2022 British Open First Round PrizePicks Plays: Joaquin Niemann Among 5 Thursday Picks
Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images. Pictured: Joaquin Niemann
Our fourth and final major of the 2022 season is upon us, as the Open Championship is set to get underway on Thursday. For the first time since 2015, the Old Course at St Andrews will host the tournament.
The course will be laid out the same as always (technically, they did add 16 yards), as the historic par 72 track will run 7,313 yards. The weather will make life difficult this week, as this links course is known for high winds cutting through it in every direction.
Because of these facts, the most crucial element for success at this tournament will be strong iron play. This course favors those who can put themselves on the greens in regulation and avoid hazards, while poor driving can be forgiven due to the course's layout.
With the wind making life difficult all week, the world's best iron players will have a significant advantage over the rest of the field.
Below, I give out my five Round 1 PrizePicks flex plays for the 2022 Open Championship. For those unfamiliar with PrizePicks flex plays in golf, different combinations of overs/unders generate different payouts.
Using the five plays below, getting five-of-five correct registers a 12.5x payout, four-of-five correct registers a 2x payout and three-of-five correct registers a 0.4x payout.
The Open Championship PrizePicks Plays
Joaquin Niemann: Round 1 Under 70.5 Strokes
At just 23 years old, the young golfer from Chile has already established himself as one of the game's next stars. Currently the 16th-ranked golfer in the world, Niemann will look to cement the start of his young career with his first major championship victory.
There may not be a better spot for him to try to get it done than the Old Course at St Andrews. Niemann's iron play is outstanding, as he ranks 16th on TOUR this season in SG: Tee to Green and 44th in SG: Approach the Green.
While Niemann is young, he has plenty of major championship experience and success, as he's made the cut in eight straight major championship appearances. Over that span, Niemann has three top-30 finishes.
This season, Niemann has made the cut in all three majors, as he finished T35 at the Masters Tournament, T23 at the PGA Championship and T47 at the U.S. Open. Additionally, Niemann enters this week in great form, as he's made the cut in five of his last six tournaments, with four top-25 finishes.
I would play this total down to 70.
Corey Conners: Round 1 Under 71 Strokes
The other golfer we are backing in the first round is Corey Conners. This season, Conners ranks 19th on TOUR in SG: Tee to Green and 30th in SG: Approach the Green.
Additionally, Conners has made the cut in four of his last seven major championships, with all four of those made-cuts resulting in top-20 finishes. His most recent made-cut in a major was at this year's Masters, where Conners finished T6.
Augusta National is not the only major venue where Conners has found success, as he finished T15 at last year's Open Championship. Like Niemann, Conners enters this week in great form, as he's made the cut in seven of his last nine tournaments.
Of those seven made-cuts, Conners boasts four top-15 finishes.
I would not play this number at anything lower than 71.
Sahith Theegala: Round 1 Over 71.5 Strokes
We're also fading a few golfers on Thursday, starting with Sahith Theegala. I believe we're getting great value in fading Theegala at this number due to some recency bias.
While Theegala enters this week in good form — he has three top-20 finishes over his last four tournaments — they were all in fields much more watered down than what he'll be competing against at St Andrews. Obviously, the course and conditions are also much more difficult.
I'm not convinced that Theegala's game will translate very well at the Old Course, as he's a very average iron player, ranking just 48th on TOUR this season in SG: Tee to Green and 71st in SG: Approach the Green.
In two major championship appearances, Theegala has missed the cut each time.
I would not play this total higher than 71.5.
Billy Horschel: Round 1 Over 71 Strokes
Another golfer that we're fading in the first round is Billy Horschel. My biggest concern about Horschel this week is his weak approach game, which may force him to make a ton of highly difficult putts to stay in contention.
This season, Horschel ranks just 125th on TOUR in SG: Approach the Green.
My other main reason for fading Horschel on Thursday is his lack of success at major championships.
Over his last 22 major championship appearances, Horschel has zero (!!) top-20 finishes. While Horschel found success with his victory at the Memorial Tournament, he's failed to make the cut in each of his two tournaments since then.
This season, Horschel has started poorly at all three majors, as he shot a 73 in the first round at the U.S. Open, 75 at the PGA Championship and 74 at the Masters.
I would play this number up to 71.5.
Lucas Herbert: Under 36.5 Holes Played
The last golfer we're fading is Lucas Herbert. This is the lone play from this stack that extends into the second round, as this is PrizePicks' way of letting us wager on someone to make or miss the cut.
I'm also playing Herbert's betting line to miss the cut, as I couldn't think of a more difficult course for him to play in the world based on his iron play this season.
Proving to have some of the worst iron play on TOUR this season, Herbert ranks just 198th in SG: Tee to Green and 202nd in SG: Approach the Green.
Furthermore, Herbert has been nothing special at major championships, as he's missed the cut in half of his career major appearances, including at the 2021 Open Championship. His recent form is not any better, as he's missed the cut in each of his last two tournaments and in four of his last seven.