Daily Fantasy Golf Helper: U.S. Open

Which golfers look ready to overcome the obstacles at Torrey Pines and contend at the U.S. Open?

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's daily fantasy golf offering.

Golf can be one of the most exciting DFS sports to follow, as tournaments span four days and allow ample time to prepare each week. It's a great balance between time to research and time spent tracking your team.

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Let's take a look at some golfers to target this week.

Key Stats

Key Stats for the U.S. Open
at Torrey Pines (South)
Strokes Gained: Approach
Driving Distance
Strokes Gained: Putting on Poa
Strokes Gained: Around the Green
Bogey Avoidance

The U.S. Open pretty much always requires an all-around game because they typically play tough relative to par. It's not a birdie-fiest, and too many holes in a golfer's game is an issue. That's why, to some degree, all four main areas -- driver, irons, wedges, and putter -- are on the list.

In a major field, we have alternatives, and we should be less willing to opt for imbalanced golfers.

Torrey Pines (South) requires distance unlike virtually any other course in the regular PGA Tour rotation, so that's a must. Iron play is never something we can ignore because it's how golfers can gain the biggest advantage on the field.

The Farmers Insurance Open was hosted at Torrey Pines (South) and Torrey Pines (North), so golfers who made the cut got three rounds at the South course back in January. I'll cite that a bit, but I tweeted about some notes pertaining to when this happened in 2008. Ultimately, missed cuts don't matter, but good finishes are great to see.

Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for the U.S. Open

All stats cited below come from FantasyNational. Strokes gained data includes stats from the past calendar year and is adjusted based on my field strength and recency adjustments. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 100 rounds when possible, unless noted. All ranks and percentile ranks are among the field.

Best of the Best

Jon Rahm (FanDuel Salary: $12,200 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +900) - So, there's a huge unknown variable with Rahm here, and it's the fact that he tested positive for COVID-19 and had to withdraw after 54 holes with a six-shot lead at the Memorial. But the bookmakers aren't that concerned, apparently, as Rahm is the favorite to win at Torrey Pines, where he has a win and four total top-10s in five starts. Rahm additionally is in the 88th percentile in strokes gained: putting on poa over the past 100 rounds. There's some risk here, but probably not enough to fade Rahm.

Xander Schauffele ($11,400 | +1800) - Schauffele is great on poa (90th percentile) and finally figured out Torrey Pines despite playing it often during his high school days this January when he finished runner-up. Schauffele has made 14 of 16 career major cuts and has finished top-10 in half of those 16 starts. As for the U.S. Open setups alone, he has made all four cuts and finished top-10 four times -- with three top-5 finishes, as well. He rates in the 95th percentile in adjusted strokes gained: tee to green, based on my database.

Viktor Hovland ($10,900 | +2700) - Hovland has had some instant success at U.S. Open setups, finishing 12th as the low amateur in 2019 at Pebble Beach and 13th last September at Winged Foot. Hovland is in the 96th percentile in both adjusted strokes gained: off the tee and approach, which puts him in elite territory from a ball-striking standpoint. Hovland also finished runner-up at the Farmers in January.

Patrick Reed ($10,700 | +3100) - Despite a decisive -- albeit controversial -- win at Torrey Pines in January, Reed's listed at a reasonable salary and win odds. Had anyone else won at Torrey Pines by five shots, I think it's safe to say he'd be getting a little more love than this. Reed has made 22 of 29 career major cuts, including 6 of 7 at the U.S. Open with 4 top-25 finishes. Reed ranks in the 92nd percentile in strokes gained: putting on poa over the past 100 rounds, helping make up for a lack of overpowering distance (23rd percentile).

Tony Finau ($10,600 | +3100) - I love Finau as much as the next guy, but the same win odds as Reed tell us a lot about Reed. Anyway, Finau was T2 at the Farmers in January and really fits Torrey Pines well. He has made seven straight cuts at the Farmers Insurance Open (which features three rounds at Torrey Pines' South Course), including top-25 finishes in all of them and four top-six outings in the past five years. Finau rates in the 86th percentile or better in all three adjusted strokes gained: tee to green stats.

Mid-Range Picks

Louis Oosthuizen ($10,000 | +4200) - Oosthuizen sits in the 76th percentile in adjusted strokes gained: tee to green and is in the 93rd percentile in poa putting over the past 100 rounds (66 for him on the surface). He's not long off the tee (28th percentile) but did finish 29th at the Farmers in January and has 22 top-25 finishes in majors in his career in 49 starts. That includes 33 made cuts and 9 top-10 finishes.

Cameron Smith ($9,800 | +5000) - Smith missed the cut at the Farmers in January, but that's not the end of the world for his U.S. Open chances. He is an elite poa putter (88th percentile) and carries a nice approach game (69th percentile) and wedge game (93rd) into the U.S. Open. Smith's also 16 for 19 in career cuts made at majors, though he does have just one top-25 in five starts at U.S. Opens.

Jason Kokrak ($9,400 | +7000) - Kokrak is a poor putter on poa (11th percentile) but overcame that to finish 29th at the Farmers when he lost just 0.2 strokes putting. Kokrak's entering off of a win at the Charles Schwab when he brought his dominant ball-striking. Kokrak has four top-30 finishes in six tries at the Farmers, which should help us overcome the tepid major history (10 made cuts in 16 starts but only 3 top-25s).

Adam Scott ($9,300 | +6500) - Scott was 10th at the Farmers this year (and runner-up in 2019) and has one positive putting surface to his name: poa. He actually rates in the 79th percentile when putting on poa over the past 100 rounds. Scott's accuracy issues (14th percentile) aren't great, but he's long off the tee (86th percentile) and has some great irons (78th percentile). He did finish 26th at the 2008 U.S. Open...if you still find that relevant.

Sam Burns ($9,200 | +8000) - Burns nearly went back-to-back after a win at the Valspar, followed up by a runner-up at the Byron Nelson. Burns also finished 18th at the Farmers at the start of the new year and has the right profile to succeed at the U.S. Open setup: he is long off the tee (94th percentile), has good irons (86th percentile), and is a good poa putter (80th percentile). Though he doesn't have much major history, he has made two of three cuts (with one withdrawal).

Low-Salaried Picks

Charley Hoffman ($9,000 | +10000) - Hoffman is consistently striping the irons and is in the 93rd percentile in this field in adjusted strokes gained: approach over the past year now, and he is a plus putter on poa (69th percentile). Hoffman is also long off the tee (84th percentile). He didn't play the Farmers, but we've seen him top-10 at Torrey Pines twice since 2014.

Max Homa ($9,000 | +10000) - Homa's best putting surface is poa, and he ranks in the 74th percentile on the surface and also finished 18th at the Farmers in January. Homa notoriously plays well in California, his home state, and picked up a win at the Genesis at Riviera in February. The only real concern is a poor major record: just one made cut in seven tries.

Harris English ($8,900 | +8000) - English lacks some distance but isn't short (66th percentile) and makes up for it just about everywhere else. He ranks in the 72nd percentile in adjusted tee to green play and is an 82nd-percentile poa putter. English missed the cut at the Farmers in January from some wildly abnormal short game stats.

Ryan Palmer ($8,800 | +15000) - Palmer was runner-up at Torrey Pines in January and is always a play to consider when we like Jon Rahm. Palmer, Rahm's Zurich teammate, has a lot of overlap to a lesser degree aside from the around-the-green play. Palmer has finished 2nd, 13th, 21st, and 2nd at the Farmers over the past four years.

Garrick Higgo ($8,600 | +7500) - Higgo is a simple case to make at this point: he's long off the tee (driving it over 310 yards, on average, on the European Tour), and he's a lights-out putter when adjusting for field strength, via datagolf. The irons were finally there last week. Just expect him to be super popular at the salary, coming off a win.

Carlos Ortiz ($8,500 | +15000) - Ortiz is a bit of a poa specialist (94th percentile), and he's surprisingly long off the tee (78th percentile). The adjusted irons are a concern (27th percentile), but they're getting better lately with three stripe shows in his past four (4.8, -1.2, 3.1, and 9.5 strokes gained from approach in his past four starts). Ortiz finished 29th here in January.

Lanto Griffin ($8,000 | +27000) - Griffin also is really good on poa (81st percentile) and has the irons going (80th percentile). That combination helped him to a top-10 at Torrey Pines in January. The main concern is that he has missed four cuts in his past five starts but has only lost an average of 0.5 strokes per event in that span. The missed cuts aren't that damning for someone with the skillset he has and for someone with two top-12 finishes at the Farmers in the past three years.