2020 U.S. Open Expert Picks: PGA DFS lineup advice & tips
It’s been a slow 2020 sports build, but this weekend we have one of the most exciting stretches on the sports calendar in a long time: Week 2 of the NFL season, college football, the NBA and NHL Playoffs, MLB pennant chases, a NASCAR race, and on top of all that, we have newly crowned PGA Tour Player of the Year Dustin Johnson leading a top-notch field into the 120th U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club. I’ve never had to make the decision to either watch a PGA major or the NFL, and it has me completely flummoxed. I know I would chose to watch any of the four golf majors over any of those other sports, but not the NFL. I think I’m going to likely have the Sunday Ticket on my laptop while I put Sunday at the U.S. Open on my big screen. I’m pumped for all of it — and that includes my DFS lineups.
Do you remember when everyone was stunned by how much of a challenge Olympia Fields posed to these players at the BMW Championship? That will be a walk in the park compared to what Winged Foot will put these players through this weekend. Winged Foot has hosted five U.S. Opens and one PGA Championship in its storied history. Only in the 1984 U.S. Open did the winner end the tournament with a score below par. In the other four, the average winning score was five over par. The last trip here for the U.S. Open was in ’06, and the average round was 75, only one hole played under par for the week, and there were just 12 total rounds scored under par the entire weekend. Hale Irwin won here in ’74 with a final score of seven over par. Then USGA president Sandy Tatum said afterwards, “We’re not trying to humiliate the best players in the world. We’re simply trying to identify them.”
If I told you that Winged Foot was 7,469 yards and played as a Par 70, that would be enough to know that this course will be very difficult — but that’s not all. It is known for having extremely difficult putting surfaces. Colin Montgomerie finished runner up at the ’06 U.S. Open and said, “I think everybody will three-putt out here.” The slopes are so crazy that players joke that you can see the bottom of the cup from the fairway. They may say that in jest, but on some of the holes, that is not an exaggeration.
After reading all that, I’m definitely going to have Strokes Gained: Putting as one of my key stats. The bombers will have an advantage and these guys hit it much further than the guys back in ’06, but also they have to avoid the deep stuff. Like most all U.S. Open courses, it will punish you if you land in the rough. Knowing all that, I’ll add Strokes Gained: Off the Tee as one of my other key stats. You know I’m going to have Strokes Gained: Approach, as well.
These players will bogey and bogey a lot this weekend, but the player who can avoid them the most will take home the title. That’s why I’m putting bogey avoidance in my key stats. This is another course with a bunch of Par 4s between 450 and 500 yards, so I’m going to look at players’ efficiency in that range. We’ve also have courses with a bunch of really long Par 3s, so I’m going to target Par 3 efficiency 200-225. These players will be put to task at Winged Foot and survival will be the word of the week.
The weather looks to be good with temps in the mid-60s throughout the weekend. As of right now, there is no real rain in the forecast with winds dabbling in the double digits. As far as conditions, it will be much more pleasant than it was a few weeks ago at Olympia Fields.
PGA DFS Strategy: U.S. Open
The last thing I wanted to add is about roster construction this weekend. I have already highlighed why this course is so hard and how much of a struggle it will be. I believe knowing that, you need to target six good golfers in your lineups. That means going with a balanced build over stars and scrubs. I’m going to give you some deep dive plays, but there is a reason that those players are under $7K, and the likelihood of them making the cut is slim. The way to score the big prizes in these GPPs is getting six players through the cut and hope they can make a move over the weekend. Yeah, you may only be able to get one of the big dogs in your lineup, but I’d rather my lowest-priced guy be Brendon Todd than J.T. Poston. I want to trust that everyone in my lineup has the ability to make the cut.
Strokes Gained: Approach
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
Strokes Gained: Putting
Par 4 Efficiency 450-500
Par 3 Efficiency 200-225
ONE-AND-DONE PICK: Daniel Berger
U.S. Open PGA DFS expert picks
Daniel Berger: If you are able to ignore his missed cut at the Memorial, it’s been a stellar season for Berger with finishes of 9th, 5th, 4th, 7th, 1st, 3rd, MC, 2nd, 13th, 3rd, 25th, and 15th since the Waste Management back in January. He’s nother guy who just fits the mold for success as he sits ninth in Par 4 Efficiency 450-500, 10th in Bogey Avoidance, 17th in Strokes Gained: Putting, 27th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, and 34th in Strokes Gained: Approach.There is no reason not to play him this weekend.
Adam Scott. The one thing you can say about Scott is that he’s well rested. He really limited his schedule down the stretch of the PGA Tour season. This will be his 13th trip to the U.S. Open, he knows what the expect, and how to smartly play this event. He has five top-20 finishes, which includes three top-10 finishes. He’s top 50 in Strokes Gained: Putting and top 25 in Bogey Avoidance. I like the old vet a lot this weekend.
Justin Thomas. Despite only having two top-10 finishes and a win under his belt this season, I’m still a believer that he can get it done this weekend. He’s another guy who can bounce back from a bad hole or round, sitting at eighth in Bogey Avoidance. He’s first in Strokes Gained: Approach, 22nd in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, and eighth in Par 4 Efficiency.
Rasmus Hjogaard. Unless you play Euro Tour DFS regularly, you probably don’t know this kid. I say “kid” because he can’t legally drink at just 19. He has two wins, a second place, and a third place finish in his last 12 starts. He is actually higher than three-time major winner Jordan Spieth in the official world golf rankings. He’s fourth on the Euro Tour in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and fifth in Driving Distance.
Webb Simpson. Simpson won the 2012 U.S. Open and then kind of fell off the golf map for a while before having an awakening over the past three seasons. He fits the mold here so well. He’s first in Bogey Avoidance, first in Par 4 Efficiency 450-500, sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach, 13th in Strokes Gained: Putting, and 13th in Par 3 Efficiency 200-225.
Collin Morikawa. The only thing that scares me about his game is the putting. He’s pretty middle of the road when it comes to that, so he will struggle on these greens like everyone else. He differentiates himself in being a premiere ball striker. He’s second on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach and 19th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee. The PGA Championship winner has a legit shot of going back-to-back in Major play.
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