The PGA TOUR heads to San Diego this week as the historic Torrey Pines Golf Course hosts the 121st United States Open. The course will play like a monster by 7,652 yards by 71. You can expect carnage this week and the winning score will likely be close to par.
I’ll be highlighting the best cash games / single entry games on the main DraftKings slate, but these players are often great options in any contest.
My analysis will frequently refer Wins won, a set of proprietary metrics generated by the PGA TOUR using millions of data points to calculate the average number of strokes it takes for a player to put the ball in the hole, regardless of distance and situation. Strokes Gained is now available in PGA FantasyLabs models.
There are a variety of metrics related to won stroke, but the top six categories you should be aware of include:
- Shots won: off the tee (SG: Off-the-Tee)
- Strokes won: approach (SG: Approach)
- Strokes won: Around the green (SG: Around the green)
- Strokes won: putting (SG: put)
- Strokes Won: Ball Strike (SG: Ball-Striking), which is SG: Off-the-Tee + SG: Approach
- Strokes won: from tee to green (SG: Tee-to-Green), which is SG: Ball-Striking + SG: Around-the-Green
For more information on Strokes Gained data and how to use it, see this article by Bryan Mears on The Action Network, which details each of the above metrics. I also recommend Chris Murphy’s Strokes Gained column after each round of this week’s PGA TOUR event, which highlights golfers to buy and go, as well as Matthew Vincenzi’s weekly “Stats That Matter” column, which highlights the Strokes Gained sub-metrics that matter most to a given course. The following players listed are based on DraftKings rating and pricing.
Brooks Koepka ($ 10,100 DraftKings)
I mean, this man doesn’t need to be introduced.
Koepka is one of the greatest big game hunters in professional golf history, and the four-time major champion will be looking to win his third US Open in five years this week at Torrey Pines. Just to give an example of his sheer dominance, Koepka has a cumulative score equal to 84 under (!) In the majors since 2017. The next closest guy in this period is Dustin Johnson with a cumulative score of 25 under. That’s a 59-move (!!) difference if you keep the score at home, and truly one of the most absurd stats I’ve ever seen. Koepka literally walks the dogs of the best golfers on the planet.
He doesn’t have a big history in Torrey back when he played the Farmer’s Insurance Open, but we know there is a monumental difference between Major Brooks and Regular Brooks. After finishing second in the PGA Championship behind Phil Mickelson a few weeks ago, you know he’s eager to get back to the winner’s circle this week, which would stick him especially with the US Open champion of the last year, Bryson DeChambeau.
Make this man disappear at your peril.
Xander Sc Chaudele ($ 9,300 DraftKings)
There is not much to say here. ScHotele has now competed in four US Opens during his career, finishing T-5, T-6, T-3 and fifth in solo on those trips. For some reason, he hasn’t had a big history at the Farmer in his career, but he did manage to get rid of the Monkey last January, finishing second behind Patrick Reed. It has long been established that ScHotele is the mini-Koepka in the big leagues, a nickname he is expected to continue this week. DraftKings also offered it a blatant price tag of $ 9,300, which makes it close to a gambling lock.
Patrick Reed ($ 9,000 DraftKings)
Nothing runs Reed’s juice like all the best players in the world coming together on an extremely difficult golf course. Captain America made the cut in six of his seven US Open starts, finishing T-14 or better in four of them, including a fourth in solo in 2018.
Reed is also the defending Farmer’s champion and has a very good history at Torrey Pines, posting two more top-25s and a T-6 in his last four starts. It does its best on longer runs, as we know, and it’s priced extremely reasonable this week at just $ 9,000 on DraftKings. The fact that his history at the US Open and Torrey Pines is both elite makes him one of the best games on the board, regardless of the format. He’s definitely on the shortlist to compete here.
Tony Finau ($ 8,900 DraftKings)
Finau has the best Torrey Pines story in this area. In his seven Farmer’s career debuts, he has never missed a cup and has finished in the top six four times in the past five years. He also hasn’t finished worse than 24th in any of those starts.
Finau was the first name I clicked this week when building my cash game team. He’s also recorded two top 10s in his last three US Opens, and all the contextual factors are in place for him this week. It’s priced at just $ 8,900, making it one of the best values in the table.
Louis Oosthuizen ($ 8,100 DraftKings)
Oosty is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career, achieving 12 of 13 Cups with four top 10 finishes this year. We know he’s doing his best in majors, but he’s particularly among the elite at the US Open, posting three top-seven’s in his last six starts in golf’s toughest test.
The South African ranks seventh in this area for the total number of strokes won in his last 48 rounds, which further underlines how formidable he has been this year. It also ranks # 1 in SG: also putting in this stretch. At just $ 8,100, it’ll be one of the chalkiest games on the slate, but offers great security for the price.
Shane Lowry ($ 7,600 DraftKings)
Lowry has been playing incredible golf lately, posting four top 10s in his last seven starts dating back to THE PLAYERS. He pulls out a T-6 at the Memorial and a T-4 at the PGA Championship, two really tough tracks. His history at the US Opens has been mixed, but he has two top 10s in 2015 and 2016. He’s also been pretty decent at Torrey Pines, achieving three of four cups here with a pair of top-13s.
The Irishman is ninth in this area in SG: Tee-to-Green and 11th overall in strokes won in his last 16 rounds. He’s a former British Open champion who does his best when the going gets tough. His price is way too low for the way he plays and his major championship pedigree.
Jason Kokrak ($ 7,600 DraftKings)
Kokrak is one of three TOUR golfers with two wins this season, joining DeChambeau and Stewart Cink. He’s really won this year and the big bomber should be able to get around Torrey Pines this week. He’s recorded three top-25s at the Farmers and has never missed a cut in three career starts at the US Open. Kokrak ranks sixth in this area for total strokes won in its last 24 rounds and is certainly one of the best games in the $ 7,000 range on DraftKings this week.
Carlos Ortiz ($ 7,100 DraftKings)
If you’re getting into that lower $ 7,000 range, it’s important to look for guys who are hitting long and doing well on the greens at Poa Annua. Ortiz ranks 38th on the TOUR in driving distance and has the greatest difference in positive strokes gained in this area on Poa’s greens compared to other surfaces. He gains 0.61 more hits per turn on poa than anywhere else. We’ve seen him beat Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama to win his first PGA TOUR event in November at the Houston Open, so we know he’s immune to the pressure.
Ortiz will be making his third career US Open start this week and actually has a pretty decent history at Torrey Pines in his career. On top of all that, his little brother Alvaro has also qualified for the tournament, so you know he will be motivated to play well. I like it at this price.
Erik van Rooyen ($ 6,700 DraftKings)
EVR has finished in the top 25 four times in majors during his career and is two-on-two to qualify for the US Open. He just finished a very solid week at the Palmetto Championship where he finished T-10, and also ranks 51st on the TOUR in driving distance. The South African has shown a propensity to play well on difficult courses and while I don’t recommend playing too many guys in the $ 6,000 range this week, EVR is my favorite of the group with a decent margin.
Pictured above: Xander Sc Chaudele
Credit: Ben Jared / PGA TOUR via Getty Images