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2019 U.S. Open - PGA DFS Tournament Preview

Hello RotoBallers! In our ongoing attempt to expand and improve our PGA coverage, we will be dropping a 'Tournament Preview' for some of the most significant events on the PGA Tour schedule.

This week, we're diving into the third major championship of the year, providing you a headstart on your PGA Championship research. If you aren't already utilizing RotoBaller's amazing content, fix that right now by joining us this week and throughout the rest of the PGA Tour season.

Access to RotoBaller's PGA content is COMPLETELY FREE, and our dedicated staff covers all of your golf needs.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots.  Sign Up Now!


RotoBaller Weekly PGA Article Schedule

Available Now: It doesn't get any more extensive than this. Check out Joe Nicely's 2019 U.S. Open DFS Bible, featuring a complete breakdown of every player in the PGA Championship field.

Tuesday: We kick your DFS research into high gear with articles from Seth Finkelstein and Joe Nicely. Seth's 'DraftKings Picks' highlights DK lineup options in each price range, and Joe's 'Horse For The Course' is an in-depth look into players with great course history.

Wednesday: We broaden your horizons with some unique PGA content. Spencer's 'Vegas Report' offers comprehensive PGA betting advice that highlights both outright and head-to-head wagers, and to wrap up the week, the entire PGA RotoBaller crew will get together for the 'RotoBaller One and Done Staff Picks' article to discuss optimal game-theory and make their selections.


Tournament Overview

The U.S. Open

The PGA Tour has made it one of their top priorities to try and end the season before the NFL begins in September, which has caused a bit of an overload in the layout for the major championships. It feels as if we have a new grand slam event every other week, and it has made things seem quite jam-packed. I'm not necessarily against the new arrangement, but it does take some getting used to from a handicapping and DFS perspective.

With all that being said, one of the tournaments that doesn't necessarily experience much of a change is the U.S. Open. We do see it move from the second to the third major of the year, but there's not much to discuss aside from that. Historically, the U.S. Open has always been one of the better tests each season, even if the USGA has let a few of the recent events get away from them. They mismanaged the greens last season - causing a Saturday meltdown to take place (yes, Phil Mickelson, I am looking at you), and they interfered with the rough in 2017 - turning the contest into a birdie shootout. However, there is no arguing against the U.S. Open continually providing some of the best leaderboards and most memorable weekends for every golf season.

Brooks Koepka enters the event as the two-time defending champion after victories at Erin Hill in 2017 and Shinnecock Hills in 2018. The disparity in his winning totals might be what is most impressive, as he was able to take down the 2017 trophy at 16-under par and followed it up with a one-over triumph the next season. Pebble Beach should play somewhere in the middle of the two most recent tests, but we definitely shouldn't be expecting a ton of scoring to take place at Monterey Peninsula

Recent Winners
2018 - Brooks Koepka (+1)
2017 - Brooks Koepka (-16)
2016 - Dustin Johnson (-4)
2015 - Jordan Spieth (-5)
2014 - Martin Kaymer (-9)

Event Details
When: June 13-16 2019
Where: Pebble Beach Golf Links - Monterey County, California
Field: 156 Players
Cut: After two rounds - Top 60 and ties

2019 U.S. Open: TV Schedule and Channels (all times ET)

Thursday, June 13 - FS1: 12:30 p.m.– 7:30 p.m

Friday, June 14 - FSI: 12:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 15 - Fox: 12:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Sunday, June 16 - Fox: 12:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.


Course Breakdown

The U.S. Open - Pebble Beach, California
Pebble Beach Golf Links - Par 71 - 7,035 Yards - Greens: Poa Annua
Designers: Jack Neville & Douglas Grant (1919). Updates by Arnold Palmer in the late 2000s

I have seen the same false narrative continuously pop up throughout the industry this week. I realize Phil Mickelson was able to capture the title earlier this season when the course held the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but most sources have failed to acknowledge that the event is played on a rotational system. Two of the rounds do feature this week's Pebble Beach Golf Links course, but Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula both make a cameo during the contest. All three courses are corollary setups, but let's pump the brakes slightly when trying to gauge how the U.S. Open will play based on that tournament. The time of the season is different, the setup is different and the course is going to play nowhere near Mickelson's winning total of 19-under.

Last used for the U.S. Open in 2010, Graeme McDowell was able to capture the title at even-par. The U.S. Open has always been synonymous with providing some of the sternest tests yearly, and I believe we are in store for another grind it out affair in California. The fairways feature Poa Annua and Ryegrass, while the rough is projected to be nearly four inches thick. The property is heavily bunkered with 118 sand traps, and the average green size is usually the smallest on tour at 3500 square feet.

If tiny landing areas weren't difficult enough, the course sits on the Monterey Peninsula and can wreak havoc when the wind picks up. Heavy rough surrounds the majority of the putting surfaces, and players can leave themselves short-sided quite easily. The greens are projected to be somewhere between 12-13 on the stimpmeter, making them faster than tour average, and the par-fives actually played over par in 2010. Pebble Beach will not be for the faint of heart, and there is a good possibility that we see carnage ensue this weekend.


Fantasy Outlook

We have a massive change in the DFS industry this weekend. DraftKings 'Millionaire Maker' contest has moved from a $20 buy-in to $100. Entries will be limited to 33,333 players, and a total prize pool of $3,000,000 will be guaranteed. If you are looking for a smaller contest, DraftKings will also feature a $10 'Return to the Beach' tournament that will have a $1,000,000 prize pool and a max of 117,647 players. Over at FanDuel, the $3 'PGA Stinger' guarantees $100,000 in prizes and $10,000 to first place, while the $15 'PGA Eagle will be $15 to enter and the winner will earn $100,000.

Sometimes courses being played earlier in the season can incorrectly change our perception. While the USGA was preparing the venue to veer towards their standards, we didn't get an accurate depiction of what to expect. In this case, our best bet is to start with what we know to be true. With extremely tiny greens, GIR percentage will be significant. Driving distance has been nearly 16 yards shorter than tour average, but driving accuracy has been about 10 percent higher. Fairways gained is in play as a plausible area to target, but I am going to avoid that and try and pinpoint ball strikers and quality iron players - especially from 200+ yards and 100-125 yards.

Putting is such a challenging category to target in models, but the ability to save par from around the green will be necessary. Most tournaments don't necessarily reward such a thing because if you are out of position, you aren't competing for the title, but scrambling and things of that nature will be significant at a course where par is a solid score. Add in a little bunker play, and I think we have a better good gauge of what we will be attempting to figure out this weekend at Pebble Beach.


Key Statistics To Target

  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • GIR Percentage
  • Ball Striking
  • Proximity From 100-125 Yards & Proximity From 200+ Yards
  • Strokes Gained Around the Green
  • Scrambling
  • Sand Save Percentage

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