Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: The Open Championship

The Open Championship returns to Carnoustie GC. What should you know about the course?

It's here! It's The Open Championship. It's not The British Open.

Now, get it right or pay the price.

With the semantics settled, we can dig into the third major of the calendar year: the British Open. Er, you know what I mean.

There's a lot for us to dig into this week, given that it's a major at a rotating course (and this course is super tough), so let's get started.

Course and Tournament Info

The Open returns to Carnoustie GC, which hosted this major in 2007, as well as six other times -- but just once since 1975 (1999).

That gives us a little info to rely on in terms of recent play, but there have been some tweaks to Carnoustie over the past 11 years. They're worth noting, but they don't seem like anything drastic enough to alter our view on the course entirely.

We still know Carnasty will be tough.

The Open back in 2007 played 2.381 strokes over par, on average, ranking it the fifth-toughest course on Tour that season. That shouldn't be a surprise, as 14 of the past 18 Open Championships have graded out top-10 in difficulty in terms of play relative to par.

Carnoustie should feature few scoring opportunities, as it had a birdie-to-bogey ratio of 0.61, sixth-lowest of the past 18 Opens.

Key Stats

Here is how certain key stats correlated to stroke differential in the 2007 The Open Championship.

2007 Open Championship Correlation
Par 4 Scoring 0.886
Bogey Avoidance 0.868
Scrambling 0.715
Birdie or Better Rate 0.694
Greens in Regulation 0.574
Ball Striking 0.513
Par 5 Scoring 0.476
Driving Distance 0.322
Par 3 Scoring 0.298
Sand Saves 0.192
Driving Accuracy 0.085

Translated into actual performance, here's how the top five in 2007 ranked in some of these more important stats.

2007 Stat Ranks Padraig Harrington Sergio Garcia Andres Romero Ernie Els Richard Green
Driving Distance 12 1 4 22 64
Driving Accuracy 37 8 62 64 33
Greens in Regulation 12 4 30 30 9
Ball Striking 8 1 32 45 37
Scrambling 1 15 17 3 25
Birdie or Better Rate 20 13 1 13 6
Bogey Avoidance 1 2 10 2 10
Par 3 Scoring 3 5 1 5 19
Par 4 Scoring 9 3 24 2 16
Par 5 Scoring 5 8 8 54 2

Padraig Harrington
ranked first in both bogey avoidance and scrambling, indicating saving pars is of utmost important. The larger correlation shows that, as well.

Distance, rather than accuracy, mattered more for the top five, again coinciding with the correlations already examined.

As for putting, naturally these guys did pretty well. That's to be expected. Andres Romero ranked first in putts per round, Ernie Els was sixth, Harrington was eighth. Richard Green finished 18th there. Sergio Garcia was 42nd and ultimately lost in a playoff with Harrington.

That leads us here, to the most important stats that we can predict with some confidence (i.e. not putting).

Key Stats for The Open Championship at Carnoustie GC
Par 4 Scoring
Bogey Avoidance
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Strokes Gained: Links-Style Courses

Par 4 scoring, bogey avoidance, and scrambling all mark pretty steady golfers who won't implode, and that's been part of the success at The Open in years past. It also coincides with the 2007 season at Carnasty.

Strokes gained data isn't available for past Open Championships, but even a study into how players graded out in the various stats entering that year's Open didn't show any particular strokes gained area as overly predictive of performance at The Open Championship.

In-season strokes gained: tee to green entering The Open, though, did have the strongest correlation, though modest at 0.24, with stroke differential. It's also never a bad idea to target strong tee-to-green golfers when the track is going to be tough.

Links specialists can be found on Future of Fantasy, and giving extra weight to performance on links style courses isn't a terrible idea, either, given that this is a genuine links course.

Event History Studs

These 20 golfers have the best stroke differential averages at the past 10 Open Championships (minimum two Opens in that span).

Golfer Rounds Stroke +/- Golfer Rounds Stroke +/-
Henrik Stenson 36 2.24 Zach Johnson 40 1.47
Jordan Spieth 20 2.09 Rafa Cabrera Bello 12 1.45
Phil Mickelson 32 2.02 Hideki Matsuyama 18 1.25
Adam Scott 38 1.96 Charl Schwartzel 32 1.23
Rory McIlroy 30 1.91 Retief Goosen 21 1.21
Sergio Garcia 38 1.90 Louis Oosthuizen 26 1.10
Rickie Fowler 30 1.66 Jason Day 28 1.09
Tony Finau 8 1.59 Emiliano Grillo 6 1.09
Marc Leishman 24 1.49 Francesco Molinari 30 1.04
Dustin Johnson 34 1.47 Matthew Southgate 10 0.98

This sure is a who's who list at the top, which shouldn't surprise us. The Open is no joke.

But you should know that Stenson withdrew from the Scottish Open due to a shoulder injury and is questionable for the Open.

Jordan Spieth, last year's winner, has made all five cuts at the Open and hasn't finished worse than 44th.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut last year but finished 2nd, 20th, 23rd, and 1st prior. He also was second in 2011.

The past 10 winners have been -- in order -- Spieth, Stenson, Zach Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Mickelson, Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink, and Padraig Harrington.

Just four of those are Americans, but three of the past five Open champs have come from the States.