The time has finally come for the third major of the season. The 2019 U.S. Open, which will be held at Pebble Beach Golf Links (par 71, 7,075 yards) for the 6th time. Brooks Koepka is the two time defending U.S. Open champion and the last two winners of a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach are Graeme McDowell in 2010 (E) and Tiger Woods in 2000. (-12) This track also hosts The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am annually every season, but it’s hard to fully trust the results of those events this week.
First off, Pebble Beach is only used for two of the four rounds of The AT&T and naturally, as a U.S. Open, compared to a Pro-Am, this course is expected to be a much tougher challenge. It has been extended to a par 71 from a par 72, the rough has been thickened to the point that it is difficult to see your ball, and these POA greens should be rolling at an extremely fast rate. Speaking of the greens, these are some of the smallest putting surfaces these players will attack all season and you must be a strong iron player to have any shot of contending at Pebble Beach.
At The 2010 U.S. Open, Davis Love III, who finished T6, hit only 66% of the greens, but ranked 1st in GIR. McDowell, was T12 in this stat during his win that year. Furthermore, in Woods’ dominating 15 stroke win 2000, he hit the most greens of any player that week, at 51. (71%) The next highest was David Toms, with only 44. (61%) So, not only do you need to be an elite iron player, to give yourself the best chance of sticking as many greens as possible, but you also need to be an above average scrambler, to get yourself up and down, when you do inevitably miss some of these tiny greens. The fairways at Pebble Beach are also tough to hit. They are very thin and as I just stated above, the rough is going to be very penalizing, which should result in most players clubbing down off the tee at this shorter course.
As for what holes to focus on, I think the par fours become the priority. In making this a U.S. Open type track, hole two was converted from an easy par five to a 502 yard long par four, and Woods led his field in par four scoring in 2000, and McDowell ranked T7 in 2010. As I always like to do when we are expecting a very challenging week of golf, I think bogey avoidance must be prioritized, along with major pedigree and experience. A big name will be the last man standing come Sunday and finally, I think we must note that we are dealing with a much smaller cut than usual at The U.S. Open. There is 156 players teeing it up at Pebble Beach, including the top 60 ranked golfers in the world, but only the top 60 and ties will be proceeding to the weekend. @Hunta512.
Brooks Koepka: (11,600)
As of Tuesday, the general feeling around the DFS world is that Dustin Johnson is going to be a much more popular option than Koepka at The U.S. Open. I would have sided with him either way, but with the chance that Koepka comes with a ownership around 10%, or possibly lower, I want to make the back to back U.S Open champion and this year’s PGA Championship winner one of my core plays. We can try to do be different and ignore him as the highest priced player in the field, but there really is no point anymore. Koepka plays the game of golf to win majors and has so much win equity right now (8.5/1 via Bovada, tied with DJ for best odds to win), that it would be foolish to fade him, especially if he is going to be under-owned.
Not only does he already have one major under his belt this season, but Koepka was also right in the mix for another at The Masters (T2), which was his best finish at Augusta to date. He is 20/22 overall in majors for his career, with a top ten coming in half those made cuts and an incredible four wins in his past eight. To no surprise, his stats have been outstanding in his last four starts (11.13 SGT per event) and Koepka also has a T8 in his lone start at Pebble Beach. (2016 AT&T Pro-Am) Anything less than a top five from him would be a disappointment and I think we have to take advantage of a lower owned Koepka, with most siding with DJ.
Tiger Woods: (10,700)
Woods let me down at The PGA Championship (MC), but I will be going right back to him this week at Pebble Beach. His 15 stroke win at this course in 2000 was one of the greatest golf performances of all time and Woods also generated a T4 here at The 2010 U.S. Open. He is six for seven in AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Ams, including two top tens and is fresh off a great showing at The Memorial two weeks ago. (T9)
Furthermore, The GOAT has been playing well on par fours (7th in SG on P4s in L24 rounds), has been sticking greens at a very high rate (2nd in GIR in L24 rounds) and has been an impressive scrambler. (14th in SG ARG in L24 rounds) He has missed the weekend in his last two U.S. Opens, but is 16/20 for his career at the major (eight top tens) and is obviously playing at a much higher level than a year ago, with two wins since. (The 2018 Tour Championship and The 2019 Masters) He always enjoys playing in tougher conditions and Tiger should produce at least a top 15 at one of his favorite courses.
Hideki Matsuyama: (8,800)
As always, Matsuyama is one of the safest options of the week. He is currently on a 21 made cut streak and has improved in each of his last three finishes. (T23 at The Byron Nelson, T16 at The PGA Championship and then a T6 at The Memorial)
He has been one of the best ball strikers on Tour this season (3rd in SGT2G) and also knows how to get himself out of trouble when he does miss the green (10th in SG ARG), which we all know will happen at Pebble Beach. He has never competed here before, but Matsuyama knows how to handle the major stage (23/27 and 5/6 in U.S. Opens) and should do just fine at this course where tee to green matters most.
Xander Schauffele: (8,700)
Coming off a MC at The Charles Scwhab, Schauffele’s game looked great at The Memorial two weeks ago (T14 and T4 in GIR) and he should be ready to contend in another major. This is only his 5th season on the Tour, but the 25 year old already has an extremely impressive major record on his resume. In nine major starts, he has only missed one cut, has six top 20s, and four top tens. He finished T2 at this year’s Masters and T16 at The PGA Championship at Bethpage Black last month.
Schauffele’s stats can be up and down, but if we look at just majors alone, he has gained 9.2 total strokes in his last five. Similar to Koepka, Schauffele at a very young age already knows how to bring his game to another level in the biggest moments, and I think this is a very reasonable price considering his upside. (25/1 via Bovada, best odds to win of all players sub $8,000)
Adam Scott: (8,600)
Scott missed the cut here in 2010 and is 1/3 in AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Ams, but it is extremely hard to overlook how well he has been playing. He has made five of his last six cuts, with three top tens during this stretch, including a T2 at The Memorial in his last start and a T8 at The PGA Championship. In that T2 at Muirfield Village, Scott was masterful with his irons, leading the field with a whopping 11.8 strokes gained on approach.
The next highest of the week was Kevin Streelman, with 9.3. Overall, in his last three events, Scott’s form has been simply magnificent (2nd in SGT2G, 8th in SG APP, 7th in GIR, 6th in BS, 1st in SG ARG, 10th in BOB%, 6th in bogeys avoided, and 1st in SG on P4s in L12 rounds) and his only positive putting split comes on POA type greens. His course record at Pebble Beach may be tough to swallow, but Scott has posted four straight finishes of T18 or better at majors and is severely underpriced for his current form. (33/1 via Bovada)
Webb Simpson: (7,700)
Rightfully so, all the talk was about Rory McIlroy’s 61 on Sunday, that helped him run away with The RBC Canadian Open, but Simpson also had a stellar week in his own right. He finished T2 behind McIlroy, at 15 strokes under par, and gained 14.1 strokes at Hamilton Golf and Country Club. This was his 5th made cut in a row and also his 8th top 20 of the year, in only 12 starts.
He has gained over 5.0 total strokes in six of his last seven events and if we compare all of these players 24 rounds, Simpson ranks 8th in SGT, 4th in SG on P4s, 12th in bogeys avoided, and 8th in SGP. Additionally, he is a very strong player around the greens (12th in SG ARG this season) and putts it best on POA grass. He just posted a T29 at The PGA Championship and Simpson has now made nine consecutive cuts at majors, with six top 20s in his last seven. At 50/1 to win (via Bovada, best odds of all golfers sub $8,000) and only $7,700, Simpson is an easy choice for all formats this week.
Henrik Stenson: (7,600)
Stenson has been one of the best ball strikers in the world (1st in SG APP, 12th in SGT2G, 9th in GIR, and 8th in BS in L24 rounds) and it finally resulted in a high finish last week at The Canadian Open. (T8) This was his 7th consecutive made cut and the Swede is now nine for his last ten.
On top of his top notch tee to green game, Stenson has been avoiding the large numbers (7th in bogeys avoided in L24 rounds) and is always a better putter on POA grass. He had a solid week at Pebble Beach in The 2010 U.S. Open (T29) and has only missed one cut in his last eight majors. Come Friday afternoon, Stenson should find himself inside the cut line and has top 25 upside over the weekend.
Shane Lowry: (7,500)
Lowry’s game has come back to life the last few weeks. He was in a really ugly stretch, where he only made one cut in five events, but has now recorded three top tens in a row, with a T3 at The Heritage, a T8 at The PGA Championship and a T2 at The RBC Canadian Open last weekend.
The Irish man has gained a robust 11.7 strokes in these three high finishes and ranks 9th in SGT2G, 16th in GIR, 2nd in SGT, 4th in SG ARG, 13th in BOB%, 4th in bogeys avoided, 4th in SGP, and 10th in SG on P4s during this time. Now, he heads to Pebble Beach, where he has a spotless record in The Pro-Am (4/4) and will be looking for his third top ten at a U.S. Open. (3/6 overall)
Brandt Snedeker: (7,500)
It’s rare for a U.S. Open to be at a short course like Pebble Beach and this opens the door for many players that lack distance of the tee, like Snedeker. But, besides being a short hitter, there isn’t many things that his game lacks right now. He has made 20 of his last 22 cuts and has tallied three top 20s in a row, with a T4 The RBC Canadian Open being his most recent. (posted a 60 in round two) Over his last 12 rounds, Snedeker ranks 10th in SGT, 7th in fairways gained, 23rd in GIR, 6th in SG ARG, 12th in BOB%, 12th in bogeys avoided, 7th in SGP, and 5th in SG on P4s.
He loves playing at Pebble Beach each year in the Pro-Am (8/11, three top tens) and The U.S. Open is Snedeker’s favorite major. (9/12) He has five U.S. Open top tens to his name, including a T8 at this course in 2010, when he ranked T8 in fairways found. Snedeker has had this week marked on his calendar for a long time and not only do I think he makes the cut, but I think the veteran possesses top 20 upside.
Jim Furyk: (7,200)
I like Furyk and Snedeker for nearly all the same reasons. The shorter course keeps the old man in play and Furyk also has a strong love for Pebble Beach. In 18 starts at The AT&T Pro-Am, he has 16 made cuts and five top tens on his resume. Plus, Furyk made the cut at both The 2000 and 2010 U.S. Opens at this course, with a T16 coming in 2010. As for his current form, Furyk has made it to the weekend in three straight tournaments and is 10/14 this season, with seven top 25s.
Additionally, when we compare all of these players last 24 rounds, no player has stuck more greens than Furyk and he also ranks 9th in SG APP, 15th in bogeys avoided, and 19th in SG on P4s. Lastly, he has been very consistent in U.S. Opens (21/24, seven top tens) and has not missed a cut at this major in six years. At this low of a cost, Furyk is a very wise choice for cash games.
Erik Van Rooyen: (6,900)
If he didn’t have a horrible time on the par threes last week at The Canadian Open (+5, tied for last in the field), Rooyen would have been in the hunt for his first ever PGA win. (T20) In this top 20, which was his 6th in his last ten starts worldwide, the South African ranked T2 in fairways found and T15 in greens hit.
He has made eight of those ten cuts this year and is 2/2 in PGA events, including an notable T8 at The PGA Championship. This was his second career start in a major, with a T17 last year’s The Open Championship being the other. Obviously, as a young Euro player, EVR comes with risk in his U.S. Open debut, but the kid clearly has the tools to compete and is one of my favorite cheap darts for this major.
Danny Willett: (6,800)
Willett seems to be rounding into form at the perfect time. After dropping five of six cuts, The 2016 Masters champ has made four in a row and the finishes have gotten better each week. (T41 at The PGA Championship, T27 at The Memorial, and T8 at The RBC Canadian Open) The top ten in Canada was Willett’s first of the season and he ranked 3rd in SGT2G and 2nd in SG ARG at Hamilton.
He gained 9.1 total strokes in this start, which is the most he has gained in a PGA event since his Masters win over two years ago. He could easily fail us and go back to the messy game we were seeing a few months ago, but if Willett can continue to thrive from tee to green, he has a legitimate shot of making the cut at Pebble.
*Please note that some of these rankings are from Fantasynational.com