Open record is lackluster (although he did finish T-12 at Birkdale a year ago). Still, he’s never shown this type of form over the course of a year. His tee-to-green game has been consistently elite over the last 100 rounds and he’s a top-tier scrambler and par-4 attacker.
5. Tony Finau. Wonderful record on links and seaside courses, finishing top-10 in The Open two of the last five years and never worse than 27th in the span. Gained eight shots Tee-to-Green and 5.6 on approach in last start at the Travelers (T-13). Could win with an average putting week.
4. Xander Schauffele. World’s hottest golfer, who also has an excellent record in majors including The Open Championship, comes to the Old Course. We’ve seen the best win here—Tiger, Rory, Jack, etc. Could he follow Scheffler’s lead from April and just plow his way to a major title? We’re certain thousands of bettors and fantasy players will show their belief with cold hard cash.
3. Rory McIlroy. If he doesn’t win this week, I wonder if Rory will ever win another major. Feels like the ideal confluence, the 150th playing, won at the Old Course in 2010, his game in incredible shape and three top-5s in his last five Open Championships. Finished top 10 in the first three majors of 2022.
2. Jordan Spieth. Feels like he accomplished everything he wanted last week at Scotland, other than the awful swing he made on the par-3 14th on Sunday, which led to a double bogey. Finished T-4 here during the magical 2015 season. Won the Open in 2017 and finished second to Morikawa last year. Top-10 putter on slow greens. Must avoid those momentum-killing short misses.
1. Cam Smith. Closed with a 67 to slip into the top 10 a week ago. Nothing special on his record at The Open but love his finishes at the Masters and believe the correlation rings true this week. Strong from 75-125 yards, should be able to get away with the occasional errant drive and putts well on slower greens. Let the mullet fly in St. Andrews.
2022 Open Championship Fantasy: Bargain Bin
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