Set your DraftKings lineups here: $2.25M Fantasy Golf Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Entry]
The field for the US Open is comprised of 144 golfers. Normally, it would feature a bigger field of 156 players and several players in the field (pros and non-pros alike) who had gained entry through local and international qualifying. However, for 2020 all of the qualifiers were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the U.S. Open committee expanded some of its normal criteria. The top 70 players in the world will all get invites, which means multi-time runner-up Phil Mickelson (61st) is in the field. Others who benefited from the new procedure include Joel Dahmen (70th) who wouldn’t have got an invite from his world ranking alone in a normal season.
Of the elite players, all of the regular names will be in attendance. Two big withdraws have occurred though. Scottie Scheffler (COVID-19) withdrew this past Sunday and Brooks Koepka (knee) announced his withdrawal last week. The cut for the U.S. open is also unique as it only allows the top 60 players (including ties) to make the cut. While there used to be a 10-shot rule here, which would include any player 10 shots within the lead on the weekend, that rule was abolished in 2012.
Winged Foot—Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Par 70, 7,477; Greens: Poa annua (80%) / bentgrass (20%)
The U.S. Open returns to Winged Foot this year for the first time since 2006. The A.W. Tillinghast-designed venue hasn’t been seen on Tour all that often but its lore in U.S. Open history may be unparalleled. The venue has hosted five previous U.S. Opens (2006, 1984, 1974, 1959, 1929) with the 1974 and 2006 events producing the two highest winning scores in modern U.S. Open history at +7 (Hale Irwin-1976) and +5 (Geoff Ogilvy-2006). The 2006 version is also well known for one of the biggest final hole collapses in major championship history when Phil Mickelson ($7,300) came to 18 with a one-shot lead only to double-bogey the hole and lose by a stroke.
The venue will be played as a Par 70 this week and clock in at a lengthy 7,469 yards. This will make it longer than the last major venue at TPC Harding Park, which also played as a Par 70 at 7,251 yards. The course is long but length alone doesn’t make this a tough course. Winged Foot doesn’t rely on water hazards (there’s literally one creek on the course) to make it hard and it’s not heavy on trees either. However, numerous doglegs do come into play that make most tee shots here very challenging and make finding fairways even more essential than normal.
The greens at Winged Foot are really what makes the course special and were described by Jack Nicklaus at one point as the “toughest in the world.” Most of the greens have severe slope and some false fronts attached to them, which makes them similar in a lot of ways to Augusta National. The speeds make good lag putting here essential but also means iron play must be up to snuff or players will risk their balls running off or bouncing into the rough or sand, which is nearly impossible to get up and down from.
From a setup perspective, there’s only two par 5s on the course but only one will be a birdie hole. The par 5 12th hole is set at a mammoth 633 yards and includes a huge dogleg left in it. There is a driveable par 4 in play here on No 6 but it has the narrowest fairway on the course and a small skinny green so it may not even play under par for the week. Most of the course is made up of par 4s with skinny landing areas that have mild to severe doglegs attached to them.
From a comparability standpoint Augusta National likely stands out but as does another of Tillinghast’s other East Coast designs in Beth Page Black. Expect an inspection of every facet of the players’ games this week as the rough is already up and green speeds will certainly be a topic of conversation. U.S. Open week is here and Winged Foot should ensure it’s a memorable one.
2020 Weather Outlook: The weather this week isn’t going to be terrible but it’s certainly not going to do the players any favors either. Thursday might be the best day of the event as highs will be in the mid-70s with mainly sunny skies and winds staying below 10 mph. Things get cooler from there on in though, with Friday’s high being in the mid-60s. There are also bigger winds expected later in the week as the cool fall air is going to blow through right at the worst time for the players. Gusts around 12-15 mph are expected for Friday and Saturday and with temperatures cooling off, the course is only going to play tougher given how long it is already playing. It’s tough to say how things will work out, but avoiding the cool air Friday morning, where gusts are expected to rise, might be the play.
Last Five Winners
2019—Gary Woodland -13 (over Brooks Koepka -11)
2018—Brooks Koepka +1 (over Tommy Fleetwood +2)
2017—Brooks Koepka -16 (over Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama -12)
2016 – Dustin Johnson -4 (over Shane Lowry, Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy -1)
2015 – Jordan Spieth -5 (over Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen -4)
- Five of the past 14 U.S. Open winners had a win on the season before their victory.
- Eight of the past 10 winners of the U.S. Open had recorded at least four top 10s on the season before their U.S. Open win.
- Each of the past nine winners of the U.S. Open ranked inside the top 20 in Greens in Regulation percentage for the week of their win.
Winner’s Statistics and Course Notes
Gary Woodland (13-under; Pebble Beach-2019)
Winged Foot Course notes (2006)
- The field in 2006 only scrambled at a 40% rate, which is nearly 20% lower than the Tour average from that season.
- Driving Accuracy at Winged Foot was also low, about 12% lower than the Tour average in that area. Greens were equally as tough to hit as fairways, as GIR percentages were about 10-12% lower in 2006.
- The venue features some of the slopiest/quickest Poa/Bentgrass greens in the world. The three-putt rate at the 2006 U.S. Open was nearly double that of the Tour average in that area.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
Paul Casey $7,900 and +6000
· Rickie Fowler $8,300 and +7000
· Harris English $7,900 and +7000
· Viktor Hovland $8,000 and +6000
Tyrrell Hatton $8,100 and +4000
· Rickie Fowler $8,300 and +7000
· Tiger Woods $8,600 and +4500
· Justin Rose $8,400 and +4500
Top Recent Form
1. Dustin Johnson ($11,500, Recent finishes: win-2nd-win): Johnson is in the midst of one of the most dominant stretches of golf in recent history. He has three wins in his past seven starts and leads the field in SG:TTG stats over the past 24 rounds. If his form stays steady, he’ll be extremely tough to beat.
2. Jon Rahm ($11,000, Recent finishes: win-T6-T13): Rahm’s been fantastic since the restart. The Spaniard has gained over +1.0 strokes Off the Tee in every start on the PGA TOUR in 2020. Having won on the two most difficult setups of 2020 already (Muirfield and Olympia Fields) the U.S. Open setup here should give him an excellent shot at his first major.
3. Xander Schauffele ($10,100, Recent finishes: T2-T25): Schauffele has been one of the most consistent players since the restart. While he’s struggled sometimes to get himself into contention, Schauffele has finished inside the top 15 in five of his past seven starts and is coming off a fantastic effort at the TOUR Championship where he finished T2 and was the best player in the field from a pure, non-handicap perspective.
4. Collin Morikawa ($10,000, Recent finishes: T6-T20): Morikawa won his first major championship just over a month ago and comes into this week off a T6 at the Tour Championship. He cooled off a bit after his major win but his ball-striking looked solid at the TOUR Championship. If he shows the same magic around the greens that he did at TPC Harding Park, he’ll be in the mix.
5. Webb Simpson ($9,700, Recent finishes: T12-T6-T3): Simpson struggled to find his footing on the greens at the TOUR Championship but remains one of the most consistent players in this field. The 2012 U.S. Open champion could be at a disadvantage here given the length of the course but his prowess on and around the greens should help.
6. Justin Thomas ($10,700, Recent finishes: T2-T25): Thomas may have found something at the TOUR Championship where he finished in the runner-up position. The American had been floundering prior to that week but gained +6.8 strokes Tee to Green at East Lake. He’s lost over three strokes putting now in three of his past four starts and will need that club to be better here.
7. Tony Finau ($9,100, Recent finishes: T17-T5): Finau has been extremely boom or bust lately, posting Top-5 finishes at both the BMW Championship and the PGA Championship, while also posting poor finishes at THE NORTHERN TRUST (MC) and TOUR Championship (T17). The tougher nature of Winged Foot should really appeal to the big hitter, though, who was in contention late at TPC Harding Park as well.
8. Tyrrell Hatton ($8,100, Recent finishes: T7-T16-T25): Hatton had a solid TOUR Championship, climbing the leaderboard most of the week to finish in T7. While he’s not a long hitter, the Englishman has finished T21 and T6 at the last two U.S. Opens and is in solid form at the moment.
9. Harris English ($7,900, Recent finishes: T12-T40-2nd): English enjoyed an immensely fruitful playoffs, landing a solo second place at THE NORTHERN TRUST and a T12 at the TOUR Championship. He’s playing great golf at the moment but will need a solid week off the tee to compete at Winged Foot.
10. Daniel Berger ($9,200, Recent finishes: T15-T25-T3): Berger’s enjoyed a surreal comeback season in 2020 that has seen him land seven top-10 finishes and a win. He’s got the firepower to compete at Winged Foot and finished T6 at Shinnecock Hills in 2018. Don’t be shocked if he gets himself in the mix again this week.
Cash Games: It may seem dangerous to fade Dustin Johnson ($11,500) this week but taking the discount down to Jon Rahm ($11,000) here frees up some salary and generally doesn’t kill your upside much. Rahm’s the most consistent player off the tee in the field and ranks second in bogey avoidence. He’s a good anchor for me this week. The prices on Tommy Fleetwood ($8,900) and Patrick Reed ($8,500) here also have me interested. Both men have great U.S. Open records and should be able to grind out solid finishing positions at an event where birdies won’t be plentiful at all. Further down, the consistency of players like Louis Oosthuizen ($7,600) and Shane Lowry ($7,700) in majors has to be respected. Both men have made the cut in the past three majors and have played well, showing flashes of upside since the restart.
Tournaments: It seems unlikely that anyone in the top-10 golfers will go severely under-owned this week but further down, there’s little doubt that Aussie Jason Day ($8,800) is going to be a polarizing figure. Day looked locked in at the year’s first major but has since played two events where he showcased uncannily bad ball-striking, It’s possible the break did him well though and he’s been a great U.S. Open player over his career. Below him, Tyrrell Hatton ($8,100) could also go overlooked here due to his lack of power. The Englishman has a very good U.S. Open record and has now gained strokes OTT and on APP in his past four starts. Other GPP targets to consider here include the likes of Sergio Garcia ($7,500), Si Woo Kim ($7,200), Alex Noren ($7,100), Martin Kaymer ($7,100) and Justin Harding ($6,300).
MY PICK: Patrick Reed ($8,500)
Reed feels like he’s been biding his time on the outskirts lately, holding off for the next big event to make his move. That time may be here at Winged Foot, as the player who was once dubbed “Captain America” for his Ryder Cup prowess would certainly like nothing better than to add his country’s official major championship to his trophy case. Reed came out of the hiatus a little inconsistent (two missed cuts in four starts) but comes in on an eight-event made cut streak and has posted top-15 finishes now in three of his past five starts. While he’s not known as a big hitter, Reed’s been shockingly consistent (for him) off the tee of late, gaining strokes OTT in 10 of his past 11 starts and even led the field in SG:OTT stats at the TOUR Championship two weeks ago. While he’ll certainly need his irons to heat up a bit, we know that Reed’s putter can be a major weapon on fast greens like Winged Foot and it’s notable that Reed’s last win on Tour came back in March on the lightning-quick Poa greens at the Club de Golf Chapultepec. Reed’s an experienced U.S. Open player who finished T4 back at Shinnecock Hills — the last time a winner finished over par for the week — and with conditions looking extra spicy at Winged Foot, I like him to excel here and take home his second major of his career.
My Sleeper: Si Woo Kim ($7,200)
Kim was the betting favorite last week in Napa, so it’s a little jarring to see his price slide so much, even for a major. The South Korean has enjoyed his most consistent season on Tour, and while it hasn’t yielded a win yet there are lots of promising signs that the best is yet to come. Kim comes into this event having landed his best finish in a major (T13) at the PGA Championship four weeks ago (he was also T13 at the 2017 U.S. Open) where he finished ninth for the week in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green stats. Outside of a little slip last week with his irons, Kim’s ball-striking has been superb of late and he comes in having gained strokes off the tee now in four straight starts. That he’s keeping things settled off the tee is a good sign for his potential as the rest of his game is clearly sharp. Kim’s gained over two strokes on his APP or ATG in three of his past four starts and has been one big putting week away from getting himself into contention. Even if he doesn’t challenge here, his tee to green game is clearly stacking up well for what will be the most severe test the players will face in 2020. At just over $7K in price, his ability to grind things out this week should allow him to pay off this salary for you on DK this week.
Set your DraftKings lineups here: $2.25M Fantasy Golf Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Entry]
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) 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.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL). Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (NH/CO) or 1-800-BETS OFF (IA). 21+ (18+ NH). NJ/PA/WV/IN/NH/IA/CO/IL only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.