With the US Open now just a mere 9 days away DraftKings has finally released its salaries for its massive 2.5 million dollar guarantee, Millionaire Maker PGA tournament where first place will be taking home 1 million dollars (cue Dr. Evil finger). This second instalment of the DraftKings US Open PGA Millionaire Maker series coincides with the second PGA major of the year, the US Open, and with salaries out now is the time to get a first glimpse into what players might be worth targeting in what is likely to be the toughest test of golf PGA players face all year.
Before we discuss players, here’s a quick rundown of this year’s event (look back to the Playbook early next week for more in depth analysis)
This year’s event takes place at Chambers Bay in Washington just off Puget Sound. This course has never been played by professionals before and for many entrants it will be the first time they have played the course. Chambers Bay is different than almost any US Open course you’ve ever seen. It has huge sloping greens and big wide fairways, but also massive bunkers and tall fescue grass that will consume any golf ball that comes its way. It’s a seaside, links styled course and even though it looks more beautiful than any golf course I’ve ever seen it’s not going to play like a traditional US Open setup. Some pros have already gone off on twitter about and think it will be a joke. Others have professed their love for it. The main thing you need to know? Like any US Open birdies will be hard to come by and a bogey will not be a bad score on most holes. Players with good mental fortitude and good records in both Open events (US and British) should be highly considered for fantasy purposes. Experience playing in tough conditions will be key and no player will be truly “safe” this week until they’ve officially signed their scorecard and completed 72 holes. Such is the unpredictability of this year’s course.
First Impressions: Five Early US Open Targets
DraftKings Price: $10000
Best US Open Finish: T4 (2014)
I like everything about Stenson this week. The Swede has never won a major but he’s had some very close calls. Stenson is one of the most solid tee to green players in the game who excels at keeping his ball out of trouble and attacking the flag with his irons. This year Stenson has shown a vast improvement in his putting and short game and I think that could be the difference this year for him in the major championships. Stenson finished 5th at the US Open last year and has multiple top ten’s at the British Open as well. He likes links golf and his play in the States this year has looked very solid for the most part. I think Stenson will be near the top of the leaderboard when all is said and done and he’s one of the players I will be targeting in a lot of my Millionaire Maker lineups.
DraftKings Price: $8500
Best US Open Finish: T35 (2014)
Part of what is going to make this week so interesting is that so many players have zero experience playing on this course. What makes Patrick Reed such an interesting play this week is the fact that he has competitive experience playing at Chambers Bay, and actually shot one of the best rounds here in the 2010 USGA amateur. For my money Reed makes a very interesting fantasy play at this event, not just because of his experience but also because of his great putting, lower ball flight and mental toughness. Reed’s already won on tour 4 times in a still extremely young career. He tends to get forgotten when Rory and Spieth are in the field but don’t forget about him this week. This course and event definitely suit his game.
DraftKings Price: $10800
Best US Open Finish: T2 (2014)
I think the golf course this week screams Rickie Fowler. Fowler isn’t the most accurate off the tee, nor is he the most consistent tee to green, but he is one of the most imaginative and best shot makers in the game today and he proved that recently when he went 6 under on his last 6 holes to win the Players. Fowler seems to love links golf and has already recorded two top 5 finishes at the British Open. Many might hate Rickie for the inconsistency he brings to regular tour events, but consider his record at the past five major championships (12th, 3rd, 2nd, 2nd, 5th ) and you may start to see that it’s not a matter of if Fowler will win a major but when. I love him for fantasy purposes this week and hope many people decide he’s too risky to use in their Millionaire Maker lineups.
DraftKings Price: $7200
Best US Open Finish: T23 (2014)
Molinari has been on absolute fire in his last three events and probably should have won the Memorial event which took place last week (but ultimately finished 4th). An Italian who plays primarily on the European tour, Molinari will be at home playing a links style layout and has posted strong results in past British Opens (including a 9th in 2013). The fact he’s a less well-known name may make him seem like a somewhat risky play for fantasy purposes, but his recent form certainly suggests otherwise. He should make for a great tournament play and someone you can use to differentiate your lineups in a large entry tournament like DraftKings Millionaire Maker.
DraftKings Price: $6300
Best US Open Finish: T45 (2011)
Putnam makes for an interesting lower-priced play for this year’s US Open. Putnam hasn’t done much in his last two years on tour expect make quite a few cuts and pile up 50th place finishes. However, this week Putnam is actually playing in somewhat of a home event. As a Washington State native Putnam lives very close to Chambers Bay and has played it numerous times over his career. He played extremely well in the qualifying matches to get into the US Open and should have a distinct advantage over the field. I expect him to be able to convert his knowledge of the course into a weekend tee time and make the cut. Given the tough test of golf facing the players this week, Putnam might actually be one of the more reliable options in a sea of unknowns and presents good value at his reduced price.