Erin Hills G.C., Erin, WI Par 72, 7,693 yards
Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson (-4) by 3 over Jim Furyk, Shane Lowry, and Scott Piercy
OUT: Ryan Moore
Questionable: Phil Mickelson
Roster Lock: 6:45 CST (7:45 EST, 5:45 MST, 4:45 PST)
Weather: Winds are steady at 10mph the first two days. There is rain going through the area tonight but should be gone by Thursday morning. There is a chance for some rain on Friday afternoon, but the National Weather Service isn't predicting much. I don't see a significant advantage to when a golfer tees off. If anything, it would be to the Thursday AM and Friday PM golfers, as they should have softer greens on Thursday morning. It's not enough for me to look at tee times when selecting golfers.
Ownership: Using a couple of websites that project this along with reading articles and listening to podcasts and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, here are a list of golfers that look to be the most popular: Dustin Johnson, Kevin Kisner, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Thomas Pieters, Branden Grace, and Louis Oosthuizen.
I was completely wrong on Branden Grace, as I did not think he would be anywhere near this popular. As a result, I'm now fading him (on 0 of my 14 teams). If I were going to play him, it would be on FanDuel. 20% popularity for someone that only has one Top 10 this year at 8,600 is not for me, even with his past 2 U.S. Open finishes. Louis Oosthuizen is someone I have put into a couple of lineups. He's 9 for 9 in making cuts with three Top 10s, and was 2nd at The Players. Louis was 2nd at Chambers Bay and 23rd last year. I really like his 7,400 price on DraftKings.
Players I have in my lineups that have not been mentioned by me yet:
Rory McIlroy- I put him on one team. Health doesn't seem to be an issue. Also, has right attitude for U.S. Open and embracing challenge. I like seeing that compared to someone like Kevin Na. GPP and Cash
Jamie Lovemark- 34th in SG: Tee-to-Green, positive in all Strokes Gained categories except Putting (-.001). He's made 7 cuts in a row with a 10th and 18th in past two starts. Good value on all sites. GPP, Cash Game playable
Billy Horschel- 9th in Greens in Regulation, has made past four cuts at U.S. Open with 32nd being his worst finish. GPP only.
Remember, the U.S. Open is Top 60, not 70, and ties that make the cut. There is no secondary cut if 78 or more make the weekend. As of 8:00pm EST on Wednesday Night, there is some overlay brewing. On FantasyDraft, their $1 and $25 GPP is just over half full. On FanDuel, a lot of their GPPs are about 60% full. On DraftKings, the $33 Fantasy Golf Millionaire is about 2/3 full, with some of the low $ GPPs also showing some potential for overlay.
As you watch this week, just accept the fact that your golfers are going to have bogeys and double bogeys. No matter how much they cut down the fescue or how much distance the drives will be on these wide fairways, it is still the U.S. Open: Bad holes will happen. I also wouldn't count out 5/6 or 6/8 or 7/8 in your contests this week, with only top 60 and ties making the cut.
To all dads out there: Happy Father's Day; I hope you enjoy the day and have some golf teams to sweat come Sunday. Good luck to everyone this week and if you are live in a tournament on Sunday, let me know.
Added to the Field:
- Chris Wood (60th in World Golf Rankings after June 11)
- Michael Putnam (replacing Ryan Moore)
- Whee Kim
- Ryan Palmer
- Davis Love IV (Love III will be his caddy)
- Gregory Boudry
- Tyler Light
FedEx St. Jude Classic Recap
It ended up being a great week for me on FantasyDraft, but also a lot of what could have been. On Friday on DraftKings, I was in 2nd place in the $5 single-entry, and doing well in other tournaments. Unfortunately, that team had Rickie Fowler, who missed the cut. Seeing the total winnings from that team drop was painful, but expected. I also ended up with 0% Daniel Berger. I thought he would be too highly owned and fell into the "Can't Play Everyone" category. I took a stand against him, and it didn't work out for me. I hope you played him though.
So if Berger was my worst decision of the week, my best decision came from the Tuesday update: Braden Thornberry. He was a big reason for my success on FantasyDraft, ending up tied for 4th. I was not expecting a Top 5 from him, but always nice when your "punt" play ends up playing so well. My reasoning for playing him was that if you can win the NCAA Championship, you must have some talent, and at such a rock bottom price, it was worth the risk.
When I built my first lineup here, I found it surprising that I could fit in Dustin Johnson and another Top 10 priced golfer, and still build a lineup that I really like. I'll go through the price ranges to tell you my favorite play(s) in each range. (NOTE: If I mention a golfer here that I like, it also means I think they would be playable on both DraftKings and FanDuel as well. Also, anyone in Bold is someone not mentioned in original article)
17k and above: Dustin Johnson- The discount you get on McIlroy, Spieth, and Day isn't big enough in my opinion.
16k: Sergio Garcia- He's the 8th highest priced golfer this week here, which is too low. I'll take the 200 discount over Rose, Fowler, and Rahm
15k: Justin Thomas and Thomas Pieters. The more I look at Justin Thomas's stats, the more I like him. Thomas Pieters 4th at The Masters and 5th at WGC-Mexico shows me he has a lot of game, and is 500 cheaper than Thomas.
14k: I like this range; so maybe instead of telling you who I like, I'll tell you who I won't play from this range: Paul Casey (if he was 500 lower, I would be on him), Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, and Kevin Chappell. Kuchar and Kisner are my favorite cash options, Schwartzel and Oosthuizen in GPPs.
13k: Snedeker and Molinari are my favorites here. Also don't mind Byeong Hun An. Four straight Top 25s, 15th in SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Approach.
12k: Another loaded tier. I don't see a need to go below Cink at 12,300. Steele and Perez are my favorites here. Rafa Cabrera Bello continues to be underpriced on FantasyDraft, does have two 4th place finishes in his past three events. Two others that I didn't mention in the original article, that I like here are Ross Fisher and Webb Simpson. Ross Fisher is like Pieters a little bit: 7 of 10 in made cuts this year, with four Top 10s. Played well at WGC-Mexico, the BMW Championship on Euro Tour, and solid at The Memorial. Webb Simpson is a former U.S. Open Champion with three Top 16 finishes in his past five events. 11th in SG: Approach and 25th in SG: Tee-to-Green.
10k and 11k: The only golfers I would consider here are Hideto Tanihara at 11,800 or J.T. Poston at 10,800. Hideto Tanihara would be a better tournament play, as I think he's capable of a Top 25 finish, while J.T. Poston is a better cash play, as he's more likely to make the cut. I just don't think you need to go here this week, with all the values in the 12-14k range.
10k+: Spieth is the lowest in this tier, which has me quite interested. Also, comes at a 1100 discount over DJ.
9k: Rickie Fowler looks enticing. 2nd at The Memorial, 11th at the Masters. I'm not worried about the missed cut last week. 2nd in Total Strokes Gained, 11th Tee-to-Green, and 13th in Approach.
8k: No bargains here. I think players like Casey, Kuchar, Snedeker, and Kisner are priced accurately.
7k: No issues with pricing here. Thomas Pieters is a bit of a bargain compared to the other two sites. But this is a nice range to get some golfers like Dufner, Noren, Grace, and Steele.
6k: Bubba Watson's price jumps out here at 6,500. I may not be on him personally, but I can't fault you if you want to take a chance on him at this price. Same for Daniel Berger at 6,800.I also like Charl Schwartzel and Russell Henley at this price point. If you want to build a balanced lineup, there are some great options in this price range to do so.
5k: I'll mention Ross Fisher again here as a good value. Lucas Glover would be another players to consider. 3rd in GIR, 4th in Total Driving, and 18th in SG: Tee-to-Green. He did win a U.S. Open at a difficult Bethpage Black.
4k: I don't really see anyone here worth playing. If you are convinced on someone in this range, go for it.
I hope this helps with some other players to consider and some site specific analysis. I will take a look at the weather on Wednesday, along with ownership thoughts and anyone else that I am rostering, that I haven't mentioned (I will have 10+ lineups this week, so I'm going to have exposure to a lot of players).
The second major of the year is upon us as the U.S. Open returns, making its first trip to Erin Hills. The course can play up to 7,800 yards, and 8,000 if the USGA wants to be evil (I'm not putting it past them). All four of the Par 5's are over 600 yards, with a couple of 500+ yard Par 4s.The rough is two feet tall. If you don't believe it, check out the video that Wesley Bryan posted (Rough at Erin Hills). Though the course is playing long, Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director has pointed out that the fairways are wider than normal, and have a bounce to them that will carry the drives further than a normal course. Could we see a lot of players under par, or will we see the usual USGA approach of trying to make even par be the winning score?
I think distance is important, and has been important in previous Opens recently. However, with the rough being two feet high, I think Accuracy has to be looked at. Greens in Regulation is always important, so SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green will be important. I'm also going to be looking at Scrambling and Bogey Avoidance. I'm not going to be too concerned with Birdie or Better stats or many scoring stats this week. Finally, though the courses change from year to year, I have noticed there are certain golfers that have adapted to U.S. Open layouts more than others. The Tournament History file will point those players out. The other thing to remember is that the cut is a little different than usual: It is Top 60 and ties, with no secondary cut. If playing the Fantasy Golf Millionaire, consider leaving salary on the table to make your lineup unique versus others.
Dustin Johnson (12,000)
I have considered myself (and others have confirmed this) to be a sports nerd. So, when I look at Dustin Johnson's recent U.S. Open history: 4th in 2014, 2nd in 2015, and 1st in 2016, what do I think? Isn't that the same finishes Hideki Matsuyama had at the WM Phoenix Open? Sure enough, it was. Guess what Matsuyama did in Phoenix this year? Win.
Ok, enough about an odd coincidence, but DJ is my pick and I'm not going to let a missed cut at the Memorial scare me away. Three wins, five other Top 10s, and only two missed cuts in 12 starts, there's a reason DJ is #1 in the world. He is #1 in SG: Off the Tee, SG: Tee to Green, and Driving Distance. Johnson also ranks 2nd in Total Strokes Gained and Bogey Avoidance. The price here isn't high enough for me to fade, and I'm hoping his missed cut will reduce ownership slightly. (Cash and GPP)
Jason Day (10,800)
The last time a major was contested in Wisconsin was the 2015 PGA Championship. Jason Day won that event at Whistling Straits. Day hasn't been himself at all times, with only two Top 10s this season. However, he has a 2nd and 15th in his past two starts this year, five of those eight rounds under par. His past history at the U.S. Open is tremendous: five Top 10s in the past six years. His stats aren't tremendous, but is 2nd in SG: Around-The-Green, 32nd in Driving Distance, and 69th in Scrambling. The concern is he is negative in the Approach category. But if he's finding his form as of late, combined with his successes at the U.S. Open, and being priced in the middle of Spieth, Fowler, and Rahm, I think he goes low owned and I love him in tournaments. (GPP)
- Jordan Spieth (11,500) is another golfer finding some form recently with a 2nd and 13th. People are comparing Erin Hills to Chambers Bay in 2015; an Open that Spieth won. 1st in SG: Approach, and 4th in Greens in Regulation and Bogey Avoidance, popularity is the only concern here in tournaments.
- Sergio Garcia (10,000) has made nine straight cuts at the U.S. Open, and has only missed two cuts with five Top 10s in 17 starts. He also hasn't missed a cut this year worldwide with 2 wins, including The Masters. 2nd in Total Driving will help here.
Cash: Spieth, Garcia
GPP: Spieth, Garcia
My initial thoughts in this tier are to fade Rory and Rahm. Rory McIlroy's back caused issues at the Players Championship a month ago, so I'm not chancing another flare-up. Jon Rahm struggled at the Memorial and third round at the Players. A top 10 won't surprise me, but I think others in this tier will finish higher and he should be very high owned. I don't blame you for playing either Rahm or McIlroy if you want, but I would limit exposure to tournaments.
Adam Scott (8,800)
Scott is a golfer that has put in his best performance in 2017, in the biggest tournaments. He's played eight events (not counting St. Jude Classic) with two Top 10s: The Masters and The Players. He's also had a good recent history at the U.S. Open, making his last five cuts with two Top 10s and two other Top 20s. Scott doesn't wow in any statistical category; he is positive in every strokes gained category, 17th in Driving Distance, 30th in Total Driving, 49th in GIR, and 70th in Bogey Avoidance. This tier may go a bit overlooked with a lot of people trying to fit in two of the 10k golfers. Most weeks, Scott is priced in that tier, so getting him below 9,000 is a nice discount for the 12th ranked golfer in the world (Cash and GPP).
Jason Dufner (8,100)
Dufner burned a lot of fantasy players two starts back, when he missed the cut at the Dean & Deluca at 30%+ Ownership. He then goes and wins The Memorial at very low ownership. People may have written off Dufner saying they won't play him again. They might regret it. Yes, his win is his only Top Ten this season. But, he's also made 11 of 13 cuts with a lot of Top 25 finishes. Dufner does play U.S. Opens well, making four of his past five cuts with two 4ths, a 8th, and an 18th in that span. He fits nicely statistically: 16th in Total Strokes Gained, 18th in SG: Approach, 20th in Total Driving, and 21st in SG: Tee-to-Green. He doesn't fit the bomber angle that I think many will play but for as good of a ball striker as he is and past successes at U.S. Opens, I like him as a potentially low owned option in this tier. (Cash and GPP)
- Henrik Stenson (9,300) has regained his form after a tough March and early April, with a 3rd, 16th, and 26th. The defending Open Champion should like a links style course and has five Top 30 finishes in his last 6 starts at the U.S. Open.
- Brendan Grace (8,600) has three Top 11 finishes in his past 4 starts, with mediocre performances at The Masters and The Players. However, he has back to back Top 5 finishes at the U.S. Open and should go very under owned at this price.
- Justin Thomas (8,300) will compete with Scott for highest owned player in this range. He's had some good finishes at strong fields recently (5th at WGC Mexico and 4th at Memorial). 4th in SG: Approach, 6th in Total Strokes Gained, 9th in SG: Tee-to-Green, 10th in Distance, 13th in GIR, and 23rd in Bogey Avoidance.
GPP: Stenson, Grace, Thomas
I'm not in love with this tier, especially with some of the players of equal talent in the 7k range. Paul Casey hasn't had a great history at the U.S. Open and while form is nice, I suspect he will be more popular than I would want him to be, to play him. I wanted to like Bubba Watson, but his history isn't great. For one that shows his emotions easily, the U.S. Open doesn't seem to suit his style.
Brandt Snedeker (7,800)
If there is wind involved, Snedeker is a golfer I have no problem going to. Erin Hills has no trees, so the winds could play a factor. In 2017, Snedeker has been a little boom/bust, with four Top 10s and three missed cuts in 12 starts. Though he missed the cut at Oakmont last year, he had five straight Top 20s, including an 8th at Chambers Bay. In 10 starts at the U.S. Open, he has missed three cuts and every made cut has resulted in a Top 25, with four Top 10s. He was 12th at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Stats wise, Snedker is positive in all the Strokes Gained categories, except Off-the-Tee. Snedeker also ranks 29th in Scrambling and 35th in Bogey Avoidance. I like the history and his ability to Top Ten, and will be someone I target a lot in this 7k range. (GPP, Cash Playable)
Francesco Molinari (7,000)
Molinari is one of my favorite values for the U.S. Open. The only negative I see is that he's only made four of seven cuts in prior U.S. Opens, but all were Top 30 finishes. It's the season Molinari is having that has me looking at him. Molinari has only missed one cut in 12 starts this year with three Top 10s and six other Top 25 finishes. His stats are pretty good as well: 2nd in both Driving Accuracy and SG: Approach, 4th in SG: Tee-to-Green, 8th in Total Strokes Gained, and 31st in Bogey Avoidance. I suspect he will be popular, but I really don't care. He should be in the 8k range, so I will take this discount and play him in all formats. (Cash and GPP)
- Thomas Pieters (7,700) is five of eight in made cuts this year, with three Top 10s. This includes a 4th at The Masters and 5th at WGC-Mexico. A young Euro Tour player, Pieters carries some enormous upside and has shown he can compete in top field events.
- Matt Kuchar (7,600) has made seven straight cuts at the U.S. Open. His past three events on tour are 4th, 9th, and 12th. Positive in all strokes gained categories and 16th in Bogey Avoidance.
- Charl Schwartzel (7,300) is playing well at the St. Jude Classic (this is written Friday night), and the former major winner has made eight of ten cuts here with five Top 25s. Was 3rd at the Masters this year.
- Steve Stricker (7,200) is the feel-good story. Stricker is from Wisconsin, and though he didn't get an exemption, he won his Sectional Qualifier to get here. He has made the cut in his past nine U.S. Opens and was 30th at Whistling Straits in 2015. I'm concerned with ownership on him, and may fade if he's around 20% owned.
Cash: Kuchar, Stricker
GPP: Pieters, Schwartzel, Stricker
There are a lot of other great plays in this range. Kevin Kisner is coming off a win and 6th place finish. Bernd Wiesberger hasn't missed a cut this year and played well at The Masters and The Players. Alex Noren was 10th at The Players and won the BMW Championship on the Euro Tour. Brendan Steele hasn't missed a cut in 2017 with a 27th at The Masters and 6th at The Players. Find a couple you like and build your lineups from there. In tournaments, getting this price range correct will be what gets someone a nice cash in tournaments.
Lee Westwood (6,800)
I always seem to find myself playing Lee Westwood in majors. It may be due to him making 10 straight cuts in majors. In his U.S. Open career, Westwood has made 14 of 17 cuts with five Top 10s. He has made eight of nine cuts worldwide this season with seven Top 30 finishes. He mainly plays the Euro Tour, so he doesn't have enough stats on the PGA Tour to analyze. The price is appropriate here and if continues his trend of Top 30s this season at the U.S. Open, he will easily hit value. (GPP, Cash Playable)
Pat Perez (6,600)
If you have read this article throughout the season, you have seen me write up Pat Perez a lot. He's having a great 2017 with three Top 10s and two missed cuts in 14 starts. He did finish 18th at The Masters and 22nd at The Players, so he has done well in similar type fields. He hasn't played a U.S. Open since 2008, and is 2 of 4 in making cuts there. Perez has some good stats that fit here: 20th in Bogey Avoidance, 26th in Total Strokes Gained, 37th in Scrambling, and 55th in Greens in Regulation. I like his form this year and is solid enough in the approach and around the green to be involved in this tournament. (Cash and GPP)
- Emiliano Grillo (6,900) has the talent to contend eventually, and could be a flyer here. Is positive in all strokes gained, with his best being 32nd Tee-to-Green and 35th in Approach. Has only missed one cut this year and was 12th at The Players.
- Hideto Tanihara (6,800) will be a high upside, low owned option. He finished 3rd at both the WGC Match Play event and the Euro BMW Championship. Did miss the cut at The Masters, so limit him to tournaments only as a deep flyer.
- Marc Leishman (6,700) was 18th at the U.S. Open last year. He won the Arnold Palmer this year, and has only missed two cuts in 13 starts. Leishman is 12th in Total Strokes Gained, 22nd in SG: Tee-to-Green, 26th in Bogey Avoidance, and 51st in both SG: Approach and GIR.
- Graeme McDowell (6,600) won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010. He's 9 for 11 in making cuts, with his last seven being all Top 30 finishes. McDowell has only missed one cut on tour this year; a viable cash game punt.
Cash: Leishman, McDowell
GPP: Grillo, Tanihara, Leishman
In cash games, I think there is enough value here to include one or two of these players in your lineups. In tournaments, I think it may be a good idea to avoid this price tier, as I think there will be some popularity, especially from those trying to fit in two 10k+ golfers. DJ and Spieth leaves you with about 6,700/golfer. DJ and Sergio leaves you with 7k/golfer. The Stars and Scrubs approach will be popular, especially for the casual player. I'm not saying it's a bad strategy; it certainly can work with the talent in this range. Just a tournament thought for you to consider.
Lots of good talent in all the price tiers. Whether it's stats, form, or past experience in Opens, determine what is most important to you and go with that in your selections. I'll update on Wednesday with who's being talked about the most in fantasy circles. If playing tournaments, this is a really good time to leave salary on the table, to differentiate your lineups from everyone else. I will get the Site Salary Comparison file up Monday or Tuesday, depending when the sites get their late additions added to the player pool. I will do an update then, along with a weather update and final thoughts update on Wednesday. Good luck with your lineups and feel free to chat with me on Twitter (@skeeterrobinson) if you have any questions or if you just want to discuss the U.S. Open.