We’ve got another major on tap with the PGA Tour headed to Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open. For this tournament, I took a similar approach for backtesting data as I did with the PGA Championship last month.
I went through the FantasyLabs Trends tool and backtested data just for prior U.S. Open tournaments to give us an idea on what sort of golfers we should be targeting this week.
Per our Trends tool, golfers in U.S. Open events have averaged 32.35 DraftKings points per tournament with a -14.77 Plus/Minus and 24.5% Consistency Rating.
I’m highlighting the metrics that tested with at least a +1.00 Plus/Minus relative to the baseline:
- Recent Par-5 Scoring: +5.55
- Recent Scrambling: +4.11
- Long-Term Adjusted Round Score: +2.52
- Long-Term Scrambling: +2.50
- Recent Putts Per Round: +2.45
- Long-Term Tournament Count: +2.27
- Recent Adjusted Round Score: +2.23
- Long-Term Par-4 Scoring: +1.66
- Long-Term Birdies: +1.52
- Long-Term Bogeys: +1.46
- Long-Term Par-3 Scoring: +1.44
- Long-Term Driving Distance: +1.26
- Long-Term Eagles: +1.02
Some takeaways: One of the things that jump out, but shouldn’t be a surprise, is the importance of scrambling at U.S. Open events. We’ve already seen Patrick Cantlay demonstrate how thick the rough is just a few paces off the greens. If players aren’t going to be hitting greens, they’re going to need to scramble in a big way to avoid disastrous holes.
Additionally, Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score) and recent Adj Rd Score tested among the highest of all our metrics. This isn’t too surprising either because it’s mostly the best golfers who are sitting atop the leaderboard when all is said and done at this tournament
Last year, the top five golfers consisted of Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Tony Finau. In 2017 it was Koepka, Brian Harman, Hideki Matsuyama, Fleetwood and Rickie Fowler — you get the picture.
With both long-term/recent scrambling and long-term/recent Adj Rd Score backtesting favorably I think it suggests you should not only choose good golfers (shocker) but golfers who are in good form. If a player enters this tournament with a string of missed cuts or poor performances due to sub-par approach shots and ball-striking, then I wouldn’t think they’re going to discover their form at the U.S. Open.
Given Pebble Beach is a shorter track, playing at 7,075 yards with narrow fairways and small greens, it’s very much a second-shot course. Keeping in the short stuff off the tee will be crucial this week even though driving accuracy didn’t pop in the backtesting.
Players like DJ, Rory McIlroy and Koepka won’t stand out in driving accuracy stats in our models, but they should be keeping it in play to the best of their ability, leaving their driver in the bag and hitting some fairway woods or driving irons when needed.
Par-4 scoring is another metric I’ll be looking at since No. 2 (516 yards), No. 9 (526 yards) and No. 10 (495 yards) will prove to be difficult challenges given their absurd length. That said, there are eight other par 4s between just 400-450 yards.
Overall, this week I’ll be targeting golfers who excel in ball-striking, scrambling and I’ll be putting some weight into accuracy. If my guys are going to hit errant approach shots, I’d hope they can at least scramble. However, I’ll be putting more weight into elite ball-strikers because if they’re able to hit greens in regulation, they won’t need to make up strokes around the green to begin with.
Ideally, a player who can hit both greens and scramble would be a solid target. For example, Henrik Stenson has hit 70.8% of greens in regulation (GIR) and has a 62% scrambling rate over the past 75 weeks. His GIR is the eighth-best mark in the field while his scrambling ranks inside the top 20. Which brings me back to my first point of just choosing good golfers. An easy way to do that is to leverage our LT Adj Rd Score metric, one of the best catch-all metrics in the industry to find value in the field:
Golfers priced outside the top 20 on DraftKings for the U.S. Open with top-20 Long-Term Adjusted Round Scores:
Webb Simpson ($7,700): 68.3
Bryson DeChambeau ($8,100): 68.5
Marc Leishman ($7,800): 68.7
Gary Woodland ($8,000): 68.7
— Justin Bailey (@justinbailey32) June 10, 2019
Also, with this tournament on the coast, don’t forget to check the wind leading up to lock, and to leverage our Wind Scores in our Player Models if there is going to be a favorable weather draw for a certain wave of tee times.
Key metrics: Greens in regulation, scrambling, LT and recent Adj Rd Scores, par-4 scoring, driving accuracy, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green.
My full PGA DFS breakdown for the U.S. Open will be posted later in the week.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more golf coverage.
Pictured above: Dustin Johnson
Photo credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports