3 Stats picks for the open

FANTASY GAMES

Fantasy Three to watch at The Open

18.07.17

Following hot on the heels of Rafa Cabrera Bello’s victory at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is perhaps the ultimate test of links golf at The 146th Open Championship. Our stats guru has combed through the form book to offer up three players who could be worthy inclusions in your Fantasy team ahead of the third Major of the year…

Pick of the favourites: Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia on Tuesday at Royal Birkdale Open Lightbox
Sergio Garcia on Tuesday at Royal Birkdale
Photograph : Stuart Franklin
With Sergio Garcia’s success at the Masters Tournament in April came the definitive proof that the 37 year old has what it takes to get over the line on the biggest stage. He coolly closed out his first win of the year at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, but showed a steelier determination and nerve to get the better of Ryder Cup team-mate Justin Rose at Augusta National.

Garcia’s tee-to-green game was impeccable in Georgia, coming second in driving accuracy on all but one day and averaging fifth in greens in regulation over the course of the week. Figures like those would go a long way to helping the 13-time European Tour winner taste victory at Royal Birkdale. Over the last ten years, Garcia's average score on links courses is nearly two shots better than the field average - only Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott have performed better.

His record in The Open speaks for itself, with ten top tens in 20 appearances and top six finishes in the last three editions. He has shot in the 60s in 31 per cent of his Open rounds over his career, with only Ernie Els bettering that of those playing in the field this week at Birkdale. Victory in Southport would make Garcia the first man since Tiger Woods in 2005 to win the Green Jacket and Claret Jug in the same year and if his recent performances are anything to go by, he is among the men to watch this week.


Form horse: Andy Sullivan
Andy Sullivan is one of the form players ahead of The Open Open Lightbox
Andy Sullivan is one of the form players ahead of The Open
Photograph : Gregory Shamus
A good attitude at an Open Championship is imperative, with the weather liable to be temperamental on any one of the links courses on the Open rota. Andy Sullivan’s trademark smile will serve him well if the elements do turn against the world’s finest, but the fact he comes to Birkdale in form could count for just as much.

The 31 year old has four top 20 finishes in his last five events, two of which came on the links of Portstewart and Dundonald respectively. Half of those rounds have been in the 60s, with driving accuracy key in the Englishman’s good play last week. He finished in the top ten for accuracy off the tee in three of the four rounds and will need a similar performance this week.

Sullivan finished in a share of 12th last year at Royal Troon and undoubtedly is in the sort of form to improve on that this time around. Success for Sullivan would also mean the first English winner of The Open since Sir Nick Faldo in 1992. The time could be right for Sulli. 



Wildcard: Ryan Fox
Ryan Fox is the only Kiwi in the field Open Lightbox
Ryan Fox is the only Kiwi in the field
Photograph : Gregory Shamus

If the last two weeks have taught us anything about Ryan Fox, it’s that he’s well and truly got the measure of links golf. Back-to-back ties for fourth in Northern Ireland and Scotland mean the New Zealander is 25 under par for his last two links events, something that bodes well heading into one of the biggest weeks of the year.

 

Although noted for his ferocious power off the tee, Fox evidently has more in the locker than a crunching drive. In four of his last five rounds, he has ranked inside the top ten for greens in regulation, following on from his stellar work in this category at the HNA Open de France. Fox’s tie for sixth in France seemed to be the catalyst for his excellent run on the links, making him a good bet to sneak under the radar this week.

 

Those are the three picks from our statistics expert, now it's over to you. Be sure to make your Fantasy picks and select your Daily Fantasy team before the first round kicks off on Thursday.