The second PGA Tour major of 2020 is here and DraftKings is offering another Fantasy Golf Millionaire for the 2020 US Open. Dustin Johnson enters the week as the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking while looking for his first major win since the 2016 US Open. Two-time US Open champ and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka has withdrawn from the event due to injury. Below, we look at the best PGA DFS picks for the 2020 US Open at DraftKings, along with a preview of Winged Foot Golf Club, key stats for the year’s second major, and some fantasy golf lineup-building strategies.
The US Open is the second tournament of the 2020-21 PGA Tour season and comes just two weeks after Johnson’s victory at the Tour Championship. The Masters Tournament will take place Nov. 12-15 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. Both the Masters and US Open will be held again in the 2020-21 season from April 8-11 and June 17-20, respectively.
The course: Winged Foot Golf Club
The 120th US Open is the sixth of its kind to be held at Winged Foot GC. The A.W. Tillinghast-designed course in Mamaroneck, New York will play as a par 70 measuring 7,477 yards. It will play to the usual US Open conditions of long, thick rough and lightning-quick greens. The tiered greens pose the best defense against low scores. There are no water hazards on the course but tight, tree-lined fairways demand accuracy off the tee.
The winning score this year shouldn’t be expected to be anywhere near Gary Woodland‘s mark of minus-13 last year at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Geoff Ogilvy won the last US Open at Winged Foot in 2006 at plus-5. Phil Mickelson collected one of his six runner-up finishes at the US Open that year at plus-6. Fellow 2020 US Open participants Ian Poulter (plus-9) and Paul Casey (plus-10) finished T-12 and 15th, respectively. Adam Scott (plus-12) tied for 21st and Tiger Woods (plus-12) missed the cut. There were just 12 rounds shot below par in 2006 with a low of two-under 68.
Three of the four par 3s at Winged Foot top 200 yards with the other measuring 162 yards. Two par 5s play to either side of 600 yards, while the par 4s range from 321 yards to a long of 504.
Key stats to consider for your US Open DFS picks
There’s a smaller 144-man field in attendance for the 2020 US Open, but it’s a stronger group than usual. There were no open qualifiers this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The field still includes several top amateurs and golfers from secondary international tours who can quickly be passed over when making your DFS picks. The US Open typically has the third-strongest Strength of Field rating behind the PGA Championship and Open Championship but ahead of the Masters.
There isn’t much course history to draw from for Winged Foot. In addition to the ’06 US Open, the course also hosted the 2004 US Amateur and 1997 PGA Championship. Mickelson, Woods, and Lee Westwood were part of a group that tied for 29th at the ’97 PGA Championship. Kevin Kisner played in the ’04 US Amateur and is in this year’s US Open field. Ryan Moore, Luke List, and J.B. Holmes failed to qualify.
Strokes Gained: Approach and SG: Around-the-Green are our two main stats this week to reflect the emphasis on hitting greens in regulation and scrambling from the thick greenside rough. SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Tee-to-Green are important as always. Golfers not only need to be long off the tee but need to hit fairways. We’ll also consider 3-Putt Avoidance and Bogey Avoidance for what’s likely to be a winning score around even par Sunday evening.
US Open lineup-building strategies
The US Open Fantasy Golf Millionaire comes with an elevated $100 entry fee. This helps to drop the total number of entries to 25,277 but will increase the strength of the competition among those entries.
Lineups are built of six golfers with a salary cap of $50,000. Because of the US Open’s smaller-than-usual field and an even smaller group of true competitors, differentiating lineups will be difficult. Roster managers must find places to pivot from the most popular price points and highest-owned golfers. Spending less than the $50K cap is a great way to help build a unique lineup as others spend up to increase ownership on golfers at popular salaries.
Focus on key stats and career performance in majors, especially the US Open. European Tour golfers, especially those with success in events with the strongest field can be good places to turn, as they’re often underpriced. Be careful with those coming over from the lesser tours. Not only are their results against weaker competition but typically on easier courses.
US Open DFS Picks: Ownership
Ownership in the Fantasy Golf Millionaire is generally dispersed more evenly for all majors due to the strong fields and all the top golfers in attendance. While this is true at the top of the pricing list, ownership is more concentrated on the same names in the lower tiers, especially with top amateurs and multi-time winners on the international tours.
The small amount of course history at Winged Foot is likely to boost ownership on Mickelson, Woods, Poulter, Casey, and Scott. Despite being the highest-priced golfer, Johnson is likely to be the top-owned golfer following his Tour Championship and FedEx Cup wins to move him back to No. 1 in the OWGR.
FanShare Sports is a great site to help with projected ownership. Even shaving a couple of percentage points at each price tier can go a long way in helping roster differentiation.
2020 US Open DFS picks
Top Tier: $11.5K – $8K
Rory McIlroy $10,500
McIlroy has struggled since the PGA Tour returned to play in mid-June. He has slipped to No. 4 in the OWGR with his only top-10 finish in his last nine events coming at the Tour Championship. The 2018-19 FedEx Cup champ admitted his impending fatherhood was partially to blame for those struggles, but those concerns are now behind him.
McIlroy hasn’t won a major since going back-to-back at the 2014 Open Championship and PGA Championship, but he has 10 top 10s in 20 events. He was T-33 at the 2020 PGA Championship and will attempt to complete the career grand slam at the Masters in November. His three straight missed cuts in the US Open and recent results should help suppress ownership in this top tier. He still ranks sixth on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Tee-to-Green, and 19th in SG: Approach in 2020.
Webb Simpson $9,700
Simpson’s looking for his first major win since the 2012 US Open at the Olympic Club. His 2012 win came at a score of plus-1 with back-to-back weekend rounds of two-under 68 flying him up the leaderboard. He has won twice in 2020 with four more top 10s to move to sixth in the OWGR.
He’s first on Tour in bogey avoidance, seventh in 3-putt avoidance, sixth in SG: Around-the-Green and T-16 in SG: Tee-to-Green. He’s seventh by the betting odds at DraftKings Sportsbook but eighth by DFS salary. He was 16th by the betting odds ahead of the PGA Tour’s return in June.
Tony Finau $9,100
Well-slighted for his struggles in closing out standard events, Finau’s negative reputation could discount his ownership. He has been a regular name at the top of leaderboards in majors since the beginning of 2018 with six top 10s in nine events. He missed the cut at last year’s low-scoring US Open at Pebble Beach, but he finished fifth in 2018 with Koepka winning at plus-1 at Shinnecock Hills.
He’s 11th in SG: Tee-to-Green, and gained 0.41 strokes putting per round at the PGA Championship, according to Data Golf, in a better-than-usual performance on the difficult surfaces of TPC Harding Park.
Justin Rose $8,400
Rose has fallen from eighth to 18th in the OWGR since the beginning of 2020. He has seven missed cuts in just 13 events, but he resurfaced with a ninth-place finish at the PGA Championship. He’s still an excellent ball striker with 0.31 SG: Approach and 0.45 SG: Tee-to-Green in 2020. His 2013 US Open win came at one-over par to win by two over Jason Day and Mickelson.
Mid Tier: $7.9K – $7K
Sergio Garcia $7,500
This middle tier is a good place to pivot and save some salary in the process. The former Masters champ has just three top 10s in 12 events in 2020 with two of those coming on the European Tour before the golf seasons were suspended due to the pandemic. He ranks 22nd in SG: Around-the-Green and fourth in SG: Tee-to-Green.
Matt Kuchar $7,200
Kuchar was 21st by the betting odds at DK Sportsbook in early June, but he’s now just 32nd entering the week of the tournament. He has had less career success at the US Open than any of the other majors, but he’s well worth a shot at a discounted salary. He’s averaging 0.77 SG: Putting per round and ranks second on Tour in 3-Putt Avoidance.
Martin Kaymer $7,100
Kaymer, a two-time major champ, is one of my favorite long-shot bets of the week at +10000 at DK Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. He won the 2014 US Open, and while he finished nine-under-par, no one else in the field did better than minus-1. He can excel on tough courses and has four top 10s in seven events on the European Tour this year.
Value Tier: $6.9K and Lower
Mackenzie Hughes $6,900
Hughes is one of the biggest risers in the OWGR this year, climbing from 264 to 57. He finished just T-58 at the PGA Championship, but he went T-13-T-10-T-7 in three ensuing events ending with the Tour Championship (by 72-hole score). He plays very well on difficult courses and ranks sixth in 2020 in SG: Around-the-Green.
Ryan Palmer $6,600
Palmer’s strongest trait among our key stats is his 1.00 SG: Tee-to-Green per round. He hasn’t played a US Open since a missed cut in 2017 but has two career top-10 finishes in majors. He was the runner-up amid the major-like conditions and strength of field of the Memorial Tournament and has two other top 10s in strong-field events since the season resumed.
J.T. Poston $6,100
Poston is a tremendous bargain while priced among amateurs and those from the secondary tours just above the minimum salary. He won his first PGA Tour event at last year’s Wyndham Championship but has only two top 10s in 17 events in 2020. He has played in just three US Opens with no finish better than a T-60 in the 2019 PGA Championship, but he needs to do little more than make the cut at this basement price.