Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Fantasy Golf: The U.S. Open Preview

The 2022 U.S. Open will be contested at "The Country Club" in Brookline, Mass. It definitely takes some hubris to call your particular country club "THE Country Club" but, when you consider that it's just outside of Boston and was originally founded as an equestrian facility, it makes sense. When you throw golf, Boston and horseback riding into a pot, you're getting a pretty douchy stew with more than a hint of arrogance.    

"The Country Club" actually has special meaning for me as it hosted the 1913 U.S. Open which was won by local amateur Francis Ouimet (pronounced "we met" as in, "we met at Applebee's and knew it was meant to be"). The 20 year old who lived across the street won in a playoff over Ted Ray and the great Harry Vardon after whom the PGA Tour scoring title is named. They made a movie about it based on the book The Greatest Game Ever Played and, as my kids can attest, you do not want to watch it with me* when I'm feeling loquacious and emotional because there is a father-son aspect to it that well . . . now I'm getting verklempt.

I would recommend both the book and the movie even if the latter takes a few liberties with the playoff scoring that I actually condone. I mean it wouldn't be a golf story if they didn't embellish it a bit. Shia LaBeouf crushes the lead role with Stephen Dillane (a/k/a Stannis Baratheon) and Stephen Marcus playing Vardon and Ray just enough over the top to be perfect. I may watch it again tonight if I ever finish editing this behemoth of a preview.  

TWEET OF THE WEEK

This tweet pairs well with LIVGolf announcer/propagandist Jerry Foltz's orgasmic exclamation upon hearing that Reed is joining the cartel . . . "FANS LOVE HIM!" You have to give Jerry credit. He called that first tournament like his life depended on it. 


GOLF ANALYSIS

Five years ago this week and back when I could still muster the energy to write something more than a formulaic tournament preview, I churned-out about 2,000 words on the U.S. Open's lost decade between Tiger's win at Torrey Pines and Brooks Koepka's win at Shinnecock. I just re-read it and it still holds-up pretty well making the point that the nine tournaments during that stretch stunk due to some combination of: (1) a lack of drama, (2) a second-rate leaderboard, (3) a crappy course, and/or (4) Fyre Festival caliber mismanagement by the USGA.

But I have to give credit where credit is due. With the exception of the 2020 tournament that history will likely forget because it had no fans, no drama and Bryson DeChambeau, the U.S. Open has showed signs of redeeming itself. Playing two of the last four at Pebble Beach and a properly maintained Shinnecock helped as did a dramatic primetime finish by Jon Rahm last year. Now they get to play at what has the potential to be another cool venue and enough off-course storylines that they probably don't even need Paul Azinger to talk if they wanted to give him the week off.         

They also have a field that is so loaded that the guy in the midst of one of the greatest U.S. Open runs in history doesn't even crack the list of top ten favorites. Since 2014, Brooks Koepka has gone T4, T18, T13, Win, Win, 2nd, DNP, T4 yet the oddsmakers still like Shane Lowry and Joaquin Niemann better. Personally, I don't think you should count a guy out until he's finished outside of the top five like maybe two years in a row but hey, I guess that's just me. Brooks is my pick this week because I can already picture him smugly lurking on Sunday like only he can.

My pick would have been Xander Schauffele for the obvious reasons that he's played in five U.S. Opens and finished top ten in every damn one of them. Unfortunately, I wasted him at the Masters as he chose to seize that opportunity to miss his third cut ever in a major. If any single pick sums-up my forecasting this year, that would be it.

There were so many damn
words piling-up that I thought
I should put a picture here.
I really wanted to pick Cameron Smith because he does cool stuff like throw parties for the caddies at his house the week of The Players. In fact, I did pick him and now need to edit a bunch of previously made wagers because I just can't get past his spotty record in the U.S. Open and, for that matter, all other majors not played in Augusta, Georgia. He's played in seventeen non-Masters majors and he only has one top ten finish to show for it. And that was at Chambers Bay which we all now acknowledge was not a real U.S. Open course. On more traditional courses like Shinnecock, Oakmont, Winged Foot (and the one he'll face this week), his results have been as underwhelming as his mullet is prodigious.**

I'm also not feeling any of the four favorites despite the fact that they've combined for seven top tens in the last three U.S. Opens, one of which was a win. The winner this week is going to have to be one calm, cool and collected dude who is comfortable with a conservative game plan and none of the favorites really fit that profile except for maybe Scottie Scheffler. And I've resigned myself to avoid him for the rest of the year because the only way I can salvage my reputation now would be to take that position and hope his best golf is behind him for 2022. Some strategy I know.

Um, question . . . is there anyone else you actually DO like?

Glad you asked. Collin Morikawa would seem to have the perfect temperament for this week and he's proving to be one of those guys who can adapt his game to the major he's playing. He won the British Open the first time he freakin' played it and has improved his Masters finish every year. Something tells me he's going to work his way around this course like a Ferrari mechanic. I think that's a compliment. 

Randomly jumping back to the 1913 theme, we need a couple of Brits so let's take the chalky (literally and figurately) Shane Lowry and Justin Rose who shot 60 on Sunday. Rose was showing a pulse even before that with a T13 at the PGA Championship. I know everyone loves Matt Fitzpatrick because he won the U.S. Amateur here but he can be kind of pouty and pouty ain't gonna play this week. (Oh look, I think he's trying to write the way he thinks cool people talk).

I really like Daniel Berger this week. He's in that group of high third tier guys with Sam Burns and Billy Horschel who could win a major and not surprise anyone. They're kind of just below Hideki Matsuyama but above Gary Woodland. We haven't really had one of those since Patrick Reed (blech) won the Masters so we could be due.

The absolute locks of the week at their modest prices are Louis Oosthuizen and Webb Simpson. I know Louis has been playing like crap lately but the guy has finished second or third in four of the last seven majors. And Simpson has become very reliable on the big stage having missed only one cut since the 2017 Masters. He's like the indispensable kid on your U10 basketball team who never scores but he can dribble, pass and shoot without completely missing the backboard.   

And then we have our sleepers who must answer one simple question. Can you make the cut? Well can you?!?! Brian Harman has in his last four U.S. Opens and Francesco Molinari has seen the weekend in five out of his last six. They're both coming-off solid finishes at The Memorial which is another good sign. You wouldn't offend me if you put Alex Noren in this spot. I'll just look the other way. 

Ok this feels like a good place to stop for today. As I like to say in the car towards the end of a long family trip . . . "EVERYBODY JUST STOP TALKING!!!"

One and Done Pick: Brooks Koepka
"Did someone call for a plumber . . .
and a three time U.S. Open Champion?"

Other Guy I'd Pick: Collin Morikawa

Sleeper Pick: Francesco Molinari 

DraftKings Top Ten Values

Collin Morikawa

$10,000

Xander Schauffele

$9,600

Shane Lowry

$9,000

Brooks Koepka

$8,700

Daniel Berger

$8,400

Louis Oosthuizen

$7,600

Webb Simpson

$7,400

Justin Rose

$7,100

Brian Harman

$7,000

Francesco Molinari

$6,900



Oh wait there's more. I don't normally do a chart for majors other than the Masters but the last few U.S. Opens have allowed for some consistency and trends. I almost discarded the 2017 farce that was Erin Hills in favor of Oakmont in 2016 but I didn't think of that until just now. 

                                THE GOLFERS ARE NOT POLITICIANS
                                 HISTORICAL PERFORMANCE CHART

Three other things that should jump out at you are: (1) Tony Finau's upside, (2) Harris English's recent success, and (3) Patrick Reed's (blech) consistency. And maybe the overrating of Cameron Young. He's had a nice run but $8,800 at the U.S. Open? Come on now.

 

DK Price

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

Scottie Scheffler

$11,300

T7

DNP

MC

DNP

T27

Justin Thomas

$10,900

T19

T8

MC

T25

T9

Jon Rahm

$10,800

1st

T23

T3

MC

MC

Rory McIlroy

$10,500

T7

T8

T9

MC

MC

Cameron Smith

$10,200

MC

T38

T72

MC

DNP

Collin Morikawa

$10,000

T4

MC

T35

DNP

DNP

Viktor Hovland

$9,700

W/D

T13

T12

DNP

DNP

Xander Schauffele

$9,600

T7

5th

T3

T6

T5

Jordan Spieth

$9,500

T19

MC

T65

MC

T35

Dustin Johnson

$9,400

T19

T6

T35

3rd

MC

Will Zalatoris

$9,300

MC

T6

DNP

MC

DNP

Patrick Cantlay

$9,200

T15

T43

T21

T45

DNP

Hideki Matsuyama

$9,100

T26

T17

T21

T16

T2

Shane Lowry

$9,000

T65

T43

T28

MC

T46

Joaquin Niemann

$8,900

T31

T23

DNP

DNP

MC

Cameron Young

$8,800

MC

DNP

MC

DNP

DNP

Brooks Koepka

$8,700

T4

DNP

2nd

1st

1st

Billy Horschel

$8,600

MC

T38

T32

DNP

MC

Matt Fitzpatrick

$8,500

T55

MC

T12

T12

T35

Daniel Berger

$8,400

T7

T34

T49

T6

MC

Sam Burns

$8,300

MC

DNP

DNP

T41

MC

Tony Finau

$8,200

MC

T8

MC

5th

DNP

Max Homa

$8,100

MC

MC

DNP

DNP

DNP

Tyrell Hatton

$8,000

MC

MC

T21

T6

MC

Bryson DeChambeau

$7,900

T26

1st

T35

T25

MC

Corey Conners

$7,900

MC

MC

DNP

DNP

MC

Mito Pereira

$7,800

DNP

DNP

MC

DNP

DNP

Aaron Wise

$7,800

DNP

DNP

T35

MC

DNP

Tommy Fleetwood

$7,700

T50

MC

T65

2nd

4th

Sungjae Im

$7,600

T35

22nd

DNP

MC

DNP

Loois Oosthuizen

$7,600

2nd

3rd

T7

T16

T23

Abraham Ancer

$7,600

MC

T56

T49

DNP

DNP

Keegan Bradley

$7,500

DNP

MC

MC

MC

T60

Talor Gooch

$7,500

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

66th

Seamus Power

$7,500

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

Webb Simpson

$7,400

MC

T8

T16

T10

T35

Harris English

$7,400

3rd

4th

T58

DNP

T46

Sebastian Munoz

$7,400

MC

T59

MC

DNP

MC

Sergio Garcia

$7,300

T19

MC

T52

MC

T21

Russell Henley

$7,300

T13

DNP

DNP

T25

T27

Tom Hoge

$7,300

T46

DNP

T43

DNP

DNP

Harold Varner, III

$7,300

DNP

DNP

DNP

MC

DNP

Davis Riley

$7,300

DNP

MC

DNP

DNP

DNP

Patrick Reed

$7,200

T19

T13

T32

4th

T13

Adam Scott

$7,200

T35

T38

T7

MC

MC

Jason Kokrak

$7,200

MC

T17

DNP

DNP

T53

Marc Leishman

$7,200

64th

MC

T35

T45

T27

Sepp Straka

$7,200

DNP

DNP

T28

DNP

DNP

Cameron Tringale

$7,200

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

DNP

Justin Rose

$7,100

MC

MC

T3

T10

MC

Gary Woodland

$7,100

T50

MC

1st

T36

T50

Lanto Griffin

$7,100

T35

T43

DNP

MC

DNP

Erik van Rooyen

$7,100

MC

T23

T43

DNP

DNP

Si Woo Kim

$7,000

T40

MC

MC

MC

T13

Alex Noren

$7,000

DNP

T17

MC

T25

MC

Thomas Pieters

$7,000

DNP

T23

MC

DNP

MC

Luke List

$7,000

DNP

DNP

MC

MC

DNP

Brian Harman

$7,000

T19

T38

DNP

T36

T2

Kevin Na

$7,000

MC

MC

MC

DNP

T32

Adam Hadwin

$7,000

T40

54th

DNP

MC

T60

Francesco Molinari

$6,900

T13

DNP

T16

T25

MC

Kevin Kisner

$6,900

T55

MC

T49

MC

T58

Phil Mickelson

$6,900

T62

MC

T52

T48

DNP

Branden Grace

$6,900

T7

MC

MC

T25

T50

Mackenzie Hughes `

$6,800

T15

MC

DNP

MC

DNP

Stewart Cink

$6,700

T57

DNP

DNP

T27

T14

Joel Dahmen

$6,600

DNP

MC

MC

DNP

DNP


Footnotes

* In what has to be a sign of some personal growth, I was watching the original Top Gun with my kids this week and I didn't pre-quote a single line. Not even "a cargo plane full of rubber dogshit out of Hong Kong." It took everything I had. I would like proper recognition. 

** Some of my partiality towards Cam has to come from the fact that, even when I had hair, I could never have grown a mullet. My one ill-fated run at long hair resulted in it just continuing to pile atop my head like a bunch of barn swallows were trying to build a fucking skyscraper. It finally became virtually un-washable what with all of the debris it picked-up throughout the day. My Twitter profile picture circa 1993 tells at least part of the story.  

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great review!!!!