The wait is over, and the season’s third major is finally here. The PGA Tour will travel to the South Course (par 71, 7,685 yards) of Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, for the 2021 U.S. Open. The last time the U.S. Open was hosted here was back in 2008, when Tiger Woods captured one of his most illustrious major titles, finishing the week at only -1. Also, every season since 1968 the Farmers Open has taken place at Torrey Pines, with one round played on the North Course and the remaining three on the South. The course setup has been revamped and will be far more challenging for the U.S Open, but I still believe analyzing player’s results at the Farmers will be helpful this week. Just like every U.S. Open track, the rough should be thick and penalizing this week at the South Course, and the greens should be very fast and difficult to read. Additionally, the most notable change to the scorecard is that the South Course will play as a par 71 for the U.S. Open, opposed to a par 72 for the Farmers. The par five sixth hole will now play as a par four, leaving only three par fives for these players to attack this week. Still, capitalizing on the par fives will be essential if you want to win the 2021 U.S. Open. Woods led the field in par five scoring during his 2008 U.S. Open win and three of the past five Farmers’ champs have ranked inside the top-five in SG on the par fives.
Also, while the par fours are going to be very grueling this week, being as efficient as possible on them will be critical, especially on the par fours that fall between 450-500 yards. Six of the 11 par fours at the South Course land in this range. Coming in at 7,685 yards, this course is now the longest par 71 on the PGA schedule this season. Per usual at any U.S. Open, being a world class driver of the golf ball is going to be a must at the South Course. Its no coincidence that Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka own four of the last five U.S. Open titles, and I will be putting a heavy emphasis on driving distance and SG OTT this week, along with the usual significant weight on approach stats. Furthermore, another skill that is always required when the course is expected to be a demanding test of golf is bogey avoidance. DeChambeau finished the week with the least amount of bogeys a year ago when he secured the first major of his career at Winged Foot, and he was the fifth U.S Open champion over the last seven years to lead their field in the statistic.
After mostly facing Bermuda greens over the last few months, this field will be competing on POA greens in La Jolla, making putting splits absolutely a useful tool this week. Speaking of the field, there are 156 players brining their talents to the South Course, including 79 of the top 100 in the world. The cut for this event has been trimmed down to the top-60 and ties, so even more so than usual, getting your golfers through the cut will be imperative this week. With this being a world-class group of players, there is a surplus of appealing options in the lower end of this field, and below I give you four of my favorite value plays of the week.
Adam Scott, $7,400
Scott failed to make the cut at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, but this was only his 5th missed cut in his last 30 major appearances. He followed up this letdown with a strong T16 at the Memorial Championship, where Scott generated 3.1 ST2G and ended the week 5th in driving distance. Plus, the Aussie has been solid with his putter, gaining strokes on the greens at seven of his last ten events, and now gets POA greens at the South Course, which is by far his top putting surface.
Scott ranks 9th in total strokes gained in his last 50 starts at venues that sport POA greens, and he has finished in the top-10 both times he has competed at a Farmers Open. Additionally, the 40-year-old ranked 3rd in driving distance and T6 in greens found at the South Course for the 2008 U.S. Open, en route to a T26 finish. Scott is always a sharp target at majors and he shouldn't be very popular this week. For four of his last six starts, Scott has been owned by less than 10% of the field for DraftKings’ main GPP of the week.
Harris English, $7,300
English owns a spotless 5/5 record at U.S. Opens, including a 4th place at Winged Foot last season, and he just recorded his 8th top-25 of the season last weekend at the Palmetto Championship. Twice in his last three starts English has produced positive strokes OTT and the 31-year-old ranks 18th in total strokes gained over his last 50 rounds on par 71s.
At 12 made cuts in a row, English hasn’t missed a weekend at major since 2014 and he is way too cheap for his safety.
Charley Hoffman, $7,200
Hoffman has really found his groove, proceeding through the cut at 11 straight events and posting a top-20 in eight of these starts. He has gained strokes OTT at six consecutive tournaments and ranks 4th in SG APP, 6th in SGT2G and 4th in SG on par fives across his last 24 rounds.
In addition to this eye popping form, Hoffman’s best splits come on POA grass and he has been successful at U.S. Opens in the past. He has only missed one cut in seven career starts at this major, with his most notable result being a T8 at Erin Hills in 2017. Hoffman checks all the boxes this week and is an elite value at only $7,200.
Jhonattan Vegas, $6,800
This past weekend at the Palmetto Championship, Vegas finished T2 at Congaree Golf Club, marking his highest finish of the 2021 season. He had outstanding week with his driver, leading the field in SG OTT and finishing 5th in driving distance, while also ranking 4th in SGT2G and T2 in SG on the par fives. This was Vegas’ second top-10 finish in his past three starts and he has only missed one weekend in his last 12 tournaments. He ranks 4th for the season in SG OTT and Vegas has plenty of experience at Torrey Pines, making 7/11 cuts at the Farmers Open.
If he can continue to play at such a high level with his driver, Vegas has the potential to surprise with a top-30 this weekend, and he is a lock to come with sub 10% ownership in the Millionaire Maker.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Hunta512) 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.
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