Welcome back to Golf News Net’s weekly fantasy golf picks, presented by DraftKings.com. Each week of the PGA Tour season, we’ll present our top picks for that week’s tournament and make recommendations for DraftKings’ one-week fantasy leagues.
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The U.S. Open is here! It’s a totally new venue hosting in Chambers Bay, leaving a lot of guesswork about how this Washington semi-links will play. Our 15 golfers we rank this week is a mix of top players, guys in good form and hunches.
We couldn’t have predicted Fabian Gomez would win his first PGA Tour event in Memphis for a third unexpected winner in a row.
On to the picks!
1. Jordan Spieth — The Masters champion is the only guy who can win the Grand Slam in 2015. We like Spieth for several reasons: He finished with a flurry at Memorial, his last event; his caddie Michael Greller used to loop at Chambers Bay so he has a lot of local knowledge; Spieth was in the 2010 U.S. Amateur; Spieth’s game travels.
2. Rory McIlroy — McIlroy just seems to make sense here. His prodigious length and accuracy off the tee should be a great asset in helping him bite off as much of Chambers Bay as possible. The greens may prove a challenge for this streaky putter, but this is basically like the Open Championship he won last July: links-ish golf with no sustained winds.
3. Phil Mickelson — Phil’s getting our hopes up again. His T-3 finish in Memphis concluded with an impressive 65 that, Mickelson said, could have been as low as 60. Six runner-up finishes are the big deal here, however. Mickelson has finished second at Pinehurst No. 2, Bethpage Black twice, Winged Foot, Merion and Shinnecock. Those are very different courses, so Mickelson gets the U.S. Open setup.
4. Justin Rose — The 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion makes our list, in part, because of that triumph, but the Englishman deserves a look this week for a few more reasons: He was runner-up along with Phil Mickelson at the Masters and is already a winner this season in New Orleans. He almost had a second Memorial title a few weeks ago before falling short in a playoff against David Lingmerth.
5. Rickie Fowler — This feels like it might be Fowler’s time. Fowler finished top five in all four majors last year, so he knows he can hang around on these types of stages, and he won The Players in May, which is about as close as he can get to sealing the deal in a major without winning one. Based on his early Instagram posts this week, Fowler has embraced the weirdness of Chambers Bay, which seems a must for a winner this week.
6. Hideki Matusyama — The Japanese stud is a top-10 machine and a consummate ballstriker. That sounds pretty good at a U.S. Open. He’s an even-keel player, so the frustration of playing a course on the edge should be minimal. However, how he putts these fine fescue surfaces will determine if he can contend. He’ll be closer to the pin more often than most of his peers, but can he roll the rock?
7. Henrik Stenson — We always put Henrik Stenson on these kinds of lists, and he hasn’t broken through yet. Stenson had a hot start to the year but has seemingly cooled off in the last 60 days. However, the Swede can get around Chambers Bay pretty much however he’d like. Stenson’s window to win a major is probably closing in the next 18 months.
8. Dustin Johnson — Had Johnson not pulled out of Memphis after nine holes citing sickness, we would have rated him much higher. However, health is a bit of a concern. What isn’t is Johnson’s length. What is troublesome is his tendency to spray off the tee, but that should somewhat be mitigated by wide fairways. Though Chambers Bay designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. isn’t Pete Dye, Johnson can draw on his experience in the 2010 PGA Championship at the Dye-designed Whistling Straits to do well here.
9. Billy Horschel — The reigning FedEx Cup champion has put in the requisite time to figure out Chambers, which is good. He may or may not like the place, but knowing the enemy is important. Horschel closed in style in Memphis, shooting 65 on Sunday to get into the top 10. He’s ready.
10. Sergio Garcia — The world No. 8 has no major titles but always seems to find a way in the conversation. Garcia is feast or famine in the U.S. Open with just four career top-10 finishes. However, Garcia is an Open Championship beast, which deserves some consideration this week. His ingenuity from most anywhere could make him a fascinating pick.
11. Bubba Watson — It would seem Chambers Bay would reward creativity, which Bubba Watson has in spades. And with its dramatic elevation changes, the Washington course may somewhat remind Watson of Kapalua, where he’s dazzled us with some imagination-fueled gems over the years. However, Watson’s Achilles’ heel is that he gets stymied easily and whines regularly about U.S. Open courses being too hard for him. If he can stop believing that lie, this place should suit him.
12. Jim Furyk — The 2003 U.S. Open champion — the one at Olympia Fields the USGA would probably rather forget — has a knack for the brand of grinding golf that the national championship requires. He has three top-four finishes since his major breakthrough 12 years ago and the burden of winning for the first time in almost five years was lifted at Harbour Town earlier this year.
13. Jamie Donaldson — This is an impulse. The Welshman is starting to become a regular fixture in the majors, but he only has one top-1o finish (2012 PGA). He can boom the ball, but he’s somewhat pedestrian in terms of accuracy. This is my one flier this week.
14. Ryan Palmer — Ryan Palmer’s long and he’s playing pretty well. That’s your Lucas Glover or Angel Cabrera kind of U.S. Open winner. He’s No. 26 in the world but never really done anything of note in a major. He can handle Texas golf well, which may be applicable to the roly-poly nature of Chambers Bay.
15. Jason Day — Earlier in the year, Jason Day was playing the best golf of his life. Now, he’s not quite on that track, but did show some good signs in New Orleans. He’s not a good driver of the golf ball, but he can grind with the best of ’em.
My DraftKings team for this week:
1. Jordan Spieth — $12,600
2. Phil Mickelson — $10,200
3. Ryan Palmer — $7,000
4. Kevin Kisner — $7,000
5. John Senden — $6,700
6. Ben Martin — $6,400