The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the Fantasy Labs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
It’s major week yet again with the tour headed to Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open. There are 156 golfers in the field; the top 60 golfers and ties will make the cut.
Let’s dive in.
This should be an interesting week on the course with narrow fairways and thick rough scattered throughout. You can read my full course breakdown here.
Key metrics: Greens in Regulation, scrambling, par-4 scoring, driving accuracy, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green.
And, as usual, I like Long-Term (LT) and Recent Adjusted Round Score (Adj Rd Score) as catch-all metrics.
Best DFS Plays for the 2019 U.S. Open
$10,000 and Above (DraftKings Pricing)
Like at most majors, you can make a case for any of the top-priced golfers. It’s hard to argue against Brooks Koepka ($11,600 DraftKings; $12,300 FanDuel) other than the fact that he’ll leave you with just $7,680 per player on DraftKings. I’d be OK with that roster build for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), but in cash games I typically prefer a balanced approach.
I slightly prefer Dustin Johnson ($11,300 DraftKings; $12,200 FanDuel) over Brooks because he ranks among the best in the field in nearly every metric I’m weighing this week. DJ’s -3.1 adjusted strokes on par 4s beats everyone in this price range by at least 1.9 strokes, and he leads the studs in LT Adj Rd Score, Greens in Regulation (GIR) and scrambling.
Tiger Woods’ ($10,700 DraftKings; $11,900 FanDuel) 67.8 LT Adj Rd Score is tied with Rory McIlroy’s for the second-best mark in the field. It’s hard to argue against Tiger at this point with how dominant his metrics have been. He’s coming off an event in which he gained 5.4 strokes on approach and 7.4 strokes tee-to-green.
Further, he ranks fourth in Strokes Gained: Approach over his past 50 rounds. Even if he hits some errant approach shots this week, he should be able to recover, evidenced by his 62.6% scrambling rate.
Recent form was an important metric during backtesting, and Patrick Cantlay ($10,000 DraftKings; $11,300 FanDuel) is probably in the best form of anyone in this tournament. He’s sporting an absurd 65.4 recent Adj Rd Score, and his last four tournaments have gone: First, third, third, ninth. The main knock on Cantlay will just be his high ownership. For obvious reasons, he’s been highly touted this week, boasting a Buzz Score of 9.0 and Sentiment Rating of 100% in our models.
Rickie Fowler ($9,500 DraftKings; $11,100 FanDuel) has a Buzz Score of just 4.0 as of writing, so he could be somewhat low owned. Although, he’s hit double-digit ownership in all but one tournament this season, so low owned by his standards would probably be 10-12%. Especially since he’s pushed 20-30% ownership in every tournament that he costs under $10,000 on DraftKings.
Fowler should be a good fit for this course with -1.4 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 68% of GIR hit over the past 75 weeks. He also has an excellent short game, ranking 10th in Strokes Gained: Short Game, along with an solid 62.1% scrambling rate. One minor concern with Rickie would be that he hasn’t played at Pebble since 2012, but I’ll still side with a golfer of his caliber over the lack of course experience.
Justin Thomas ($9,300 DraftKings; $11,400 FanDuel) is similar to Fowler in that he hasn’t played at Pebble since 2014. However, it seems like his health is back after he gained 3.9 strokes on approach at the Canadian Open. He just couldn’t putt to save his life. Despite his lack of experience at this course, he’s an awesome course fit with his -1.8 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 61.8% scrambling rate. It also doesn’t hurt that he ranks fourth in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green over his past 50 rounds.
I wouldn’t say I’m high on Jason Day ($9,100 DraftKings; $10,800 FanDuel), I’m relatively neutral on him. I won’t have him in cash games because I’m slightly worried about his recent form since he’s struggled around the greens of late, which is typically the strength of his game. He’s not a strong iron player, so if his short game is off again this week, it could be a total disaster.
If Day can progress back to his long-term form (68.2 LT Adj Rd Score), he’ll be someone I’m glad I have exposure to.
When accuracy and ball striking is something to consider, then Tommy Fleetwood ($8,900 DraftKings; $10,600 FanDuel) should be in the conversation. Over the past 75 weeks, he’s hit 70.9% of GIR and 64.9% fairways. Overall, Fleetwood has gained strokes on approach in all but one event this season, and he should at least be a strong bet to make the cut with his 4% missed-cut rate.
Hideki Matsuyama ($8,800 DraftKings; $10,400 FanDuel) is always in play for me as one of the elite ball strikers on tour, ranking second in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and Strokes Gained: Approach over his past 50 rounds. He’s also decently accurate off the tee, hitting 62.1% of fairways over the past 75 weeks.
Xander Schauffele ($8,700 DraftKings; $10,900 FanDuel) doesn’t stand out in any single metric, but he possesses a 68.6 LT Adj Rd Score, and he’s in good form (68.5 recent Adj Rd Score).
Adam Scott ($8,600 DraftKings; $10,500 FanDuel) has been outstanding this season. He’s missed three cuts this year, but otherwise he has four top-eight finishes, along with his worst finish being 18th this year. Given Scott’s current form and the fact he ranks 10th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking over his past 50 rounds, he’s the perfect guy to fit into balanced builds.
Matt Kuchar ($8,500 DraftKings; $10,200 FanDuel) is the ideal fit for this layout. Over the past 75 weeks, he’s hit 65.7% of fairways and 68.8% of GIR. Kuchar should be able to find the greens here given he ranks ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach over his past 50 rounds. That said, with Pebble having some of the smallest greens on tour, it’ll still be a difficult task. Though it should help he has a 63.3% scrambling rate.
Bryson DeChambeau ($8,100 DraftKings; $10,700 FanDuel) isn’t someone I’ll have in cash games because of his recent form, but he’s pretty cheap relative to his LT Adj Rd Score.
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
I’ve discussed almost everyone in this range, but this price range is stacked so it’s difficult not to when they can fit into most roster builds. I also like Gary Woodland ($8,000 DraftKings; $9,900 FanDuel), but I worry about his scrambling ability (56% LT scrambling rate).
I like Marc Leishman ($7,800 DraftKings; $9,600 FanDuel) as a tournament play given his top-20 LT Adj Rd Score and 61.4% scrambling rate. Outside of that, he doesn’t pop in any single metric.
Webb Simpson ($7,700 DraftKings; $9,600 FanDuel) is my favorite play of the tournament. He carries the 10th-best LT Adj Rd Score, but he’s priced as the No. 27 golfer. He hit 70.8% of GIR at Hamilton last week on their small greens, but more importantly, Webb has the approach and short game to contend here.
He has an outstanding 64.3% scrambling rate and ranks seventh in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and 15th in Strokes Gained: Approach over his past 50 rounds. He also dominates par 4s from the 400-450-yard range, ranking first in efficiency from those distances, and there are eight par 4s from those ranges on this course.
I think he’ll be one of the highest owned players on the slate given his 9.6 Buzz Score and 100% Sentiment Rating.
Henrik Stenson ($7,600 DraftKings; $9,500 FanDuel) is in a similar boat as Webb as I expect Stenson to have among the highest ownership this week. His 70.8% of GIR is the eighth-best mark in the field, while his 62% scrambling rate is inside the top 20. His irons have been dialed in over his past 50 rounds, ranking first in Strokes Gained: Approach.
Kevin Na ($7,700 DraftKings; $9,200 FanDuel) is one of my favorite tournament pivots off of Stenson or Webb because of his elite putting and solid short game, along with his ability to keep the ball in the fairway, which is important this week.
I rarely ever get Brandt Snedeker ($7,500 DraftKings; $9,400 FanDuel) right, but that’s what happens when you roster someone with an abysmal approach game who makes up most of their strokes around the greens and with their putter. But when he’s sticking his approaches, he can be lethal. He was dialed in last week, hitting 72.2% of GIR and gaining 1.2 strokes on approach. He’s a decent bargain this week with top-20 odds to win, but he’s priced as the No. 33 golfer.
Jim Furyk ($7,200 DraftKings; $8,700 FanDuel) is a good fit for Pebble with his 72.1% driving accuracy and 63.1% scrambling rate. He also ranks 12th in Strokes Gained: Approach over his past 50 rounds.
Lucas Glover ($7,000 DraftKings; $8,800 FanDuel) has an excellent 63.1% scrambling rate, and he excels at finding fairways, evidenced by his 64.1% driving accuracy. Furthermore, over his past 50 rounds, he ranks 13h in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green, 24th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 29th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking over his past 50 rounds.
He’s one of my favorite players for salary relief, especially since he ranks third in par-4 efficiency from 400-450 yards.
$6,900 and Below
I likely won’t be rostering anyone in this range, but some guys who are intriguing include:
Joel Dahmen ($6,700 DraftKings; $8,200 FanDuel) with his 66.2% LT DA and 61.1% scrambling rate. He also ranks fourth in par-4 efficiency from 400-450 yards.
Byeong-Hun An ($6,900 DraftKings; $8,700 FanDuel) is also interesting as he ranks 19th in Strokes Gained: Approach and first in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green over his past 50 rounds.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more golf coverage!
Note: Strokes Gained and efficiency data via Fantasy National.
Pictured above: Tiger Woods
Photo credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports