U.S. Open Preview and Prediction

U.S. Open

Erin Hills

Past Champion: Dustin Johnson

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The toughest test in golf is upon us this week at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. The U.S. Open is known for its difficult layouts and USGA setups, and this week at Erin Hills will be no different. Playing a brutal 7,741 yards with fescue that has been deemed “dead” surrounding the entire course, this will be a test not many are prepared for. While some PGA Tournaments finish double digit under par, the U.S. Open is a different animal, with some winners finishing over par! Erin Hills will challenge all parts of your game, demanding not only a long tee shot, but an accurate one. Similar to other U.S. Open venues, Erin Hills will make players use their imagination when managing their way around this golf course. There are no short of storylines heading into this week between Phil flying across the country to try and make his tee time to some players already voicing their displeasure with the USGA (no surprise there), U.S. Open week is one of the best golf weeks of the year.

Erin Hills Hole by Hole Preview 

FORE U.S. Open Storylines

Family Man Phil

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Phil Mickelson is a US Open Championship away from completing the career Grand Slam, which has only be done by 5 other golfers ever (Sarazen, Hogan, Player, Nicklaus, and Woods). Not that he hasn’t come close either, finishing runner up SIX times, Phil is in major limbo whether or not he will be able to compete in this years competition. As the news quickly circulated last week, Phil will be attending his daughter Amandas high school graduation ceremony, which she is giving her valedictorian speech the same day the tournament kicks off. HOWEVER, Phil is on the record saying he will be in the air immediately following the ceremony and on his way to Erins Hills in hopes of making his late Thursday tee time. Mickelson has also said the only way he believes he will make his tee time would be if there was roughly a 4 hour delay Thursday morning, but barring a miracle it looks like Phil will not make his Grand Slam run this year. Although a live stream of Phil making his way across the country would be electric content for Fox to fire up on Thursday.

USGA vs. The Field

The USGA pissing off players leading up to the U.S. Open (and during for DJ last year) has become a tale as old as time. This year the main discussion is the brutality of the fescue that starts just a few steps off the fairway.  Kevin Na was the first to hit social media with a video trying to hit out the nasty fescue, which seems to be pretty impossible. Adam Scott also complained about the USGA and how they go about setting up the course for the U.S. Open year in and year out. It seems as though the USGA heard the rumblings and had the fescue actually cut down some on a few holes. On the other hand, Rory McIlroy came out on Tuesday and made it pretty clear that if you are worrying about the fescue then you should just pack your bags and go home. I agree with Rory, being that the fairways are some of the widest in US Open history, players should focus less on complaining to the USGA, and more just hitting it in the fairway. The U.S. Open is known to be one of the toughest challenges in golf and I don’t mind it one bit.

 Daddy DJ Repeat? 

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 12.26.48 PM.pngWith the birth of his second child coming just days before the U.S. Open kicks off and Fathers Day, Dustin Johnson is in a great place mentally and physically to repeat. Other than the good karma that comes with the joy of having another child (farrrr away from having that feeling), DJs game places perfectly for Erin Hills. A track that favors long hitters will give Johnson much shorter approach shots than the rest of the field. As the odds on favorite (+750), DJ has everything going in his favor heading into this week and would not be surprised to see him dominate the field similar to what Tiger did at the 2000 U.S. Open when he won by 15 strokes at Pebble Beach. The only disappoint if DJ does finish on top this week, is we will not get to see Paulina in her white dress from last years win.

Far and Wide

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Stricker getting a little help on the greens from Bucky Badger

Not only are the fairways at Erin Hills far and wide, but the field is as well. An awesome part of the U.S. Open is the fact that anybody with a USGA handicap can enter into qualifiers for a chance to make their dreams come true and compete on golfs biggest stage. A few familiar faces made it into the field this week thanks to a qualifier, but none more special than Wisconsin native, Steve Stricker. Other notable names that made the field through qualifiers are Stewart Hagestad (Low Am at Masters), Stephan Jaeger (#1 on Web.com Tour), Harris English, and Jamie Lovemark just to name a few. These qualifiers have already went through the gamut to get to this point, so no reason somebody can’t make an amazing story that much more improbable.

U.S. Open Prediction

Jordan Spieth (+1200)

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First Major of the year, The Masters, I chose Spieth to win, and he finished T-11. Second Major of the year, The U.S. Open, and I am picking Jordan Spieth again, but for a few different reasons this time around. While I, and every other golf writer, have talked about the length of Erin Hills at nauseum, I believe Spieth will take advantage of the other aspects of his game that may not exactly be talked about as much. The three reasons why I think Erin Hills will play to his advantage this week are the width of the fairways, the difficult approach shots, and the tame greens. If Jordan can keep those sprays off the tee to a minimum and set himself up in the fairway at a higher clip this week, there is no one better in the world Approach to Green and since switching back to his old putter, has been rolling the rock like 2015 Jordan. Coming in a little under the radar this week, as I talked about in Right in the Fairway DK U.S. Open Picks, Jordan is in some of the best form of his career and is poised to win his second U.S. Open in the last 3 years.

Darkhorse of the Week

Graeme McDowell (+125000)

A golfer who has won the U.S. Open before in great form and the ability to hit fairways and make putts. I would throw a few bucks on him this week at Erin Hills, cause why not.

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Enjoy the beauty and brutality that Erin Hills will provide this week. One of the best golf weeks of the year is a must watch come the weekend. Continue to follow along on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend.

Right in the Fairway DK U.S. Open Picks

U.S. Open Picks 

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U.S. Open week is one of the best weeks of the year for any golf fan, but what would make it even better? Not only watching the best players in the world compete on a quite difficult track at Erin Hills, but winnings some money on DraftKings! Major Championships means huge possible paydays, and we have just that with the $33 entry into the $3.5 Fantasy Golf Millionaire paying out $1 MILLION to the winner.

Obvious Pick of the Week: Jordan Spieth ($11,500)

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For some reason I think Jordan has gone sorta under the radar coming into this week, and even though he is the second most expensive golfer (behind DJ), I do not believe he will be very highly owned. Even though Erin Hills is playing a daunting 7,740 yards, and sporting some brutal fescue just steps off the fairway, I think this course actually suits Spieth well. Although Spieth ranks 86th and 123rd on the PGA Tour in Driving Distance and Accuracy, Jordan will be able to take advantage of the 40-50 yard wide fairways. As one of the best players approaching the green AND arguably the best putter on Tour, I think if Spieth can keep it in the fairway this week he not only can be in the mix on the weekend, but win his second U.S. Open Championship.

Gut Guy of the Week: Jon Rahm ($10,300)

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To be successful at the U.S. Open you need to have guts, and boy does the 22 year old Spaniard Jon Rahm have guts (holy shit I still can’t believe he is only 22)! One of the longest hitters on Tour, paired with one of the best Greens in Regulation %, Rahm is going to attack this golf course in a way that maybe only DJ can. I love the fire that Rahm plays with, however that same fire has gotten him into trouble during stretches of rounds where he gets so frustrated that he lets it effect his play. If Rahm can channel that fire into a positive energy, and continues to play the golf he has so amazingly shown in this last year, I expect nothing less   than a Top 10 finish this week.

Value Pick of the Week: Graeme McDowell ($6,600)

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The 2010 U.S. Open Winner Graeme McDowell is my Value Pick of the Week for three reasons. The first reason has already been stated, success at the U.S. Open, and I would say a win in 2010 and runner up in 2012 would constitute as successful at golfs toughest test. The second reason I like McDowell this week is his driving accuracy, which ranks 9th on Tour. Oh, but he ranks 183rd in Driving Distance and you already said Erin Hills is playing 7,740 yards why would you want McDowell? The answer to that comes with the third reason I like McDowell this week and that his uncanny ability to make putts. Getting a former champion, who can not only put it in the fairway with danger all around, but gain strokes on the field while on the green, McDowell is a great value play this week.

Fade of the Week: Rickie Fowler ($10,500)

I have no other reason than that he is cheaper than I would have expected and in lieu of that, will most likely be one of the highest % owned players this week. I am banking on Fowler playing a little below his value and I will consider that a win because just as the PGA Tour keeps Strokes Gained against the field as a stat, in big daily fantasy tournaments you are trying to gain as many points on the field (per value) as you can.

Good Form+Value+Cuts Made+Tour Sauce-Players I can’t root for =

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NOTE: Notice my team consists of 4 former U.S. Open Champions (Spieth, Kaymer, McDowell, and Glover)