Father’s Day. Sunday at the U.S. Open. Another Millionaire Maker. One of the biggest weekends of the season for pro golfers and DFS players alike, the U.S. Open is here. Teeing off Thursday from Oakmont Country Club, the tourney that should be the stiffest test of the year looks primed to be up to the task – who is going to be able to crack the code and make enough shots to ascend to the top of the leaderboard? Here are a few golfers from every price range that I like best, for cash games, GPPs or both.
Jason Day ($12,100) – If I am building multiple lineups, I’ve got at least one with each of the top three options – they’ve all got the talent to be there at the end. However, with all due respect to the competition, if they all bring their A+ game, Day takes it. He’s the best combination of power, accuracy and touch on Tour, and with seven wins in his last seventeen tournaments, the ability to close has finally developed.
Justin Rose ($10,500) – He has been inside the top-20 in seven out of the eight tournaments he has played in since Pebble Beach back in February, including five top 10 finishes. He is #2 in the world in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, a stat that looks at a number of the things you’ll need to do well to make it around Oakmont this weekend. He has had a total of 16 bogeys over his last eight rounds of golf, showing the kind of consistency that could easily make him a fantasy asset this weekend, even if he doesn’t take home the victory.
“. . . he has mastered the ability to peak at these major tournaments”
Phil Mickelson ($9,300) – He missed the cut here at Oakmont back in 2007, just one year after his fourth runner-up finish in the U.S. Open. Since then, he has had two more T2 finishes (and a T4 mixed in as well), and it seems like more than anyone else on Tour, he has mastered (no pun intended) the ability to peak at these major tournaments. After a T20 at the Memorial without a round over par, he came through with a T2 last weekend at the TPC Southwind, where he only had seven holes over par all weekend en route to a -10 final. You know he would love to add a U.S. Open win to his resume, and he has the ability to get it done if he can remain in contention through Sunday.
Henrik Stenson ($9,100) – At this point, I would say that he has the very dubious distinction of being the most talented player in the world who would really surprise you to see win (#8 on Tour in SG:Tee-to-Green, #16 in the All-Around Ranking). He has fallen short in big events enough times before, but when a field is this loaded, it’s important to see the talent despite the failures for two reasons. One, not everyone is good enough to beat the top guys here if they are on their game… but Stenson is. At his best, he could just outplay even the most expensive players on the board this weekend. And two, he is only the 12th most expensive player on the board – so you’re getting one of the most skilled players in the field for a price that doesn’t require him to win to return value.
Matt Kuchar ($8,500) – He has been playing as well as anyone on Tour, with four straight finishes of T6 or higher, and top-10’s in five of his last six. Those numbers hardly even seem real, but there it is: he started off with a -10 T3 at The PLAYERS, and rounded it off with a -13 T4 at the Memorial two weeks ago. He has played only four rounds over par out of his last 24 – that’s going back to the RBC Heritage, a week after the Masters. Over the last four weeks, he has averaged just over 20 birdies against only eight bogeys a weekend. I don’t think any of this is a secret, which is why $8,500 for Kuchar is a bargain.
Patrick Reed ($8,400) – He is trending in the right direction, with a T8 at the Memorial on the heels of a T15 at the Dean & Deluca Championship. The Memorial was his eighth top-10 performance of the season, but first since April, so it was nice to see him return to form with four rounds under par, 16 birdies and two eagles on his way to 90+ DKFP (DraftKings Fantasy Points). He is a player who makes his mark off the tee and with his irons (currently 13th in SG-Tee-to-Green and 107th in Strokes Gained: Putting), and control in those areas is going to be vital this weekend. When his putter gets hot, he can compete with anyone in the world.
“He played very well to get there, never playing a round over par and shooting a low round of 65”
Brooks Koepka ($8,100) – Koepka found himself in a cluster of players at -10 at the end of the FedEx St. Jude Classic last weekend, tied for second without a shot of reaching Daniel Berger. He played very well to get there, never playing a round over par and shooting a low round of 65. His T2 was the second performance in a row in which he had finished in the runner-up position, following up his solo-2nd at the AT&T Byron Nelson last month. That weekend he shot an amazing 65-64-65 to open things up, but closed with a 71 on Sunday that lost him a chance at the victory. He will be looking to reverse that trend and improve on these two most recent finishes at Oakmont – and a guy who is top ten in the All-Around and totaled 39 birdies in his last two outings definitely has that chance.
J.B. Holmes ($7,400) – He has four top-10s this year, including a T4 in the first major of the season, at Augusta. He missed the cut at The PLAYERS, but rebounded with a T4 two weeks ago at Muirfield Village, a spot he earned with 25 birdies. When he is playing well, he is the type of guy who will put up big fantasy numbers consistently because he will hole more than his fair share of birdies. Even in a T53 showing at the Wells Fargo Championship, he got you 50+ DKFP, because his 13 birdies is more than you usually see with guys finishing in that range. You can see this tendency every week in the Birdie or Better % rankings, where Holmes is currently sitting at #11.
Marc Leishman ($7,300) – Coming off back-to-back top-15 performances (T13 at the Dean & Deluca and T11 at the Memorial), Leishman’s game is in good shape at a convenient time. He is ranked 11th in the All-Around, fifth in Bogey Avoidance, and top-20 in Strokes Gained: Putting. If he can do everything those stats suggest this weekend: strike the ball solidly, recover from bad shots and breaks and finish off holes once he’s in position, then this price is a downright steal.
Daniel Berger ($7,200) – Coming off a nice 3-stroke win at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, where he finished with four rounds in the 60’s, including a 64 on Friday, he has to be feeling good coming into Oakmont. He is ranked 27th on Tour in that bogey avoidance stat, which demonstrates an ability to recover from a variety of situations that will serve to avoid double bogeys and worse.
“His methodical approach to the game could be useful here . . .”
Bryson DeChambeau ($6,900) – It’s a fun pick, and the thing is, there is undeniable upside. He might miss the cut, but he also could give you a top-15 performance for little investment. His methodical approach to the game could be useful here, as long as he is putting the ball where he wants it. That makes him more of an option in larger tourneys than cash games, but I heard there was a pretty large tourney going on this weekend, so I could see him finding his way into a few lineups and possibly providing some owners with a real boost.
Bernd Wiesberger ($6,700) – He has made 13 out of 15 cuts this year, and while he only has one top-10 on the season, he has been inside the top-15 three times since the beginning of March if you include the PGA and European Tours. He has been playing in Europe since The PLAYERS, and he has a T15 at the BMW PGA Championship and a T10 at the Lyoness Open to show for it. I see him more as a cash game option – someone you feel reasonably comfortable will make the cut and be doing some level of work for you all weekend than I do see him as someone who might actually take home a championship this weekend. He is a solid building block for any lineup.