Golf Pick ‘Em: Open Matchup Breakdowns

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Golf Pick 'Em: Open Matchup Breakdowns

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Golf Pick ‘Em is back for another season of tips and prizes on the NBC Sports Predictor app.

The free-to-play game has returned in 2021 and continues this week with The Open. Each week, participants choose between a series of head-to-head matches as well as an overall tournament master and the winner’s score.

Entrants can compete for weekly cash prizes, with a $ 50,000 jackpot available for all entrants who score perfect (up to $ 100,000 in some of the biggest events of the year). This week’s jackpot will be $ 100,000. A minimum of $ 1,000 in guaranteed money and prizes is also paid out every week, even if there isn’t a player with a perfect score.

The US Open saw a jackpot winner when a user took home $ 100,200 after choosing Jon Rahm to win at 6 under and get all 10 matchups right.

Here’s a look at some of the keys to this week’s 10 matchups as the tournament returns from a year-long hiatus and Royal St. George’s is hosting it for the first time since Darren Clarke’s victory in 2011:

Jon Rahm vs. Rory McIlroy

Key: Rahm finished seventh in his debut as a major champion at the Scottish Open, but that wasn’t enough to stop Dustin Johnson from taking the world number one again. He finished T-11 at Royal Portrush two years ago, the best of four previous Open appearances. McIlroy got his name on the claret pitcher at Royal Liverpool seven years ago and is making his first Open start since a shocking missed cut in his native Northern Ireland two years ago, after a run of three straight results from T-5 or better in this one Event from 2016-18. He missed the cut on Renaissance last week.

Edge: McIlroy

Brooks Koepka versus Jordan Spieth

Key: Koepka almost got Major # 5 on Kiawah Island and he finished T-4 the last time the Open was played in 2019. It’s one of three top 10 for Koepka in his last four starts in the oldest major in 2015. Spieth lifted the wine-red pitcher at Royal Birkdale in 2017 when the tournament was last held in England, and he has a drought-breaking Victory at Valero, which comes with a second place in the colonial era and a T-3 place in the Masters this spring.

The story goes on

Edge: Spieth

Bryson DeChambeau vs. Justin Thomas

Key: The last time we saw DeChambeau, he teamed up with Aaron Rodgers to beat Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in a charity game in Montana. But this is one event he struggled with, missing cuts on two of his three starts, including a driving range crisis in Carnoustie in 2018. This will be his first start with new caddy Ben Ziegler. Thomas got some shape in Scotland last week and will be looking to build on an Open record that was lean up to a T-11 finish at Portrush two years ago.

Edge: Thomas

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Louis Oosthuizen vs. Xander Schauffele

Key: Two guys who put together a lot of great game without a lot of hardware. Oosthuizen finished runner-up in each of the last two majors, and dropped a second major at Torrey Pines last month. This is the only major in which he lifted the trophy, lapping the field at St. Andrews in 2010 and also losing a playoff there in 2015. Schauffele finished T-7 in Torrey and now has nine top 10 finishes in the majors since 2017, including a T-2 that was shown in Carnoustie three years ago.

Edge: Oosthuizen

Collin Morikawa vs. Viktor Hovland

Key: Two savvy talents are in the top 15 in the world, both of which will make their Open debut. Morikawa’s PGA win last year underscores a run in the majors that included a T-4 finish at the US Open last month, and he won a WGC and lost a playoff at the Memorial earlier this year. Hovland won on the European Tour last month a week after a scratched cornea led to an unexpected withdrawal at Torrey Pines.

Edge: Morikawa

Phil Mickelson vs. Dustin Johnson

Key: The last time this event was held at Royal St. George’s, both men finished T-2 behind Darren Clarke. Mickelson won an open at Muirfield two years later and added a sixth major title in Kiawah earlier this year. However, results since that breakthrough have been pretty meager. A similar story has happened in recent weeks for Johnson, who won Saudi Arabia in February and finished the T-10 at Congaree last month but was largely listless while Rahm overtook him in the world rankings.

Edge: Johnson

Matthew Fitzpatrick vs. Patrick Reed

Key: Fitzpatrick is kicking up some pep after losing a playoff at the Scottish Open on Sunday, and he finished T-20 at Royal Portrush two years ago for his best result in five Open starts. Reed finished T-32 in Detroit and has completed T-28 or better in four of his last five Open starts, including a 10th place two years ago in Northern Ireland.

Edge: reed

Shane Lowry versus Francesco Molinari

Key: The two most recent Open Champions, with Molinari winning at Carnoustie while Lowry was named Champion Golfer of the Year for two years after his breakthrough at Royal Portrush. The Irishman has three top 10 finishes in his last six starts and finished T-23 at the Irish Open two weeks ago. Molinari finished T-13 at the US Open but has missed the cut on the other three of his last four starts, including last week in Scotland.

Edge: Lowry

Tyrrell Hatton vs. Tommy Fleetwood

Key: Two Englishmen faced each other in an open near London, with Hatton (T-18) ahead of Fleetwood (T-26) at Renaissance last week. Hatton missed the cut at Torrey Pines but finished T-2 at Congaree last month, and his Open record includes a T-5 finish at Royal Troon in 2016 and a T-6 finish two years ago at Portrush. Fleetwood was runner-up two years ago, playing in the final group alongside Lowry, the best of three straight top 30 finishes in The Open after three straight missed cuts from 2015-17.

Edge: Hatton

Justin Rose versus Patrick Cantlay

Key: Rose made his big stage debut at The Open 23 years ago and finished T-4 as an amateur at Royal Birkdale. He also finished T-2 at Carnoustie three years ago and finished in the top 10 on each of the first two majors that year before scoring a missed cut at Torrey. Cantlay now has four straight top 25 finishes since the PGA, including a playoff win at the Memorial last month, and he has finished T-12 and T-41 in his two previous Open appearances.

Edge: Cantlay

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