DraftKings PGA DFS Picks: U.S. Open Cash and GPP Strategy

DraftKings PGA DFS Picks: U.S. Open Cash and GPP Strategy

This article is part of our DraftKings PGA DFS Picks series.

U.S. Open

Purse: $21.5M
Winner's Share: $4.3M
FedEx Cup Points: 750 to the Winner
Location: Village of Pinehurst, N.C.
Course: Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No.2)
Yardage: 7,543
Par: 70
2023 champion: Wyndham Clark (Los Angeles Country Club)

Tournament Preview

There are always myriad storylines entering a golf major championship. Heck, that's what makes them majors. Who can win, who can make history, will the course kick the butts of the world's best players, etc., etc. And, more specific to this major this year: What the heck are we even doing here because Scottie Scheffler will win, right?

Scheffler -- the leader in our U.S. Open Power Rankings -- won for the fifth time this year last week at the Memorial, ending his long winless drought of two tournaments. Only three other golfers since at least 1960 had won five PGA Tour events in a calendar year by June 10, according to the Tour. (Keep reading to find out who did it and, no, Tiger Woods is not one of them.)

But Scheffler is 3-1 at most books and not 1-10. So what you're saying is, there's a chance? Sure, kind of, and besides, even if we have Scheffler in our DraftKings lineups, we still need five more guys.

There actually are other non-Scheffler storylines to play out when this 124th U.S. Open is contested at perhaps the signature course in the Open rota, famed Pinehurst No. 2.

  • Xander Schauffele plays his first major as a major champion. Are more titles on the horizon?
  • Can someone else break through to become a major champion for the first time, perhaps Viktor Hovland or Ludvig Aberg?
  • What about the only player to finish top-5 in both majors this season, Collin Morikawa, coming so close without the best part of his game, approach play, intact?
  • Will the real Brooks Koepka and real Jon Rahm finally show up, after de facto no-shows at the Masters and PGA Championship?
  • Will Pinehurst No. 2 prove as dastardly at it has been in the past?
     

Architect Donald Ross' signature design has got the best of the world's best in three U.S. Opens over the past quarter century, with Pinehurst already slotted for four more Opens carrying into the late 2040s. The U.S. Amateur, Women's Amateur and Women's Open are also scheduled. We should note that it is a public course, as are all nine at the Pinehurst resort.

In the 1999, 2005 and 2014 Opens, only one of the 468 total golfers has managed to score better than 1-under. That was Martin Kaymer at an almost-unfathomable 9-under in his eight-shot runaway win a decade ago. Michael Campbell won at even-par in 2005, two strokes better than Tigers Woods, and Payne Stewart shot 1-under in '99, edging Phil Mickelson by one

At 7,543 yards and par-70, Pinehurst is super long. Famously, there is no rough aligning fairways that are far wider than what we're accustomed to in U.S. Opens. Instead, the golfers will need to avoid more than three dozen sandy waste areas mixed with wire grass, also known as "native sandscapes," which makes it sound almost like you're in Tahiti.

But make no mistake, this will be no day at the beach for the 156-man field.

The key characteristic of Ross' masterpiece are the diabolical green complexes and their surroundings. The bermudagrass greens, on the larger side at an average of 6,500 square feet, are "crowned" or "domed," causing approach shots even a little bit offline to trundle off the putting surfaces. From there, with no rough, golfers will have multiple club options to try to get up and down. You'll probably hear the term "Texas wedge" a bit this week.

RotoWire/Sport Illustrated U.S. Open Bettors' Roundtable: Favorites, sleepers, picks to win

There are only two par-5s, but one is 617 yards. Three of the four par-3s exceed 200 yards. The par-4s are really interesting. Three of them are 500 yards or more, including one at 536. There are also three par-4s under 400 yards. There are 117 actual sand bunkers and there is water on just one hole. But the golfers clearly will need to avoid the waste areas, even at the expense of distance, even with the fairway landing areas some 35-45 yards wide, because the lies and impediments in those waster areas are impossible to predict.

We are putting a higher emphasis on short game and putting this week, even more than in most majors, as well as acknowledging the importance of approach play from 175 yards and out. And, if you couldn't tell from the scores of the past three Opens at Pinehurst, avoiding bogeys would be a prudent game plan.

As with most majors, the pool of potential champions is not deep -- maybe 10, 12, perhaps 15. (Or this year, maybe just 1?) Sure, there are exceptions. But in constructing your DFS lineups, you'll want to get at least one of those guys in your lineup, if not two. Because the field is so stout, many good golfers have fallen into the $7,000s, and there is even some real quality in the $6,000s. Prices now bottom out at $5,000, and we'll have a recommendation or two down there.

But getting 6 for 6 through to the weekend will be harder this week than any other all year. That's because only the top 60 and ties in the 156-man field will make the cut. Depending on your game, you might be able to win something with five golfers going the distance.

As for the weather, the forecast says the week will be almost completely dry. But temperatures will searing, topping out in the 90s, and without much wind. Fitness will be an issue.
 
U.S. Open factoids: The Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association annually give out at the U.S. Open, will go to Tiger Woods this year in a ceremony on Tuesday night. The honor recognizes "distinguished sportsmanship in golf."

Speaking of Woods, he was not one of the golfers to win five times before June 10 in a calendar year, most likely because he didn't play often enough. The three golfers who had done it since 1960 before Scheffler were: Arnold Palmer, twice in 1960 and '62; Johnny Miller in his famed 1974 season; and Tom Watson, in 1980. Incredibly, Watson had done it by May 11.

Pinehurst No. 2 factoids: Michelle Wie won the Women's Open in 2014 and Andy Ogletree won the 2019 U.S. Amateur, with Aberg and Akshay Bhatia among those in the field. Ogletree did not qualify this week, but Aberg and Bhatia did. 

Key Stats to Winning at Pinehurst No. 2

The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.

• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee/Driving Accuracy
• Strokes Gained: Approach/Tee-to-Green
• Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Approach play from 175-plus yards
• Bogey Avoidance

Past Champions

2023 - Wyndham Clark (Los Angeles Country Club)
2022 - Matt Fitzpatrick (The Country Club)
2021 - Jon Rahm (Torrey Pines)
2020 - Bryson DeChambeau (Winged Foot)
2019 - Gary Woodland (Pebble Beach)
2018 - Brooks Koepka (Shinnecock)
2017 - Brooks Koepka (Erin Hills)
2016 - Dustin Johnson (Oakmont)
2015 - Jordan Spieth (Chambers Bay)
2014 - Martin Kaymer (Pinehurst No. 2)

Champion's Profile

Kaymer's win in 2014 is the key Open at Pinehurst to consider. Not only for the obvious reason that it was the only one there in the past two decades, but also because it was the only one after 2011 course restoration by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. And while scorecard yardages have increased exponentially across golf since then, Pinehurst was a very similar 7,562 yards in 2014.

Kaymer opened 65-65 and was never headed, winning by eight shots over Rickie Fowler and Erick Compton, who shot 1-under. The rest of the field was over par. To win by that much, you have to do everything amazing. But Kaymer ranked only 16th in the field in greens in regulation. He separated himself by leading field in scrambling and putting average. When he was around the green, he often used his putter (Texas wedge!).

He had only nine bogeys, which actually only tied him for best in the field, and zero doubles. Jason Day, one of five guys who tied for fourth at 1-over, also had nine bogeys. Kaymer led the way with 16 birdies and one eagle, which came on the par-5 5th hole on Saturday.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS

Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap

$10,000+

Scottie Scheffler - $13,000 (Winning odds at the DraftKings Sportsbook: +300)
Scheffler's price is actually favorable in relation to where he's been priced in some tournaments earlier this season. What could stop Scheffler from winning this week? His putting.

Xander Schauffele - $11,500 (+1100) 
No, don't expect Schauffele to go on a major roll now that's broken through. For one, there's Scheffler. But Schauffele has always been a force in majors, especially the U.S. Open. In seven previous starts, Schauffele tallied six top-10s. His best was T3 in 2019.

Bryson DeChambeau - $10,100 (+1800) 
DeChambeau has proven to be the top LIV representative so far in the first two majors, tying for sixth at the Masters and for second at the PGA Championship. He won't be able to bomb and gouge his way around Pinehurst, as he did at Winged Foot four years ago. But he has the game to play multiple ways. At the PGA, DeChambeau ranked sixth in the field in SG: Around-the-Green and 19th in SG: Putting.

$9,000-$9,900

Collin Morikawa - $9,400 (+1400) 
Just one pick in this price range. And it is such a bargain that Morikawa might be the highest owned guy in the DFS universe this week. He's the only golfer to finish top-5 in both majors so far, and that's been without his vaunted approach game at its finest. He came oh-so-close to beating Scheffler last week at the Memorial. Morikawa somewhat quietly is ranked 15th on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee and 10th in Around-the-Green. And -- surprise, surprise -- he's now in the top-100 in SG: Putting.

$8,000-$8,900

Justin Thomas - $8,900 (+4000) 
We know putting will count for a lot this week and Thomas has been a terrible putter. But he does everything else so well. He's ranked top-10 on Tour in both SG: Approach and Around-the-Green. Thomas has six top-12 finishes already in 2024, including a tie for eighth at the PGA Championship.

Cameron Smith - $8,700 (+4000) 
We ranked Smith at No. 4 in the RotoWire U.S. Open Power Rankings. Pinehurst No. 2 is right up his alley. The fairways are wider, offering him some protection. He still might be the best in the world from 100 yards and in. Some golfers have said Pinehurst has some links characteristics, and Smith of course has won the Open Championship, He was sixth at the Masters two months ago and top-10 at the U.S. Open last year.

Tommy Fleetwood - $8,500 (+3500)
Interestingly, Fleetwood has shorter betting odds than the other three guys we picked in the $8,000s That's what happens when you show out at major after major. In eight career Opens, Fleetwood has three top-5s, including T5 last year. And he just tied for third at the Masters and for 26th at the PGA. He's ranked 17th on Tour in SG: Around-the-Green.

Hideki Matsuyama - $8,000 (+4000) 
Like Thomas, Matsuyama can't putt. But also like Thomas, he does everything else very well. Notably, chip. Matsuyama is ranked first on Tour in SG: Around-the-Green, and he landed at No. 8 in our model.

$7,000-$7,900

Tyrrell Hatton - $7,800 (+5500) 
Hatton tied for ninth at the Masters in April. We don't particularly like his chances at a traditional U.S. Open track, though he did tie for sixth at Shinnecock in 2018. At Pinehurst, with wider fairways, he should fare better. Hatton tied for 27th at L.A. Country Club last year.

Byeong Hun An - $7,100 (+8000) 
Simply put, An has been one of the best golfers on Tour this season. He is eighth in points with five top-10s and nine top-25s. He has been fantastic off the tee and has managed to putt pretty well, right now ranked 84th (instead of 184th). An tied for 16th at the Masters.

$6,000-$6,900

Russell Henley - $6,900 (+8000) 
We said Morikawa might be the most highly owned golfer in DFS this week. Well, it could be Henley, an absolute steal in the $6,000s. We put him at No. 20 in our Power Rankings and he fares even better in our model. He really checks off every box: great recent form, great U.S. Open history (top-15 two of the past three years) and strong stats across the board.

Harris English - $6,700 (+15000) 
Here he is, one of our favorite plays almost all year long. As always, English is in the $6,000s for a major. He's finished top-10 in three of the past four U.S. Opens. His secret? He doesn't have a real weakness in his game, which comes in handy when you have to use every club in your bag.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout - $6,200 (+11000) 
If the Tour Championship started today, Bezuidenhout would be in it. He is 12th in the point standings after finishing fourth at the Memorial. He has nine top-25s this season, one of them a tie for 13th at THE PLAYERS Championship. Bezuidenhout hasn't played in the U.S. Open since tying for 31st in 2021.

Webb Simpson - $6,000 (+35000) 
Down around this price, we use data. But sometimes, educated guesses can work out. Simpson knows Pinehurst as well as anyone. It helps to be long but it's not mandatory. Yes, Simpson has been getting lots of sponsor invites, not overly deserved, but he has played pretty well against stout fields. And he just did go through qualifying to get into the field. We placed Simpson inside the cut line in our Power Rankings.

$5,000-$5,900

Adam Schenk - $5,900 (+40000) 
There wasn't one player in the $5,000s who made it inside the cut line (top 60) in our Power Rankings. But Schenk landed at No. 61. His 2024 season has been far worse than 2023. Still, he's been making cuts, 13 of 17 overall, and that's goal No. 1 when picking guys down here. Schenk finished T12 at the Masters.

Martin Kaymer - $5,700 (+30000) 
Sure, why not? Nobody in the past quarter-century has played Pinehurst better than this guy, maybe ever. Kaymer turns 40 at the end of the year and his best days are long, long ago. But he still has the perfect Pinehurst blueprint stored in his memory banks. It's just a question of whether he can execute it now. Kaymer played the PGA Championship last month and made the cut. In a nice touch by the USGA, he is on the interview schedule for this week. 

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The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Len Hochberg plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DK: Bunker Mentality.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for nine years. Len is a three-time winner of the FSWA DFS Writer of the Year Award (2020, '22 and '23) and a five-time nominee (2019-23). He is also a writer and editor for MLB Advanced Media.
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