PGA DFS US Open Preview

If you need PGA DFS to distract you from trying to figure out whether or not the Warriors are/aren’t better with Kevin Durant, you’re in luck! As always, my goal each week is to offer targets in each price range, identifying two to three low-cost/reasonable floor targets as core pieces for all my lineups.

In DFS golf, it’s all about getting your guys to the weekend, first and foremost. Generally, I will fill out my roster with guys in the $7,100-$9,000 range. The factors I consider are event history, course layout versus player strengths, recent form, and prime bounce back candidates who are playing well, but happened to miss the cut the prior week.

One factor does not necessarily outweigh another. And, like any good speculative decision-making process, instincts always play a role. Of course, there’s my personal favorite factor–as is the same with other fringe DFS sports–the DK pricing model has no clue what the fuck it is doing!

All that in mind, let’s take a look at the US Open (USO) information to clarify some unique characteristics that you may want to consider before lineups lock.

Event Information

Course: Pebble Beach Golf Links  Pebble Beach, CA  Par 72  Yardage 7,075

Pebble Beach Golf Links (PB) is widely regarded as some of the best scenery in the world, in, or outside of golf. Most of the credit goes to the coastline views of the Monterey Peninsula and Carmel Bay that even famous writer and California Native, John Steinbeck would struggle to find the appropriate diction for expressing the aesthetics. But don’t let the beautiful terrain and shorter yardage fool you. With certain features and the right conditions, PB can be an absolutely punishing experience for anyone who is not on their game.

John Steinbeck (Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

The combination of wind on this linksy style layout, and ultra small greens can wreak havoc on players that aren’t in form. From my vast experience playing Tiger Woods PGA 2004 on PlayStation, I can tell you first hand that this is one hundred percent accurate.

Speaking of the Big Cat, he is the only player to finish under par combined in the last two US Opens hosted at PB. Most of that nugget is thanks to 2000, which is referred to by many as the greatest major performance ever, when Woods won the USO by 15 strokes, the largest margin ever in a major.

The green on hole number 7 (britanniagolf.com)

Besides the Tiger anomaly, no golfer finished either the 2000, or 2010 Pebble Beach USOs under par. Considering that with the USGA’s penchant for getting cute with their course conditions, I would not expect too much of a departure from past scores. Here are the past five USO winners and their scores:

Year Player Score
2018 Brooks Koepka 1
2017 Brooks Koepka -16
2016 Dustin Johnson -4
2015 Jordan Spieth -5
2014 Martin Kaymer -9
Keys to Success

My top two stats to weigh this week in order are:

  1. Ball Striking (BS)
  2. Strokes gained: Approach-the-green (SG: A)

Pebble Beach is a course setup for shot makers. There is not much of a reward for attempting to overpower the course with elite distance off the tee. Instead, players will look to score by having clean looks from the fairway, in order to be as precise as possible shooting into Pebble’s aforementioned notoriously small greens.

Tap this link to view a chart showing past winners’ performances in strokes gained statistics. It clearly shows each winner since 2011 all having one thing in common: they threw darts.

I think driving should still be incorporated into key metrics this week, and not just emphasize approach stats because this ain’t no pro-am. For major championship conditions, the rough will be grown in to the point where errant tee shots will be penalized more so than in February. Keeping it clean off the tee will matter.

Ball striking provides the best snapshot of how sharp any individual’s all-around game is when putting is removed. That, in addition to strokes gained: approach-the-green, are the best stats to target for the season’s third major.

To help sift through the field regarding just the key stats I put the table below together using all data from the official PGA Tour website. It is listed in order of each players’ composite ranking, an average of each players’ ranking in the two key stats for this week. European tour players are in a separate table. Sort as you wish:

NameSalaryComposite RankBSSG: A
Keegan Bradley70005.592
Tiger Woods107007.5213
Brooks Koepka116008511
Rory McIlroy105008115
Matt Kuchar8500879
Hideki Matsuyama880010146
Justin Thomas930011157
Paul Casey830011.5419
Gary Woodland800012.5124
Henrik Stenson760019371
Patrick Cantlay10000213210
Lucas Glover700023.52027
Adam Scott860024.53415
Xander Schauffele870025.51833
Chez Reavie6900283026
Jim Furyk7200294414
Dustin Johnson1130029.54316
Tommy Fleetwood890035.53041
Webb Simpson7700375420
Rickie Fowler950037.52946
Sepp Straka630043.55037
Marc Leishman780044.57118
Jon Rahm920046.52172
Keith Mitchell710047.52471
Charles Howell III690053.52105
Alex Prugh650054.51099
Bryson DeChambeau810055.54962
Byeong Hun An690055.57635
Nate Lashley650055.58625
Justin Rose970057.59322
Kevin Na7700618042
Sergio Garcia7800621213
Jhonattan Vegas6800622896
Ian Poulter750064.522107
Billy Horschel720069.57168
Danny Willett680071.511231
Tony Finau8400759753
Jason Dufner690076.56885
Abraham Ancer700077.540115
Kyoung-Hoon Lee680078.56592
J.B. Holmes730080.59269
Tyrrell Hatton720081.546117
Luke List7100849375
Jason Day91008525145
Roberto Castro66008613636
Bubba Watson760086.551122
Aaron Wise690086.516157
Carlos Ortiz61009136146
Lucas Bjerregaard68009265119
Brian Stuard66009213351
Rafa Cabrera Bello730097.512867
Daniel Berger710097.586109
Chesson Hadley660098.514255
Zach Johnson700099.516534
Cameron Smith730010415949
Matthew Fitzpatrick7400104.514861
Branden Grace7200104.512287
Kyle Stanley6800105.5103108
Rory Sabbatini7700106.5101112
Kevin Kisner7400106.5102111
Phil Mickelson820010811997
Haotong Li7200109.512594
Matt Jones6700111.582141
Tom Hoge6500112.517550
Francesco Molinari9000113124102
Louis Oosthuizen790011359167
Graeme McDowell7300115.5130101
C.T. Pan7100123143103
Jimmy Walker7000123.515790
Martin Kaymer740012518862
Matt Wallace7600135.517893
Alex Noren7100144.598191
Patton Kizzire6700144.5159130
Brandt Snedeker7500145.5174117
Sam Saunders6400146176116
Justin Harding6900151.595208
Patrick Reed7900153158148
Si Woo Kim7100154.5162147
Nick Taylor6500157.5163152
Ernie Els6500158.5153164
Shane Lowry7500161.5181142
Kiradech Aphibarnrat6800163.5139188
Jordan Spieth10300166.5189144
Julián Etulain6400168.5194143
Ollie Schniederjans6700173.5166181
Aaron Baddeley6700176192160
Anirban Lahiri6600183.5201166
Scottie Scheffler SQ6700000
Collin Morikawa SQ6700000
Viktor Hovland Won 2018 Am6700000
Luke Donald SQ6600000
David Toms PY Sr USO Win6600000
Luke Guthrie SQ6600000
Brandon Wu (a) SQ6500000
Zac Blair SQ6500000
Shugo Imahira SQ Japan6500000
Brendon Todd SQ6400000
Stewart Hagestad (a) SQ6400000
Mike Weir SQ6300000
Michael Thorbjornsen (a) Won Am Champ6300000
Jovan Rebula (a) Won EU Am Champ6300000
Andreas Halvorsen SQ6300000
Chun An Yu (a) SQ6300000
Billy Hurley SQ6300000
Joseph Bramlett SQ6300000
Daniel Hillier (a)6300000
Chandler Eaton (a)6200000
Nick Hardy SQ6200000
Nick Hardy SQ6200000
Ryan Sullivan SQ6200000
Brett Drewitt SQ6200000
Mikumu Horikawa SQ Japan6200000
Cameron Young (a) SQ6200000
Callum Tarren SQ6200000
Devon Bling (a) RU 2018 Am6200000
Matt Parziale (a) SQ6100000
Hayden Shieh SQ6100000
Spencer Tibbits (a) SQ6100000
Matthew Naumec SQ6100000
Eric Dietrich SQ6100000
Noah Norton (a) SQ6100000
Kodai Ichihara SQ Japan6100000
Rhys Enoch SQ EU6100000
Chip McDaniel SQ6100000
Connor Arendell SQ6000000
Andy Pope SQ6000000
Austin Eckroat (a) SQ6000000
Merrick Bremner SQ EU6000000
Brian Davis SQ6000000
Rob Oppenheim SQ6000000
Mito Pereira SQ6000000
Luis Gagne (a) SQ6000000
Kevin O'Connell (a) Won 2018 Mid Am6000000
Richard H. Lee SQ6000000
PlayerSalaryComposite RankSG: T-GSG: Approach
FOX , Ryan680026.51340
Thomas Pieters700027.52134
OLESEN , Thorbjørn680049.57524
PEPPERELL , Eddie700067.55976
ARNAUS , Adri640079.531128
SORDET , Clément620080.56596
PARATORE , Renato6400104.5104105
BURMESTER , Dean6500117.584151
KINHULT , Marcus6600136.5161112
WALTERS , Justin6400136.5144129
VAN ROOYEN , Erik6900137.5109166
HORSFIELD , Sam670014181201
SLATTERY , Lee6300154167141
FRASER , Marcus6400161.5188135
PAVON , Matthieu6400184.5177192

*player without data have not played in enough PGA events for stats to qualify

SQ = player qualified through their sectional tournament

(a) = Amateur

Price Range Targets

Chalky McChalkerson (Five figures to 8.4k–18 players)

Some guy named Eldrick Woods appears to be solid in the key metrics, course history, and past major championship performance departments. Additionally, he qualifies as a bona fide bounce back candidate. At least in the sense of making cuts in majors.

With Brooks and DJ’s prices being sky-high, Tiger and Patrick Cantlay offer similar value while not blowing up the rest of the cap. That point, especially in DK majors cannot be stated enough.

The deep, talent rich fields for major championships causes DK’s pricing to become extremely soft. Saving a few hundred in this range will help you load up on players in the next range that maintain adequate floor/ceiling combinations.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Before we get there, I do want to reaffirm my man crush on Cantlay. I’ve been slobbering all over him since last season. His win at the Memorial two weeks ago wasn’t just your run of the mill tournament.

Outside the majors, and the PLAYERS Championship, it’s arguably the most prestigious and, when considering the fields it draws, toughest tournament on tour. And, he won it by starting the final day four shots back, going on to fire a 64, winning by two strokes.

It was the definition of breakthrough win for someone who hasn’t quite been able to get over the hump in bigger events. When you rope in the fact that it came on the heels of his career best major finish, T-3 at last month’s PGA, this feels a lot like the Francesco Molinari wave of last summer.

Sweet Spot (8.3k to 7k–42 players)

After the top-tier, Matt Kuchar and Hideki Mastuyama are my favorite key stat/price combinations. Before missing last year’s cut at Shinnecock Hills, Kuchar hadn’t missed a USO cut since 2009. I like the FedEx points leader to continue what has already been a highly productive year at PB by making the weekend with a puncher’s chance to capture his elusive first major win.

Matsuyama also profiles as a stellar mid-level floor/ceiling player, with an outside chance to win. He’s made five of six USO cuts, including four top-25s, and two top-10s, one of which was his career best major finish in a tie for runner-up at the 2017 USO. He has yet to miss a weekend in 2019, and already has as many top-10s (4) as he did a year ago, in a not so Hideki-like season.

However, you still need to find guys below the average price to roster in order to afford the more reasonably priced players. That’s where Keegan Bradley, Henrik Stenson, and Gary Woodland come in handy.

Woodland (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

All three guys are similar being elite enough fits statistically to keep their weekend hotel reservations, but their flat sticks could be why they end up teeing off in the early groups Sunday. A hot putter from any of these guys would be enough to notch a top-10 finish.

While we’re on the subject of making cuts in USOs, here comes my weekly Jim Furyk PSA. Ahem… The 2019 renaissance man has made 20 of 23 career cuts in USO play, including five in a row, with a T-2 in 2016 at Oakmont.

Paul Casey is another guy that is priced just under the average line with elite key stats that cannot be ignored.

Sneaky Low % Owned (Below 7k ~90 players)

The strongest cases in this range would be made for Chez Reavie, Byeong Hun An, and Jason Dufner. All have solid key metrics in my table, plenty of major experience, and varying degrees of success in big events. Especially in the history of Dufner, who already has a PGA Championship in his trophy case.

Those are the safer, and likely to be most popular plays in this range. But, as Dr. King Schultz once told Django Freeman, “When you’re in my world, ya gotta get dirty”.

(Source: Pinterest.com)

If we’re getting filthy, Sepp Straka jumps out as great statistical fit. The tour rookie from Austria and Nate Lashley have ranked solid on their approach stats this season. Both will be making their major championship debuts. A made cut from either guy would work wonders for your lineups.

Going off the PGA tour, Web.com stud Scottie Scheffler has been one the hottest players this season, and is well on his way to earning his PGA card for next year. He’s made the cut in all three of his PGA events this year, and has gone one for two in USO starts, finishing T-27 in his last time out in 2017. That tells you the big stage won’t overwhelm him.

Baddeley (Source: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images North America)

Similar to Aaron Baddeley, Scheffler possesses great wand, which will definitely help on what is sure to be tricky greens at Pebble. Another reason to like Baddeley in this range is, quietly, tons of relative success in majors.

Since 2003, the Australian has gone 15 of 29 in major starts. He’s successfully cashed checks in his last four majors, two of which were top-25 finishes in USOs, including last year at Shinnecock. He would be my favorite pivot off the bigger names like Dufner here.

Best Bounce Back Candidates

In terms of coming off a missed cut last week, Sergio Garcia was the most notable from the RBC Canadian Open. However, his form is so poor overall at the moment, I would tread lightly when considering the Spaniard for this week. At the very least, he makes for an intriguing contrarian play.

Considering just majors, John Rahm missed the cut at last month’s PGA Championship. He does not strike me as someone who is in the business of missing back-to-back weekends in big events. Ditto for Jim Furyk.

Best Course History Plays

In general, I would not draw much from anyone’s performance from the annual Pro-Am played here in February. First off, they play three separate courses over the first three days in that event, two of which play as some of the easiest on tour.

Additionally, the Pro-Am winner finished an average of 18 strokes under par over the last four years. As previously stated above, Eldrick was the only player to finish under par in each of the last two USOs hosted at Pebble Beach. So while course familiarity can’t hurt, I would not weigh anyone’s Pro-Am performances much here, good or bad.

Bradley with his PGA Championship (Source : gettyimages.com)

Core Players

Last season, I started including my core players to build around in all my lineups. I try to identify targets before prices are released to stay focused, and avoid editing my lineup 2,000 times ten minutes before lock.

These selections are players that I believe have top-25 floors with top 10 upside, and a reasonable case to win. More detailed results are to come as the season moves along. This week’s selections:

  1. Keegan
  2. Kuchar
  3. Woodland
  4. Hideki

Good luck at Pebble Beach! Don’t hesitate to reach out on twitter compliments and insults are always welcome. Also follow my new podcast!

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