We’re finally here, the US Open starts this week and it’s a big week for fantasy golf across the industry. This week DraftKings has its Millionaire Maker tournament going on so I’ll be focusing on that tournament specifically when discussing my usual potential low-owned tournament picks. The tournament this year is taking place at Erin Hills (Wisconsin), a fairly new, public access course that is located just outside Milwaukee. Erin Hills is a big test and can stretch to over 8,000 yards but will play shorter this week, mostly likely between 7,600 and 7,800 yards. It’s also a par 72 course with four par 5’s in it’s setup and will play that way all four days; it will be the first par 72 to be used in a US Open since Pebble Beach back in 1992.
The Course: I’ve laid out the basics of the course above but we’ll discuss it a little more in length here. Erin Hills is an open style venue, which looks very link-ish in appearance but will still require players to hit some tough approach shots to very well guarded greens. Overall the course features wider fairways than we usually see at a US Open but also has some very nasty, very penal fescue style rough if you drift too far off it. The biggest dangers on the course though may be the plentiful groupings of “erosion” bunkers, which are naturally styled to the shape of the land and look incredibly hard to play out of. If the weather stays OK than the winning score here may actually be lower than a normal US Open (maybe even -10), but a good week with the driver and a high GIR percentage is still going to be necessary here.
Recent Form and Stats: We don’t have course form to look back on this year but there are some interesting trends to note this week. Of the past seven winners of the US Open, six of them had recorded at least four top tens on the season before their win. Additionally, of the past 12 winners, five had a recorded a victory on the season already. To add to this, it should also be noted that Greens in Regulation has been a big factor at previous US Opens as well. Of the past seven winners, all of them ranked inside the top twenty for the week in GIR percentage.
Jason Day ($10,800): Day has actually lost strokes to the field on his approach shots over six of his last eight rounds, but has still managed to pull off 15th and 2nd place finishes in his last two starts. To make a long story short, Day is killing it on and around the greens right now, something he did with regularity last year, but is lacking with his iron play. He may seem too risky but the opposite argument (the one I like) is that if his approach game improves even a little this week he may run away with this. Either way Day has five top-tens in six US Opens and has proven he can peak for this event, I think he’s close and has my vote this week in DFS.
Brooks Koepka ($9,000): While the lack of top salaried players on my selections may seem strange, Brooks Koepka, to me, really does bring just as much DraftKings upside this week as the top three salaried players. Brooks has been all over the place in terms of results lately, but even with the inconsistency he’s still managed to produce over 70 DK points in four of his last five starts. Even though his tee to green game has been hit or miss at times, when he swings well he’s really produced and was T2 in Greens in Regulation for the week in his second to last start before the US Open; he’s a great target here.
Adam Scott ($8,800): Scott has been up and down ever since the Masters but his recent finish at the FedEx St. Jude suggests a man whose long game might be finally peaking. Scott was top five in SG: approaches and tee to green in Memphis and has actually been putting better than his career averages recently too. For DFS, he’s well under priced at just $8,800 and probably a better play from a pure value perspective than anyone in the 9k range.
Branden Grace ($8,600): Grace is a player you should not ignore at majors. The South African has four top fives over the past two seasons in majors, with two of those coming at this event. His recent form has been great too with three top-15 finishes over his last four starts. The Open style venue seems like it will fit Grace just fine as he’s had some good success at other similar styled layouts in the past, including Chambers Bay and Whistling Straights in 2015.
Others: Jordan Spieth
Thomas Pieters ($7,700): We haven’t seen much of Thomas Pieters recently but when he did play last over in Europe his form looked fine. Overall the Belgian has been on a light schedule this year but he has been good when he’s tee’d it up with three finishes of T11 or better in his last four starts. The larger fairways at Erin Hills should allow him more aggressiveness off the tee and a slightly easier than normal setup should also favour him, as all of three of his wins have seen him reach -17 or better for the week.
Alex Noren ($7,500): Noren is pure and simple the best value on the slate this week to me. In his last two US starts he ranked 6th and 1st in Greens in Regulation, and is also coming off a fantastic victory at Wenworth three weeks ago when he closed with a 62. The Swede may seem risky due to his lack of US Open experience but this course may actually play more to the liking of European players this week, given its uniqueness and links style tendencies. Noren is a legit contender here and shouldn’t be ignored.
Brendan Steele ($7,100): Steele is a player we shouldn’t forget about this week in DFS. He’s top 30 in SG: Approach, Tee to Green and Around the Green on tour thus far on the season and hasn’t missed a cut on the season either. He’s been performing better in majors recently as well, as he was T15 at this event last season and is also coming off a T6 at the PLAYERS. The stats are all there and he’s been playing like someone ready for a big finish on a major stage.
Marc Leishman ($6,700): Leishman is another value pick who I could easily see outperforming his salary and possibly even winning. The Aussie has top 25’s in seven of 13 starts this year, has a win at a tough par 72 in Bay Hill, and was 5th and 6th in GIR his second and third last starts before this week. Leishman has two-top fives already in majors and I wont be shocked if he’s in contention here.
Others: Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen
High-upside GPP Picks
Patrick Reed ($7,400): Reed isn’t a player many people have been talking up and his poor record at majors will likely lead people off him here. Still, it should be pointed out his best finish ever in a major came at Chambers Bay in 2015 (T15), at a course with at least some similarities to this year’s venue. Reed’s a good wind player who, like Jason Day, could show major improvement here if his approach game improves even just a little. He should be much lower owned than other targets in his range, like Matt Kuchar and Louis Oosthuizen, this week.
George Coetzee ($6,900): Coetzee has been lighting it up recently over on the European circuit. The South African has four finishes of T11 or better over his last five starts, including a T4 at the Nordea Masters two weeks ago. Coetzee has plenty of length off the tee and also had his best finish in a major at a similar styled venue in Whistling Straights in 2015. The Open styled nature of Erin Hills should suit him just fine and his recent form means he’s a great tournament target this week for the Milly Maker at what’s expected to be very low ownership.
Sean O’Hair ($6,800): O’Hair worked out nicely for us a few weeks ago and I don’t think he’s a poor target this week in DFS either; despite the stronger field. This will actually be the first US Open for O’Hair since 2010, when he finished a strong T12 at Pebble Beach, but he actually has quite a good record in this event, with three finishes of T26 or better in four appearances. His best finish last season was also on a US Open venue at Beth Page Black when he finished T2 at the Barclays. Two top fives in his last three starts means O’Hair shouldn’t be forgotten about this week.
Other: Chris Wood, Bernd Wiesberger
Players to Consider (in no order)
– Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Adam Scott, Branden Steele, Jordan Spieth
– Thomas Pieters, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Sean O’Hair, Chris Wood, Patrick Reed, George Coetzee, Bernd Wiesberger
Jason Day 12-1
Alex Noren 55-1 ew
Louis Oosthuizen 67-1
Marc Leishman 125-1/100-1 ew
George Coetzee 250-1 ew