Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2022 US Open Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from The Country Club. Plus, Tim Anderson drops by to curse a few bets.
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2022 U.S. Open: Field
156 Players | Top 60 & Ties Make The Cut
First Tee: Thursday, June 15
Defending Champion: Jon Rahm
We’re BACK for round three of major season, this time, the 2022 U.S. Open, better known as the event where some pro’s scorecards will resemble yours.
Since it’s a major, expect some custom cut line rules. And the U.S. Open is the most daunting take from that perspective. Although The Masters only has the top 50 and ties qualifying for the weekend, it’s a limited field of golfers, the U.S. Open has the field maxed at 156 players and only the top 60 and ties will qualify for rounds three and four. It’s not a given, but the U.S. Open usually sports one of the lowest 6/6 percentages for DraftKings lineups all year. Couple that with the expected lack of birdies and placement points will be far more valuable this week over the standard PGA TOUR tournament.
For the moment, all the world’s best players will be visiting the outskirts of Boston. Minus Tiger Woods. Tiger released a statement saying he’ll be skipping the U.S. Open in favor of resting to ready himself for The Open in a month’s time at St. Andrew’s … and the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland. It makes a ton of sense. As we witnessed at the PGA Championship, Tiger’s body clearly wasn’t ready to withstand four days of golf on a course that had rough. Despite the elevation changes, Augusta rarely requires extra torque to hack it out toward the hole. Southern Hills had some, and U.S. Open is going to have that THICC rough where the players can only advance it 25 yards back to the fairway. Since his back started becoming an issue over a decade ago, the U.S. Open has caused Tiger nothing but issues. He’s missed the cut in three of his four appearances since 2015 and usually gives us that “oh, no” moment at some point during coverage when he grabs the lower back and walks around like a robot from a 1970s sci-fi movie for the remainder of the round. If he thinks he actually has a shot to win at St. Andrews, getting as much rest as possible is the best decision. Paul Casey is also not playing due to injury, but the masses seem far less interested in that news.
Then, as you may have heard, there’s a collection of, now, for PGA TOUR members who have joined the newly formed LIV TOUR. There’s going to be a debate, and many lawsuits, coming over the next few months and years about allocation of Official World Golf Ranking points to the players, which determine a lot of the field in major championships. But for the moment, despite getting suspended indefinitely by the PGA TOUR, all LIV players are eligible for the 2022 U.S. Open. So, Phil, Bryson, DJ, Louis, Reed and the gang are all expected to be in Brookline.
Many people don’t understand the PGA TOUR’s role in the majors. While FedEx Cup points are awarded at the majors, each of the four majors has a different governing body. Augusta National runs The Masters, the USGA does the U.S. Open, the RNA handles The Open and the PGA of America oversees the PGA Championship. It’s that last one that confuses people. And rightly so. However, the PGA of America and PGA TOUR have nothing to do with each other. So, while the PGA TOUR can tell players to take a hike from THE PLAYERS Championship, they’ll need those governing bodies to individually bar the LIV players as they cannot enforce their will for these events. We’ll see what the RNA does in a month, but the USGA is welcoming all comers. Except for Rickie Fowler. But that’s only because he failed to qualify.
It has been 34 years since The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts has hosted the U.S. Open. That year Curtis Strange needed an additional 18 holes to topple Nick Faldo. That was 1988. In 1963, Julius Boros also needed a playoff, this time to defeat two men, Jacky Cupit and then-six-time major winner Arnold Palmer. Dating back to the first U.S. Open at The Country Club in 1913, Francis Ouimet needed a playoff to get his $300 check. So, three U.S. Open’s at this location, three playoffs. Remember, the USGA changed its playoff format in 2018, banishing the next day, 18-hole competition — it is now a two-holes aggregate, followed by sudden death if no winner is determined. Despite the three playoffs at The Country Club, there hasn’t been a playoff at the U.S. Open since Tiger limped around for an extra day at Torrey Pines to snatch the creatively named U.S. Open trophy away from Rocco Mediate in 2008.
Despite the lack of reoccurring majors, The Country Club hasn’t been completely off the radar when it comes to the national stage. It played host to the 1999 Ryder Cup and the U.S. Amateur for both the men (2013) and women (1995).
Of those 2013 U.S. Amateur participants in the field this week Matt Fitzpatrick (1st), Corey Conners (T3), Scottie Scheffler (T5), Xander Schauffele (T9), Patrick Rodgers (T9), Bryson DeChambeau (T17), Adam Schenk (T33), Wyndham Clark (T33) all made the knockout stage. Justin Thomas, Beau Hossler, Cameron Young, Grayson Murray, Talor Gooch, Max Homa, Will Zalatoris, Aaron Wise and Davis Riley were cut in the stroke-play portion.
Sergio Garcia is the last man standing from the Euro Ryder Cup squad from 1999. While Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, even at 50-plus, find themselves in the 2022 field.
2022 U.S. Open: Key Stats
- Good Drives Gained
- Proximity 175+ Yards
- Strokes Gained: Around the Green
- Bogey Avoidance
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2022 U.S. Open: Course
- Course: The Country Club
- Yardage: 7,264
- Par: 70
- Greens: Poa Annua
2022 U.S. Open: Past Winners
- 2021: Jon Rahm -6 (Torrey Pines)
- 2020: Bryson DeChambeau -6 (Winged Foot)
- 2019: Gary Woodland -13 (Pebble Beach)
- 2018: Brooks Koepka +1 (Shinnecock Hills)
- 2017: Brooks Koepka -16 (Erin Hills)
- 2016: Dustin Johnson -4 (Oakmount)
- 2015: Jordan Spieth -5 (Chambers Bay)
U.S. OPENS AT THE COUNTRY CLUB
- 1988: Curtis Strange -6
- 1963: Julius Boros +9
- 1913: Francis Ouimet +12
2022 U.S. Open: Notes
Opened in 1882, The Country Club has obviously changed quite a bit over the past 140 years, but Gil Hanse did restoration in both 2013 and 2019 to prepare it for the U.S. Open and return some of the course back to its original form.
Playing as a Par 70 and at 7,264 yards, on paper, it doesn’t seem too daunting, especially after getting Torrey Pines at 7,643 yards a year ago. But that’s on paper. In reality, with its elevation changes and blind shots, it will add to the length. As will the 619-yard par 5 No. 14 that usually plays into the wind. Plus, there are two holes — No. 11; 131 yards and No. 5; 315 yards — which really take away from the scorecard distances. Plus, there are myriad tee boxes for the USGA to shorten or lengthen round-by-round as it deems fit.
I can yammer on about the different types of skills required to win a U.S. Open, but frankly, it has become a pretty standard template. Be among the leaders in driving distance, be better than average in greens in regulation and don’t bleed the championship away on the greens. That’s not to say the shorter hitting, quality long iron players don’t have a chance. It’s just the path to victory is so much harder. With The Country Club’s narrow fairways, length + accuracy is going to be the cheat code to keep those crooked numbers off the scorecard.
If you weight distance at 60% and accuracy at 40%, essentially a modified, and better, “Total Driving” stat, you’ll see the names you want to target.
I can even enhance the accuracy, and use the same split, but only for courses with “Long rough,” “Hard to Hit Fairways” and “Difficult Scoring to Par.”
As a cheatsheet, the ideal target is a longer than average, accurate driver who gains strokes from over 175 yards on approach with the ability to scramble from the thick rough. Oh, they’ll also need to be able to handle the wind gusts too. Unfortunately, we’re not creating a player in Tiger Woods 2006, so you’re not going to find any single golfer who fits every criteria.
As you can see, even when we isolate those stats over the past 50 rounds at Fantasy National, even the best at most of those skills still have their deficiencies.
Obviously, there are going to be a passel of paths to succeed at this course, it’s just, when you look at the winners of this event over the last half-decade, their prowess with a driver immediately stands out. It can cover up so many other issues.
If the biggest challenge at The Country Club is missing the fairway and automatically needing to layup into the fairway 150 yards from the hole. Having some extra distance makes the up and down after the hack out more manageable, as the most distance off the tee should lead to a closer up and down after getting back in the fairway. The strategy Bryson deployed at Winged Foot is unlikely to work this week, though.
The terrain in Brookline is unique for a major championship — strange elevation shifts, completely blind approaches and the most important things, odd angles and lies. Bryson was smart enough to know that the fairways were so difficult to hit for even the most accurate drivers, so the biggest advantage anyone could have was just hit it as far as possible. The difference being at Winged Foot, Bryson and Matthew Wolff, were able to merely hack out of the deep stuff with a wedge and run it up to the green. With the elevation changes on the run-up to the greens with most being protected by bunkers, rough or water at the front, there’s going to be no running the ball up this year. Even when that may be possible, the greens at The Country Club are some of the smallest the players will encounter at any time, measuring just over 4000 sq. feet on average. Without the proper loft coming on approach, getting the ball to stay on the green is going to be rather taxing.
In theory, that extra distance should help, as approaches closer to the hole should be easier shots to control height and spin. That doesn’t mean a shorter hitter can’t have an incredible week with their mid-irons and contend, it’s just a higher degree of difficulty.
Those small greens could be a mitigating factor for usually awful putters. Like we see at Pebble Beach or Harbour Town every season, the smaller the green, the lower the rate of three-putts. That should close the gap between the best and worst putters in the field. This is great news for someone like Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau or Harold Varner III, who routinely possess excellent tough from the green side but struggle the moment the ball lands on the putting surface. They’re still going to need to make a lot of 10-footers to surge on the leaderboard, but there’s far less fear of three-putting from 45 feet.
2022 U.S. Open: Picks
Shane Lowry ($9,000)
It’s been an incredible year for the Irishman to date, despite not hoisting a novelty check … yet. Yes, he won The Open Championship, but the U.S. Open has always seemed like the best fit for his game. He’s only one of five players in the field to rank inside the top 35 in both distance and accuracy on difficult, deep rough courses, and no player has performed better on holes playing over par this season than Lowry.
Sungjae Im ($7,600)
Bound to be one of the most popular selections this week, Sungjae is simply mispriced on DraftKings. He should be about $1,000 more expensive. That doesn’t mean he’s a lock to return value, because this is golf and weird stuff happens. One of the few players who possess above-average distance while being elite in the accuracy department, the past few months have been a Tee-to-Green master class from the South Korean. It’s just sometimes the putter that doesn’t cooperate. Even so, he’s finished no worse than T21 in any event since THE PLAYERS, while gaining over +8.3 strokes T2G over his past four events.
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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 (@ThePME) won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, and was a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2022 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 24 FSWA 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), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). 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.
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