The second Major Championship of the year is here and with DraftKings releasing their pricing a week early it’s a good chance to quickly review the course and potential golfers to target. One thing to note right off the bat is the extreme nature of golf that is generally played at the US Open. The USGA is notorious for setting up courses extremely hard, and this year’s course is known as potentially the hardest on Earth. Fantasy scores will be extremely low at the US Open, with few to none of the bonus points coming into play. Your golfer’s final standing will be crucial.
Oakmont Sneak Peak
Oakmont is either one of the most amazing courses on Earth or an overly extreme suffer-fest that takes all the fun out of watching golf. I lean towards the latter personally, as it’s fun to see professional golfers look human on the course. At it’s core, Oakmont is a par 70 that doesn’t play super long at 7,200-7,300 yards, but the setup of some of the holes are brutal. There is a par 3 that will play up to 300 yards some days, a 660+ yard par 5 and greens that are so severely sloped that holding the ball with an approach might actually be impossible, even for the world’s best. The last time the US Open was played here, a variety of different golfers played well and the real theme for the week was simply survival. Looking for golfers who have the game and mentality to tackle such an extreme four-day test will be key.
Jason Day ($12,100): There’s little doubt after the performance we saw from Day at The PLAYERS as to who the actual best payer in the world is. While Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth have both picked up wins of their own since, neither of them compared to Day’s victory in terms of the field they beat or the pure dominance he showed in his win. Oakmont is a course that golfers will need both power and ingenuity to overcome, and Day has shown he has the best blend of both right now. Seeing Day nearly overcome vertigo at last year’s U.S. Open on another tough track makes you wonder what he’ll do this year when fully healthy, and the idea of him not at least competing this year just seems to far fetched for me not to include him in this preview. He’s the highest priced player for good reason this week and someone you’ll need to heavily consider playing.
Matt Kuchar ($8,500): While there’s definitely a lot of players in between Matt Kuchar and Jason Day to consider, Kuchar, to me, is deserving of a mention right now given his recent form. Coming into this event he’s gone T3-3-T6-T4 in his last four starts, and while he might not be the favorite, he’s a player who can certainly contend next week. And the price might be the best thing about Kuchar. Kuchar is so affordable that you don’t really need him to win to pay off this week. In 2007, shorter hitters and more cerebral players like Jim Furyk and David Toms were able to compete (Furyk nearly won), and I think this year the same will hold true. Right now there’s no player of that mold in better form than Matt Kuchar, and for the price he’s shaping up to be a very strong play for the U.S. Open.
Charl Schwartzel ($7,500): Seriously, what does Charl Schwartzel have to do to get respect? The guy has made three straight cuts since coming back from a layoff and finished a strong T11 his last time out. Still, he’s seen his price drop every week since he came back, and now he weirdly sits at the same price line as the MIA Tiger Woods and cheaper than out of form golfers like Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk. Schwartzel’s ball striking has been on point all season, and while the putter can frustrate him at times these greens are going to make even the best look bad. For pure value, you can’t do much better than this South African, and I’d make him a favorite target this week if you’re looking for an optimally balanced team (or just a solid value play).
Retief Goosen ($6,300): Another player who didn’t get much respect this week is Retief Goosen. All he’s done is make 10 cuts in a row on Tour and land DFS players who trusted him a T12 at The PLAYERS. When you consider Goosen’s record at past U.S. Opens, and his penchant for playing extremely challenging golf courses very well, you have to love the price on him next week. At $6,300 he should be able to grind out a ton of pars (pars are very good this week by the way), and the fact he won on arguably the fastest greens ever contested by PGA players at the 2004 US Open at Shinnecock Hills isn’t a bad thing to remember either. At only $6,300, his experience and current form make him a great value target for the stars and scrubs approach.
Potential GPP targets
Lee Westwood ($7,700): I really want to emphasize veteran players this week, as Oakmont seemed to favor those with experience the last time the U.S. Open was played there. Well, this will be Lee Westwood’s 16th time competing in a U.S. Open, and from those starts, he’s made the cut 13 times and also compiled 5 top tens as well. Since finishing runner-up at Augusta this year, Westwood has quietly been playing extremely well over in Europe, going T10-T15-T8 over his last three starts. Having already seen Oakmont once before (T36 in 2007), Westwood’s experience at this course, and the event in general, should help him immensely, while the depth of the field should keep his ownership low. He’s a possible surprise winner who is long overdue in Major Championships.
Martin Kaymer ($7,600): Kaymer has been circling of late, compiling three top 10 finishes in his last five starts. Even better is the fact that Kaymer has compiled some of these placings at notoriously tough golf courses like Valderrama and Wentworth over in Europe. People may not remember but it was only two years ago that Kaymer came into another very difficult setup at Pinehurst and blew away a pretty stout field. While I doubt we’ll see a similar performance, this is the sort of setup I would expect him to be able to handle better than most given his attention to detail and cerebral nature. Like Westwood, I expect Kaymer to go under-owned and also expect that at some point he’ll be near the lead on Sunday. I love him in GPPs this week.
Rickie Fowler ($10,700): Is it strange if I include Fowler in this category even while admitting I sort of like him to contend and possibly even win this week? While most of the top players have shown some kind of form coming into the US Open, Fowler has not and actually just incurred back-to-back missed cuts for the first time this year. While history has taught us that Fowler is capable of fast turnarounds, that still doesn’t excuse the fact he has no business being priced this high this week, and there are several players below him more deserving (Masters champ Danny Willett). Still, while the price might not be right, Fowler possesses a putting stroke that might very well translate to success on Oakmont’s impossible green complexes, so I’m by no means advocating you avoid him altogether. Just realize he’ll cost you (more than he should) and doesn’t carry strong recent form or have the recent Major success of several players below him in price.