2023 British Open Championship DFS Preview: The Time is Now for Hovland

The final major championship of the PGA season is here. The 151st British Open Championship will take place at Royal Liverpool (Hoy Lake), a venue that has hosted the event twelve times, most recently in 2014. The British Open is unique from the other majors because the rota of courses that it uses are all traditional links-styled venues that can be severely impacted by the UK weather. The massive change in topography and climate from traditional U.S.-based venues has often led to numerous surprise winners. Most importantly it makes for a great PGA British Open Championship DFS slate to review for the top DFS picks and play.

It is worth noting that this event will also be the final time this year that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf players will compete against each other at a stroke play event. With many of the PGA pros having played last week in Scotland, they could certainly be viewed as having a leg up on their competitors. They should be better adjusted to this type of golf.

Like most Open venues, the course this year is quite unique in many aspects. It has certain characteristics which may lead to targeting one specific type of golfer over another for PGA DFS lineups. There is a course preview below to help through the analysis. Plus, the weather this week will have to be monitored. This venue produced a rather dramatic wave split in 2014 the last time it hosted the British Open.

With the last major of the season here and several massive prize pools in PGA DFS available throughout the industry, there has never been a better time to check out the Stokastic PGA DFS projections, to get an edge. But before you do, make sure you keep reading as the full preview for the 2023 British Open Championship DFS picks.

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2023 British Open Championship DFS Preview & Picks

The top 5 finishers at the Scottish Open the week prior were as follows:

  • 1st – Rory McIlroy -15
  • 2nd – Robert MacIntyre -14
  • 3rd – David Lingmerth / Byeong Hun-An / Scottie Scheffler -10

Last week produced some dramatic movement up the leaderboard which is worth noting this week. Weather fluctuations and tee-off times on a round-by-round basis will certainly have an effect on how players and the field perform in the British Open Championship. Tommy Fleetwood, who was available at 80-1 prior to round three, moved up 30-plus spots on Saturday after getting an early tee time. Robert MacIntyre also nearly won the event on Sunday by going out early.

There may not be as dramatic weather to deal with in Hoylake, but there will certainly be opportunities to target certain waves over others. In addition, from a betting perspective jumping on a few names in the outright market before rounds three or four could yield some great results as well.

This week’s course is also more interesting than last week’s. Hoylake is more technical and has more potential double bogies or worse lurking in its layout thanks to some out-of-bounds stakes that come into play. These act as de facto water hazards, as well as gorse bushes and pot bunkers that line the track.

This week will be one where the players who can avoid those massive penalties through great ball-striking and timely scrambling, will set themselves up best for a run on Sunday at major glory. Those will be the high-scoring PGA DFS players for tournaments or the golfers that end up cashing major tickets for betting purposes.

The British Open Championship DFS Picks: Betting Trends

  • Fourteen of the past 17 winners of The British Open Championship had a finish of ninth or better at this event in a previous year.
  • Nine of the past 10 winners had recorded a finish of 10th or better at one of the year’s first two major championships.

Below are some of the top players in the field to watch given their recent form and course history:

  1. Rory McIlroy: Don’t let this man get hot. Second at the U.S. Open, seventh at Travelers and a win at the Scottish. If the putts fall, McIlroy will be hard to beat.
  2. Scottie Scheffler: This is just a repeat from last week. An absolute top-5 machine at this point. You might as well just pencil Scottie in for another. His iron game is unmatched.
  3. Rickie Fowler: Fowler cooled off a touch last week in Scotland but was lurking in contention most of the week. He will be a favorite target this week at Hoylake, where he finished second in 2014.
  4. Robert McIntyre: McIntyre was heartbreakingly close to winning his nation’s open last week. He has finished top 5 in each of his last two starts.
  5. Brian Harman: Don’t discount a dark horse like Harman on a course like Hoylake. He finished 12th last week in Scotland and 12th or better in each of his last three starts.

Field Notes: The LIV Golfers are back in the field. It is worth noting that names like Cameron Smith (who won in his last start), Talor Gooch (multiple wins on the season) and Bryson DeChambeau have been tearing it up on that Tour of late. Gooch lacks the experience of the other two, but all three men should be considered serious dangers to nab a Claret Jug this week. Both Nicolai Hojgaard and Rasmus Hojgaard have stepped up their games lately. The Hojgaard twins look ready to make some noise in this year’s Open. Nicolai finished sixth in Scotland last week while Rasmus won two weeks ago in Denmark.

The British Open Championship Past Winners

2022: Cameron Smith

  • Lead-in: 10/MC/48 (played in Scotland the week prior and finished 10th; missed cut at U.S. Open)

2021: Collin Morikawa

  • Lead-in: 71/4/2 (played the week prior in Scotland and finished 71st; finished fourth at U.S. Open)

2019: Shane Lowry

  • Lead-in: 28/2/8 (skipped the Scottish Open; finished 28th at U.S. Open)

Of the past three winners, two had played the Scottish Open the week prior, with the exception being Shane Lowry who skipped the warmup event prior to winning his Open. Lowry did come in with some superb form, however, landing an eighth at the PGA Championship and a second at the Canadian Open in May and June, respectively. All three golfers had placed inside the top 10 at one of the previous three majors of the season.

Want to see who is trending as a strong play early? Check out Stokastic’s PGA DFS projections, which will be updated on Monday and throughout the week.

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2023 British Open Championship Course Preview

Royal Liverpool Golf Club: Par 72, 7350 yards

Greens: Fescue

Designer: Robert Chambers and George Morris; Harry Colt redesign

Similar Courses: Royal Birkdale, TPC Sawgrass

Royal Liverpool, or Hoylake as it is sometimes more affectionately known (thanks to its vicinity to the small town of Hoylake), will be hosting the British Open for the third time in the past twenty years.

The venue dates back to the late 1800s, but it has seen several redesigns aimed at improving its routing for the modern game while maintaining much of its natural flow and architecture. While one can certainly look back at the two previous British Open Championships that were hosted by Royal Liverpool it is worth noting that both those events had some issues. In 2006, the course played like a dustbowl (thanks to increasingly hot weather) and featured lightning-fast greens and an all-around ugly brown hue. 2014 was the complete opposite as some heavier rain allowed the players to pick the course apart and also caused a dramatic wave split that limited the upside of half the field. It is hard to say how the venue will play in 2023 but somewhere in between would likely be ideal.

Royal Liverpool sits just outside of Liverpool on a mostly flat piece of land that conjures its way through some low-level sand dunes while also skirting the sea and some small cliffs/drop-offs. Part of the venue is built on what used to be an old racetrack, which shows how flat several of the holes will play. On paper, a flat course with a few sand dunes mixed in sounds boring, but, in many ways, the routing and natural fauna mixed in makes this one of the most interesting Open hosts on the rota.

Hoylake’s fairways are ridden with gorse bushes, natural bunkering, extra pot bunkers, and a few out-of-bounds areas that jut so far into the course that even a slight miss from the fairway ends with a severe penalty. In addition, a couple of the par 3’s, most notably the par 3 15th, have some severe penalty and drop-off areas that will require players to be precise and fearless with their tee shots.

The venue plays as a traditional par 72 and, at just 7350 yards, there are scoring chances. A couple of the par 5’s play incredibly short and will give players a shot at going for an eagle, assuming they produce a good drive. Additionally, there are two par 4’s that play well under 400 yards and will likely garner some attempts at driving the green. Three of the par 3’s will play between 180-200 yards for the week but the shorter 15th (nicknamed little eye) may actually be the most daunting given the small bowl-like green surface and penalty areas that await off-kilter shots. Iron play at Liverpool proved to be extremely important in 2006 when Tiger Woods won as he essentially just took a driving iron off the tee all week and used his elite mid-iron game to pick apart the course.

Rory McIlroy, was able to dominate from off the tee as the softer conditions allowed for more aggressiveness in 2014. Given the state of the modern game. Players will attempt to and potentially be successful in replicating McIlroy’s feat. There is no doubt the course will reward consistently straight drivers who have a fantastic short to mid-iron game, but aggressiveness off the tee could also be key for betting and British Open Championship DFS.

As always with the British Open Championship, the answer to how the course will actually play is, it depends. The weather could really throw things into a loop and make short games more essential. If betting or playing British Open Championship DFS, do not discount that area of the game if upcoming weather is not looking rosy for the weekend.

Key Stats: Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, Strokes Gained: Approach, Approach Proximity + Proximity 175-200 yards

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2023 British Open Championship Recent Form Watch

Approach Proximity (Last 50 Rounds)

  • Viktor Hovland
  • Collin Morikawa
  • Jon Rahm
  • Russell Henley
  • Scottie Scheffler

Strokes Gained Tee to Green (Last 24 rounds)

  • Scottie Scheffler
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Patrick Cantlay
  • Hideki Matsuyama

Top Strokes Approach (Last 24 Rounds)

  • Scottie Scheffler
  • Russell Henley
  • Hideki Matsuyama
  • Adam Schenk
  • Collin Morikawa

2023 British Open Championship Weather Update

Thursday morning: 50-55 F, winds 10-13 mph/ 0% chance of precipitation.

Thursday afternoon: 55-60 F, winds 12-14 mph/ 0% chance of precipitation.

Friday morning: 50-55 F, winds 6-8 mph/ 0% chance of precipitation.

Friday afternoon: 55-60 F, winds 9-10 mph/ 0% chance of precipitation.

So far, nothing heavy has materialized in terms of weather. There is a little pre-event precipitation expected which could soften up the course a bit, but no wild weather like there was at the end of last week is set to touch upon the event. Thursday will see heavier winds than Friday which perhaps makes it the more important day of the two. Gusts are set to rise a touch throughout Day 1, but unless there is more concrete news, do not expect a huge split. Day 2 has relatively calmer conditions, especially in the morning when there could be the calmest winds of the event. If the forecast holds, do not be shocked if the winner comes from the Thursday/Friday afternoon/morning starters and gets a lead by shooting a low round on Friday morning.

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2023 British Open Championship DFS Picks and Early Betting Targets

Viktor Hovland | BetMGM Outright

Hovland has proven his ability to handle tricky seaside venues on numerous occasions. Wins in Mayakoba, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas have been coupled with some great finishes in Florida (Bay Hill) and the British Open (St. Andrews). 2023 has also seen Hovland take a drastic step up in consistency. He comes in ranked first in approach proximity over the last 50 rounds and has been on a steady rise with his scrambling all season to where he now rates a respectable 38th in strokes gained around the green over the last 24 rounds.

While he could not quite finish the job last year at St. Andrews the somewhat more difficult and more accuracy-based Royal Liverpool should really be more up his alley. He placed second earlier in the season against an elite field, at the more technical, penalty-laden TPC Sawgrass, and in 2014, the leaderboard at Royal Liverpool had four Sawgrass winners in the top 5 that season. Outside of Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka, Hovland’s been the most consistent contender in the majors this season. With a venue in Royal Liverpool that looks set to play directly to his strengths seeing him take the final step up the wrung and nabbing his first major win this week is not hard to see play out. Available at 20-1 on BetMGM, he makes for a nice way to start outright cards for the final major of 2023.

Si Woo Kim | BetMGM top 5/10/20

Kim has mixed in two top-5 finishes (Memorial and Byron Nelson) with two missed cuts over his last six starts but has generally been one of the best ball-strikers on tour since the Masters — gaining strokes off the tee and on approach in seven straight starts to enter this year’s Open. Like Hovland, he also comes into this week’s event with a win on the year already under his belt and (like Hovland again) also landed his best finish ever at an Open last season at St. Andrews where he finished 15th.

The glass-half-empty approach on Kim would likely focus on how inconsistent his putting and short game have been during this run. However, the glass-half-full argument is that Kim has yet to really pop in either of those areas so there is clearly some upside to be had when he does. A former winner at TPC Sawgrass, Liverpool’s shorter and more technical routing should certainly create some better vibes for Kim who admittedly struggled on both the PGA’s and U.S. Open’s longer, more punishing setups.

Still available at 100-1 in the outright market, Kim’s roller coaster recent form has created a nice value opportunity that does not properly represent his upside at this venue this week. He is a great dark horse to back for the win but an even better ladder prospect to look to through the top-5/10/20 and -40 markets. He should also be considered for British Open Championship DFS lineups this week.

Geoff Ulrich
Author

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