Phil Kenyon ( putting coach extraordinaire) posted a very interesting picture today on Instagram ( linked in the description). In the picture, you can see a chart of the first green at Winged Foot. While a ton will be made about the rough ( and rightly so), the greens at Winged Foot could end up being one of the hardest factors for the week. The chart shows the different areas of the first green in relation to slope. With the very fast speeds in play this week there are only a few decent places to put the pin on the first green. While timely putting is always a factor in major championships, avoiding putting yourself out of position on these greens could end up being a bigger factor. Great iron players ( those who control distance) can rely on smart strategy to avoid some of the headaches that take place when you get out of position. Smart patient golf is perhaps the biggest key to success on what could be one of the hardest courses in U.S. Open history.
During a normal tour event, the addition of a late player to the field is usually not a player that we would have interest in adding to a roster build. This is not a normal week, and the alternate list for the second major of the year has some pretty good players that would love to gain entry into the event. Rory Sabatini and Branden Grace have both been added to the pricing pool and are ready to use in LineupHQ. Both players have some merit in terms of roster consideration for the week. Sabbatini is a steady ball striker that plays a style of golf that relies on an accurate iron game and timely putting. Although it’s been a few years, Grace has faced the pressure of a major championship and knows what it takes to win the U.S. Open. Neither player should carry much weight in terms of ownership, but both are solid options in terms of a GPP flyer.
Still ranked inside the top 30 in the world, Matt Kuchar comes into this week as a golfer with little to no interest in terms of ownership. The low price tag on Kuchar for the week directly reflects his unassuming play since the tour restart in June. Since the Colonial in June, Kuchar has played in 8 events making 6 cuts with 2 top 25 or better finishes. Not horrible golf, but also not the upside that most are used to getting out of Kuchar. Trending at a low ownership number for the week Kuchar has the proven talent in big events to merit a spot in your roster builds. Kuchar will plot it around this week and if a few putts drop he could make noise towards the weekend. With three top 25 or better finishes in the last 5 U.S. Open’s Kuchar has gained almost 28 strokes tee to green in his last 22 rounds at The U.S. Open. Arguably the most accomplished player in this field yet to win a major, Kuchar would like nothing more than to finally add an elusive major win to his resume.
A poor first round at last week’s Safeway Open really put Brandt Snedeker in a tough spot heading into Friday’s round. Snedeker fired a solid 32 on his front nine on Friday but faltered late to miss the cut. Over the last few weeks, I have seen bits and pieces of Snedeker working with Bradley Hughes on his game. Hughes is one of the hottest coaches on tour with a growing stable of players. Brendon Todd relied extensively on Hughes to rebuild his game over the past few years. Snedeker will head into this week’s U.S. Open with very little fanfare and could make for a good low owned GPP flyer for the week. Typically a steady type of player that relies on his putter, Snedeker fits the mold of what can be a good player on a hard U.S. Open course.
Sam Horsfield will not play in this week’s U.S. Open as he has tested positive for COVID-19. Rory Sabbatini will take his spot in the field. Players added to the field after prices were released should get added to the pricing pool by Tuesday.
News broke this evening that standout rookie Scottie Scheffler has tested positive for COVID-19. Scheffler will be replaced in the field by Branden Grace. Scheffler is reportedly asymptomatic and will remain quarantined at his home in Dallas, Texas.
With a little over ten minutes until the first PGA event of the 2021 season, there is no major news to report. ResultsDB will be up and running shortly after lock, please check back to see how your lineups stack up against the field. If you are playing showdown slates then you can gain a small edge by playing morning golfers this week. With POA greens there is always a strong chance that lower scores come from the morning waves when the putting surfaces are the smoothest. Good luck this week Grinders!!!
Just a few years ago Maverick McNealy was in serious consideration for college golfer of the year. In terms of upside in comparison to consumer confidence this former All American standout has not really lived up to his potential in the world of professional golf. Hopefully, with this new season, McNealy will have a renewed interest in claiming his first PGA Tour win. McNealy switched coaches to Butch Harmon almost a year ago and could be a golfer that people have forgotten in terms of his talent. McNealy is a great ball striker who is not afraid to play the aggressive type of golf needed to win this week. Playing a ton of golf on the west coast during his college days, McNealy’s putting stats are also much better on POA greens. With a sub, 6% predicted ownership level. McNealy makes for a great pivot off other chalky golfers in his price range ( Cameron Tringale).
Two more player moves to report on what has already been a busy week of field adjustments. Two lesser-known players in Bryson Nimmer and John Hu are both out of this week’s field. Alex Cejka and Sang-Moon Bae are now both in the field.
Two more golfers have decided to take a pass on this week’s Safeway Open. Vaughn Taylor (ribs) and Ben Martin have both been removed from this week’s field. Chad Campbell and Jonathan Byrd are now in this week’s field. Both players will receive projections once they are added to DFS pricing pools.
The PGA Tour season will start a new this week as the 2021 season will get underway on Thursday at The Safeway Open. Matt Kuchar added his name to the list of players who committed to the event to pull out on Monday. Joining Danny Lee, Jimmy Walker, and Bronson Burgoon, Kuchar will take a pass on this week’s event. With only one week separating the first event of the 2021 season and The U.S. Open, there could be more player movement as the week progresses. Roberto Castro, George McNiel, Bill Haas, and Ryan Blaum have been added as replacements and should be in the pricing pool within the next 24 hours.
In a comfortable position in this year’s FedEx Cup race, Webb Simpson opted to skip last week’s BMW Championship at what turned out to be a very challenging Olympia Fields. Rested and ready to play at a course that fit’s his game Simpson will look to finish the season off in style. Despite missing last week, Simpson enters this week as the biggest mover in terms of POW for the week. Having gained almost 6 percentage points for the week, gamers are counting on a healthy Simpson to play well at course that demands accuracy and timely putting. In his last three starts at East Lake Simpson has gained just over 4 shots tee to green with 3 top 16 or better finishes.
Without a doubt, there is not a golfer in this field struggling more than Marc Leishman. With 800 of his almost 1100 FedEx points coming from just two events this year ( 1st at Farmers, and 2nd at API), Leishman has done very little since the start of the season to earn a spot this week. Even at the bottom of the barrel discount price, Leishman is still trending at under 6% ownership this week. Most in the world of DFS golf will just simply hit the exclude button on Leishman when building rosters. Despite his poor form, there is some merit to playing a low priced golfer at low ownership despite bad form. At 5K on a site like DK Leishman would more than pay off his salary with a top 20 type of finish for the week. When you take a look under the hood and try to figure out why Leishman is playing below his normal level it appears that the putter could be a big source of his problems. Normally an above-average putter in terms of SG putting, Leishman is in the midst of having his worst putting season ever on the Tour. Putting is typically a part of the game that we can see come back quickly for a golfer, so if Leishman can start to build a little confidence this week there is more than enough talent in his game to still play well at this level.
Former world number one Rory McIlroy took to Instagram on Thursday morning to announce that his wife Erica gave birth to their first child on Monday. McIlroy made it public a few weeks ago that being there for the birth of his first child was a priority and that he would leave any event he was playing in no matter where he stood in the tournament. For now, McIlroy is on track to play this week and will start 3 shots behind FedEx leader Dustin Johnson. Baby swag narrative players will look to give Rory a bump this week if indeed he plays this week for the first time as a new dad.