Daily Fantasy Golf Preview: US Open

The Course

  • Pebble Beach Golf Links
  • Pebble Beach, California
  • Par 71
  • 7,075 yards
    • Typically a par 72 but the 2nd hole plays as a par 4 instead of a par 5, like it did the last time the U.S. Open was held here in 2010
    • Other tee boxes were moved around since the Pro-Am to lengthen the course
    • Smallest greens on tour (they will be fast but not as fast as they were in 2010)
    • Poa annua greens & ryegrass fairways
    • The fairways were made narrower and will be firm
    • The rough is much longer in most areas
    • Certain spots the rough has been trimmed down, making it easier for an errant shot to find a hazard
    • A lot of water/hazards
    • Wind/weather can make play quite difficult: right now we are looking at cooler temps with a high of 59-65 degrees and winds around 7-10 mph with gust at 13-19 mph (higher on the weekend) but it is still too early in the week to know for sure

Key Stats

  • Par 4 scoring
  • Birdie or better %
  • SG: tee-to-green
    • SG: off-the-tee
  • Bogey avoidance
  • Driving accuracy
    • Driving distance
  • Scrambling

The Field

The field is set at 156 golfers with 12 previous U.S. Open champions including Brooks Koepka, who is looking to make it three straight, and both Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell who won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2000 and 2010 respectively. There are plenty of sectional qualifiers who have little to no experience on Tour so your player pool can realistically be cut down to about 80-100 golfers before you even start your research.

Strategy

The U.S. Open is played on a different course each year so previous results might not be the most trustworthy. Also, when they play the Pebble Beach Pro-Am they use three different courses so out of the four days you only play on Pebble Beach twice (and they make the layout easier for the amateurs) so the results from that tournament won’t be all that reliable either. Taking a broad approach and looking at recent form, course history, trending statistics, U.S. Open history, and overall results in Majors can be helpful in finding value.

The cut-line this week will be top 60 and ties instead of top 70 so there will be even fewer golfers making the cut than usual. With the difficulty of the course and the drop off in talent, I would be very hesitant when picking anyone in the $6,000 range because there probably won’t be many of them that finish high or even make the cut.

U.S. Open 2019 Cheat Sheet

Big Dogs ($8,700 and up on DK)

Solid (Cash)

    • Dustin Johnson ($11,300 DK – $12,300 FD) – it was hard to go against Brooks here but the deciding factor that swayed me to DJ is just how well rounded his resume is: four top 5’s in his last five U.S. Opens, three top 5’s in his last five Pebble Beach Pro-Ams, and in his last eight events he has only finished outside of the top 10 twice (where he finished 20th and 28th). I’m guessing him and Koepka will both go highly owned this week but I trust Dustin’s floor is higher so I like him more for Cash plays.
    • Patrick Cantlay ($10,000 DK – $11,300 FD) – Cantlay is two for two in made cuts at Pebble Beach in the last three years and made the cut at the U.S. Open last year. His only two other times playing in the U.S. Open were in 2011, where he was the low amateur at T21, and the next year where he finished T41. Not amazing by any means but I’m mostly just satisfied with his experience because right now he is playing some incredible golf with a 9th place finish at the Masters, 3rd the following week at the Heritage, 3rd at the PGA Championship, and a win in his last tournament; the Memorial.
    • Hideki Matsuyama ($8,800 DK – $10,400 FD) – in Hideki’s last 11 events he hasn’t finished worse than 33rd and he has four top 10’s in that stretch. He doesn’t have the experience on Pebble Beach which is a small red flag but in his six U.S. Open appearances he has only missed the cut once and has two top 10’s and two other top 20 finishes so he is definitely familiar and successful when it comes to dealing with the USGA’s circus setup.

Risky (GPP)

    • Rory McIlroy ($10,500 DK – $11,800 FD) – with Brooks, DJ, and Tiger priced higher and Spieth and Cantlay just below him, Rory might be passed up on DraftKings this week (at least more than he should be). Even though he is coming off of a win he has missed the cut at the U.S. Open in three consecutive years and he missed the cut in 2018 at Pebble Beach so the narrative is out there that this isn’t an event and course that Rory is likely to play well on. If that’s the case then I will have no problem taking a chance on a guy that has two wins since the Players Championship back in March.
    • Justin Rose ($9,700 DK – $11,600 FD) – Rose is also in an interesting spot where four of his last eight events have been finishes of 58th or worse and with the level of talent beneath him from the $8,000’s to $9,500 there is a chance that people aren’t willing to pay up for him (especially when they see his shaky finishes over the last several months). But he has a 10th, 12th, 27th, and two narrowly missed cuts at his last five U.S. Opens and a 6th and 39th place finish at his last two Pebble Beach Pro-Ams so he won’t be a bad pick if his ownership stays low.
    • Xander Schauffele ($8,700 DK – $10,900 FD) – Xander went T5 and T6 in his only two U.S. Opens (2017 & 2018) and has a reputation for being better in big tournaments so it wouldn’t surprise me if he perks some interest this week. But like I said in the Rose write-up above, there is so much talent starting at Gary Woodland at $8,000 and up that I don’t see anyone in this range getting too high in ownership. I’m hoping the fact that he has been up and down since his missed cut at the Players and his MDF at his only run in Pebble Beach back in 2017 will turn some people off.

Value ($7,100 – $8,600 on DK)

Solid (Cash)

    • Adam Scott ($8,600 DK – $10,500 FD) – Scott missed the cut at Pebble Beach in 2018 and MDF in 2019, he also has missed the cut at the last two U.S. Opens so this could also be a good GPP play as well. But before the two missed cuts at the U.S. Open he had five straight made cuts in that event with two top 20’s and two other top 10’s. He hasn’t golfed much lately but his last four events have been a 12th, 18th, 8th, and most recently, a 2nd place finish.
    • Webb Simpson ($7,700 DK – $9,600 FD) – the last time the U.S. Open was in California was back in 2012 when Webb Simpson won with a score of +1. He’s priced extremely low for his talent level and is coming off of five straight finishes of 29th or better including a 2nd place finish last week at the Canadian Open. The course history isn’t really there but he has had great success at U.S. Opens making seven out of eight cuts including a win and T10 last year.
    • Brandt Snedeker ($7,500 DK – $9,400 FD) – Snedeker might be one of the highest owned golfers this week because he checks all of the boxes and because of his low price tag. He’s had three top 10’s out of the last five U.S. Opens; he has a 1st, 4th, and 20th in the last five Pebble Beach Pro-Ams, and he is coming off of three consecutive top 20’s with a 4th place finish last week. If Brandt goes too highly owned then he might be a good fade in GPP’s but he’s a solid Cash play regardless.
    • Jim Furyk ($7,200 DK – $8,700 FD) – Furyk’s accuracy has really helped him in these tough U.S. Open setups, even during years where he wasn’t on the top of his game. He has made five out of the last five cuts and that includes a 23rd, 12th, and 2nd place finish. Since 2015 he has played at Pebble Beach three times and finished 14th and 7th in two of those years. He’s also having his best year in a while and has good recent form (three consecutive finishes of 33rd or better) but the only thing that scares me is his age and the fact that he will be playing in his fourth straight week.

Risky (GPP)

    • Patrick Reed ($7,900 DK – $9,700 FD) – Patrick Reed has been very mediocre recently and hasn’t seen the top 10 in his last 14 events (last one was the WGC-HSBC back in October). I’m hoping this will push people away from Reed because he has a great track record on this course and in the U.S. Open. At Pebble Beach he has four finishes of 29th or better in his last five tries there and in the U.S. Open he has three finishes of 14th or better in the last five years with a 35th place finish as well. So if there ever was a time for Reed to bounce back and remind everyone he’s still got it — it very well could be this week.
    • Rafa Cabrera Bello ($7,300 DK – $8,900 FD) – Rafa has been shaky lately finishing 53rd, 71st, and 41st in his last three events but, like Patrick Reed, has shown indicators for some upside. He has made three straight cuts in the U.S. Open and finished 42nd or better in each of them, and two straight made cuts at Pebble Beach of 26th or better. He’s been a steady cut maker, six out of his last six, but I expect him to turn the corner again soon and see some of the success he had earlier in the year.
    • Branden Grace ($7,200 DK – $9,200 FD) – Grace hasn’t had a good finish since the WGC back in February but he’s been known as a guy that will come out of nowhere and make a splash. He’s been amazing at U.S. Opens finishing 4th, 5th, 50th, and 25th in the last four years and he’s been solid at Pebble Beach finishing 20th and 28th in the last two years. These three guys are officially my “bounce back” plays of the week and I hope no one else is on them… but based off of their names it wouldn’t surprise me if I’m not alone.

Sleepers ($7,000 and under on DK)

Risky (GPP)

    • Lucas Glover ($7,000 DK – $8,800 FD) – from here down most everyone is going to be too risky to be Cash plays — so, proceed with caution. Lucas Glover won the U.S. Open back in 2009 but starting in 2012 he has now missed 7 straight cuts. I’m looking for him to snap that streak at a course where he has had very good success in recent years. In the last two times he has played the Pebble Beach Pro-Am he finished 7th (this year) and 11th (2016). His game is very well rounded and he’s one of the best scramblers and bogey avoiders on Tour so I’m guessing his problem in this event has been a mental one.
    • Thomas Pieters ($7,000 DK – $8,600 FD) – Pieters finished 23rd at the Byron Nelson and then 23rd at the PGA Championship the next week and flew across the pond the following week to play in the Made in Denmark where he finished 33rd. In the few events he’s played on Tour over the last year he has averaged about 24th place and in his last three Majors he has gone T23, T6, and T28.
    • Byeong Hun An ($6,900 DK – $8,700 FD) – Byeong Hun An was having a great year until several missed cuts and a WD due to back issues that hit him after the Masters. But two weeks ago he looked like he was back on track with a 17th place finish at the Memorial. He has plenty of experience for his age at the U.S. Open and his 3rd in SG: around-the-green should be able to help him here where the greens are the smallest on Tour.
    • Chez Reavie ($6,900 DK – $8,300 FD) – before missing his last cut Chez went 28th, 18th, and 14th most recently (at the PGA Championship). He finished 2nd a the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2018 and he was 16th in the 2018 U.S. Open. Chez is the 2nd most accurate driver on Tour this year and is 15th in proximity so that should help him to avoid this killer rough as much as possible.
    • Erik Van Rooyen ($6,900 DK – $8,100 FD) – I was on Van Rooyen last week partly because of his T8 at the PGA Championship and he did not disappoint finishing T20 at the Canadian Open. He lost 0.151 strokes putting throughout the tournament so his ball striking is what excelled for him those four days and it will be what most people look for to stay afloat at Pebble Beach this week.
    • Matt Jones ($6,700 DK – $8,000 FD) – he hasn’t had success at U.S. Opens so far in his in his career, narrowly missing the cut in both 2014 and 2018, but Jones has played well at Pebble Beach in years past. He’s only missed one cut out of the last five years there and finished 7th in 2015, 11th in 2016 and 23rd in 2017. He’s only missed one of his last 11 cuts so if you were trying to find some relative safety in the $6,000’s… Matt Jones might be your guy.

Dark Horses

Risky (GPP)

    • Viktor Hovland ($6,700 DK – $7,600 FD) – these two are true Dark Horse candidates. Hovland, an Oklahoma State standout, has played twice on Tour since the beginning of March and finished T40 at the Players Championship and rose to number one in the World Amateur Golf Ranking after his T23 at the Masters in April. Last summer he won the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach as well. The conditions will obviously play much harder this time around but these are all promising signs from the 21 year old.
    • Marcus Kinhult ($6,600 DK – $7,400 FD) – Kinhult is another young gun looking to make a name for himself in professional golf. At 22 years of age he secured his first win on the European Tour just a month ago at the Betfred British Masters. His only Major was last year’s Open Championship where he went on to make the cut and finished T61. Marcus played several weeks ago in the Made in Denmark where he made the cut and finished 55th and he just qualified for the U.S. Open at the Walton Heath sectional in England this month. The Swede will be coming into this tournament relatively unknown and fresh off of a win.

 

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Mark Lee

Written by 

Detroit sports fan, also sufferer of seasonal depression (the two might be related). Avid golfer and former college baseball player. Would've been in the league if it weren't for my lack of ability. Accountant by day, fantasy sports guru by night.