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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS Course History - 2021 U.S. Open

Hello PGA DFS family! From a personal perspective, last week's Palmetto Championship wasn't one of my strongest DFS weeks, but the event certainly provided an exciting winner, as 22-year-old Garrick Higgo captured his first victory on the PGA Tour! Higgo has been downright dominant on the Euro Tour this year - and also won last year's Open de Portugal - and has now secured his Tour card in just his second start in the United States.

While it would be fun to continue geeking out over Garrick Higgo with you guys, we must quickly shift our attention to Torrey Pines and the year's third major championship...the U.S. Open.

Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history and is part of our free PGA DFS content here at RotoBaller. For my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. It's part of our amazing PGA Premium package that includes an all-new PGA Research Station, Lineup Builder & Optimizer, and some of the best articles in the PGA DFS industry! You can sign up now using Promo Code: NICE for an extra discount at checkout!

 

2021 U.S. Open Overview

It's hard to believe that we're heading into the year's third major championship, but here we are, racing headfirst into the U.S. Open, America's national championship. Golf's majors each have their own identities...the Masters - with its many unique traditions - serves as a harbinger of spring (and the start of the golf season for many weekend hackers), the Open Championship is the oldest, the PGA the newest, while the U.S. Open stands alone as the toughest.

Unlike many U.S. Open venues, we see Torrey Pines on a regular basis due to its role as host of the Farmers Insurance Open each year. That familiarity might lull us into a sense of security when it comes to Torrey, but let me assure you, the USGA will set this golf course up in a very different way than we see for the Farmers, because this is the toughest of the majors after all.

So while we can expect to see an unleashed version of Torrey South this week - and no rounds on Torrey North like we see during the Farmers - we do still have that familiarity that we touched on, which allows us to weight course history more than we normally would for a U.S. Open venue. Let's tee it up!

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week. And be sure to read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS articles to help you win big!

 

The Course: Torrey Pines (South Course)

Par 71 - 7,685 Yards, Greens: Poa Annua, Designed By: William F. Bell (1957) with Rees Jones Re-Design (2019)

Even though we see Torrey Pines on an annual basis for the Farmers Insurance Open, we can expect a completely different animal this week thanks to the USGA. Normally a Par-72, Torrey South will play to a Par of 71 for the U.S. Open. Obviously, the golf course is long, coming in at nearly 7,700 yards, with seven Par-4s of over 450-yards and all four Par-5s playing at 550-yards+.

In addition to the stretched-out length, we can expect some U.S. Open traditions to be in place, meaning tight fairways that are guarded by four-inch+ rough. In the case of Torrey this week, that means the unique (and nasty!) Kikuyugrass, a type of grass that's rarely seen on the PGA Tour and is generally found in Australia. Another unique feature that golfers will be faced at Torrey is Poa Annua greens, a putting surface that's typical on the West Coast, but is notoriously tricky.

We when start to dig into what stats to target for DFS purposes things get difficult. To be successful at Torrey Pines - and any U.S. Open environment for that matter - golfers must basically do everything well physically, while also holding up under the mental strain that is a trademark of the U.S. Open.

For an in-depth breakdown of this week's course, check out RotoBaller's PGA Premium Course Breakdown by Josh Bennett!

 

Recent U.S. Open Champions

  • 2020: Bryson DeChambeau (-6)
  • 2019: Gary Woodland (-13)
  • 2018: Brooks Koepka (+1)
  • 2017: Brooks Koepka (-16)
  • 2016: Dustin Johnson (-4)

 

The Horse

Xander Schauffele

Notable U.S. Open History: 5th (2020), T3 ('19), T6 ('18), T5 ('17)
DraftKings Price: $9,300 FanDuel Price: $11,400

Let's try this again...

Xander Schauffele was this article's Horse for the PGA Championship and things didn't work out very well, as Schauffele missed the cut at Kiawah Island. At the risk of jinxing X  - and letting you guys down - for the second time in as many majors, I'm going right back to him this week, as he'll attempt to finally grab a breakthrough major-championship victory in what amounts to a home game for him at Torrey Pines.

This week presents us with a weird situation when trying to sift through course history, with the U.S. Open changing venues every year and the annual Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines being played on a very different layout (as well as a whole round that's played on Torrey North) than what we'll see this week. I ultimately settled on an admittedly unscientific hybrid blend of the two (U.S. Open history mixed with Torrey Pines history) when trying to determine this article's highlighted players. Xander popped to the top in both instances.

Schauffele's U.S. Open resume of the last five years is perhaps second only to two-time champion Brooks Koepka. X has incredibly posted top-six finishes in his each of his four career U.S. Open starts...not bad for an event that changes venues each year and is generally considered to be the most difficult golf tournament in the world.

His Farmer's track record isn't nearly as pristine and is much more complicated. Schauffele is a La Jolla native that played at Torrey Pines throughout his high school days, so it's pretty puzzling that he'd missed four cuts in five career Farmer's starts prior to logging a T2 in this year's edition. There are lots of narrative angles we can take when trying to figure out his struggles on the course - all of which are complete guesses - including being too relaxed in his hometown, feeling too much pressure in his hometown, the off-the-course obligations of dealing with family and friends, or the fact that the course plays much differently than he's used to when set up for professional events. Trying to make sense of it is speculative at best and a waste of time at worst, so I'll just focus on the fact that Schauffele posted a runner-up finish in his most recent start on a course he grew up playing.

In addition to his history in the U.S. Open and at Torrey Pines, Xander has been knocking on the door this year, posting four top-five finishes and three top-15s over his 10 starts of 2021. The missed cut at Kiawah Island was a surprising gut punch, but he bounced back with a T11 in his next start at Memorial and his +5.9 strokes on Approach at Muirfield Village was his best iron performance of the year.

 

The Ponies

Jon Rahm

Notable U.S. Open History: T23 ('20), T3 ('19)
DraftKings Price: $11,200 FanDuel Price: $12,200

A lot to unpack here with Jon Rahm, as the Spaniard comes into this week fresh out of mandatory quarantine due to his positive COVID test at the Memorial, a tournament that he was running away with. Rahm was leaving the competition in the dust at Muirfield Village in what was unquestionably his best performance of the year thus far.

While we're really guessing as to the impact the quarantine period will have on his game, if we assume he carries his Memorial form into this week, he'll be tough to handle. Rahm has been dominant throughout his career at Torrey Pines, posting a win in the 2017 Farmers, as well as three top-seven finishes in four subsequent starts at Torrey. After a couple of rocky U.S. Open outings early in his career, the 26-year-old has found his stride a bit in golf's toughest tournament, going T23-T3 in the last two U.S. Opens.

There are a couple of reasons why Rahm has been so successful at Torrey in the past. Unsurprisingly, he grades out as a great driver of the golf ball. Using long-term metrics he ranks 12th in Driving Distance and 23rd in overall Good Drives Gained. Perhaps the more surprising aspect of his success at Torrey is his putting ability on Poa Annua greens. We associate Rahm with power more than putting, but his track record on Poa is eye-opening. He stands third in this field in SG: Putting on Poa Annua over a 50 round span and comes in at first in Three-Putt Avoidance on the tricky surface. The importance of being able to handle the frustration of putting on Poa over four days shouldn't be dismissed this week and Rahm is one of the best in the world on this surface.

Patrick Reed

Notable U.S. Open History: T13 ('20), T32 ('19), T4 ('18), T13 ('17)
DraftKings Price: $9,000 FanDuel Price: $10,700

I've basically arrived at a point with Patrick Reed to which I don't even look at his stats. I know that sounds crazy, but it's the honest-to-goodness truth because you can really throw it all out the window with the 2018 Masters champion.

There's no statistical reasoning for Patrick Reed being as good as he is - especially from a T2G perspective - but he somehow is always a factor in golf's biggest events. That's certainly been the case in the U.S. Open, as Reed has made the cut in six of his seven career starts in the national championship, posting a top-five and three top-15s over those appearances.

He's also demonstrated an affinity for Torrey Pines. Reed won the Farmers (with a little controversy tossed in for fun) earlier this year and hasn't finished outside the top-25 in any career start at Torrey. He loves this course - and the spotlight of golf's biggest events - and will rely on his other-worldly short game to grind throughout the week.

 

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Like what you read today? You can show your support for Joe by using promo code NICE when purchasing a PGA Premium Pass. You get 10% off and full access to all of our Premium PGA articles, DFS tools, and Lineup Optimizer!

 

Tony Finau

Notable U.S. Open History: T8 ('20), MC ('19), 5th ('18), MC ('17), T14 ('16)
DraftKings Price: $8.900 FanDuel Price: $10,600

If it feels like Tony Finau is listed in this article every time a major championship rolls around, it's because he pretty much is. Finau - fairly - catches a lot of flak for never actually winning events, but he has consistently been a rock-solid performer in the biggest events on the toughest layouts. He's posted a top-five result and a T8 over his last two U.S. Open starts while accumulating a ridiculous 50% top-10 rate in his 20 career major-championship starts.

For how great he's been in major championships, Finau has been even better at Torrey Pines. He's recorded a stunning four top-six finishes in his last five trips to the San Diego course and heads into the week on the heels of top-10 performances in each of the year's first two majors.

Justin Rose

Notable U.S. Open History: MC ('20), T3 ('19), T10 ('18), MC ('17), Win ('13)
DraftKings Price: $8,000 FanDuel Price: $9,900

While he's no longer among the world's truly elite players, Justin Rose hasn't slipped into complete irrelevancy either. The 40-year-old's consistency has taken a huge dip over the last few years, but top-10 finishes in both the Masters and the PGA Championship this year illustrate that the veteran can still compete in golf's biggest events.

In addition to his notable performances this year, the Englishman also has the accomplishment of being both a U.S. Open (2013) and Farmers Insurance Open (2020) champion...a nice collision of superlatives when the national championship is set to take place at Torrey Pines.

Rose has consistently performed well in both the U.S. Open (a win and four top-10s) and the Farmers (win and two top-10s), and though he's been a mess statistically (Rose does check a couple of "Torrey Boxes"...he's been both good off the tee & leads the field in Three Putt Avoidance on Poa over the last 24 rounds) and from a consistency standpoint, he warrants GPP consideration in this spot.

 

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