This Week’s Event: 2018 US OpenPat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg debate their 2018 US Open picks and the week in fantasy golf and betting at this week’s PGA Tour stop at Shinnecock Hills.
2018 US Open — Picks and Preview | Updated Odds/Picks | Picks/Field/Course | Picks Podcast | Golfer Stat Power Rankings | Quick Picks | One and Done | Most CURSED | Tiger & Phil | Picks Cheat Sheet | All Stats | Favorites | Middle Tier | Long Shots | All-Golf Cust Corner
2018 US Open DraftKings — Full Picks and Preview | DK Cheatsheet | Audio Podcast | $11.7K-$9K Range | $9K-$7.5K Range | $7.5K-$7K | $6K Range | Picks to Win | Top Sleepers | Highest-Owned Players | Expensive Busts | Core Players
2018 US Open Picks: Show Index0:26 — Initial Thoughts
5:33 — Giveaways
8:32 — Course/Stats
14:11 — Favorites
37:02 — Tiger/Phil
41:53 — Second Tier
1:01:19 — Third Tier
1:11:52 — Long Shots
2018 US Open Field156 Players | Top 60 And Ties Make The Cut
First Tee: Thursday, 6:45 a.m. ET
Defending Champion: Brooks Kopeka
A total of 156 players are in the field at the 2018 US Open. And the scarce Top 60 (and ties) after 36 holes will remain on Long Island for the weekend. Well, if Tiger Woods makes it through, technically, he’ll be on his yacht. The Top 60 and ties is notable. In a regular PGA Tour event, it’s the Top 70 players (and ties) who make it through the cut. This week, not only is it the largest field possible at 156 players, but it’s the lowest percentage of the field that will make the cut for any tournament all year.
At The Masters, just to make the money in the DraftKings Millionaire Maker, you not only needed all six of your players to get through to the weekend, but you also needed some top finishes scattered throughout the lineup. This week, a six-of-six roster should ensure a green screen, and the winning lineup won’t necessarily require all six players to finish inside the Top 20. In fact, a solid five-of-six or four-of-six (with the winner) could result in a solid payday at the year’s second major.
All of the world’s top players will be in attendance at Shinnecock Hills. There were a few extra names added to the field Monday morning, however: Emiliano Grillo, Byeong-Hun An, Scott Piercy, Rikuya Hoshino, Ted Potter Jr. and Ryan Evans. In majors, generally, the Monday field additions tend to go under-owned across all DraftKings contests for that tournament. It really has nothing to do with their skills, but the fact that people have been fiddling around with lineups for a few days and forget these golfers have been added. Think Cameron Smith at The Masters.
2018 US Open Key StatsStrokes Gained: Ball Striking (OTT + APP)
Par 4s Gained
Driving Distance Gained
2018 US Open CourseShinnecock Hills | 7,445 Yards | Par 70
Greens: Poa Annua
This is the fifth time Shinnecock Hills has hosted the national championship and the first since Retief Goosen outlasted Phil Mickelson and hoisted the cleverly named US Open Trophy in 2004. However, while the framework for the country’s oldest course basically is the same, there have been significant changes to Shinnecock over the past 14 years. Mainly in 2012.
That year, a Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore alteration had hundreds of trees YANKED from the ground and over 450 yards added in length. In 2004, Shinnecock played a hair under 7,000 yards. Now, it’s the fourth-longest Par 70 major in history at 7,445 yards.
Initially, the fairways were widened, too, but the USGA scaled them back following last year’s birdie-fest at Erin Hills. The landing areas at Erin Hills measured up to 60 yards wide in some places, so after some deliberation, Shinnecock’s will average around 41 yards in width. Still, it’s a far cry from the 26-yard average in 2004. This brings some of the bunkers back into play, too.
Without trees on the grounds, the wind will cause devastation if it gets gusty. With the potential for swirling winds and the ryegrass rough being replaced by thick, knee-high fescue, this US Open might resemble an Open Championship at a moment’s notice. And it make senses, since Shinnecock was the first links course in the US. Weather draws will be very important this week, especially if a soft spot opens up during the day. We’re too far out to make any declarations right now, so check back to the shows later in the week for the analysis once we have better information.
The greens are violently contoured and comprised of Poa Annua — a putting surface rarely seen outside California courses. And, after the renovation, USGA president Mike Davis decided the areas around the greens that once had been rough now should be closely mowed. Meaning, off-base approaches are just gonna keep rolling. However, it does allow myriad ways to recover from around the green. Think Pinehurst No. 2.
Since Shinnecock has been lengthened to such a degree, you’ll need to find the players who can hit it long and straight. All facets of Tee-To-Green will be important, but I’ll lean on Off-The-Tee a little more than usual. And I’ll take more distance over accuracy, but a combination of both is ideal. Unfortunately, that’s tough to find. Overall, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, the combo stat of Off-The-Tee and Approach will be your best bet.
Bombing isn’t the only path to success, though. It’s simply the one that comes with less resistance.
If you’re targeting the shorter, accuracy hitters, just know the degree of difficulty getting approaches with long irons to stop on these firm greens will be a chore. So, if you veer that direction, you best make certain those guys also have capable short games so they can at least scramble for easy pars. “Easy” being very relative at a US Open.Beyond that, if you’re just looking for some stats to peak at for some extra names, on a Par 70, Par 4 Scoring always will play a major factor. And, with the smaller-than-average greens, pairing greens in regulations with around-the-green stats makes a lot of sense. In theory, the more GIRs a player hits, the worse he can be scrambling. Again, in theory, because we all know that’s never how it plays out.
2018 US Open Picks — Targets From Each RangeJustin Rose ($9,900)
The 2013 US Open winner, Rose will be VERYYYYYYYYYYYYY popular at $9,900. And he should be — he’s a great player who plays great against great fields and is at a great price. He’s great.
With a win and a T6 in his past two starts, Rose comes in with the best combination of short- and long-term form. Over the past 24 rounds, the world’s No. 3 is the only player in the field who ranks Top 10 in both ball striking and putting (Justin Thomas is very close), and he has piled up 12 Top 10s in his past 16 starts overall. That should mask the fact he has failed to make the weekend the past two years at this event.
Just know, if you take Rose, you’ll have to save some ownership elsewhere on your roster.
Jon Rahm ($9,500)
I really want to build around Dustin Johnson ($11,700). And I will. He’s just a tad pricey to go all in on, though. Yes, he’s the Vegas favorite and has the highest probability to win, but the overall quality of your team takes a hit when you spend that much on a player at the top end. So, I’ll have more of discount Dustin: Rahm. Many will remember him going into HULK RAGE at last year’s US Open, but I remain unconcerned.
You’re getting the world’s No. 5 player at less than $10,000. That’s a deal. In his past 100 rounds, Rahm rates out Top 10 in Par 4s gained, Driving distance, Off-The-Tee, Ball Striking, Par 4s Gained, Tee-To-Green, and Top 25 in Putting, Bogey avoidance and scrambling.
He smashes it off the tee, putts like a champion and demolishes Par 4s. Plus, he has five wins the past two years and is in need of a major breakthrough. Like Brooks last year, this is where Rahm puts it all together.
Paul Casey ($8,000)
Casey is just egregiously underpriced at $8,000. He’s the 12th-ranked player in the world and 20th in DraftKings pricing. He has missed just a lone cut this year, a combined two the past two years, and sits Top 10 in the field in Off-The-Tee, Ball Striking, Approach, Par 4s Gained, Tee-To-Green, and bogey avoidance over the past 100 rounds. And Casey, along with Sergio Garcia and Ross Fisher, are the only players in the field to sit inside the Top 35 in both driving distance and fairways gained over that same stretch. Plus, the Brit has made four of his past five US Open cuts.
He’s good. He’s cheap. So use him.
Keegan Bradley ($7,600)
Bradley is about as unsexy of a pick as you can get. But that’s all putting related. He’s brutal on the greens, and that’ll make him incurably tilting to track for the week when he starts missing 3-foot putts, but it’s tough to argue with the ball striking and results.
In this field, over the past 50 rounds, Bradley is Top 10 Tee-To-Green and Ball Striking, and the best on approaches. And, you’d think a guy with such a lousy putter would be a nightmare to roster. That just hasn’t been the case, though. In 25 starts since last year’s US Open, Keegan has missed just two cuts. Shocking. And, when you dig into his putting splits across all surfaces, Poa Annua is far and away where he’s gaining the most strokes per round.
Brendan Steele ($6,800)
Entering with shaky form, Steele has been priced down. But, in spite of his current struggles, Steele remains Top 20 in the field in Off-The-Tee, Ball Striking, Approach, Driving Distance and Tee-To-Green. If his irons are off and this becomes a chipping contest for him, he’s screwed. However, while Steele generally is an awful putter, Poa is his preferred putting surface. These are the risks you take with a $6,800 player. A blow-up is factored into the price, but there’s incredible upside to be had.
Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau, Webb Simpson, Patrick Cantlay, Luke List, Steve Stricker, Hideki Matsuyama.
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long- and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo’s (@ThePME) 14 Fantasy Sports Writing Association nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting) and genre (humor). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.