This year of golf has already been spectacular and it will only get better this week as the best players in the world get set to tee it up at Torrey Pines for the U.S. Open. As is common for the majors, we have another Millionaire Maker contest on DraftKings, and this time they have run it through at three different price points.
My focus on this article will be building for the largest contest of the bunch at the $10 buy-in with a prize pool of more than $2.5M with a top prize of $1M if you can beat 296,593 other lineups. It will take near perfection and some bold calls to be in contention for the top prize this week, and no scenario was a better example of that than last month’s PGA Championship.
The winner of that contest had a remarkable build where there was just one golfer more than 10% owned, and that was Louis Oosthuizen. They paired Louis with five other players that came in at under 6% ownership, including 1% owned and champion Phil Mickelson. Runner-up Brooks Koepka came in at less than 4% owned, making HTTECHGUY’s lineup featuring the Top 3 finishers of the tournament. He rounded it out with three other players that scored well on the week, and fairly comfortably won the contest by 7 points. The lineup came in at around 28% combined ownership, making it the lowest owned I have seen in my research of these contests, and it’s not particularly close.
We generally don’t need to get that low ownership, but certainly if it hits, you really don’t have much concern about being duplicated. This week, we have 120,000 more lineups to beat to capture the top prize as this is a $10 contest versus the $20 version for the PGA. My target in these events is generally at 70% total ownership as a max, and I will stick to that thought this week.
Let’s get right into the picks and the best ways you can separate your lineups from the pack.
Dustin Johnson ($10,700)
I will be starting a number of my lineups up top in the five-figure range since it appears the “balanced” approach is going to be the most popular build. Ownership seems to trend towards people looking to get as many as two or three of the high $8,000 and low $9,000 players into their lineup. It will leave some lost ownership up top, and it seems the World No. 1 may be one of the odd players out.
Dustin Johnson has been out of his peak form lately, but we saw a glimpse of it again through two rounds at the Palmetto Championship last week. He still had a chance to win the event on the back nine on Sunday despite one of the worst rounds I have seen from him when in contention on Saturday at Congaree. He lost two strokes to the field tee to green and simply couldn’t get it going.
We know he plays well on these West Coast tracks, and if I can get single-digit ownership on DJ, who is priced as the third player on DraftKings, I’ll happily take that leverage out of the gates. This leverage will also allow me to use my next pick on a high-owned player like Xander Schauffele, because I am starting differently with Johnson.
Justin Thomas ($9,700)
Outside of an ugly missed cut at the PGA Championship, Justin Thomas has had his tee-to-green game in really solid form. He just simply hasn’t been able to putt of late, and it culminated in the worst putting week of his career at the Memorial where he lost 8.4 strokes to the field on the greens. He finished the week 42nd because of that flat stick as he gained 9.4 strokes tee to green. I will gamble on that putting variance bouncing back this week for a player that has all of the talent to win his second major at Torrey Pines this week, and it looks like I can do it at low ownership.
If you need some added hope, Thomas’ best putting performance of his career came at this course in the Farmers Insurance Open in 2014, when he gained 7.6 strokes on these same greens.
Patrick Cantlay ($9,100)
It has become very apparent with Patrick Cantlay that you simply play him on the west coast, and at the Memorial, but steer clear in the southeast. He has very defined results and splits between the two coasts, which make him a prime target this week in his native California. Cantlay has also shown a tendency to run hot where he will reel off several top finishes in a row, and I expect another good result this week of his win at Muirfield Village.
Scottie Scheffler ($8,500)
Another player that is going to provide some potential leverage this week is Scottie Scheffler. He has come into his own a bit as he continues to put together solid performances in big events. He was in contention a few weeks ago at the Memorial, and even had the lead on Sunday before tapering off.
Scheffler was also in the mix for a win at the WGC Matchplay earlier this year in Texas and seems to be on the cusp of his first TOUR win. It certainly would be something if he made that happen in a major, and while he has that talent, I am more banking on him paying off a slightly above average price with a solid week. He may drift to single-digit ownership as the tournament comes closer being in a bit of a dead zone for the popular builds, which will suit me just fine as I will be sure to be overweight on the former Texas Longhorn.
Paul Casey ($7,900)
I am looking for some players this week that bring a specific skillset to the table, and that is exactly what we get from Paul Casey. He is long enough off the tee, and just as importantly he is accurate.
Casey is an elite player on approach, and if we can get the good version of him on and around the greens, he is a player that can win this major championship. I don’t necessarily think some of the players around him in this range have that type of upside, which has me eating a bit of chalk on Casey this week.
Jason Kokrak ($7,600)
One of my favorite plays this week is Jason Kokrak.
I love that he is getting a bit overshadowed by Shane Lowry from an ownership perspective because Kokrak is my preferred play of the two. I believe the big guy has true winning upside this week, having transformed his game by the improvement in his putter. He has always been a great ball striker, an ideal combination of long and straight off the tee, and now he has the flatstick to match.
Kokrak will also come into the week with full confidence having won in his last appearance after beating Jordan Spieth on Sunday at the Charles Schwab. He also has some solid west coast results and has also performed well on this course at the Farmers. He is simply checking all of the boxes for me this week.
Max Homa ($7,300)
In my lineups this week, I will be willing to eat a little bit of chalk as I go down to cheaper prices. I think the top end can be a bit of a tossup with all of the talent on TOUR, so I won’t worry about getting too different down low. Max Homa is a player that will be popular, but he is also a West Coast guy, and someone that seems to be running into some form. He just came off of a 6th place finish at the Memorial, and earlier this year he showed that he can put some big finishes together. Those strong performances were also out West and it all came together in his win at the Genesis. He is too talented and has too much upside for me to cut at this price.
Charley Hoffman ($7,200)
There aren’t many players out there that are hotter with their game than Charley Hoffman. He struggled with his short game a bit at the Memorial, but prior to that had five straight Top 20s, including two Top 3 finishes. He also loves playing golf on the West Coast and gets his preferred poa annua greens this week. Hoffman will also be chalk, but again he provides a stability and upside that I am willing to take on the ownership. I may look to keep him and Homa out of the same lineups in certain scenarios just to avoid too much ownership piling up at these lower prices.
Kevin Streelman ($7,100)
Streelman is a player that always seems to show up in these types of events. He’s a big game player that keeps the ball in play, and seems to thrive on tough layouts. He will not garner anywhere near the ownership of my two plays above, and he will be someone I will use to help provide some variance in my lineups.
Jhonattan Vegas ($6,800)
Vegas is another player that seems to be finding some form at the right time. He had to qualify to get into this event, then rolled that good play in the 36-hole qualifier into a top-five finish at the Palmetto Championship.
Vegas has the talent, and certainly has the distance to be a factor on this course. I will side with him and his strong form this week as a way to get cheap and pay up higher with the rest of my lineup.
Jimmy Walker ($6,500)
I can now comfortably write up players like Walker to have a decent week because Phil Mickelson has opened the door that anything is possible. While I’m not comparing the two in the shape of their game overall, I can’t overlook the 11.8 strokes he gained tee to green at the Memorial. He now heads to a course where he was supremely successful in the prime of his career, and maybe he’s inspired to have a resurgent week. If he can make the cut, he can pay off this price point and maybe he found something that can make him enough of a factor to help win a GPP.
Pictured above: Dustin Johnson
Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images