Daily Fantasy Golf Helper: U.S. Open, Presented by Goslings
By now, you've probably dabbled in daily fantasy sports, but if not, don't worry. Now is a great time to start, especially with FanDuel now offering a revamped version of PGA golf.
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Let's take a look at some golfers to target for the US Open.
|Key Stats for the US Open at Pebble Beach|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Greens in Regulation|
|Par 4 Scoring (350 to 400 Yards)
|Strokes Gained: Putting on Poa|
|Performance in Majors|
The 2010 US Open was held at Pebble Beach, but there's no strokes gained data to leverage from that event, unfortunately. Still, we know mostly what Pebble Beach has to offer already, and we can still dig into basic data from that event.
Won by Graeme McDowell (after Dustin Johnson lost a three-shot lead by shooting an 82 on Sunday), the 2010 US Open saw no players finish below par, as McDowell won at an even 284 despite hitting 14 bunkers throughout the week.
Between the 2010 US Open, other Pebble Beach data, and quotes from golfers, it's pretty safe to say that we need to lean on strokes gained: approach for the US Open. It's a course where fairway woods and even long irons, if conditions require it, will be common off the tee rather than the driver, and misses are costly.
It's the type of setup to prioritize second shots and getting to the greens with birdie chances or par chances. Scrambling and greens in regulation correlated fairly strongly with stroke differential among those who made the cut in 2010 -- especially compared to driving stats and even putting stats.
Around-the-green scrambling won't be easy, as Patrick Cantlay showed us via Instagram even if he fixated on hazards. The point is that the rough is thick. There are also bunkers to avoid, but the splits were weird in 2010. McDowell hit 14 bunkers, seventh-most among cut-makers, and Gregory Havret (13) and Ernie Els (10) also hit a lot of bunkers but rounded out the top three.
On the flip side, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods -- tied for fourth -- played out of just four bunkers, fewest among cut-makers. McDowell wasn't even that efficient getting out of them. So, approach and getting the greens in regulation -- or scrambling when trouble is had -- are the main stats I'm focused on.
To a lesser degree, there's a par 4 angle we can seek. Eight of the holes are par 4s from 345 to 413 yards, and this just isn't a typical bomber's paradise like a normal US Open. The greens are poa, and it's worth factoring in performance on poa and at least glancing through the list of golfers who fare well at majors.
Stats cited below come from FantasyNational and include the past 100 rounds on the PGA Tour unless noted. Ranks are among the field.
Best of the Best
Dustin Johnson (FanDuel Price: $12,200 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: 17/2) - If I have to back one golfer this week, it's Dustin Johnson. That's always a safe feeling, but Johnson actually held a three-stroke lead on McDowell after 54 holes in 2010 and was nine strokes up on seventh place. He just shot an 82 on Sunday to blow the lead. Over the past 100 rounds on the PGA Tour, Johnson ranks 7th in strokes gained: approach, 2nd in greens in regulation, 20th in scrambling, and 1st in bogey avoidance. He's also fifth in strokes gained: putting on poa greens over a 100-round sample. It's a loaded field, and you can make the case for just about anyone at the top, but DJ is my top option.
Tiger Woods ($11,900 | 10/1) - It's not predictive of what to expect in 2019, but Woods won the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach by 15 strokes, the largest major victory ever. This is a course where Woods can club down and hit fairways. It's not that he isn't long (he's 27th in distance gained over the past 100 rounds), but he's more accurate (55th) than most of the long hitters in the field (he's seventh in accuracy among the top-30 in distance). Woods grades out sixth in greens in regulation and scrambling, and he's also sixth in total strokes gained in his past 100 windy rounds.
Patrick Cantlay ($11,300 | 19/1) - Cantlay's win at the Memorial will likely draw attention to him, but he's been golfing extremely well in 2019 and grades out top-10 in both strokes gained: off the tee and strokes gained: approach in our 100-round sample. Cantlay is fourth in greens in regulation gained and has promising wind splits, as well. The Memorial winner has made five straight cuts at majors, including a ninth at the Masters and a third at the PGA to start 2019.
The Next Tier
Xander Schauffele ($10,900 | 24/1) - I thought about it for quite some time, but I can't submit this piece without discussing Schauffele. Xander is one of five golfers to rank top-12 in both strokes gained at majors since the start of 2014 and in adjusted strokes gained (via my own calculations) in 2019. The others? Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, and Patrick Cantlay. Xander doesn't do anything to an elite degree compared to the rest of the field, but he has no real holes in his game: 33rd off the tee, 21st in approach, 74th around the green, and 18th on poa greens. That formula could lead to another top-tier finish at a major.
Tommy Fleetwood ($10,600 | 32/1) - Fleetwood has now played the weekend at nine straight majors. He has just two top-10s in that span and has finished 35th, 36th, and 48th at his past three, but he should fit the US Open version of Pebble Beach well. He's the only golfer to rank top-30 in both distance and accuracy over the past 100 rounds, and he's 3rd in greens in regulation and 25th in approach. Fleetwood should offer a high floor, and if his game clicks, there's an obvious path to upside.
Adam Scott ($10,500 | 34/1) - Scott has missed the past two US Open cuts, but that's wholly irrelevant because of the change of pace Pebble Beach offers. Scott has been steady over his past four majors (17th, 3rd, 18th, and 8th), and he grades out 9th in strokes gained: approach and 14th in putting on poa in our sample. He also has really great splits in windy conditions.
Matt Kuchar ($10,200 | 46/1) - Kuchar gets a boost on courses that prioritize accuracy over distance, and that's what we should have this weekend. Kuchar is 14th in approach and 10th in greens in regulation. As for the avoiding-disaster stats: he's fourth in scrambling, fifth in bogey avoidance, and eighth in sand saves. He's a solid price for someone with seven top-16 finishes at majors since the start of 2017.
Webb Simpson ($9,600 | 46/1) - Simpson quietly (I think so, at least) has been really, really good at majors of late. He's made nine straight cuts and has finished top-30 in six consecutive. He also won THE PLAYERS last year (the fifth major), for what that's worth to you. Of course, that's just one part of the equation. The more important part is that he should get a boost at a mostly less-than-driver setup, as he's 13th in strokes gained: approach, 3rd in scrambling, and really good around the green (4th). Simpson also has solid poa putting and wind splits.
Henrik Stenson ($9,500 | 55/1) - If the recipe is hitting fairways and greens and relying on approach play, we have to consider Stenson. For all of the struggles he's had, Stenson enters ranked second in strokes gained: approach, first in greens in regulation gained, fourth in bogey avoidance, and fifth in total strokes gained in windy conditions. The ceiling has been low for him for the most part, but the floor should be high based on what he does, meaning he pairs well with a more volatile expensive stud.
Brandt Snedeker ($9,400 | 50/1) - Snedeker's short-term form is better than his long-term form, and he had really uneven approach numbers entering the RBC Canadian Open (-5.2 at the Charles Schwab, +3.1 at the PGA Championship, +2.5 at the RBC Heritage, -2.5 at the Valspar Championship, and +4.9 at THE PLAYERS). He picked up 1.2 and used a hot putter to finish fourth. Volatility isn't always bad, especially in DFS tournaments when a top-five finish is in the cards. Snedeker, a two-time winner at Pebble Beach and a great wind player and poa putter, should have some upside at a low price if he catches the high end of that variance.
Kevin Na ($9,200 | 90/1) - Na won the Charles Schwab in his last event. To do so, he picked up seven full strokes on the green. That's usually a red flag, a sign to avoid a player, but he also gained 8.3 strokes via approach shots, and that's something we can cling to. Prior to his win, he had missed the cut at the PGA Championship but also finished 35th, 10th, and 46th (at the Masters). Overall, Na ranks 27th in approach, 10th around the green, and 47th in scrambling.
Tyrrell Hatton ($8,800 | 160/1) - Hatton can play in the wind and has solid poa putting splits, but he has never played Pebble Beach. The approach play isn't immaculate (63rd), yet he is 10th on the European Tour in a small sample in 2019 and was 50th in 2018. It's the overall linksy, coastal, windy setup plus the six straight made cuts at majors that lets us buy into Hatton at $8,800.
Jim Furyk ($8,700 | 120/1) - Furyk keeps trucking along. He is the field's best scrambler over the past 100 rounds and also grades out 20th in approach, 19th in greens in regulation, 15th in bogey avoidance, and 27th in putting on poa in our samples. He should be able to play off the fairway frequently, and that is a big boost. A simple regression analysis based on his recent performance and betting odds suggests he should be priced closer to $9,700 than $8,700. He finished 14th at Pebble Beach this year.
Thomas Pieters ($8,600 | 280/1) - Pieters can be a frustrating golfer to roster, but the path to success at Pebble Beach is pretty clear. Pieters grades out 22nd in strokes gained: approach over the past 100 rounds on the PGA Tour, and he's 19th in bogey avoidance. Pieters has finished 28th, 6th, and 23rd at the past three majors, as well.
Scottie Scheffler ($8,200 | 280/1) - Based on how good he's been in 2019 -- after adjusting for field strength -- Scheffler probably should be closer to a $9,000 option. Scheffler has played in two US Opens, missing the cut in 2016 and finishing 27th in 2017. Over his 30 rounds on the PGA Tour, Scheffler ranks 28th in approach and 36th in greens in regulation. It's a small sample, for sure, but he's shown enough to consider at such a cheap tag.
Erik Van Rooyen ($8,100 | 160/1) - Van Rooyen finished 8th at the PGA Championship and 20th at the RBC Canadian Open. His approach numbers on the PGA Tour are very limited, but he graded out well on the European Tour in 2018, and he has shown the ability to bring some of that overseas. His odds already shortened from 280/1 to 160/1, yet his price is stuck at $8,100, making him a strong value.