2017 U.S. Open FanDuel Fantasy Preview
A test is coming up on the PGA Tour as the second major of the year is ready to go with the U.S. Open at Erin Hills. The field will of course be stacked and the scoring will be hard to come by as this event is typically the toughest among the four major championships.
This will be the first time that Erin Hills is hosting the prestigious tournament with the 2011 U.S. Amateur being the most well known outing here previously. The par-72 course is massive, spanning over 7,693 yards of rolling hills in Erin, Wisconsin and rivals Chambers Bay as one of the longest in the history of the event.
It takes a special player to win the U.S. Open and victors are typically well known. There has been three occasions in the last seven seasons in which the winner was at even or worse and when someone does score low, they tend to dominate the field. This was evident in both 2014, when Martin Kaymer shot nine-under and bested Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler by eight strokes, and when Rory McIlroy dominated with a tournament record 16 under par week at Congressional Country Club in 2011; also beating out the closest runners-up by eight strokes.
Last year, Dustin Johnson continued his ascent to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings with a big week, winning his first career major championship behind four shots better than par. It was no easy task getting to that point, though, as Johnson came into the day with four shots between himself and Shane Lowry and battled through a strange ruling by the USGA to defeat the trio of Jim Furyk, Shane Lowry, and Scott Piercy by three shots. He will attempt to become the first player since Curtis Strange (1988, 1989) to win in back-to-back years and join Tiger Woods (2000, 2002, 2009), Retief Goosen (2001, 2004), Payne Stewart (1991, 1999), and Lee Janzen (1993, 1998) as multiple-time winners in the past few decades.
Of course Johnson will be required to take on a tough field in order to win once again, and although he is the favorite, the likes of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Jon Rahm, and Rickie Fowler are getting 20/1 odds or better out of Las Vegas.
Nearly all of the players out of the top-50 in the OWGR will be in attendance with the only exceptions being No. 43 Ryan Moore, who is dealing with a shoulder injury, and No. 23 Phil Mickelson who will be attending his daughter’s graduation. Many others have proven they have what it takes to compete at this high level and a few names to keep an eye on include Masters’ Champion No. 7 Sergio Garcia, No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama, No. 6 Henrik Stenson, and No. 8 Alex Noren from the OWGR top-10. Coming off a win last week, Daniel Berger will also attempt to bring the momentum to Erin Hills after jumping into the world top-25.
Recent changes to the FanDuel setup have done away with selecting different players for the week and the weekend and now features eight spots with a $60,000 salary. The changes allow for players to create a more balanced lineup that they can run throughout the entire four days (if they make the cut). The scoring has remained the same, so it will be important to get golfers who have a good shot at finishing within the top-25, can put together strings of under par holes while staying away from the dreaded bogey, and can bounce back from a poor hole with a birdie or better.
That said, let’s dive into a sample of some choices at all different price ranges who should be able to perform well this week in the tough U.S. Open.
2017 U.S. Open FanDuel Picks
Justin Rose – $9,300
There are eight players who are pricier than Rose on FanDuel, and we would have trouble arguing against having any of them in your lineup, but this event typically requires a ton of grit and we attempted to put together a lineup where we believe each player can handle the venue. Rose certainly fits that bill as a former U.S. Open winner (2013) who has seven PGA TOUR titles and an Olympic gold medal to his name.
He continues to play well in the biggest of events, challenging Sergio until the very end in his runner-up performance at The Masters and earning another runner-up at the Sony Open to kick off the year.
The fairways at Erin Hills are much wider than you would expect from a U.S. Open venue, so Rose’s distance off the tee (299.9 yards per drive, 27th on TOUR) will come into play more often than his poor accuracy (58.25%, 126th on TOUR). This will give him the opportunity to build on his 69.44% GIR (16th on TOUR) and improve his 1.249 strokes gained from tee-to-green (14th on TOUR). Additionally, he has no issues in the sand (57.14%, 25th on TOUR) which come into play frequently as hazards throughout the course.
Rose may be a tier below some of the top guys, but the thousands of dollars you will save makes your lineup much more balanced and flexible.
Louis Oosthuizen – $8,400
Oosthuizen is the second former major winner on our roster, taking home the trophy at the Open Championship in 2010, and nearly adding another with a single stroke separating himself and Spieth at Chambers Bay in 2015. He has not won on the PGA TOUR since the Open, but is putting together a perfect season in terms of cuts made, getting to the weekend in each of his 11 events started and sniffed the winner’s circle with a third at the Waste Management Open and a second in THE PLAYERS Championship.
It seems as if this South African is always around on Sundays thanks to his all-around impressive game that is highlighted by 14th-best sand save percentage (60.38%) and a total of 1.578 strokes gained on his peers (10th on TOUR). With there being no obvious weaknesses in his game, there is no reason why we won’t once again see him playing late on the weekend and pushing for a top finish.
Kevin Kisner – $8,100
Kisner is not one of the sexier names of the $8,000+ group, but he seems to check all the boxes of a player that should perform well here in the coming week. His recent form has been impressive, winning his second career tournament at the Dean and Deluca Invitational and holding down a pair of runner-ups at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Zurich Classic.
Overall he is 15-for-17 (88%) at making the cut and has made nearly $4 million over that time. His approach to the green is what has netted him the most strokes gained, earning 0.750 on the field (9th on TOUR) behind the ninth-best proximity to the hole (34’0”). He does not show a true weakness either, fitting into the top-25 in strokes gained putting (0.456, 23rd), driving accuracy (68.84%, 12th), and par-four scoring average (4.00, 19th).
Kisner is not going to blow your mind with his huge drives, but has shown to be above average in all areas and knows how to grind all four days of the tournament.
Branden Grace – $7,700
Grace has made it a habit over the past few years at getting into contention in this event, notching a top-five in each of the past two attempts, finishing four strokes behind Johnson last year and two strokes behind Spieth in 2015. Although he has not exactly lit it up in 2017, he has not had any problems with getting to play all four rounds, missing the cut a single time in 14 outings while coming into the week with a top-25 in four of his last five tournaments between the PGA and European Tours.
Things are looking good for him as he heads to this long course with a nice scoring average (4.61) on par-fives (28th on TOUR) and the positive track record on similar courses.
Charl Schwartzel – $6,800
Our third major winner enters the lineup with Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters Champion, as he attempts to add to his 13 professional victories between the two major tours. He is one of the more unpredictable players on this list, missing the cut or withdrawing in four of his last 10 tournaments, but also managing to get a top-six three times over that stretch; including a runner-up just last week in the St. Jude Classic.
He’s had a nice overall performance in the U.S. Open with visits to the weekend at six of the past seven starts, including four top-25s, with a seventh at Chambers Bay (2015) being his best showing. Schwartzel does the little things well, gaining 0.635 strokes putting (9th on TOUR) and owns a sand save percentage of 62.30% (10th on TOUR) while having his way with the par fives; getting a birdie or better on the longer holes 50.85% of the time (9th on TOUR).
The pedigree and talent is there for Schwartzel and he is a fantastic addition to your roster at under $7,000.
Kevin Chappell – $6,700
We had Chappell in this article last week at the St. Jude Classic and it paid off in a big way as he proceeded to post his third top-10 of the year behind four rounds of 69 or better. He broke out last season, finishing the year ranked 13th in the FedExCup standings after four runner-up finishes, and has continued with a current rank of 24th as most of his points came from a victory in the Valero Texas Open. Chappell has also had plenty of experience in the U.S. Open, playing four times in the last five years, and although he has been trending in the wrong direction during that time, he was able to scratch together a third at Congressional (2011) and 10th at the Olympic Club (2012).
He won’t give up distance off the tee (299.9 yards per drive, 27th on TOUR) and has gained 0.436 strokes with his approach to the green (35th on TOUR). Chappell has quietly been one of the best golfers on the PGA TOUR over the past two seasons and still continues to be overlooked.
Billy Horschel – $6,500
Horschel jumped back into the winner’s circle for the first time since 2014 after posting a 12-under mark at the Byron Nelson and nearly did so once again last week after tying for fourth in the St. Jude Classic. The year has really been all over for him, though, as he does have eight missed cuts over 19 starts, but the ceiling is a win for the 30-year-old who seems poised to get to his 2013 form when he finished a career-best sixth in the FedExCup standings.
The U.S. Open has been a welcome place for Horschel, and his last four visits have each resulted in a visit to the weekend and an average finish of 21st-place. He rarely misses a green in regulation (70.59%, 9th on TOUR) and the greens are large and lack the undulation of a typical U.S. Open venue, making his already decent putting numbers (0.217 strokes gained, 66th on TOUR) seem even better.
At this price range it will be difficult to find a player with a track record like Horschel who is also playing well, so take the savings and roster him.
Bernd Wiesberger – $6,500
Wiesberger may fly under the radar as he plays a majority of his golf overseas, but he should not be overlooked as he is one of the more consistent golfers on the European Tour; currently ranking seventh in the Race to Dubai.
He has gotten to this point following a recent win at the Shenzhen International to go along with a third and two other top-10s on the season. The 31-year-old has finished in the top-10 of the Race to Dubai during each of the previous two seasons as well, and is too talented of a player to miss the cut in the U.S. Open for a fourth consecutive year.
In Europe, Wiesberger has managed to nail 74% of greens in regulation (20th), leading to a stroke average of 70.13 (9th). FanDuel players may not associate Wiesberger to any sort of success and therefore should allow for him to have low ownership with a great chance at a big week.
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