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DraftKings PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf Picks: U.S. Open Predictions, Preview

Reid Fowler previews the U.S. Open and gives his picks for your DraftKings PGA TOUR fantasy golf lineups.

The 121st U.S. Open is on deck this week at Torrey Pines, South Course, in San Diego, Calif. The course will play as a par 71, measuring 7,643 yards and the greens will be poa annua this week. There are 156 golfers and the top 65 and ties will make the weekend for the season’s third major. The last and only time Torrey Pines hosted the U.S. Open was in 2008, where Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate in a playoff.



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STRATEGY

Torrey Pines is a regular stop on the PGA TOUR for the Farmers Insurance Open, where Patrick Reed (+2500, $9,000) won by five strokes. Bryson DeChambeau (+1900, $10,400) is the defending U.S. Open champion, winning at Winged Foot last season. Similar to last week, Torrey Pines (South) will be another long, par 71 and that’s where the similarities stop. The course hugs the San Diego coastline, featuring undulating fairways, thick rough and small greens. Torrey Pines also has deep bunkering guarding the greens — 14 of 18 holes have bunkers that sit on the left and right side of the putting surface, making sure the golfers don’t have an easy bailout away from danger.

There’s no secret what you need to do well at a U.S. Open and here at Torrey Pines. Of course, ball-striking is king, but golfers who are efficient in distance and accuracy Off-the-Tee will have an easier path to success. The last four winners of the U.S. Open are all elite drivers. Bryson finished first in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee at the end of the season last year, while Gary Woodland (+8000, $7,500), Brooks Koepka (+1600, $10,100) and Dustin Johnson (+1600, $10,700) finished inside the top 20 in driving at the end of the season they won the U.S. Open. The top five in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee over the previous 24 rounds coming into this week is Bryson, Jon Rahm (+850, $11,200), Matthew Fitzpatrick (+5500, $7,800), Abraham Ancer (+5000, $7,900) and Cameron Champ (+18000, $7,000).

Hitting it well Off-the-Tee won’t amount to anything this week if the golfers don’t have a hot putting week. Most of the greens pitch back to front and have a lot of slope and undulation. The past winners at the Farmers Insurance Open, dating back to Jason Day, gained an average of 4.125 strokes on the greens. Putting is too variant to predict but leaning toward golfers who’ve shown success putting on poa annua should also be considered. With the elevated greens and bunkers in specific landing areas, golfers who rate out nicely in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and sand saves as well should warrant roster considerations this week.

Like all major weeks, pricing is soft, which means there’s value to be mined in each price range. Historically, winning this tournament usually goes to one of the top-ranked golfers heading into the week. The past six winners had an average world ranking of 12.5 leading into their U.S Open victories, with the lowest being Woodland at No. 24 in 2019 and the highest being Jordan Spieth (+1700, $10,900) at No. 2 in 2015. Over the previous three years at the U.S. Open, a balanced lineup approach has been successful. In 2018, the average salary of the top six in DraftKings scoring was $8,650, with the cheapest being Tony Finau at $7,500 and the most expensive being Johnson at $11,700. In 2019, the average salary was $9,183, with the cheapest being Louis Oosthuizen at $7,900 and the most expensive being Koepka at $11,600. Last season, the average was $8,783, with Will Zalatoris being the cheapest at $6,700 and Justin Thomas being the most expensive at $10,700.


Brooks Koepka (+1600 to Win, $10,100 on DraftKings)

The fact that he’s won two out of the last four U.S. Opens and just finished runner up at the PGA Championship last month should be reason enough to consider Brooks this week. Koepka missed the cut last weekend at Congaree, but it was all due to his short game, losing 1.66 strokes around-the-greens and 2.85 putting. His ball-striking was superb in South Carolina, and he’s now gained over six strokes through approach in three of his previous five measured events. Poa annua isn’t his best surface; he usually skips the California Swing during the regular season. Still, this is Koepka at a major, which should suffice if you’re looking to roster a golfer in this range.


Collin Morikawa (+2200 to Win, $9,500 on DraftKings)

The fourth-ranked golfer in the world is elite with his irons, ranking first in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green over the previous 50 rounds. Over his past five tournaments, he’s gained an average of just under seven strokes with his irons. Morikawa’s finishes hinge on how well he’s putting that week, and he’s lost strokes with his putter in three of his past four measured tournaments. Still, his worst finish in those four events was a 14th at the Charles Schwab; he finished T7 at the RBC Heritage and T8 at the PGA Championship. The last two times he’s gained strokes putting this season, he finished second at The Memorial and won the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession. He’s got a top 25 at the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open and should be used to the poa annua growing up in California.


Shane Lowry (+4500 to Win, $7,600 on DraftKings)

Three top 10s and a top 5 in his last four starts, including The Memorial Tournament and the PGA Championship, should give the reigning “Championship Golfer of the World” a boost of confidence heading into this week. Lowry has three made cuts at Torrey Pines during the Farmers Insurance Open, finishing seventh in 2015 and 13th the following year. Few players are hitting it as well as Lowry Tee-to-Green (T2G). Lowry gained an average of 5.9 strokes T2G over his previous five tournaments and comes in with a good swath of U.S. Open experience and success. In 2016 at Oakmont, Lowry was the 54-hole leader with a four-shot lead heading into the final round. His Sunday wasn’t ideal, shooting a 76, but his first three days were near perfection. Adam Scott (+8000, $7,400) should also be considered this week with how well his game sets up for a U.S. Open and how well he’s played at Torrey Pines during the Farmers Insurance Open. Scott finished top 10 at Torrey Pines earlier this season and was runner-up back in 2019. He also has three top 10s at the U.S. Open since 2014. Poa annua greens are his preferred surface, ranking 16th in Strokes Gained: Putting over the previous 50 rounds.


Justin Suh (+30000 to Win, $6,600 on DraftKings)

If you’re looking for a punt play, one to consider is the former University of Southern California standout. The California native qualified for the U.S. Open at a Monday qualifier last week and gets to tee it up at Torrey Pines, a course he’s very familiar with. Suh has two professional starts at the Farmers Insurance Open, where he finished 37th earlier this season. He’s also mentioned that he’s played Torrey Pines about 20 times in his life during junior and collegiate golf. The former World No. 1 ranked amateur turned pro with Morikawa, Viktor Hovland (+2200, $9,200) and Matthew Wolff (+15000, $7,200) back in 2019 and should have a ton of confidence this week at a course he knows and loves.



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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.


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