Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Fantasy Golf: The U.S. Open Preview

The last time they held the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Phil Mickelson treated us to arguably the greatest 72nd hole major meltdown ever on this side of the Atlantic and effectively handed the title to Collin Montgomerie who had of course preemptively choked thereby handing the title to Geoff Ogilvy who also benefited from less than pressure conquering performances by Jim Furyk and Padraig Harrington down the stretch. Just another reminder that golf is fucking hard. 

But Mickelson has often seemed to make it harder than it has to be and he's done it with a certain bravado that has made him simultaneously endearing and mockable. Sportswriter of past notoriety D.J. Gallo wrote a fictional first person blog account of Mickelson's final round meltdown in 2006 with a level of snark and politically correct indifference that I aspire to everyday. I'm not sure it's still available but luckily I copied it verbatim and posted it on my website with some nominal level of attribution which I probably would've learned in an ethics class at journalism school if I hadn't gone to law school where they only offer ethics class every other Sunday during the summer . . . Mickelson's Winged Foot Blog

Unfortunately, I haven't picked-up a club in over a week so there are no personal golf failings to share so please enjoy the Mickelson blog for a few minutes and the always much anticipated Tweet of the Week and then we'll get to some really overthought golf analysis.


Phil at his best . . . 

The 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot featured an international leaderboard loaded with the best players of the day including the aforementioned Mickelson, Montgomerie, Furyk, Harrington along with Vijay Singh and Mike Weir (Tiger Woods somehow managed to shoot 76-76 and missed the cut along with all of the fun). The straight hitters you would expect at a classic brutal USGA set-up were there with Steve Stricker, Jeff Sluman and Nick O'Hern all finishing in the top ten. Ultimately the course applied enough pressure to crack most of them except Ogilvy who parred the last four holes including a mega clutch up and down on 18 for the win. 

Always include a picture of Tiger
whether you pick him or not.
This year sets-up for a repeat of 2006 with at least eight of the top players in the world coming-in on something of a roll and at least another eight who are one step behind them. And I'm not even including Tiger in that group or up and comers like Matthew Wolff, Sungjae Im and Viktor Hovland. Then again, I'm not including them in any of my picks either so not even sure why I brought them up. I guess just to fill some time until I . . . oh fuck it. Here's who I like in the order of how much I like them relative to their price tag if that makes sense. 

  • Xander Schauffele ($10,100): He's only been around for three years and in that time he's already won the Tour Championship, the WGC-HSBC Champions and the Sentry Tournament of Champions so he clearly knows how to close against top competition. During that time, he's played in three U.S. Opens and his results are T5, T6 and T3. He's also tied for 2nd at the 2018 British Open and the 2019 Masters. He's not just knocking on the door, he's knocking really loud and yelling "let me in the damn house . . . you useless fucking kids locked me out again!!!" (It's not just me right?) 
  • Webb Simpson ($9,700): Simpson could be this generation's Andy North+. For the not as well versed in golf history, North won three times on the PGA Tour and two of them were somewhat mind-numbing U.S. Opens at Cherry Hills Country Club and Oakland Hills Country Club. Simpson has a better resume but kind of a similar game as his penchant for accuracy and consistency already bagged him one grinding title at Olympic Club. Winged Foot is going to reward the same style of play and Simpson has quietly worked his way to 6th in the world so he's no slouch. 
  • Jon Rahm ($11,000): Giving the nod to Rahm over DJ this week because you can't pick both of them and Rahm is more accurate off the tee and just as long. The only question is whether he can keep his emotions in check and it looks like he's getting better at that. He's still only 25 and some people take over twice that long to learn how to handle their emotions on the course. And some never do (trust me). 
  • Brendon Todd ($7,400): He's going to be a sexy pick this week because of his driving accuracy and also because he's just so goddamned sexy. Hard to pass-up at any price but he's almost irresistible at $7,400. 
  • Patrick Reed ($8,500): Could there be a more fitting U.S. Open winner for 2020? (You know I'm right).
  • Martin Kaymer ($7,100): Don't look now but the mercurial German is coming-in hot after a runner-up and a T3 in his last two tournaments. If he leads wire-to-wire for a three shot win, I'm going to split the coffee table in half with my forehead. 
  • Tommy Fleetwood ($8,900): This pick feels a bit trendy but your other options in this range are Tony Finau, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott and Tiger all of whom seem to come with flapping red flags . . . especially Day considering the cooler conditions and the fact that he instantly catches pneumonia when it drops below 82 degrees. 
  • Chez Reavie ($6,900): We need someone to play the Steve Stricker/Mike Weir role in this year's production and Chez is our guy. 
  • Lee Westwood ($7,000): I had Alex Noren in this spot but his U.S. Open track record is really spotty with a truckload of missed cuts surrounding a lone T25. Westwood has had past success in this event when he's playing well (which he is now) and he's definitely not afraid to grind - a trait made more impressive by the fact that he putts like a 5 handicap with the shakes (trust me). 
  • Shane Lowry ($7,700): The last slot I filled in my top ten and not because I don't like his chances but it always just feels kind of fluky when he plays well. That may not be fair now that he's a British Open champion but he has missed 11 of his last 25 cuts in majors. On the other hand, it's going to be a lot cooler than it would have been back in June and he's a beefy Irish guy so that's a nice fit. No offense Shane.
That's my line-up and I'm going with Schauffele for the stirring one shot win over Simpson and Rahm. And I fully expect to see Patrick Reed scare the shit out of us deep into the final round before God finally wakes the fuck up and says, "I think they've had enough for one year." For those who like to see it presented in the traditional FGR fashion, here you go.  

Actual photo of Patrick
Reed watching the news.
One and Done Pick: Xander Schauffele

Other Guy I'd Pick: Webb Simpson

Sleeper Pick: Martin Kaymer 

DraftKings Top Ten Values

Jon Rahm
Xander Schauffele
Webb Simpson
Tommy Fleetwood
Patrick Reed
Shane Lowry
Brendon Todd
Martin Kaymer
Lee Westwood
Chez Reavie

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com

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