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FantasyDraft PGA: U.S. Open

Bryce Danielson

Bryce covers the PGA for RotoWire and provides input on the golf cheat sheet. He also contributes to the coverage for NFL, NBA and other sports.

U.S. Open
Erin, WI
Erin Hills - Par 72 - 7,741 yards
Field - 156 Entrants
Purse - $12.0M


Conquering the Course

Just 70 miles down the road from Whistling Straits (site of the 2015 PGA Championship), Erin Hills will play host to the U.S. Open’s first visit to Wisconsin since the tournament began in 1895. The links-style course is known for its demanding length and wide fairways lined by extraordinarily thick fescue, and a lack of trees exaggerates windy conditions. Natural excavation of the course features rolling hills, which could result in uncomfortable lies even from the fairway, giving the best long-iron players an advantage. Normally lightning-quick greens could be slowed by forecasted rain, and such weather would make the course feel even longer. Gaining strokes off the tee will be a difference maker at such a long venue, along with birdie-or-better percentage and par-4/5 scoring. Driving distance alone won’t be enough, especially if the course successfully drains the rain and the fairways stay firm. Look for the winner to come from one of the top SG: tee-to-green players, and don’t be surprised if elite putting is not a deciding factor this week.

Past Champions

2016 - Dustin Johnson
2015 - Jordan Spieth
2014 - Martin Kaymer
2013 - Justin Rose
2012 - Webb Simpson
2011 - Rory McIlroy
2010 - Graeme McDowell

FantasyDraft Value Picks - based on $100,000 salary cap

Cream of the Crop

Dustin Johnson - $19,000

As the world’s No. 1 golfer and easy betting favorite defends his 2016 U.S. Open title, Erin Hills embodies the perfect storm for Johnson to excel once again. He’s first on Tour in both SG: off-the tee and SG: tee-to-green and has played the best golf of his career in recent months despite a missed cut at the Memorial. Wide fairways will allow for Johnson to let it rip with driver, so it could be tough for a majority of the field to keep up with the Tour’s leader in GIR percentage and driving distance.

Justin Rose - $16,600

The 2016 Masters runner-up has been a world-class ball striker for years, but a below-average putter has limited Rose to just one career major victory. With rain in the forecast throughout the week, Erin Hills’ greens are projected to soften up a bit, lessening the margin between Rose and those who usually maintain a putting advantage. He’s top 10 on Tour in SG: off-the-tee and fifth in par-four scoring, and is priced a whole $1,300 cheaper than Jason Day.

Rickie Fowler - $16,600

At exactly the same price as Rose is Fowler, who is second on Tour in total strokes gained and still seeking his first career major win. The 28-year-old is racking up birdies at a clip of 4.45 per round and is first in total driving. Fowler has the game to come out on top at Erin Hills, and a missed cut in his last start at the FedEx St. Jude Classic could somewhat reduce his ownership.

Second-Level Studs

Adam Scott - $16,200

Scott has finished outside the top 20 at a U.S. Open just once in the last five years, and he notched top-10s at the loaded PLAYERS Championship and Masters in recent months. He placed first among the field in terms of SG: off-the-tee at last week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, but couldn’t manage a top-five finish due to putting issues. If the putter gets warm at Erin Hills, Scott could be in contention for his first major championship since donning the Green Jacket in 2013, but ball striking alone should pace him to another top-20 at least.

Thomas Pieters - $15,400

Never afraid of a big stage, Pieters will be making his U.S. Open debut this week. Since 2015, the 25-year-old Belgian owns top fives at the Masters, WGC-Mexico Championship and the Olympics to go along with three wins on the European Tour. At 6-foot-5, Pieters bombs the ball and will be able to take advantage of the par-fives at Erin Hills.

Branden Grace - $15,300

Grace, who finished T5-T4 in his last two U.S. Open attempts, has taken a liking to this event. He has three top-11s in his past three tournaments, including most recently a T9 at the Euro Tour’s coveted BMW PGA Championship. Grace is top-30 on Tour in par-five scoring and has the same odds to win -- according to Oddsshark.com -- as Brooks Koepka and Pieters, but he is the cheapest of the three.

Mid-Tier Glue Guys

Alex Noren - $14,800

Noren, coming off a win at the BMW PGA Championship and posting no finish worse than a T15 in his last three events, continues to be underpriced despite his No. 8 ranking in the OWGR. He has racked up five international wins since missing the cut at last year’s U.S. Open, and is currently hitting over 70 percent of his greens in regulation on the European Tour.

Kevin Kisner - $14,500

Kisner is feeling it as of late, following up his win at the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational with a T6 at the Memorial. Statistically he checks all the boxes except driving distance, which shouldn’t be too much of a drawback if he’s hitting nearly every fairway, especially given the fact that he Is fifth on Tour in proximity to the hole from over 200 yards.

Shane Lowry - $14,400

Lowry, another ball-striking machine, recently finished T6 at the BMW Championship and followed that up with a T15 at the Memorial. He was runner-up at last year’s U.S. Open and is currently eighth on Tour in total driving, first in putting from 4-TO-8 feet and 21st in birdie-or-better percentage.

Marc Leishman - $13,400

Leishman, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this year, is up to No. 35 in the OWGR and 16th in the FedExCup standings. He’s top-25 on Tour in SG: off-the-tee and SG: tee-to-green, while quietly ranking sixth in scrambling from 10-20 yards.

Hidden Gems

Bud Cauley - $12,900

Cauley finished outside of the top 25 just once in his last six events, climbing to No. 8 on Tour in the SG: approach category. He hasn’t appeared in a major championship since 2013, so he should be eager to get back in the limelight and showcase his ability to hit greens at a healthy rate.

Jamie Lovemark - $12,100

Lovemark posted back-to-back top-20s in his last two starts for the first time since early January, and the long-hitter is up to 20th among his peers in terms of average driving distance. He also ranks 14th in proximity to the hole from over 200 yards out, which will come in handy on the par-fives and long par-fours at Erin Hills. Lovemark finished T18 during his lone career U.S. Open appearance in 2015.

Peter Uihlein - $12,100

Although Erin Hills is a first-time venue on the PGA Tour, Uihlein already has a full week’s experience at the course after making it to the quarterfinals of the 2011 U.S. Amateur, held at the same course. More recently, he has been a regular on the European Tour, currently ranking 42nd in the Race to Dubai while averaging nearly 307 yards per drive. Wide fairways should limit his occasional struggles with accuracy off the tee, and the former Oklahoma State standout is used to playing in windy conditions.

Haotong Li - $11,800

At just 21 years old Li already owns five professional wins in China, and he finished no worse than T30 over his past four starts on the European Tour. He has never appeared in a major tournament, but finished T7 at the 2015 HSBC Champions WGC event against quality competition. Li ranks in the top 45 on the European Tour in driving distance, putting average and scoring as he displays a solid all-around game. He’ll be a young gun to root for at Erin Hills: his European Tour profile reads, “Tall Chinese player, rarely seen without a smile on his face.”

Michael Putnam - $10,500

Only $100 above the minimum player price, Putnam makes for an intriguing punt play who could make the cut at Erin Hills after finishing 21st in SG: tee-to-green at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He has placed top-40 in three of his last four events on Tour and still drives the ball nearly 300 yards despite recently turning 34 years old. The lowest score of your seven-man lineup will be dropped, so plugging in a flyer like Putnam will allow for additional spending on the more expensive players.

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