It’s finally here! I welcome everyone to my DraftKings PGA Sleeper Picks for the 117th U.S. Open. Quickly I want to go over my picks from last week at The St. Jude Classic. It was a disappointing week with only one of my three featured picks in Danny Lee making the cut. (T47th) It wasn’t a good week for my picks, but as I said in my post it was a much better event to scale back on how much bankroll you should use, which ended up being very true. But let’s put this in the past and move on to this year’s second major, The U.S. Open, which is being held at Erin Hills, in Hartford, Wisconsin. This is a very long par 72 links style course that is around 7,800 yards long. This is the first time this public course has hosted a PGA event so we don’t have any course history to fall back on when picking our golfers. After doing my research about this course, I think being long off the tee is a must this week. Now that doesn’t mean I think every player you pick needs to hit it as long as Dustin Johnson, I just believe being longer with your tee shots will be crucial to set yourself up with a decent approach on these lengthy holes.
The fairways are very wide, but if you miss badly with your tee shot, you are in serious trouble if you find the fescue that surrounds the rough. Some players have even taken the time to show the golf world how deadly this fescue can be, specifically Kevin Na and Wesley Bryan. In Na’s video which can be viewed through this link, he shows us that this fescue is so long and thick that hitting out of this grass is almost impossible and there’s a chance that you might not even find your ball. I will be focusing on distance, but total driving is also worth a look, as it combines accuracy and distance. As expected on these longer holes, approaching the green will also being very important at Erin Hills. These greens vary in size, but mostly all of them are surrounded by deep bunkers (138 to be exact on the course) and some valley collection areas that could cause problems. So being accurate when approaching will be essential, especially with your longer irons. Another thing to note is that with basically no trees on the course, wind will become a factor and has been a topic that numerous players have brought up after their practice rounds. Like most U.S. Opens, Erin Hills is going to be a difficult test for these players and avoiding bogeys should definitely translate to success. Even though there is a different host every year, bogey avoidance has had a huge impact in U.S. Opens over the last ten seasons. All of previous ten winners have ranked inside the top ten in bogey avoidance when they won, with seven of them ranking in the top three for that week.
With zero course history here outside of a few players who competed here as amateurs, we needed to focus on current form, past U.S. Open history, and overall pedigree when choosing our golfers. Lastly, we are seeing a different cut line in effect this week than we usually do, with the top 60 and ties making it to the weekend. This doesn’t really change much as the goal remains the same in getting 6/6 through the cut. This is going to be an excellent tournament to watch and play DFS golf, with another Millionaire Maker contest on DraftKings. We all have our eyes on the top prize, but it also a very good week to play cash game as well, with the usual DraftKings major soft pricing. So good luck this week and if you want some more picks, make sure to read Geoff’s article via this link. As always, if any of my picks help your lineups or if you have any advice be sure to let me know on Twitter. @Hunta512.
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Billy Horschel: (6,700) After a rough stretch in April of missing three straight cuts, Horschel has played much better as of late. He has made the cut in three of his last four starts, including a T4 last week at The St. Jude, a T34 at The Dean & Deluca, and an impressive win at The AT&T Bryon Nelson. He has been excellent with his putter during this span, gaining 2.9 strokes on the greens over these last four events. Even though he has had his bad moments this year, he ranks well in most of the stats I believe we need this week.
So far in 2017 he ranks 69th in strokes gained tee to green, 73rd in strokes gained approaching the green, 9th in GIR percentage (70.59%), 39th in driving distance (297.4 yards), 66th in strokes gained putting, and 29th in bogey avoidance. His game is ideal for U.S. Open type venues and besides his missed cut at Winged Foot in 2006, when he was an amateur, Horschel has made the cut in his last four U.S. Opens appearances, not finishing worse than 32nd place. If he can somehow keep it up with his recent putting, Horschel has top 20 upside and is a great cheap GPP play at only $6,700.
Shane Lowry: (7,300) The Irishman is coming off back to back great showings, posting a T6 at The BMW PGA Championship and a T15 at The Memorial. In these two finishes, he was terrific approaching the green, ranking T2 at The BMW and T10 at The Memorial in greens hit. (70% GIR) He has made the cut four times in his last six events, but the two missed cuts came at two courses that really don’t fit his game at all, in Augusta National and TPC Sawgrass. Lowry is a player who always seems to grind it out and play well on difficult lengthier courses like Erin Hills. Over the last two years he has been right in the mix come Sunday in this event, finishing T2 last season at Oakmont and T9 at Chambers Bay in 2015.
He even already went on to tell the media this week how much he believes this event fits his game. “I like this type of golf. I like hard courses. I think it suits my game,” Lowry said. “I don’t know why, but any type of tough course is something I enjoy. I think that’s why I like the U.S. Open.” (via Usopen.com) This season he ranks 35th in strokes gained tee to green, 43rd in strokes gained approaching the green, 68th in driving distance (293.9 yards), 38th in GIR percentage (67.8%), 64th in strokes gained putting, and 21st in birdie or better percentage. Everything is lining up for Lowry to have a good week here and at only $7,300, he is a value that will hopefully go slightly under owned with some well-known names around him in this price range. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
Lee Westwood: (6,800) Westwood hasn’t played much this season on The Tour, but he is just too good and experienced of a player to priced this cheap. This season he has only teed it up six times in America, but has made the cut in five of these tournaments (T18 at The Masters), with his only cut coming at The Houston Open, which is an event he has struggled at for the past three seasons. Recently his game has looked solid overseas the past two weeks, finishing T14 at The BMW PGA Championship and T15 at The Nordea Masters. He doesn’t rank statistically yet on The Tour, but in these past two starts, he is averaging a 290.8 yard drive, a GIR percentage of 64%, and a putt per round average of 28.6.
Westwood for his whole career has been player who always steps up to the occasions in majors. He hasn’t missed a cut in a major in almost three years, making ten straight cuts since The 2014 Open at Royal Liverpool. He has played especially well in U.S. Opens, making 14/17 cuts, with five top ten finishes. His recent form isn’t perfect from a numbers stand point, but Westwood just based on pedigree alone is very underpriced. It’s early in the week, but I haven’t heard much buzz at all about him in The DFS world. Hopefully he comes with a very low ownership, because he is someone I love using in GPPs this week. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
Also Consider: Louis Oosthuiznen, Alex Noren (great price for the #8 ranked player in the world, but may end up being very popular), Charl Schwartzel, Bud Cauley, Steve Stricker, Martin Kaymer, Byeong-Hun An, Trey Mullinax (very risky but he looked good last week at The St. Jude and has the distance we need), and Peter Uihlein.