U.S. Open DFS Golf Picks
Course: Erin Hills (Erin, Wisconsin)
Yardage: Par 72 – 7,800 yards
Overview: Daniel Berger defended his first ever title by firing two 66s this weekend on his way to winning his second straight FedEx St. Jude Classic. He’ll have a chance in 2018 to win the event for the third straight time. Unfortunately for him, over the last 15 years, only one winner from the week prior has finished in the Top 5 at the U.S Open, and that was Sergio Garcia in 2005 at Pinehurst.
The week is finally upon us! The best golfers in the world will meet up in Erin, Wisconsin for the toughest test in golf. Erin Hills is the 2017 site of the U.S Open, and it looks like we are in for a good one. With the possible exception of Phil Mickelson missing the tournament for his daughter’s high school graduation, you’ve got all the top dogs to choose from. The difference this week from most tournaments is that virtually no golfers have any experience on this track. Yes, the U.S Amateur was here in 2011, but that was six years ago, and everyone will have the same opportunity this week to play their practice rounds in U.S Open conditions. As far as history, I would value U.S Open history far more than the small handful of guys who played in that event (Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Bryson Dechambeau, Russel Henley, Jonathan Randolph, Peter Uihlein, and Justin Thomas).
For the first time since the pre-Tiger Woods era, the U.S Open will be played on a par 72 track. You know what that means? LENGTH! The USGA will have this course plotted at 7,800 yards. Erin Hills is a links-style course carved within the rolling pastures of Erin, Wisconsin. The course features big wide fairways and tricky fairway bunkers that will challenge players of all lengths. Another goal off the tee is finding proper lies and angles to the hole. The course has a huge amount of undulation, and some blind shots to greens, so strokes gained off the tee will be a necessary stat for success. If golfers get a little wayward, they’ll be greeted by that beautiful yellow fescue that will make up the periphery of your TV for four straight days. To stay out of the fescue, golfers must take care of their approach shots. Strokes gained approach will be the difference in making 3s and 4s vs 5s and 6s or worse. I mentioned the undulation and the fescue earlier; these two factors make ordinary misses into automatic bogey or double. Scrambling will be key for those times when the ball takes a kick off a side hill, or finds some of the waist-high fescue that surrounds every hole.
Erin Hills is loooong. With all the land they had to work with, they’ve created a course that’s longer than the town I grew up in. Players who can bomb it will have a significant advantage this week. Driving Distance will give a boost to those who can keep it in the green grass. All four of the par 5s are over 600 yards. Only a small group of players will be able to reach any of these in two shots. Shorter hitters may find themselves still 100 yards out after two full swings. There is a definite advantage to being able to bash two balls 600 or so yards and leave yourself a chip and a putt or two putts as opposed to a third full swing. Lastly, but most important, is strokes gained putting. The USGA will be out there steamrolling those greens so that the slightest grade will make it look like it’s rolling off a mountain. Just look at the recent champions below. All of those guys are known to be very good putters, with the exception of Dustin Johnson, who I believe is an underrated putter anyway. It should be a great week with some terrific golf and some humbling moments for the world’s best, both reasons why the U.S Open is a must-watch.
2012: Webb Simpson
2013: Justin Rose
2014: Martin Kaymer
2015: Jordan Spieth
2016: Dustin Johnson
U.S. Open DFS Golf Picks
Sergio Garcia ($10,000) – I’m going with the Masters Champ followed by the runner-up at the Masters to build my team around. Not very creative, I know, but Sergio has what it takes to follow his first major victory with another. He’s been playing well this year, making cuts every week and contending or winning most events. With the exception of putting, (always the story with him) Sergio does everything else extremely well. He is in the Top 30 in driving distance, and is third in strokes gained off the tee. He hits the seventh-most greens on Tour, and is a great scrambler (27th) for the occasions when his misses. A bonus with Sergio is he can perform in tough conditions, which may occur this week.
Justin Rose ($9,800) – Justin Rose struggled the last time we saw him here in the States. He took some time off recently to get ready for the U.S Open. I’m going to put my money on the assumption that he’s got everything in working order for this week. Rose is in the Top 10 in strokes gained off the tee. He’s been struggling with his iron play this year, yet still gains shots on the approach. Tee to green he gains over a shot per round (14th), and when he’s on, he can putt at a major-winning level, as evidenced by his 2013 U.S Open victory at Merion.
Justin Thomas ($8,300) I look at Justin Thomas as my boom or bust pick. His shaky driving accuracy could have him trudging through the fescue all week. If he can stay in relatively safe positions, he has the advantage in nearly every category. Justin Thomas ranks in the Top 30 in the following categories: driving distance (11th), strokes gained: approach (4th), strokes gained putting (29th), birdie average (4th), greens in regulation (12th), and he’s the best on Tour this season in proximity from both from 200-225 yards, and approaches from 100-125 yards. He could shoot two 78s and miss the cut by a mile, or he could get hot and win his first major. For the low $8000 range, I’ll take my chances.
Tyrrell Hatton ($7,500) I picked Hatton for the first major of the year, and he made me regret it big time by shooting 80-78 and finishing nowhere near the cut line. However, I will not hold it against him; it was his first time at Augusta. This will also be his first time at Erin Hills, but that goes for just about everyone else. Hatton gains over a stroke per round putting, which is the best on the PGA Tour. He also gains a good number of strokes off the tee and on the approach, (16th & 23rd). Hatton finished in the Top 10 in the final two majors last season. He should be fairly low-owned due to his mediocre play lately.
Kevin Kisner ($7,500) Kevin Kisner is playing the best golf of his career this year. He’s collected five Top 10s, including a runner-up at Bay Hill and a win two weeks ago at the Dean & Deluca. Once a daily Fantasy sleeper, Kisner is now usually one of the higher priced players each week. With him only being priced at $7,500, he could be a steal this week but he is a sleeper no more. Kisner looks great on paper as well. He is ranked in the Top 40 in all major strokes-gained categories. Those would be, strokes gained off-the-tee (37th), approach (9th), around the green (38th), and putting (23rd). If paper translates to the golf course, which it has almost every week for him, Kisner should have a good week.
Marc Leishman ($6,700) Marc Leishman is a legitimate contender despite his low price-tag. We’ve seen him around the top of the leaderboard before at majors, and he’s already won an event this season. Leishman hits it long off the tee (38th) and gains strokes on the field there (24th). He is solid on the approach and a very good putter (32nd in strokes gained). Outside of 200 yards he is a very consistent ball-striker as well, a distance that should come into play quite a few times this week.
Dustin Johnson ($12,000)
Branden Grace ($8,600)
Thomas Pieters ($7,700)
Matt Kuchar ($7,600)
Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($7,400)
Ross Fisher ($6,600)
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