Paulie's Picks: 2017 U.S. Open

With Daniel Berger’s victory last week, our win tally moves to six for the 2017 calendar year (although I would have rather had our 200-1 longshot, Ben Crane, win the event). Let’s try to make it seven this week! This is one of my favorite weeks of the year as the US Open is often one of the most intriguing events to watch. I will especially enjoy watching the players maneuver around the windswept course at Erin Hills. With no course history to look at this week, we will look at three key metrics to determine who to use for fantasy golf purposes. For further insights be sure to follow Paulie on Twitter.

Similar Courses Hosting Majors:
Erin Hills is a combination of Chambers Bay, Whistling Straits and Pinehurst. We will give a little bit of an advantage to players who have succeeded in those events.
 
Strokes Gained Off the Tee:
Even though the course measures 7,700 yards, I’m not entirely sure that extreme length is required. The firmness of the fairways and the fact that the course is a par 72 with long par fives makes it not seem as bad. I’m going to focus more on players who gain strokes off the tee, whether via accuracy or distance. Even though fairways are wide, players will still need to avoid the fairway bunkers and position their ball in the correct place in order to attack the flag.
 
Strokes Gained Approach:
With the wide fairways and firm greens, I think you will also need to focus on Strokes Gained Approach. Players who can control their irons will be able to avoid the difficult ups and downs from around the greens.

DraftKings

During major weeks I tend to expand the amount I invest in DraftKings since many new casual players will play which will provide you better odds to win some dough. By knowing that half of the field in DK tournaments this week will be casual golf fans, we can exploit that by determining where the high ownership will lie and then we can pivot. One example of this is Branden Grace (see below).
 
Start
 
With all of the top studs playing this week, I’m going to focus on three players who you can put into your lineup who can help you afford the studs:
 
Branden Grace $8,600
 
Grace finished fourth at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay and third at the 2015 PGA Championship at nearby Whistling Straits. Even though his stats don’t pop off of the charts, I think he is the perfect fit this week as he also plays well in the wind. With the way that salaries are this week, I expect most teams to be made up of two players $9,800 or above and four players around $7,000 as there is a ton of value in that range. With that being said, I think some players in the $8,000’s will be low owned. If someone does roster a player in this price range, they most likely will be drawn to Adam Scott at $8,800 (sidenote: I do like Scott this week still as well). I think Grace will be only around 10-12% owned in tournaments.
 
Louis Oosthuizen $7,400
 
Oosthuizen is known as one of the best ball strikers around. He excels on firm and fast golf courses as shown by his runner up finish at the 2017 Players and third place finish at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay. At only $7,400, Louis provides consistency and immense upside as he is not afraid of the big moments in majors.
 
Francesco Molinari $7,000
 
Yes, I am going back to the well with Molinari this week. His metrics are off the charts and he provides great consistency at such a low price. Molinari is second in SG Approach and 27th in SG Off the Tee even though he is a short driver. I look for Molinari to keep the ball in play and pick his spots to be aggressive. Molinari has shown his ability to grind it out on difficult tracks as shown by his recent sixth place finish at the Players and his runner up finish at the BMW Championship at Wentworth.
 
Sit
 
Rory McIlroy $11,200
 
If McIlroy was healthy, I would be all over him at $11,200 as this course suits him great. However, for DK purposes I’m a bit worried about his health still and having to walk this demanding course. Even more, I expect people to still be on Rory this week as many casual players will not realize that he hasn’t played much competitively over the past few months. I’ll take my chances fading Rory’s 20% ownership.
 
Bubba Watson $8,200
 
Stay away from Bubba this week!! I think some people will be back on him after his sixth place finish at the Memorial. The US Open requires a strong mental game and Watson ranks dead last in Strokes Gained Mental Game. I expect him to blow up and miss the cut. Even at $8,200, the casual fan will roster Bubba based on popularity alone. Fade Bubba and his 10-15% ownership.
 
Steve Stricker $7,200
 
Stricker will be very popular this week as a hometown favorite. I think he is a terrible DK play. Stricker ranks near the bottom in birdie rate which will hurt his DK score since it is dependent on birdies. His course fit is not the best as his strength is wedges and he will not have many this week. I would stay away from his 10-15% ownership.

One-and-Done

This week is one of the most important weeks since it is tied for the largest purse on Tour. This week, it makes sense to play a stud and don’t overthink it. Obviously, if you haven’t used DJ, you may want to use him but beware he is currently expecting his second child due at some point this week. I’d use one of the three guys below if you don’t have DJ available or are worried about his focus this week:
 
Rickie Fowler
 
I absolutely loved that Rickie missed the cut last week as that will make some people not choose him this week. I think this may be the week that Rickie becomes a major winner. He showed promise at the Memorial with his strong play highlighted by his accurate driving and great iron play. Fowler finished runner up at the 2014 US Open at Pinehurst. Fowler is in the top 15 in SG Approach and SG Putting. 
 
Jason Day
 
Day has performed exceptionally well on similar courses. He finished ninth at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay, fourth at the 2014 US Open at Pinehurst and won the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. With wider fairways, Day should be able to use his length to his advantage. With all of the closely mown areas around the green, Day will be able to show off his short game expertise. One other thing to consider is that the greens are some of the smoothest greens around and I expect a lot of putts to be made. If Day can find his putting stroke from last year, he will be holding a trophy come Sunday.
 
Jon Rahm
 
Rahm’s metrics fit this course perfectly as he is sixth in SG Approach and third in SG Off the Tee. Even though he missed the cut in his last event, I look for him to return to his typical form and finish in the top 10. 

Longshots:

Ross Fisher (150-1 to win, 10-1 top 10)
 
Fisher is known as a grinder who has one of the best iron games around. That seems to be a pretty good description of what is needed this week. He has a tendency to play well in the bigger events as shown by his ninth place finish at the BMW Championship at Wentworth, third at the WGC Mexico and fifth at the WGC Dell Match Play. I think 10-1 is great value for a top 10 bet this week.
 
Ben An (100-1 to win, 8-1 top 10)
 
An is a premier ball striker who struggles on the greens as he is in the top 21 in both SG Off the Tee and SG Approach the Green. He plays well on difficult courses where par is a good score. He is one of my favorite value bets this week.
 
Peter Uihlein (250-1, 14-1 top 10)
 
Peter Uihlein is my favorite bet of the week. Having him at 250-1 to win and 14-1 to finish top 10 is absolutely insane. Uihlein has history at Erin Hills as he made match play at the 2011 US Amateur that was hosted here. He plays well on firm and fast courses as shown by his victory at the 2010 US Amateur at Chambers Bay. Uihlein is not known much by American golf fans but he is a solid player who has an excellent tee to green game. Last week was the first week that he finished outside the top 35 since early February. He has consistently been on the first few pages of the leaderboard of the European Tour this year.

 

Love golf? Never miss a beat by signing up for our newsletter sent every Monday, Wednesday and Friday it quickly keeps you up to speed on all of golf's news and events