When filling out a DraftKings lineup (use promo code SGP), picking among the favorites is a fairly safe proposition. It’s when you have to choose between a pool of golfers down the line is where you make or break your chance to win big.
Here’s the critical decisions you’ll face as you fill out your lineup for the 2019 U.S. Open (values courtesy of DraftKings).
Golfers Valued $8,000-$8,900
- Tommy Fleetwood – $8,900
- Hideki Matsuyama – $8,800
- Xander Schauffele – $8,700
- Adam Scott – $8,600
- Matt Kuchar – $8,500
- Tony Finau – $8,400
- Paul Casey – $8,300
- Phil Mickelson – $8,200
- Bryson DeChambeau – $8,100
- Gary Woodland – $8,000
This is an extremely good group of golfers. In fact, I like most of these players better than those valued between $9,000 and $10,000. There’s a lot of guys in this group I can see emerging as the winner of the tournament, and there’s opportunities to stack multiple players in this tier for a deep roster with a high ceiling.
I don’t think Pebble Beach is the right venue for Hideki Matsuyama to break through for his first major, but I feel very strongly he’ll be near the top of the leaderboard by the end of the weekend. If you’ve followed my picks all year, you already know how high I am on his performance tee-to-green and how disgusted I am with his putting from time to time. But that might not cost him as much if the greens get fast and bumpy as the course dries out throughout the week. That’ll create tough putting conditions for everyone, and that will help shorten the talent gap between the better putters in the field and him. He may start slowly on Thursday, but with as good as he is tee-to-green he should rise up the leaderboard.
Death, taxes, I pump up Xander Schauffele at a major on Sports Gambling Podcast. I consider him a poor man’s Brooks Koepka because of his level headed demeanor and that he’s solid in almost all facets of the game. Those characteristics make him a great choice on a tough and demanding golf course like Pebble Beach will be. While he’s statistically inaccurate off the tee, he hits his long irons and fairway metals well and those will be clubs he relies on off the tee. His approach shot statistics with his irons have cooled off a bit from where they were at the beginning of the year, but he won’t lose much ground to the field considering how difficult it is to hit the greens in regulation and how great of a scrambler he’s been. Another strong performance at a major is in the cards.
Adam Scott is peaking at the right time. He had an elite performance at the Memorial two weeks ago, gaining over four shots per round on the field tee-to-green. That made it three straight ShotLink measured tournaments in a row where he gained over 1.5 shots on the field per round tee-to-green. Adam Scott is also enjoying a tremendous year scrambling around the greens, as he ranks 17th in Strokes Gained – Around the Green, 1st in Scrambling from the rough and 23rd from the sand. While his putter is less reliable than Dave Gettleman’s general managing skills, he historically has putted better on poa annua greens and, like Matsuyama, will see the talent gap between himself and the better putters in the field shrink on what’s expected to be difficult surfaces. He’s been in the mix the last few majors, and this week might be when he breaks through for his second major title.
Like I said before, there are several solid candidates in this group. Others to consider are Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Kuchar. They’ll be very chalky plays this week in DFS, however both are great fits for Pebble Beach to still warrant consideration.
Golfers Valued $7,500-$7,900
- Louis Oosthuizen – $7,900
- Patrick Reed – $7,900
- Marc Leishman – $7,800
- Sergio Garcia – $7,800
- Webb Simpson – $7,700
- Kevin Na – $7,700
- Rory Sabbatini – $7,700
- Henrik Stenson – $7,600
- Bubba Watson – $7,600
- Matt Wallace – $7,600
- Ian Poulter – $7,500
- Shane Lowry – $7,500
- Brandt Snedeker – $7,500
Some of Marc Leishman’s deficiencies in his game might be neutralized with how Pebble Beach is set up. Where he’s struggled in 2019 is with his driver, as he ranks 109th in Strokes Gained – Off the Tee and 149th in Driving Accuracy. He’ll only be asked to hit driver a handful of times per round, and instead can rely on his long irons and fairway metals off the tee this week. Those clubs been a strength to his game and should help him find more fairways. From there, he’ll then have a chance to showcase his elite iron play to try and hit the small greens at Pebble Beach. He’s also a great scrambler and will have an edge on the field in that area with how difficult the greens are to hit in regulation. It’s been a while since Leishman has been relevant on a major weekend, but this week is shaping up for a good showing.
Webb Simpson was already going to be a popular pick in DFS given that his lone major victory was on a small ballpark like Pebble Beach is. Now that he had a great showing last week at the RBC Canadian Open, that should drive up his ownership percentages even more. Still, he possesses all the tools to be a strong contender at this year’s U.S. Open. Webb is an accurate ball-striker both off the tee and with his approach shots, and he’s a great scrambler. Where he falters is with his putting, but the difficult greens at Pebble Beach should neutralize the field. Make sure you go with a few other contrarian picks if you play him in GPP’s, but it’s OK to be trendy with Webb this week.
Shane Lowry has officially awoken from his slumber. Between his victory in Dubai and the Masters he was positively putrid, missing four of seven cuts and registering very mediocre ball-striking statistics. But over his last three starts he’s finished T3 at the RBC Heritage, T8 at the PGA Championship and T2 at the RBC Canadian Open, gaining 1.66 strokes per round on the field tee-to-green and performing well in almost every scrambling statistic. His popularity is on the rise, but the $7,500 price tag with his recent performance is too good to pass up.
Others to Consider: Kevin Na ($7,700), Henrik Stenson ($7,600), Brandt Snedeker ($7,500)
Bottom of the Barrel (Golfers <$7,500)
Haotong Li – $7,200: Haotong struggled a bit at the beginning of his run on the PGA Tour this year, but since the Players Championship he hasn’t missed a cut in six straight worldwid events. While he hasn’t put up eye-popping statistics, the strength of his game during that stretch has been with his approach shots and scrambling, which are the two most important keys to success at Pebble Beach this week. Haotong could make a surprise appearance in the Top 10 by the end of the weekend.
Lucas Glover – $7,000: Lucas Glover is basically a poor man’s Hideki Matsuyama. His ball-striking statistics tee-to-green are up there with some of the better players on the PGA Tour, but he is always held back by his putting. Like others being recommended in DFS this week, he could benefit by the difficult greens shrinking the talent gap between himself and the better putters in the field. If his ball-striking and scrambling are on point, he should be in for a solid finish.
Brian Stuard – $6,600: Chances are you can make a very solid DFS lineup without scraping this deep in the barrel, but if you’re tight on your budget then Brian Stuard could be a great addition. Stuard is a short but accurate ball-striker who’s a good scrambler and putter. At a golf course that won’t immediately eliminate him because of his lack of length, those attributes should be enough to at least get him to the weekend.
Others to consider: Jim Furyk ($7,200), Cameron Smith ($7,200), Alex Noren ($7,100), Zach Johnson ($7,000), Andrew Putnam ($6,800), Nate Lashley ($6,500)