DraftKings PGA Preview: U.S. Open
DraftKings has eight golfers priced at $9,500 or above this week. Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson lead the way at $11,600 and $11,300, respectively. Tiger Woods ($10,700), Rory McIlroy ($10,500), Jordan Spieth ($10,300), and Patrick Cantlay ($10,000) round out the five-figure salary club. DraftKings provides you with $50,000 to select six golfers for an average roster spot of $8,333.
The top 60 players in the world are teeing it up this week. Because of the overwhelming talent in this field, DraftKings can’t price everyone high so you’ll be able to get high ranked golfers at a low price. If you don’t like your lineup, then you need to rework it. You should feel good about each lineup you build this week. That doesn’t guarantee success but there are so many good golfers, there is no need to dive too deep and play guys you don’t know or like. You can easily build a nice balanced build, but you can also get one of the studs and still round out the next five roster spots with good players.
All of the tips and information that I mention in this article are plays that I will be considering for my own lineups. However, that doesn’t mean that I will end up with all of the guys that I mention. Additional news, research, and roster construction may lead me to different plays. Remember to check the news and social media reports leading up to the first golfer teeing off. Though golf is more difficult to get injury news, you might be able to pick up a nugget or two that helps with roster construction – especially when dealing with possible withdrawals.
Work at having a solid process week in and week out as opposed to getting bogged down by recency bias or the ups-and-downs of the weekly golf grind. Have a solid process and use all the information available to make the best decision possible for your lineup. Good luck and, most importantly, have fun! Whether you win or lose, golf is one of the most entertaining fantasy sports to follow because you get four days of action.
This year’s U.S. Open will be played at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links near Monterey, California. It is America’s top public golf course.
Pebble Beach played host to the AT&T Pro-Am back in February, but the course will play much different for the U.S. Open. It will go from a Par 70 to a Par 71, while the USGA has added about 200 yards to the course (mainly on holes 2 and 9). Officially, the course will be a Par 71 that measures 7,075 yards.
The greens are Poa and they are the smallest greens on tour measuring about 3,600 square feet. They also tend to be fast and firm.
The fairways are some of the narrowest on tour (averaging about 26 yards) and the rough is extremely penal measuring more than four inches in some places.
Previous winners of the U.S. Open (at various courses) that are in the field this week include Brooks Koepka (2018 & 2017), Dustin Johnson (2016), Jordan Spieth (2015), Martin Kaymer (2014), Justin Rose (2013), Webb Simpson 2012), Rory McIlroy (2011), Graeme McDowell (2010), Lucas Glover (2009), Tiger Woods (2008, 2002, 2000), Jim Furyk (2003), and Ernie Els (1997 & 1994).
There are 156 golfers scheduled to tee it up this week. However, the cut is different than most weeks. Instead of the normal 70 players, the U.S. Open drops that number to 60. The top 60 (and ties) make up the weekend field. Also, there is no secondary cut (MDF). If a golfer makes the initial cut, then they play the entire weekend. It will be tougher to have 6/6 lineups this week as only 60 golfers (and ties) will make it to the weekend.
There are four Par 3 holes on the course measuring 195, 109, 202, and 208 yards.
There are three Par 5 holes on the course measuring 523, 580, and 543 yards.
The U.S. Open at Pebble Beach will play much different than the AT&T Pro-Am that was played at Pebble Beach back in February, but it is interesting to see some of the players that graced the leader board. Phil Mickelson won at 19-under par, beating Paul Casey by three strokes. Jason Day, Si Woo Kim, and Lucas Glover were notable top ten finishers.
Lucas Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, has missed five straight cuts at the U.S. Open. Rory McIlroy has missed three straight U.S. Open cuts. Other notable golfers that have missed two straight U.S. Open cuts include Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace, and Graeme McDowell.
When the U.S. Open was previously played here in 2010, eight of the holes ranked inside the top 50 holes on the PGA Tour in terms of difficulty.
Pebble Beach played host to one of the most memorable majors of all-time when Tiger Woods lapped the field in the 2000 U.S. Open. He won by 15 strokes and his 12-under par was the only under-par score of the week.
Graeme McDowell won the 2010 U.S. Open when he survived a loaded leader board (Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, DJ, Davis Love III, and Matt Kuchar). McDowell shot even par for the week.
Only 50% of greens are hit in regulation at Pebble Beach. During the 2010 U.S. Open, Henrik Stenson led the field in fairways hit but still missed nearly 50% of his greens. The winner (McDowell) only hit 60% of his greens that week. In total, only 12 golfers hit at least 50% of their greens. In the 2000 U.S. Open, only three golfers hit 50% of their greens.
Phil Mickelson’s six runner-up finishes (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013) are the most in U.S. Open history.
Rory McIlroy (2011) and Brooks Koepka (2017) share the U.S. Open record for most strokes under par (16-under) in a tournament.
Tommy Fleetwood (2018), Justin Thomas (2017), Vijay Singh (2003), Tom Weiskopf (1980), Jack Nicklaus (1980), and Johnny Miller (1973) have each fired a 63 during a U.S. Open round.
DK CONTESTS TO CONSIDER THIS WEEK
FREE – In the free Dunkin’ Donuts contest, 6,000 people will win at least a $5 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card. The winner of the free contest will win $500 and free coffee for a year.
$0.25 – One of the lowest stakes GPPs that DK offers. This is a great contest to have fun playing around with different lineups. You can enter up to 20 lineups so you can max enter for less than the cost of a meal. First prize is $1,000.
$0.50 – Can’t decide who to play because so many golfers look good this week? Then this might be your option. This is your chance to play like many of the pros do and mass multi enter (MME) 150 lineups. If you go that route, it’ll cost you $75 to enter but first prize is $5,000 and you can have a bigger player pool.
$3.00 (20-Max) – The winner gets $30,000. The maximum entries are capped at 20 so you really aren’t at a huge disadvantage even if you only enter one or two lineups. You can have a solid player pool of 15-25 players and feel good about your lineups. Overall, it will pay out nearly 25% of the nearly 112,000 entries.
$6.00 (Single Entry) – First place is $5,000 but you don’t have to go against the pros using optimizers and computer programs. Figure out your best lineup and enter it against everyone else’s best lineup. You are all on the same playing field.
COURSE FIT & KEY STATISTICS
This is a major and the cream typically rises to the top. Chances are, the golfers at the top of the leaderboard will be good overall golfers that are good at many different parts of the game. My customized overall stat model measures all stats from both a short-and-long-form standpoint. The best golfers, in terms of stats, for my customized model this week (in ranked order) are Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey, Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, and Justin Rose.
These greens are incredibly difficult to hit. Even the best players this week are going to miss the greens so this might become more of a chipping and putting contest. The best golfers when combining short game, around-the-green game, overall scrambling, playing out of the sand, and putting include (in rank order): Brandt Snedeker, Aaron Baddeley, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Luke Donald, Rory Sabbatini, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Matt Wallace, and Lucas Glover.
This course is not long but it will require precision and accuracy to avoid the penal rough. My custom driving model takes into account both short- and long-term form and places an emphasis on accuracy and fairways gained. The top 10 in my custom model (in ranked order) include Paul Casey, Erik Van Rooyen, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood, Jhonattan Vegas, Matt Kuchar, Abraham Ancer, and Francesco Molinari.
This is a tough course and the USGA has made it tougher (per the normal M.O. for a U.S. Open). Scoring will come at a premium this week. Sure, we always want golfers that can score but at U.S. Opens, it is also paramount to save strokes. The following players have demonstrated a consistent ability this year to avoid the big numbers: Webb Simpson, Patrick Cantlay, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Billy Horschel, Henrik Stenson, Lucas Glover, and Rory McIlroy.
Tiger Woods ($10,700)
He might have missed the cut at the PGA Championship, but he was sick. We’ve all been there so that is excusable. He is allowed to be human. That MC was sandwiched between a strong T9 at the Memorial and winning the Masters. In total, in his seven events this calendar year, he has five top-20 finishes. In the last 24 rounds, he is second in fantasy scoring and fifth in total strokes gained.
Rory McIlroy ($10,500)
Wow, what an amazing performance he displayed this past Sunday leaving Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson in the dust. He barely missed a bunker chip-in that would have given him a 59. Nobody has scored more fantasy points in the last 24 rounds than he has. Only Patrick Cantlay has gained more total strokes in the last 24 rounds. Since the start of the 2019 calendar year, McIlroy has nine top-10 finishes in his 11 events, including two wins.
Jordan Spieth ($10,300)
He might not be back all the way, but he has shown some really good signs lately. He still hasn’t put together four good rounds in a tournament but he does have three straight top-10 finishes. If he could figure out how to play Sunday of tournaments, he might get himself a win. In the last 12 rounds, he is fifth in total strokes gained and eighth in fantasy scoring. His third-place finish at the PGA Championship is a strong indication that he might be ready to break through on a big stage. Overall, he has made the cut in seven straight PGA Tour events.
Patrick Cantlay ($10,000)
He is coming off a dominating performance with a 64 on the Sunday of the Memorial. The win was completely surprising as he had been trending up by finishing third in the two previous events. He has finished third at the PGA Championship and ninth at the Masters this year so he isn’t afraid of the big stage. In the last 24 rounds, nobody has gained more total strokes than Cantlay. He is also third in fantasy scoring during that time frame. He has played 13 events this season and finished in the top 20 in all 11 events that he has made the cut. Nine of those events, he finished in the top 10.
TOURNAMENT & COURSE HISTORY
Brooks Koepka ($11,600)
When it comes to tournament history, Koepka has astounded us the last two years as a back-to-back winner. It’s not even like he came out of nowhere for those wins as he had three straight top-20 finishes, including a T4 in 2014, prior to his wins. He is the clear number one player when it comes to total strokes gained at U.S. Open events during the last five years.
Dustin Johnson ($11,300)
He had a heartbreaking Sunday back in 2010 when he went from being up three shots to being down three shots in a span of just four holes. He has won at the AT&T Pro-Am in both 2009 and 2010. In total, he has seven top-five finishes at the AT&T Pro-Am in his last 11 starts. As for U.S. Opens, he has four top-five finishes in the last five years, including winning the 2016 event.
Tiger Woods ($10,700)
Woods was victorious here in 2000 when it served as the U.S. Open host. He was the only golfer to finish in black numbers for that tournament. Then in 2010, he contended once again, finishing T4. He also has made the cut in all seven of his starts at the AT&T Pro-Am, including winning the event in 2000.
Phil Mickelson ($8,200)
Phil Mickelson’s six runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open is the most in PGA history. He also has been a big fan of Pebble Beach. Even though it will play differently as a U.S. Open, it is worth noting that he has won here four different times, including this year’s AT&T Pro-Am.
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Patrick Cantlay ($10,000)
It is hard to go wrong with any of the golfers that are priced higher than Cantlay, but he is probably my favorite this week. I will have a good deal of DJ, Rory, and Brooks in my MME builds but Cantlay will most likely make my main lineup. I can easily see him winning and he is cheaper. There is nothing he does poorly. He is a great ball-striker, doesn’t make mistakes, drives it accurately, and has a solid short game. His game and mentality are well-suited for this course and for a U.S. Open. He also comes in with amazing recent form (see above). The only hesitancy would be that even though he has made the cut in all three starts at Pebble Beach, he has never had a high finish and that his only U.S. Open start (last year) resulted in a T45. He is a different golfer right now. In fact, the former world’s number one amateur is now ranked inside the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 10.
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Hideki Matsuyama ($8,800)
He is my fourth overall golfer this week and first under $10k. His putting woes should be neutralized to a degree this week. Nobody in this field has more consecutive PGA cuts than his 22. He has not played his best golf this season but is definitely rounding into form. In the last 12 rounds, he is seventh in fantasy scoring. He is coming off a T6 at The Memorial and a T16 at the PGA Championship. He has played well at the last two U.S. Opens finishing T16 last year and runner-up to Koepka in 2017.
Adam Scott ($8,600)
He is trending in the right direction and reminds me of Patrick Cantlay before he won the Memorial. In the last 24 rounds, he is fourth in total strokes gained and sixth in fantasy scoring. His last four results were: T12 at The PLAYERS, T18 at The Masters, T8 at the PGA Championship, and runner-up to white-hot Patrick Cantlay at the Memorial. Overall, he is fourth in my customized stat model, measuring the major statistical categories. He has the game suited for this course and the U.S. Open, but he has struggled missing the cut in each of the last two U.S. Opens. He did have three straight top-20 finishes (including a T4 and T9) prior to that. He has only played Pebble Beach a handful of times but has never cracked the top 50.
Matt Kuchar ($8,500)
An argument can be made that he is coming in with the best form of any golfer. He certainly is having a career year with a couple of wins and a couple of runner-up performances. Ignoring the weird missed cut at the Memorial (where he had unbelievable course history), he has placed in the top 12 in his last six events, including two runner-ups. He finished T4 last week at the Canadian Open after holding a share of the lead going into Sunday. He has had an unspectacular history at the AT&T Pro-Am but he did finish T6 at the 2010 U.S. Open held at Pebble Beach. He missed the cut at last year’s U.S. Open but has three top-20 finishes, otherwise, in his last five tries. When considering course history, tournament history, form, and key statistics, he rates out as the fifth best golfer this week in my customized rankings.
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Webb Simpson ($7,700)
He is my favorite golfer not named Tiger Woods and this week, everything lines up for him to play well. I am afraid that he will be highly owned after his runner-up finish at the Canadian Open, where he was bogey-free through 54 holes. His game is suited for this course and for U.S. Open setups. I am not sure he has the firepower to win but then again, he did win the 2012 U.S. Open and he is the best in the field at avoiding bogeys. If the scores stay low then he could hang around and have a chance on Sunday. He is not a long hitter but is accurate off the tee, which is perfect for this course. I will most likely eat the Webb Simpson chalk this week and lock him in on most of my high dollar lineups. There are no such things as free squares in golf, especially at U.S. Opens with only 60 golfers making the cut, but I will roll the dice with him and treat him as such this week. He is my sixth-ranked golfer overall this week and far and away the highest ranked golfer in the 7k price range.
Rory Sabbatini ($7,700)
He is a streaky player and he has been playing better than normal lately. When will it end? I don’t know but I am hoping that he has one more decent performance in him. In the last 24 rounds, he is ninth in total strokes gained. At this price, he is one of the best values in the field when it comes to recent form. He has made 11 straight PGA cuts (only Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood, Dustin Johnson, and Graeme McDowell have more). He has one of the best short games on the PGA Tour, which should be helpful this week with greens that will be hard to hit in regulation. Other than the fact that he is a streaky golfer and it could all come crashing down on any given week, it is a bit concerning that he hasn’t played in a U.S. Open in the last five years, nor has he performed well at the AT&T Pro-Am recently. He missed the cut in 2010 when it was held here. If it looks like ownership starts to gravitate towards him, then I’ll probably have to fade him. Otherwise, he might make for a decent GPP play in some of my 20-max and MME contests.
Brandt Snedeker ($7,500)
He has a good history at this course and a good U.S. Open history, as well. He is a two-time winner of the AT&T Pro-Am (2015 and 2013). As for the U.S. Open, he has made the cut in four of his last five events, including three top-10 finishes. These two strong histories intersected in 2010 when he finished T8 the last time the U.S. Open was held at Pebble Beach. He is also coming in on the heels of three straight top-20 finishes, including a T4 at the Canadian Open last week. In the last 24 rounds played, he is 14th in the field in total strokes gained. He is also the best short game player in my model, which should be very important since the greens are so small and most shots will miss the green this week.
Shane Lowry ($7,500)
I am probably going to ride the recency bias and the amazing run that Lowry has been on. He is not normally someone that I play but it is hard to argue with three straight top-10 finishes. In that stretch, he is second in total strokes gained and fourth in fantasy scoring. His T2 (with Webb Simpson) at the Canadian Open last week was good to win most tournaments except for the out-of-this-world performance by Rory McIlroy on Sunday. He finished T8 at the PGA Championship and T3 at the RBC Heritage prior to last week at the Canadian Open. He missed the cut last year at the U.S. Open but finished T2 in 2016 and T9 in 2015.
Martin Kaymer ($7,400)
I don’t know if I have ever played Kaymer in my DFS career, but I might consider it this week. If it appears that he will be low owned, then I might take a gamble on him as there are a few intriguing things about him. For those of you who don’t know much about him, he was once the number one ranked player in the world. He was also the 2014 U.S. Open champion. Recently, he has shown some solid form finishing T8 at the British Masters a month ago and then third at the Memorial behind Patrick Cantlay and Adam Scott. Back in 2010, he finished T8 when Pebble Beach hosted the U.S. Open.
Graeme McDowell ($7,300)
Only Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood, and Dustin Johnson have made more consecutive PGA cuts than McDowell’s 13. He is not going to pop in many stat models, but he has been a consistent performer this season. In addition to his 13 straight cuts, he has three top-10 finishes in his last six events. He also finished T29 at the PGA Championship. His form combined with the fact that he won the 2010 U.S. Open the last time it was played here at Pebble Beach makes him a good value play at this price. He finished T19 at Pebble Beach this year. Overall, he has gained the 19th most total strokes in this week’s field.
Jim Furyk ($7,200)
He has made the cut in each of his last five U.S. Opens, including a runner-up finish in 2016. He has the solid, unspectacular, bogey-free type golf game that is required at the U.S. Open. He has also seemingly found the fountain of youth this season with his game now that his Ryder Cup Captain’s duties are past. He has made nine of 11 cuts in the 2019 calendar year, including a T14 at the AT&T Pro-Am back in February. Even though he was runner-up to Rory McIlroy at The PLAYERS back in March, I don’t expect him to have that kind of ceiling this week. I do expect him to make the cut and compete for a top-20 finish, which makes him a good value play at this price point. He is 16th in my customized stat model and only Webb Simpson and Patrick Cantlay do a better job at avoiding bogeys. He finished T16 back in 2010 when the U.S. Open was last held at Pebble Beach.
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Jason Dufner ($6,900)
His T7 at the Memorial gave him his second top-10 finish in his last four events. He immediately followed up the Memorial by qualifying the next day for the U.S. Open. Making the cut in four of his last five events isn’t spectacular but it is evidence of form that is trending in the right way. Plus, the 36-hole qualifier is impressive and further demonstrates his form. His only missed cut in the last five events is the PGA Championship, which was a tough event for everyone. He has made three of his last five U.S. Open cuts. Each of the made cuts resulted in a top-25 finish, including a T8 in 2016.
Erik Van Rooyen ($6,900)
In the last 24 rounds, he is 11th in fantasy scoring. He has struggled a little bit around the greens, which gives me some pause this week as that will be an important part of success. However, he is a good ball-striker and has a strong approach game. I am not sure how much I will play of him but of the lower-priced golfers, he is one that I will be considering. He has five top-15 finishes in his last nine events worldwide. He was on the leader board for much of last week’s RBC-Canadian Open until a poor Sunday did him in, eventually finishing T20. He showed a tremendous amount of talent and toughness finishing T8 at the challenging, U.S. Open-like PGA Championship last month.
Jamy Bechler is a regular contributor to FantasyPros for NBA, NFL, and PGA. You can follow him on his DFS twitter @WinningDFS101. When he is not playing DFS, Jamy is an author, host of the “Success is a Choice” podcast, and is a leadership trainer, working with businesses and teams across the country (including the NBA). Even though he offers his advice on players and contests, after additional information and consideration, he may end up using different players and strategies than what he recommends.