Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: U.S. Open
We return to Torrey Pines for the second time this season, with the mammoth South Course playing host for the U.S. Open for the first time since 2008. Whatever you can recall from the Farmers Insurance Open at the end of January, feel free to wipe it from your brain. As we saw with Pebble Beach in 2019 and Quail Hollow in 2017, USGA setups can turn a regular PGA Tour course from a solid test to a maddening puzzle.
The South Course is home to one of the most iconic scenes in golf history, when a hobbled Tiger Woods defeated Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff. Torrey Pines is the annual host for the Farmers, in which golfers split their first and second round between the North and South Courses, with two more rounds on the South Course for those making the cut. Length is essential at Torrey, and we'll no doubt see the rough much higher than the three inches it was in January.
The course features just one water hazard, a small greenside pond on the par 5 18th to make you think about that long iron. The primary defense on this 7,643-yard monster will be that long rough and small, heavily sloped greens that will be sped up to among the fastest the field will see all year.
The 156-man field includes about 40 golfers who qualified outside the normal Tour exemptions. This includes some familiar names as well as complete unknowns who made their way through qualifying. These golfers have earned the chance of a lifetime and an experience they'll never forget, and they largely have no chance of winning. The cut line is just the top 60 and ties, down from the top 65 at a normal event.
Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.
Course and Tournament Info
Course: The South Course at Torrey Pines
Distance: 7,643 yards
Fairways/Rough: Kikuyu grass
Greens: Poa annua
The bermudagrass in the fairway has been replaced with the grabby kikuyu seen in the rough, and combined with poa greens, the result will be a shock to the system for most Tour pros who have spent the better part of the last four months on bermudagrass. The rough makes more headlines for swallowing up and surrounding errant tee shots and approaches, but kikuyu on the fairways means less roll on drives and an even bigger advantage for the longest hitters.
There will be plenty of balls in the rough this week, but the kikuyu fairways designed to slow the roll on tee shots could also prevent some slightly off shots from rolling into the rough.
Woods and Mediate were the only two players under par in 2008, each at just 1-under after 72 holes. The U.S. Open always wants to drive the scores as close to par as possible, and Torrey passed the test last time it played host. We should expect the same this time around.
Fellow California course and kikuyu haven Riviera Country Club leads the way as our best comparison. Other driver-heavy long courses that come to mind are Augusta National and Quail Hollow. While we'll look at history at Torrey Pines for the course history section, there is something to "event history" for the U.S. Open. How golfers fared major championship tests at Winged Foot, Bethpage Black, Shinnecock Hills, and Oakmont could be informative this week.
These stats will prove vital to success in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
|Key Stats for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines|
|Total Strokes Gained / Total Driving|
|Strokes Gained: Off the Tee|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Strokes Gained: Putting on Poa|
We have to consider overall form for the U.S. Open, as this event is time and again won by a golfer at or near the top of the sport. Over the past decade, the lowest-ranked golfer by Official World Golf Ranking to win the U.S. Open was Martin Kaymer at 28th. He'd eventually rise to No. 1 in the world, as did half of the other U.S. Open winners over that span.
Driving will be crucial this week, and strokes gained: off the tee encapsulates both distance and accuracy. We'll lean on distance for the reasons stated above, but staying in the short stuff while bombing it out there is always the goal.
Finding our way onto these slippery putting surfaces comes next, and that starts with strokes gained: approach. Some combination of scrambling/bogey avoidance/around the green play will be a factor this week, but golfers who generally gain the most strokes around the green are doing so because they miss the green so frequently. We want to find golfers who hit greens and are able to survive when they don't, so bogey avoidance is the way to go this week.
And finally, putting. Striking the ball off a new grass type will be plenty disorienting, but putting on the bumpier poa greens when used to the smooth bermuda will ruin some in the field this week. Finding golfers who prefer putting on poa annua needs to be part of our plan this week.
Course History Studs
Jon Rahm is the favorite, and he announced this weekend on Twitter that he was cleared from COVID-19 protocols and would be in the field after being forced to withdraw from the Memorial with a six shot lead. Rahm's finishes in five trips to Torrey Pines are 1st, 29th, 5th, 2nd, and 7th.
Woods won the Farmers Insurance Open in 2008 and went on to win the U.S. Open, and Patrick Reed will look to repeat that feat. He was also 6th last year and T13 in 2019 at the Farmers, and he has a decent U.S. Open record with four top 15s in seven years.
Tony Finau was runner up to Reed this year, with prior finishes of 6th, 13th, 6th, 4th, 18th, and 24th. His record at the U.S. Open is mixed, with three finishes of T14 or better and two missed cuts.
Marc Leishman won the Farmers in 2020 and was 18th a few months ago. He has two runner up finishes (in 2010 and 2014) and two other top 10s to his name, most recently in 2018.
Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.