Erin Hills provided a wonderful backdrop for another outstanding U.S. Open, and Brooks Koepka turned in a performance for the ages in posting a winning score of -16/272, which was four shots better than Hideki Matsuyama and Brian Harman. Koepka scored his first major championship by missing only seven fairways and 10 greens all weekend. His final-round 67 was good enough to hold off a charging Matsuyama, and he distanced himself from 54-hole leader Harman. Xander Schauffele, Bill Haas and Rickie Fowler all finished T5, and Justin Thomas followed his third-round 63 with a final-round 75 to fade to T9.
Not surprisingly, Koepka led the field in GIR and SG:Approach, and finished third in SG:T2G and SG:Putting. He rises to 10th in the OWGR, and earns many exemptions for the coming 5-10 years. Six of the top 10 in the OWGR leading into Erin Hills missed the cut, including Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, ranked 1-2-3. Other notables to go home early were Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jon Rahm, and Justin Rose.
My fantasy team should have gone home early, too.
2017 US Open recap
Yahoo! Tournament Points – 94; Yahoo! Segment Points/Ranking – 1,637/1,684th; Yahoo! Season Points/Ranking – 3,500/132nd Overall
Despite the carnage, I only lost four spots in the overall ranking and actually gained in the segment ranking. Switching Koepka out for Sergio Garcia at the last minute proved extremely costly, as I could have made up a lot of ground on the leaders had I stuck to my gut. Paralysis By Analysis is my new team name.
Fairway – I was fairly pleased with the preview, and I stayed high on Koepka until hours before the tournament. Mentioned were Day’s approach troubles and Rory’s putter woes, which sunk them from contention. Jamie Lovemark played the weekend in 74-75 to just miss my top-20 call. Many of my other picks played well, including Justin Thomas, Brendan Steele and David Lingmerth.
Rough – Burning a Jordan Spieth start was an awful idea. I knew that a few weeks ago and changed course. I obviously was high on DJ and a ton of other guys who didn’t show up, including Kevin Kisner, my pick to win, who posted 76-76 on the weekend to finish T58.
Thankfully, the Spring segment is gone… bring on the Summer!
2017 Travelers Championship Yahoo fantasy golf picks
- Jason Day (7) – There are many mid-sized par fours on the course this week, and Day’s approach game is miserable. He couldn’t find his game at Erin Hills, and his two trips to this event resulted in T27 in 2008 and T18 three years ago. If he wasn’t such a high-class player, I’d immediately fade without thinking. But, he’s Jason Day, and he can win almost anywhere… just not here. Not now.
- Marc Leishman (9) – My Leish preview got cut off last week, so I’ll give him some love. The 2012 champ followed his win with 30-11-39-9 in the last four years. His solid season charged on last week as he finished T27 with a final-round 75. Good course history, good form, solid all-around game – I’m expecting another top-20 finish and maybe more.
- Rory McIlroy (7) – As predicted, Rory had no success on the greens at Erin Hills. He was fine tee-to-green, and that bodes well for the immediate future. This is his first trip to the tournament, but the track seems to set up extremely well for him, and he can bring a hockey stick to these greens and still compete. Interesting stat: since 2006, only two winners of this tournament finished in the top-50 in SG:Putting in the year they won. No concern about starts… I’m firing up Rory.
- Patrick Reed (9) – Hard to tell what to do here… he looked generally good last week in finishing T13, and his form lately is solid, posting results of 14-12-22-20-57-13 in his last six starts. Reed is a mixed bag here, taking five trips to Cromwell and coming out 47-18-MC-MC-11. There are better ‘A’ options, but Reed could throw another top-30 on the board.
- Brendan Steele (7) – Steele tied Reed last week, 10 shots off the win. He’s 12-12 this year with three top-10s. He has no podium visits yet, but that could change this week. Steele loves the course, as evidenced by finishes of 13-MC-13-5-25-17. He sits 30th in SG:Approach, and he slays mid-range par fours, sitting second in scoring on holes from 400-450 yards. Leishman and Reed are justifiable options, but I’ll take Steele and Rory, and hope for the best.
- Kevin Streelman (10) – He won the tournament in 2014 and has two other top-10s on his Travelers resume, but surrounded the win with MC in 2013, 2015 and 2016. He posted top-20s in his last two starts, but shows nothing else exciting since November. If the stats showed me something, I’d take a second look… but they don’t.
- Chad Campbell (10) – He shows up on the heels of 13-34-10 in his last three starts and he posted top-10s here in 2010 and 2014. Nothing suggests he’ll win this week, but if you want to play those trends and take a first-week-of-the-segment Yahoo! gamble, you could do worse.
- Paul Casey (6) – Casey finished 26th last week, his worst result in the U.S. since March. He’s the perfect Yahoo! play this week – elite approach game, solid all-around game, no worry about starts. He finished runner-up her in 2015 and T17 last year. Roll on!
- Harris English (10) – He qualified for the U.S. Open and played four rounds, finishing T46. He’s fighting for his PGA Tour life right now, and his course history is solid; 4-4 here with a T7 three years ago. That’s about all I have. I’ll fade him this week, but I’m cheering hard for his success.
- Jim Furyk (10) – Mr. 58 is back on the track where he made history. Oddly enough, he only finished T5 last year. His T23 last week was his first top-25 since November. Having fallen to 79th in the OWGR, Furyk will show flashes of brilliance, but not much else. He’ll probably make the cut, but I don’t want him on my roster.
- Lucas Glover (10) – He missed the cut last week on the number and he hasn’t had success here except for two top-20 finished 100 years ago, but the gut says Glover is due for another solid finish. He is another ball-striking extraordinaire who can’t putt, and that hasn’t mattered much at the Travelers. I whiffed on him last weekend, but I’ll jump back on with a top-30 prediction.
- Adam Hadwin (8) – Just based on his success and his approach game, he should be considered. A look at his course history – MC-MC – and I’ll pass. He sits 24th in SG:Approach, so if you are daring, have at it.
- Charley Hoffman (8) – He surprised me by posting T8 last week, and that adds to my curiosity for the Travelers. In Hoff’s last six starts here, he posted 27-43-2-7-26-25. His form has been solid, not spectacular, and he seems to like scoring courses; the average score in the last 10 Travelers Championships has been -16.
- Russell Knox (8) – The defending champion has had no success this year at all, so I have no confidence whatsoever that he’ll rise up and win again. That said, he makes a lot of birdies and plays mid-range par fours well, which probably led to his victory last year. Walk away.
- Danny Lee (10) – Paint me slightly interested… One top-25 in four tries here isn’t good, and neither is his cooling form. However, he hits fairways and his approach numbers from 125-200 yards are solid. Lee also ranks 36th in birdie average and he’ll need some to contend. He’s a Yahoo! fade, but a top-40 won’t be shocking.
- Jamie Lovemark (9) – No real success at this tournament, but he’s riding a hot wave lately, finishing 18-10-27 in his last three starts. Finished poorly last week, but should have some momentum from a great start. I like Lovemark to post another top-30 finish.
- Kevin Na (10) – From a stats standpoint, he could win. From a history and form standpoint, no chance. Fade. I think. Stats look really good. But he won’t win. Fade. Final answer.
- Chez Reavie (10) – You might think this is a stretch, but there are real numbers here. Chez has made the cut in his last five trips here, including two top-25s. Form is trending positive following T4-T16 the last two weeks. His 65 last Friday at Erin Hills was brilliant, and he played the weekend under par. 40th on Tour in SG:Approach and he ranks 11th in scoring on holes between 400-450 yards. This is a strong DFS play, and an outside Yahoo! gamble.
- Webb Simpson (9) – Webb is 7-7 here with a top-5 and three other top-30s. His approach game is fantastic and he seems to feast on short par-70 courses. Other than his T5 at the Dean & DeLuca a month ago, his form has been a mixed bag. He could take the momentum from his T35 finish last week and jump toward the top, but he’s on the outside looking in at my roster this week.
- Brandt Snedeker (6) – This one is tough, because I like his statistical fit a lot. He posted finishes of T11-T10 in his last two trips here, and Sneds comes off a typical T9 last week, his fifth top-10 at the U.S. Open. My gut says run away, and typically I know why, but I don’t here. Stay tuned.
- Jordan Spieth (2) – I’m down to two starts, so I won’t use Spieth this week. He has never played this tournament, and he just hasn’t popped lately; since his win at Pebble Beach, Jordan is 7-10 with only one top-10. That would be a brilliant record for most, but for Spieth, it’s pedestrian. He still leads the Tour in SG:Approach, and sits second in Birdie or Better Percentage, so the numbers are there. Will the body join it?
- Justin Thomas (6) – As noted above, he finished his U.S. Open weekend with rounds of 63-75, but I’m not concerned with his psyche. Thomas posted a T3 here last year with a final-round 62, so he just needs to put a few rounds together to be a winner. Wait… what? He’s won three of his last 15 starts and finished top-10 in four others? Nevermind. Green light!
- Bubba Watson (10) – This is the best back-end roster move of the year. Since the Tour Championship last year, his OWGR has fallen from seventh to 40th, and has missed six cuts in 14 events. The only reason to roster him here is course history… and it’s amazing. Ready for his last nine starts here? 6-14-WIN-38-2-4-31-WIN-25. That’s outrageous. I don’t need to know anything else. He’s my fourth ‘B’ player.
- Byeong Hun An (9) – He was riding excellent form into last week and shot 76 on Friday to MC. This is a new track for An, and while I expect his ball striking to be solid, he won’t win. That’s easy to say from my keyboard, isn’t it?
- Daniel Berger (8) – Berger predictably shot 78-75 to MC last week, continuing his rollercoaster season. He finished T5 here last year after following a third-round 62 with a final-round 74. He’s a birdie-maker who hits it close from the fairway, so he certainly has a chance at another top-5 finish. Berger is probably my third ‘C’ player this week, but I can only take two.
- Wesley Bryan (10) – He’s abysmal off the tee, and that kills him on certain courses, but I don’t expect TPC at River Highlands to be one of them. It appears to be more of an approach course, and Bryan can throw darts if he hits the fairway. Recent form is terrible, so no roster spot for him, but I think he sees the weekend.
- Bud Cauley (10) – Five trips to Cromwell have resulted in two top-25s, but he ranks eighth in SG:Approach this season, and that has me excited. He MC last week with 73-75, so he wasn’t too far off. Prior to that, Cauley was on fire. I think he finds it again this week and registers a top-25.
- Graham DeLaet (9) – As mentioned above, players could bring a hockey stick to putt with this week and still contend, which is exactly why the Canadian competes here. DeLaet is 5-6 overall with two top-fives in his last three trips here, and arrives off a T10 at The Memorial. He’s one of the best ball-strikers on Earth, and that should help him to another beautiful weekend.
- Tony Finau (7) – His form isn’t particularly sturdy and he hasn’t played in three weeks, but Finau is the money man this weekend. He loves mid-range par fours, makes a ton of birdies, and ranks 25th in SG:Approach. His first two trips to Cromwell both went for T25, and I’m expecting a jump this week. I won’t run out of Finau starts, so I’ll burn one here and push for the win!
- Emiliano Grillo (10) – Here’s another ball-striker who MC last week but just needs to make a few putts to climb the leaderboard. Grillo hasn’t played here before, but that hasn’t stopped him in the past. 47th in SG:Tee and 36th in SG:Approach are the right numbers for this course. I almost like him enough to roll the dice…
- Brian Harman (10) – I omitted Harman from the preview last week simply because I didn’t think he was long enough off the tee. I was right, but the rest of his game was on point, and he almost won. I know he finished third here two years ago, and I know his form is top notch right now, but I fear the letdown of being the 54-hole leader at the U.S. Open and not winning will carry over. I’m fading.
- Zach Johnson (7) – Seems to make the cut when he plays here, and finished sixth a few years ago, but ZJ doesn’t excite me. His 68 on Saturday at Erin Hills was excellent, but he just hasn’t done much else all; two top-10s in his last 23 starts doesn’t work. He hasn’t hit a podium since he won the Open Championship in 2015. I’m done now. Fade.
- David Lingmerth (10) – He has taken two ugly trips to Cromwell, and this year might not be much different. His golden ticket is his putter, which nobody cares about this week. Lingmerth’s form is solid lately, and I loved him last week, but I’ll put the Kool-Aid down now. Fade.
- Trey Mullinax (10) – He certainly looked the part last weekend, finishing 69-68 for T9 at his first U.S. Open. That was on the heels of a T18 at the FedEx St. Jude, so fatigue wasn’t an issue. His approach game was horrid until the last two weeks, and he hits the ball a mile, leaving shorter second shots. Top-20 isn’t out of the question, but I’ll go the safer route this week.
- Kyle Stanley (9) – I still love this guy, and he’s back in the top-100 OWGR after peaking at #47 in 2012. Stanley is just 3-7 here, but counts two top-20s among the three weekends. Statistically, he’s the best ball-striker in the tournament, ranking sixth in SG:Tee and fifth in SG:Approach. He’s in excellent form and he rested last week, so I’m expecting a run at glory in Cromwell.
-My Yahoo! Roster - *denotes First Round Starter
- A – Brendan Steele* and Rory McIlroy
- B – Justin Thomas*, Paul Casey*, Charley Hoffman and Bubba Watson
- C – Tony Finau* and Kyle Stanley
There are about 4,000 players in the ‘C’ group and I don’t like many of them. Stanley and Finau are two of my favorites on the course this weekend, so this was an easy call. Berger could surprise, but I likely won’t change my mind.
As for ‘A’ and ‘B’ groups, there are only four legitimate options in ‘A’ and any combination of them should work. The ‘B’ group scares me, as it should any time I’m running with Bubba on my team. It would be a major upset if two of them don’t make the weekend. I’m looking for either Casey or Steele to take the hardware.
A reader messaged me last week looking for deep sleepers, primarily for his DFS games, so I gave him Lovemark and Lingmerth, who both exceeded expectations. This week, I’ll throw Chez Reavie and Graham DeLaet in that category.
Hit me up at @commishjoe on Twitter with questions, comments or emotional outbursts. Follow along for last-minute changes. If you aren’t a GNN Plus member, sign up today! $10 for the year! I just spend 20 times that in the merchandise tent at Erin Hills! 20 years of memberships! Yikes! Good luck!