Expert Picks: 145th Open

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This week the 2016 fantasy golf season rolls along in Scotland, as 156 players tee it up in the 145th Open at Royal Troon. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell; editorial director Jay Coffin; associate editor Will Gray; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; host Charlie Rymer and defending fantasy champion Ryan Lavner.


Will Gray

Group 1: Dustin JohnsonI'll take the hottest player in the game as he looks for three wins in a row at an event where he contended a year ago through 36 holes and nearly won in 2011.

Group  2: Louis Oosthuizen: The 2010 winner was a runner-up a year ago and hasn't finished worse than T-30 in the last seven majors. Consistency like that pays well, especially in the big events.

Group 3: Martin Kaymer: The two-time major champ has begun to turn it around just in time for the 145th Open.

Group 4: Colt Knost: The last player in the field is having the best season of his career heading into his first Open start, including top-4 finishes in three of his last four starts.


Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Dustin Johnson: He’s won the last two events he started and has shed the label “best player without a major.” Confidence and crushing power can be hard to beat.

Group 2: Louis Oosthuizen: He’s already won a claret jug and came within a few putts of his second last year at St. Andrews. If the forecast holds, the South African could crash what is being billed as a “Big Four” party.

Group 3: Marc Leishman: The Australian lost in a playoff last year and also finished strong at Royal Liverpool in 2014 (T-5). Links golf brings out the best in Leishman.

Group 4: Ernie Els: Sentimental pick to be sure, but the South African has proven he can remain competitive and he finished runner-up to Todd Hamilton in 2004 at Royal Troon.


Randall Mell

Group 1: Dustin Johnson: Hard to pick against Johnson with this roll he’s on, especially with Troon playing soft this week.

Group 2: Henrik Stenson: Lots of strong finishes this year, including his BMW International victory a couple weeks ago.

Group 3: Andy Sullivan: He's got momentum, coming off T-5 and T-6 finishes in European Tour events in his last two starts.

Group 4: Steve Stricker: Showing some good form this summer, and his wedge and putter give him a chance for a storybook week late in his career.