Welcome to the latest edition of the DraftKings Fantasy PGA Sleepers column. The wait is over, it’s time for the U.S Open and DraftKings has a shot for you to win $1,000,000.
I’m back to offer a few picks for this week’s PGA slate. As always, I will try to weave in players from a few pricing tiers – this won’t be a column on the five cheapest guys each week and why they have a 1% chance of making the cut.
A balanced lineup in Daily Fantasy Golf is important so I want to offer you opportunities to construct lineups with sleepers at a variety of price points. This week, you’ll need to get all six through and have them challenge the leaderboard if you want to win the $1,000,000. As always, suggestions are appreciated to help improve the column and so we can better meet your DFS needs.
This week we tee it up at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington for the U.S. Open. Chambers Bay is a relatively new (eight years old) course that was built specifically to host USGA tournaments like the U.S. Open. The course plays around 7,742 yards and par 70, but the length will change each day and will be between 7,500 and 7,900 yards depending on the setup.
It is a links-style course that is seeded with fine fescue grass found rarely in the States, but frequently in courses in the United Kingdom (which also has a ton of links courses). The only tournament of note this course has hosted is the U.S. Amateur in 2010.
The weather looks like it will be temperate with little chance of wind or rain. As always, keep checking in during the week as wind can crop up at any time at this course.
We don’t have much to go on other than the reports this week about the course and how it will play. However, it’s still a U.S. Open course and we know it’s similar to a links course. So, we’d want players who are successful at these types of course.
I’m going to also review some of the results on links courses in Europe (especially those that have hosted British Opens like St. Andrews). I’ll also consider results from the 2010 PGA Championship that was held at Whistling Straits which is a course with similar traits to Chambers Bay.
You will need a premium player who can drive the ball well and if they can’t they have to be hyper-accurate. And when they get in trouble they need to have the skill and creativity to get out of it.
Driving Distance – It’s a long course and big hitters can escape some of the issues on the course just by bombing away.
Driving Accuracy – We need our players to stay out of the weeds…and rough…and sand…
So, we’ll combine these two and look at Total Driving with a lean toward driving distance being more important than accuracy.
Scrambling – There is trouble in many forms on the course. The winner will need to scramble to have a chance.
SG: Putting – These greens are treacherous so we’ll need players who can putt.
I’d also love to be able to analyze mental toughness and creativity. The players are going to get in trouble so they are going to have to have the “closer mentality” to be able to forget problems and the improvisational skills to get out of some hairy locations.
As always, you should examine Strokes Gained: Putting and Strokes Gained: Tee to Green every week.
These aren’t high end prices, but we’re looking for premium players at a discount rate.
Hideki Matsuyama ($8,900): Matsuyama is a premium player on par with the other players at $10,000 and above this week, but he’s priced far below those options. He’s third in total driving, seventh in scrambling though a quite pedestrian 116th in SG: Putting. He’s played the British and the U.S. Opens each of the last two years and made the cut in all four stops. He comes in playing well having not missed a cut since the Famers in early February. Moreover, his worst finish in those eight tourneys since his missed cut is a T21 at the Arnold Palmer. He has four top ten finishes in those eight starts.
The Soft Middle
Looking for some soft pricing in the lower tiers.
Keegan Bradley ($7,700): Bradley checks a lot of the boxes we’d like to see in a contender here this week. He’s second in total driving (and 16th in driving distance) and 73rd in scrambling. He’s made two of three cuts at the U.S. Open including a T4 last year. He’s made three of three cuts at the British including back to back top 20 finishes.
Hunter Mahan ($7,600): Mahan profiles favorably as he’s 36th in total driving, 62nd in scrambling and 27th in SG: Putting. He’s five of nine in U.S Open cuts made with two top ten finishes. He’s made seven of 10 cuts at the British including two top 10s. He was T9 at the Masters, but has slowed a bit lately making the last three cuts, but not finishing better than T39. Ironically, he was T39 at Whistling Straits.
Russell Henley ($6,900): Henley’s most successful U.S. Open was his first in 2010 where he finished T16. He’s made three of four cuts overall at the Open. He hasn’t had any success at the British with his best finish a T73. But, I was drawn to Henley based on his total driving rank (10th and he’s 37th in driving distance) as well as his standing in SG: Putting at 10th. His form is solid if unspectacular (made four of his last six cuts with all four weekends putting him in the top 25) and for this price you can sneak a lot of studs into your lineup.
El Cheapo Guapo
They won’t cost you much, but they have real upside. And they sure are handsome.
In a major, it’s tough to recommend these options for cash games as the overall pricing is soft. However, if you are in GPPs, you can make use of any number of players in an attempt to build a unique lineup.
John Senden ($6,700): Senden has teed it up at the U.S. Open in each of the last five years, made the cut three times and finished T30, T10 and T15 in those three weekend visits. He comes in having made three of his last four cuts while also picking up a T5 at the Match Play. He’s also made five of eight cuts at the British Open though he’s never seen the top 10.
Ben Martin ($6,400): Martin is 11 spots lower in salary than Vegas thinks he should be so we’ll start there. Digging further, he’s 44th in total driving (though that’s driven by accuracy as he’s a shorter hitter) and 74th in SG: Putting. He’s missed the cut in his only two trips to the U.S. Open (in 2009 and 2010), but did make the cut at the British last year (T26).
Tony Finau ($6,400): There may not be a hotter golfer on Tour than Finau. It is his first trip to a U.S. Open. In fact, it’s his first trip to any major. His spot on my list is about his current form (four straight top 20 finishes with back to back top 10s) and driving distance (second on tour).
Each week, I’ll throw one player out there who has one thing working for him. He’s probably got a less than 10% chance of making the cut, but if you want gamble in larger GPPs you need a unicorn on your side.
Stephen Gallacher ($6,300): Gallacher is Scottish so he’s quite like courses that Gallacher has played his entire life. He had to withdraw from the BMW PGA with a wrist injury last month, but says he’s now full healthy. Gallacher has compared the course to Kingsbarns, the Scottish course that is part of the rotation for the Dunhill Links championship since 2001. Gallacher won the Dunhill in 2004. He’s also four of seven at the British Open with those four cuts made in his last four trips to the Open. And, oh yeah, he also picked up a T18 at Whistling Straits in 2010.