Yahoo Golf Talk: The 149th Open

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The final major of the season is upon us this week as Royal St. George's puts the final touches on course preparations.

The course is a classical links layout with undulating fairways, brutal rough, and diabolical bunkers.

With that in mind, let's hop over to the NBC Sports Edge Driver tool and see who plays well on tough tracks and then see who should be able to avoid the trouble by looking at recent driving accuracy.

Single Digit Winners

Royal St. George's is one of the toughest courses in The Open rota. That last two editions played here produced winning scores of -5 (Darren Clarke) and -1 (Ben Curtis).

Starting the week a bit lusher than expected, we may see a few low scores out of the gate but I would still expect the winning tally to remain in single digits under par.

Hopping over the NBC Sports Edge Driver tool, let's filter by tournaments that had a single-digit winning score and then look at the top performers (per round) in those events, over the last three seasons:

Jon Rahm
Will Zalatoris
Brooks Koepka
Xander Schauffele
Jordan Spieth
Rory McIlroy
Paul Casey
Keith Mitchell
Louis Oosthuizen
Dustin Johnson
Lucas Glover
Scottie Scheffler
Matt Wallace
Tony Finau
Justin Thomas

Rory McIlroy ($40): There is a fun stat that McIlroy still hasn't won a PGA TOUR event in single digits. That is a little skewed because he won the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship by eight shots. He could have shot 9-under and 6-under in those events and still won. Overall, as you see from the list above, he performs just fine with the course plays tough.

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Driving Accuracy

Most links courses put a premium on accuracy, at least more than the average week-to-week PGA TOUR stop.

The ability to play the ball on the ground helps those shorter but accurate players keep up with the big boys.

Let's look at recent play (Last 12 Rounds) and see what golfers are piping the most fairways per round, compared to the fields they've faced. In the NBC Sports Edge Driver tool, this is called "Strokes Gained - Fairway Hit":

Brendon Todd
Chez Reavie
Abraham Ancer
Corey Conners
Kevin Streelman
Brian Harman
Keegan Bradley
Matthew Fitzpatrick
Collin Morikawa
Joel Dahmen
Adam Long
Kevin Kisner
Lucas Glover
Russell Henley
Rafa Cabrera Bello

Matthew Fitzpatrick ($33): Of this bunch, the Englishman brings the most experience with links golf to the table. He's arriving fresh off a runner-up finish at the Scottish Open. When you combine season-long play with course fit and recent play, it's easy to see why Fitzpatrick is drawing a lot of eyeballs this week.

Hopefully, these stats will give you some names to dive into when it comes to researching your final selections this week over at Yahoo!