U.S. Open week is always one of the best weeks of the year. We get to, hopefully, see some of the field look like us mere mortals on the golf course for four days. Shinnecock Hills GC is the host of this year’s Open. It’s a par 70 that will play around 7,400 yards this year. I would dive into the course stats and break down how it’s historically played. However, this course has only seen U.S. Open action three times before this year (1896, 1995, 2004). Even though we have Strokes Gained data from the most recent iteration of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock, the course has undergone significant renovations and has been lengthened nearly 500 yards. Needless to say, it will play differently this year. So, why not just dive right into our excellent field.
Expensive Golfers ($10,000+)
It’s an embarrassment of riches getting to choose between Dustin Johnson ($11,700), Rory McIlroy ($11,500), and Justin Thomas ($11,000). DJ is coming off of a walk-off eagle in Memphis to get his #1 ranking back, and McIlroy is coming off of two Top Ten finishes. Justin Thomas is who I’m targeting, though. He’s gained strokes on approach in 13-of-15 events. In his past 18 events, he’s been outside of the Top 25 just once. For a full year now, rostering JT has paid dividends, that won’t stop at Shinnecock Hills this week.
Jordan Spieth ($10,800) is as intriguing of a GPP play as we’ve seen in a long time. The narrative, rightfully so, is that Spieth has completely lost his putter. His rank of 98th in this field over the past 50 rounds in SG: Putting backs that up. But, in that same timeframe he’s 4th in SG: Tee to Green. Spieth has looked bad on the greens for some time now, but I’ll take a shot that he gets it sorted out. When people are fading one of the most talented golfers because of something as variant as putting, I’ll weather the storm and hope I’m a week early on him.
As we keep going down the $10,000 range, we come to an interesting decision between Rickie Fowler ($10,200) and Jason Day ($10,500). Fowler hasn’t shown the tremendous results of his 2017 campaign, but he’s been solid nonetheless. Over his past 10 events, he’s gaining 1.3 strokes on approach to go along with almost a full stroke off the tee. Day is getting his damage done closer to the green, where he is first in SG: Short Game over the past 50 rounds. He’s hovered around neutral with his approach game, but during the Memorial he lost over four strokes in that category and will look to bounce back when he tees off at Shinnecock.
Mid-Range Golfers ($10,000 – $8,500)
If you don’t think Jon Rahm’s ($9,500) skill set is built for a U.S. Open, I’m not sure what to tell you. He’s played exceptionally well this year as has turned 11 starts into two wins and seven Top-20s. A quirk of Shinnecock is the fact that they are poa greens outside of California. Rahm’s best surface, by a significant margin, is poa. He provides substantial salary relief from the guys in the $11,000 range, and it’s hard to argue that he has a noticeably smaller chance of winning this weekend. You can feel comfortable putting Rahm in your lineups regardless of format this weekend.
Justin Rose ($9,900) has risen to the #3 OWGR after an impressive start to his 2018. His 10 worldwide starts have resulted in one win and four other Top-10 finishes. Rose hasn’t missed a cut since last year’s PGA Championship back in August. If that wasn’t enough, he’s 2nd in DK Points over his past 12 rounds. In that same timeframe, Brooks Koepka ($9,000) is right behind him at 3rd in DK Points. Koepka has the distance advantage if you want to go that route, but stacking these two options together makes a ton of sense as well.
I’ll have a fair bit of exposure to Phil Mickelson ($8,600). He’s 5th in DK Points over the past 24 rounds. His preferred putting surface is poa. He also has the ability to save pars with his short game on a course where greens will be running fast and difficult to hit.
Value Golfers ($8,500 – $7,000)
TONY FINAU IS $7,500?! Sign me all the way up. “But Matt, didn’t you see the missed cut in Memphis?” Why, yes, invisible arguer, I did see that. I also saw that he still gained strokes tee to green despite missing the cut. I also saw that Tony Finau has shown up in big tournaments, at tracks that he “shouldn’t” perform well at, and he popped his ankle back in place before walking it off like a champion. If you want “stats” Finau is 22nd in DK Points over his past 24 rounds but is buried in the salary ranks for DraftKings. I’m loading up on him- you should too.
If I’m looking for a low volatility, high-floor, cash play then it has to be Branden Grace ($8,400). He hasn’t missed a cut in about 10 months and provides a solid anchor for your lineup. Grace won’t necessarily win you a GPP, but he won’t knock you out of contention either.
Bryson DeChambeau ($8,300) might not be a household name just yet, but a win at the U.S. Open could put him on his way. He has the talent and the skill set to perform well at a course like Shinnecock. The poa splits scare me a little bit, but you can’t argue with his recent form. He hasn’t lost strokes on approach since February and has finished in the Top 10 in half of his past ten starts.
Tommy Fleetwood ($8,100) is a great play as well. Fleetwood has shown that he can compete with fields of any strength but is still looking for that breakthrough US victory. There wouldn’t be a better place to do that then Shinnecock Hills. Since his 4th place finish in Erin Hills at last year’s U.S. Open, he’s made 28 starts. During that span, he’s missed just two cuts and collected a couple of worldwide wins. He’s 15th in DK Points over his past 50 rounds and comes at a huge discount relative to his OWGR.
Paul Casey ($8,000) is way too low here as well. Starting a cash lineup with him and Emiliano Grillo ($7,100) makes a ton of sense. Casey is 12th in DK Points over the past 50 rounds. Since the start of 2017, he’s finished in the Top 25 in Greens in Regulation at the second-highest rate in the field, behind Jordan Spieth ($10,800). Grillo all the way down at his price is one of the more confusing parts of this slate. He’s 22nd in DK Points over his past 50 rounds and has finished in the Top 25 in five of his last six events.
Cheap Dart Throws (Sub – $7,000)
I’ll take two guys down here this week because the pricing is a little bit softer and there are some good option in this range. Brendan Steele ($6,800) is 35th in DK Points over his past 50 rounds. Steele has one of the most significant discrepancies between his SG: Ball-Striking and SG: Short Game as he’s 7th and 105th in those categories, respectively. Charles Howell ($6,700) possesses a ton of cut equity. He’s not flashy, he isn’t going to keep up with JT in Hawaii, but he can grind. U.S. Opens are built for grinders, and after last year’s “easy” track in Erin Hills, I think Shinnecock is going to have some teeth this year.