Complete 2014 U.S. Open Daily Fantasy Golf Breakdown
It’s time for the toughest test in golf – the U.S. Open. A total of 156 golfers will grind it out at the lengthy Pinehurst to see who can conquer the sand and dome-like firm greens.
To give you an idea, here’s what Keegan Bradley’s study sheets look like.
There are several things we should address when deciding on who to select for our daily fantasy teams. This isn’t as straight forward as your normal tournament. Let’s take a look.
Vegas odds vary a lot – For those who sports bet on golf know this, but the odds at sportsbooks can be vastly different depending where you look. For example, Jordan Spieth is 25-1 on Bovada, but is 10-1 at the Rio. Another example would be Jamie Donaldson being 60-1 at Red Rock, but 150-1 at the Rio. Basically, when you’re comparing salaries against Vegas odds, do not treat one book as the gospel. You’re best off looking at least three or four books and taking the average.
Do not factor eagles into your decision making – Most tournaments will have at least two par 5s and maybe a par 4 that will bring eagle opportunities for the longer hitters. This won’t be the case at Pinehurst. Pinehurst tips out at 7,565 yards, although it will be play somewhere between 7,300 and 7,500 each day. Nonetheless, this is the longest course in U.S. Open history in terms of yards-to-par ratio. There are only two par 5s (No. 5 and No. 10). No.5 will play at 576 yards and is barely reachable in two. But here’s the catch – this is the toughest green on the course and if your shot isn’t perfectly in the middle of the green, it’s likely rolling off to the side and leaving a difficult pitch to the green. The fairway also slopes severely right to left and the worse miss is to the left at the green. This hole is designed to perhaps tease some of the longer hitters to go for it, but after listening to some interviews with players and officials, it seems like very few people will go for this green in two. Hitting a 3-wood into that green from 280 out is a very high risk shot. No. 10 is 617 yards. This hole is technically reachable in two, but only somewhat realistic for someone like Bubba. Even so, this green is tough to hold and the chances for anyone making eagle here are very slim. As for the par 4s, unless they move the tees up one day for No. 3, none are driveable.
Ball striking, not length, is key – Pinehurst might be 7,500 yards, but the longest hitters won’t necessarily have the advantage. If you listened to players’ interviews today, many recognize that the key is putting the ball in play. A lot of the fairways have wider landing areas around 200-250, but narrow after that. Even Bubba said he will hit shorter distance shots off the tee and recognizes being in the fairway in order to hit the appropriate shot to the firm greens is very important. Remember, there isn’t exactly any rough on this course. It’s fairway, bunkers or large sandy areas that have random patches of high-thick grass. So, if you miss the fairway, you might get lucky and have a swing off the sand, or you can have the most impossible swing and be lucky to just get the ball back in the fairway.
Scrambling and sand play – Phil Mickelson said that this course requires so many long iron and precise shots into these greens, that the field will hit less than 50 percent of the greens in regulation. So yes, as it always is, it’ll be about who saves the most pars and avoids the fewest mistakes.
Picks (odds via DraftKings)
Rory McIlroy $10,100 – Outstanding ball striker, especially with longer approaches. His high ball flight will be beneficial on these greens too. He’s the favorite and has finished at least T8 in every tournament except the Memorial (T15) and WGC Cadillac (T25). Rory also won the BMW PGA Championship three weeks ago. Just a great fit for the course and I’d go with him over Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson.
Bubba Watson $9,400 – Bubba is a top-five favorite, but has the eighth-highest salary. I know I said length won’t be key, but Bubba’s long iron play and short game is underrated. He’s sixth in GIRs, fourth in birdies or better on Par 4s, second in ball striking, first in putting from 10-to-15 feet, first in putting from 15-to-25 feet and second in three-putt avoidance.
Matt Kuchar $9,300 – Kuchar is a top-four favorite and has the 10th-most expensive salary. That alone should have you play him with his nine top 10s (1st) this year. Kuchar did miss the cut at the Crowne Plaza Invitational by a shot, but outside of that, he’s been as consistent as anyone on Tour. Kuchar’s consistency has also been evident in majors too – including six top 10s and 15 top 30s. Kuchar is still majorless, but he has one of the most balanced games on Tour and his major drought has nothing to do with him choking or not showing up on Sunday. It’s just a matter of time before he wins one.
Jim Furyk $8,900 – Solid value for his cost and being as great as 20-1 by some sportsbooks. Length hasn’t hurt Furyk before in previous U.S Open’s as he’s a previous winner and almost won in 2012 at Olympic. Furyk has two second-place finishes in his last four tournaments, four top 10s in his last seven tourneys and seven top 20s in his last eight events. He’s first in scrambling and eighth in bounce back.
Louis Oosthuizen $6,700 – Very easy play in terms of odds. Oosthuizen is anywhere between 45-1 and 65-1. He’s a major champion and nearly won his second in 2012 at the Masters (lost to Bubba in a playoff), but really the odds are all you need to know. Plus, his injury from the early part of the year is gone.
Angel Cabrera $5,500 – Also a no-brainer. Fantastic value for that price at approximately 75-1. Two-time major winner (including a U.S. Open). Cabrera is an outstanding grinder in the big tournaments.
Not using Patrick Reed – One other great value play is Patrick Reed at $6,400, and he’s between 50-1 and 100-1. However, note that Reed has missed his last three cuts and four of his last five (that one being at the Masters). Personally, I think he has a terrible attitude on the course, and he’s mentally very fragile as a young player in the big events. That’s especially bad at a U.S. Open. He has won twice this year, but that was a long time ago before he proclaimed he was a Top 5 player on Tour. But here’s the bottom line – you only need two lower-salary guys in order to get four stars. Reed is my least favorite of the three.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz