It is finally time for the golf season’s second major. This week, we head to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York, for the 2018 U.S. Open. This will be the fifth time that Shinnecock has hosted The U.S. Open, with the most recent being in 2004. (Retief Goosen, -4) Some of the older players in this field competed in that tournament, but the course has seen major changes and is expected to be a much more difficult test 14 years later. The fairways were widened, but this links style course is now expected to play at 7,455 yards, which is over 450 yards longer than it was in 2004. This course remains a par 70 and 7,450 yards is extremely long for a course that only has two par fives. To put this in perspective, the last par 70 these players saw on The Tour this season was 7,209 yards long at Colonial and the last par 70 that held a U.S. Open was Oakmont Country Club, two years ago, which played at 7,219 yards in length.
So, I’m not saying that an average driver of the golf ball can’t manage a decent outing here at Shinnecock, but when it comes down to it, a bomber should win this event and I will be siding with longer players off the tee for this week. The greens are larger than they were in 2004, but we need to still find golfers who are hitting it well with their irons right now and finding the putting surface consistently, making me target players who rank well in approach stats, but also ball striking, as it brings together total driving and GIR into one statistic. Next, with Shinnecock being a par 70, we must target strong par four players. No matter the track we will always use BOB% as a huge stat when choosing our players when it comes to DFS golf, but with The U.S. Open designed to be a tougher challenge, I think it is also smart to look at how these golfers have been avoiding bogeys as of late.
When it comes to majors, I always like to look at these players history in this specific event, even if the course changes every season. Finally, it is important to note that this is a field of 156 players, but only the top 60 and ties will be making the cut, versus the standard top 70 and ties. 6/6 lineups is always the goal, but this week it more so than usual and if you have lineups with no players missing the cut, you should most certainly be sitting in the money.@Hunta512.
Trey Mullinax: (6,800)
Simply put, Mullinax is a dominant player with his driver. It has always been his calling card throughout the start of his career and this season has been no different, with him leading The Tour in driving distance. (318.4 yards) He is coming off his second top ten of the year, with a T6 last weekend at The St. Jude Classic and he has now made the cut in two of his last three starts. In Memphis, he ranked 6th in distance, while gaining 2.8 strokes off the tee and T4 in par four scoring, finishing at -6 on those holes. Last season was his first appearance at a FedEx St. Jude Classic and after posting a T18, Mullinax then followed this up with the biggest performance of his young career, finishing T9th at Erin Hills, in his first ever U.S. Open.
Now, he heads to Shinnecock with confidence and will be looking to hopefully come close to repeating or top what he did last year in his first crack at a U.S. Open. Shinnecock and Erin Hills obviously have their differences, but one thing they have in common is that they are both very long tracks. Erin Hills was a par 72 that came in at a long 7,741 yards and Mullinax had no issues with the distance there last season, gaining 12.4 strokes total for the week. Furthermore, his driver has led him to success on most long tracks. In the last eight events he has played a course over 7,400 yards, Mullinax has made six cuts, including a T2 at The Valero Texas Open, just two months ago. Yes, with the long distance, there comes accuracy issues, but if he can manage to stay out of the really long stuff, Mullinax is more than capable with his irons to help himself compete at a venue like this. For GPPs, Mullinax is absolutely worth a look at this price, as he should come with a very low ownership in the Millionaire Maker. (0-1% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
Louis Oosthuizen: (7,800)
With a handful of names in this price range expected to be very popular this week, (Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Paul Casey, and Matt Kuchar) Oosthuizen seems like the perfect pivot play for GPPs. He missed back to back cuts last month, but then rebounded with a T5 at The Fort Worth Invitational and a T13 at The Memorial. He clearly changed something to help his irons get back on track, as his GIR rate when from a low 51.4% in those two MCs, to 70.1% in these last two top 15s. After those two starts, Oosthuizen ranks 8th in SGT2G, 16th in SG APP, 62nd in SG OTT, 24th in ball striking, 16th in par four scoring, 21st in BOB%, and 8th in bogeys avoided over his last eight rounds of golf. (via Fantasy National)
He is never the safest option, but you aren’t targeting Louis for safety, you are pursuing him for the upside he always presents when he tees it up in a major. He lives for these moments and it has shown in his track record, as he has a runner up finish in each of the four majors and has made the cut in 15 of his last 17, which includes four straight made at U.S. Opens. He isn’t a bomber, but he is long enough that I think he will be just fine if his irons remain in check. I am expecting a sub 10% ownership in GPPs (5-8% via Fantasy Labs), making Oosthuizen one of my favorite tournament options for The U.S. Open.
Kyle Stanley: (7,200)
Outside of the MC at The Players, Stanley has been on a nice run since the start March. He has made 5/6 cuts, with four top 25s, including a T2 playoff loss at The Memorial two weeks ago, which was his highest finish of the season. In that start, he gained 8.2 strokes tee to green, 7.5 strokes on approach, and led the field with 26 birdies. In these past six starts, even including The Players, Stanley ranks 35th in SGT2G, 11th in SG APP, 25th in SG OTT, 12th in ball striking, and 9th in par four scoring. (via Fantasy National) He has been hit or miss at U.S. Opens (2/4), but in his defense, Stanley hasn’t competed in this event the last four seasons.
His game has progressed the last few years and when needed, Stanley can be effective with his driver. On the five courses he has faced this season that have been 7,400 yards or more, Stanley has made every cut, with an average finish of 32nd place and has gained strokes off the tee in each event. Without a doubt Shinnecock is going to be a very difficult challenge, but I think Stanley and his well-rounded make it through the cut this weekend. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
Marc Leishman: (7,800) Six for his last seven and is the 11th ranked player in bogey avoidance over his last 24 rounds. (via Fantasy National) He has made the cut in his last eight majors, with three straight top 15s. Just like how I feel with Oosthuizen, Leishman is a name that could just get lost in the mix with so many other big names priced around him. He is currently at 60/1 to win. (via Bovada)
Adam Scott: (7,900) It’s been a disappointing year for him, but with his invite for this event on the line, Scott turned his game up, making four straight cuts. He has two top 20s mixed in there and is the 3rd ranked player in SGT2G, 6th in SG APP, 6th in SG OTT, 2nd in ball striking, and 35th in par four scoring in his last 12 rounds. (via Fantasy National)
Jimmy Walker: (7,300) After starting the season missing four of six cuts, Walker has made eight straight cuts and has finished in the top 20 in his last five. He is still decently long off the tee and his tee to green game has been awesome, ranking 6th in SGT2G, 4th in SG APP, and 11th in ball striking in last 12 rounds. (via Fantasy National)
Keegan Bradley: (7,600) Really is having an excellent season, making 14/17 cuts, with four top 25 finishes. The key to his success has been his tee to green game, ranking 9th in SGT2G this season. He is long enough for this course and I think he is a pretty solid bet to make the cut, that might go slightly under the radar, simply, because its Keegan Bradley.
Steve Stricker: (6,900) I know, I have preached distance throughout this post and that is exactly what old man Stricker doesn’t have, but I just think his overall balanced game and pedigree make him an interesting value at only $6,900. He has made 6/8 cuts on The PGA Tour this season and has two wins over on The Champions Tour. With his lack of distance, he handled Erin Hills pretty well last season, finishing T16th and he is 18/20 overall at U.S. Opens for his career.
Ryan Fox: (6,500) Very deep flier, but he has made five straight cuts overseas and has a 316.2 yard average drive during that span. This will be his first U.S. Open, but he is 2/3 in majors for his career.