What’s goin’ on fantasy golf fans?! It’s U.S. OPEN WEEK!!! The season’s second major is upon us and the hype around this event is through the roof. I hope you are as excited as I am. It is going to be an incredible week of golf and definitely an interesting one to take a deeper look at. The course, Erin Hills, is a monster and one that no one has real solid grasp of how it will play. It seems as though you can make a case of any golfer, with any style of play. Let’s find some diamonds in the rough, or should I say, FESCUE, and make some money!
The best players in the world are about to take on a daunting task – Erin Hills. This course is loooonnnggg. The yardage will vary from day-to-day with different tee decks being used, but it will be around 7,700 yards on average. What is unique about Erin Hills as a U.S. Open venue, is the fact that it is a Par 72, which will change how leaderboard will look on Sunday. Typical scores at U.S. Opens linger around even par, but with the two additional Par 5s, I can see the final score approach -10.
The fescue has been the talk of the week, and will most certainly carry on through the weekend. Hell, Erin Hills Fescue has it’s own Twitter account. Players have been posting videos about it’s length, most notably Kevin Na who demonstrated how hard it is to hit out of by taking a few half ass hacks at it. First tip of the week – if a golfer is complaining about the course already, fade them. However, recent events have surfaced on Twitter showing the grounds crew at Erin Hills mowing the fescue that was about five yards off of the fairway. Sucks to see the players get their way when this course is set up to be the ultimate test, not a scoringfest. The fairways are incredibly wide at Erin Hills, so most golfers should be able to find the short stuff unless the wind picks up. Rain is in the forecast for the week as well, which will make the course much softer, limiting driver roll out and giving the advantage to the bombers.
Here is how I think the course will play out. Distance will remain king, but you better be accurate if you are going to launch the big stick 12-13 times a round. Strokes Gained: Off the Tee is my highest weighted stat. Give me distance, but accuracy will also be important. Next, Strokes Gained: Approach is my second highest weighted stat. Hitting greens will be crucial. Not only is the fescue around the green deadly, the bunkers may offer a tougher challenge. The bunkers that surround the green are designed in all sorts of weird and wacky shapes and big numbers will be made if a golfer ends up in an awkward location. Due to the course’s length, and the inevitable long irons that will be hit into some of these greens, I am also looking at Scrambling. If golfers begin to miss greens from 200+ yards, saving pars in creative ways will be required to avoid major damage. Par 5 scoring average, Birdie or Better % and Bogey Avoidance will also play a key role as they will have the greatest impact on a golfer’s DraftKings points.
Alright, let’s get to the picks!
My favorite golfers for the week – for Cash and GPP contests.
Dustin Johnson – $12,000
First of all, you cannot go wrong with anyone at the top of this field. They are all elite and can all win. Making a decision a the top will come down to roster construction with the rest of your golfers, the contests you are entering and projected ownership. However, it feels like Dustin Johnson is head and shoulders above the rest of this field in terms of course fit, form and event history. DJ is built for U.S. Opens. His length, approach game and putting are the picture perfect combination for a golfer looking to win this week. He has three straight top five finishes at the U.S. Open. Ever since the Masters incident, I think DJ has been going through the motions with his sights set on Erin Hills.
Rory McIlroy – $11,200
Two guys above $10K in range as staples?!?! Ya, I am getting carried away with lineup building this week. Rory has the potential to be under owned considering his pedigree and course fit. Everyone seems concerned about his rib/back injury, which is fair, but that just creates even more opportunity to capitalize on value. If Rory had no injury concerns and maybe played in one more event since the Players, he would be neck and neck with DJ as the best bet to win. Golf injuries are weird, go unreported and only the player has a feel for the extent. There is a chance the injury has no impact on Rory’s game and everyone who faded him will be kicking themselves on Sunday.
***Phil Mickelson – $8,500
Quick note on Phil Mickelson. If he plays, I love him this week. You have to be on the ball if you are looking to roster him and take advantage of his guaranteed low ownership. It looks as though a rain delay is the only way for him to make his tee time. If you want the opportunity to reap the rewards of rostering Phil, you better be paying close attention to Twitter on Wednesday. He is a must play if he somehow makes his tee time.
Thomas Pieters – $7,700
Thomas Pieters is my pick to win this week. Bold? Sort of, but he is already drawing a ton of attention across the industry. Pieters presents a rare combination of length and wedge play that he was able to demonstrate at Augusta with a T4. He also was holding the 54 hole lead at the BMW PGA Championship a few weeks ago. Pieters is in remarkable form and has the ability to contend in these loaded fields. His $7,700 price tag is easy to fit into all sorts of lineups. I have a good feeling Pieters will be giving DJ a run for his money on Sunday.
Kevin Kisner – $7,500
There are not many golfers in the world playing better than Kisner right now. He won a few weeks ago at the Dean and Deluca, and followed that up with a T6 at the Memorial. Kisner is not super long, but still has a solid SG:OTT ranking because of his deadly accuracy. He ranks 9th in SG:APP and 10th in SG:Putting, two stats that will make up for any lost ground in distance. He currently has the second most tags on FanShareSports, likely meaning he will be the chalk of the $7K range. I am okay to eat the chalk with Kisner this week because I think he has the complete game and outstanding form to put together a high finish.
Byeong Hun An – $6,800
Byeong Hun An comes in way underpriced at $6,800, and people have noticed. He has the 16th most tags on FanShareSports, which is a ton for a golfer priced lower than $7K. An is elite tee to green and will only falter if his approach game is not sharp. He struggles to get up and down, mainly because his putter can run extremely cold. However, he has gained strokes putting in his last three events and his finishes show that. His form, key stats, and trending stats are all pointing in the right direction. I am not worried that An’s putter will run cold this week, making him one of the best values on the board.
Ross Fisher – $6,600
When the DraftKings pricing first came out, I was immediately drawn to Ross Fisher. I knew he price tag would be enticing to a lot of people, but it has been his recent run of solid form that has moved the needle. Fisher has the 20th most tags on FanShareSports, making him a popular value option this week, with good reason of course. Fisher has five worldwide top 10s in his last eight events. On average, he has gained strokes on the field in both SG:OTT and SG:APP for the 2017 season. Fisher will be my highest owned golfer in the sub $7K range.
U.S. Open Research Spreadsheet
Note that this spreadsheet is FREE each week for Pro Members. If you are not a Pro Member, use code “ERIC” for 15% off:
Identifying the chalk, and going elsewhere.
Jason Day – $10,800
It’s another tournament, and it’s another time Jason Day to show up in the Perfect Pivots segment. Jason Day will be the lowest owned golfer in the $10K+ range. He has the least amount of tags in this range on FanShareSports and is priced above Rahm and Fowler who will bother garner a ton of ownership. In a week with massive DraftKings tournaments and prize pools, being contrarian is a must. Jason Day has a fantastic chance of winning this event and will be low owned doing it.
Paul Casey – $8,400
Paul Casey is getting very little buzz, which is odd because his recent form is great and his price tag is very reasonable. Casey has 18 tags on FanShareSports compared to Branden Grace and Adam Scott who have over 30, priced just above him. Casey doesn’t really fall into the bomber category, but he is an elite ball striker and will have an easier time than most with his long irons. Casey doesn’t have the greatest U.S. Open track record, but his form and stats cannot be ignored.
Tyrrell Hatton – $7,500
The way the week is shaping up, Tyrrell Hatton will be completely overlooked in the mid $7K range. Pieters, Kuchar, Kisner and Noren are hoarding all the tags in this price range on FanShareSports. Hatton only has nine, ranking as the 38th most talked about golfer. Hatton’s remarkable form from earlier this season leaves him with incredible stats – 12th in SG:OTT, 18th in SG:APP, and 1st and SG:Putting in this field. Hatton is world class player and makes for a Perfect Pivot when things go south for the other popular golfers in this range.
Brendan Steele – $7,100
Steele is an interesting golfer week to week. Sometimes, he is the obvious chalk and attracts close to 30% ownership. Other times, like this week, he is an afterthought. He has far fewer tags on FanShareSports compared to golfers in his price range, like Molinari, Weisberger and Kaymer. Steele has made 19 straight cuts, and his 6th place at the Players is very impressive. He is sneaky long, 39th in the field in SG:OTT and has the ball striking abilities to attack these greens from distance. He is a great Par 5 scorer and is top 5 in the field in both scrambling and bogey avoidance. Steele is one of the most overlooked golfers in the field.
Jimmy Walker – $6,700
Jimmy Walker is both underpriced and under appreciated. He won a major in the last calendar year, and I think everyone forgets that. Walker has been playing solid this season, making nine straight cuts including a T18 at the Masters and a T13 at Valero, after his Lyme Disease announcement. Rostering chalk in the $6K range is always risky due to the nature of the golfers priced this low. Walker ranks 14th in the field in SG:APP and has the 6th best sand save percentage. He makes for a great option if you are looking to fade An, Lovemark, Horschel or Leishman.
Bad course fit? Highly owned for the wrong reason? Players I will have no shares of.
Bubba Watson – $8,200
Don’t buy into the narrative that Bubba is back. Ditching the pink ball is certainly a step in the right direction, but his T6 at the Memorial isn’t enough to get me back in on Bubba. He has a surprisingly terrible history in U.S. Opens. Since his T5 in 2007, he has missed four out of eight cuts and only has one top 30 finish. Bubba’s play this year has been brutal and I do not think he is going to find it at the toughest test in golf.
Rafa Cabrera Bello – $7,400
Cabrera Bello is a flashy name that will garner attention, especially since he is showing signs of solid form. He has two T4 finishes in his last three events, last week at the St. Jude and last month at the Players. He also squeezed in an ugly missed cut at the Memorial, a result we have become familiar seeing with RCB. His form so far this season is not where it needs to be, considering he has limited winning upside and his chance of missing the cut is larger than people realize. RCB has been gaining all his strokes with his putter, and ranks outside the top 60 in SG:OTT and SG:APP. He is too risky and likely too highly owned to be considered this week at Erin Hills.
Patrick Reed – $7,400
If you are going to be wild, at least be long. If you are going to be short, at least be accurate. Patrick Reed is neither of these things and that is why he will struggle at Erin Hills. He ranks outside of the top 60 in terms of driving distance and driving accuracy. Clubbing down to hit more fairways won’t be an option, so Reed will not be an option for me this week.
Daniel Summerhays – $7,100
Summerhays has both recent form and tournament history working in his favor this week that could have his ownership inflate slightly. Now, I highly doubt it exceeds 5%, but even that is too high for his price tag. Summerhays is very short off the tee and does not have the ball striking ability to make up for this lack of distance on his approaches. Dig a little deeper and find the better plays that surround Summerhays.
Bernd Wiesberger – $7,100
According to FanShareSports.com, Wiesberger is drawing a lot of attention this week. The term grinder is given to Bernd, mainly because he will par you to death and rarely makes birdies. That narrative would normally play out at previous U.S. Opens, but this year seems different and projected scores could approach -10. Bernd does not have the distance to take advantage of the four Par 5s. If he is going to be a chalky option in the low $7K range, I will gladly pivot elsewhere. We saw this at the Masters when Kisner and Hadwin were both cheap chalk. It paid off fading both of those guys then, and I think Bernd will fall into that category this week.
So, you got burned?
Recently got screwed by a missed cut or a poor performance? Looks like a good time to jump back on.
Jon Rahm – $10,300
I would be doing a disservice to write an entire article and not mention Jon Rahm. The last time we saw Rahm, prior to the Memorial, I bet he would have been everyone’s second favorite play this week next to DJ. One missed cut and a hot headed moment with fans at the Memorial, and people are jumping ship. He has the most “sit” tags on FanShareSports – that is absurd. This course is designed perfectly for Rahm, not to mention he is finally at an equal playing field and seeing the course for the first time like the rest of the field, unlike many other events he has played. Do not get cute or jump ship on Rahm. If he is on, like he usually is, we will see him in contention on Sunday.
I also have to throw in that I had a dream last night where I watched Rahm tee off on the first hole live at Erin Hills. He snap hooked one into the bush about 20 yards. Not sure if that is a sign of things to come or not. Hopefully not…
Adam Hadwin – $7,200
The flame has fizzled on Adam Hadwin. He was chalk at Augusta and now is being completely ignored. No doubt, his play has tailed off as of late, with a missed cut at the Memorial. But Hadwin is still a fantastic option due to his prowess on and around the greens. He is a world class putter and will be able to save a ton of pars if he happens to miss the green on his approach. His sand game will also play a huge role as these bunkers at Erin Hills look treacherous. Hadwin only has two tags on FanShareSports, so expect his ownership to sit below 3%.
Francesco Molinari – $7,000
Did Molinari burn people last week at the St. Jude? Not really, but he definitely didn’t win anyone money. He was a popular pick last week, finishing inside the top five in tags on FanShareSports. Once again, he is being mentioned a fair amount, but I do not think the random public DFS player has any intention of rostering Molinari this week. The talk of the week has been the length of Erin Hills. Moli is not a long hitter but he is accurate and should be able to flip wedges close on these Par 5s. He has been extremely consistent the last month or two, and makes for a great cash play. Don’t overlook Molinari because he didn’t win you a GPP last week.
Thanks for reading The U.S. Open preview article! You can follow me on Twitter for more golf and betting talk! Also, make sure you check out @FanShareSports. They track and curate content produced across the DFS Golf industry, and highlight which players are being tagged or talked about the most, translating to an excellent ownership guide.
Good luck this week everybody and enjoy The U.S. Open!!!