This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Course: Winged Foot Golf Club [West Course] (7,477 yards, par 70)
Normally the top players in the world are taking a handful of weeks off after the TOUR Championship. In the dubbed 50-event "Super Season," however, all of the top players will be making their return after just one week off in Mamaroneck. The West Course at Winged Foot is as difficult a venue as there is in major championship golf. The last time we saw this course in the U.S. Open was back in 2006 when Geoff Ogilvy was the benefactor of Phil Mickelson's errant drive on the 72nd hole. Mickelson would double the 18th to give the championship outright to Ogilvy at five-over-par, and as we know, the newly turned 50-year-old is still searching for that elusive U.S. Open title to complete the career grand slam. The 2017 and 2018 U.S. Open Champion Brooks Koepka will not be in the field as he continues to recover from knee and hip issues that have derailed his progress the last year. 2016 U.S. Open Champion Dustin Johnson will be the favorite this week as he is fresh off a FedExCup title and is coming in with finishes of T2-Win-2nd-Win over his previous four starts. Gary Woodland will be looking to repeat after notching his first major championship last year at Pebble Beach. Tiger Woods has struggled in his limited appearances in 2020, but he will be gunning for his fourth U.S. Open and major title No. 16. The first round will be around 80 degrees with minimal winds, but temperatures are expected to dip into the low-60's for the remainder of the event with winds around 15 miles per hour. The course should bake out and get firm like a classic U.S. Open, but there is a chance for moisture in round two, which would make the rough even more of a challenge.
2019 – Gary Woodland (Pebble Beach)
2018 – Brooks Koepka (Shinnecock Hills)
2017 – Brooks Koepka (Erin Hills)
2016 – Dustin Johnson (Oakmont)
2015 – Jordan Spieth (Chambers Bay)
2014 – Martin Kaymer (Pinehurst)
2013 – Justin Rose (Merion)
2012 – Webb Simpson (Olympic Club)
2011 – Rory McIlroy (Congressional)
2010 – Graeme McDowell (Pebble Beach)
Key Stats to Victory
You aren't going to be able to drive it poorly this week and win. SG: Off-the-Tee, total driving, and FIR percentage are all going to be the most important stats, because if you hit this rough you have almost no chance to make a birdie and it's going to take all the skills you have to get it in for par. If you can get a player that has an excellent driving week, their upside becomes much higher this week. Now saying that, you work is not even close to being easy if you do hit the fairways. These greens are lightning quick and have as much or more undulation than Augusta. When you do have short irons it will be important to take advantage of it, as scoring chances are obviously extremely limited. Putting will be a lot more about avoiding three-putts that rolling in 15-25 footers. This course will be a similar challenge to the last two U.S. Open's at Shinnecock Hills and Pebble Beach, so looking at players that fared well there will likely give you a good idea who you can expect to contend.
FanDuel Value Picks
Dustin Johnson ($12,100)
I mentioned Johnson is the favorite earlier as he is coming in off a T2 at the PGA Championship, an 11-shot win at the Northern Trust, a playoff loss at the BMW Championship, and a win at East Lake to take the FedExCup title. That stretch took him from a solid season to winning PGA Tour Player of the Year as voted on by his peers. Johnson is tailor made for U.S. Open setups with four top-four finishes in his last six starts, including his lone major win at the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Jon Rahm ($11,800)
Rahm has been right on Johnson's heels the last month, but he ended up a little shy at the TOUR Championship. He did get the better of Johnson in that playoff at the BMW Championship, however. Rahm has been better than anyone at the most difficult setups this season, winning both at Muirfield Village and Olympia Fields. The World No. 2 is poised for major championship title No. 1 at a course that should suit his game perfectly as a terrific driver with a high ball flight. Rahm finished T3 at last year's U.S. Open.
Xander Schauffele ($11,400)
Schauffele is right there in that conversation with Rahm as best players to not have won a major championship. The San Diego State product has been as good as anyone in the big events since he came on Tour with eight top-20 finishes in 12 career majors. The U.S. Open has been his best one of the four, with finishes of T5-T6-T3 the last three years. Schauffele hasn't finished outside the top-25 in his last eight starts and ranked seventh in SG: Tee-to-green last season.
Daniel Berger ($10,700)
Berger is one of the most complete players in the world right now. He has finished inside the top 25 in 10 of his last 11 starts, including six top-five results. The Florida State alum ranked 17th in SG: Putting and 15th in SG: Tee-to-Green last season. Berger was also 12th in Total Driving, sixth in SG: Total, and fifth in birdie average. He held the 54-hole lead at the U.S. Open two years ago at Shinnecock and ultimately finished T6.
Longer Shots with Value
Paul Casey ($9,800)
The U.S. Open is all about ball striking, and Casey was as good in that department as anyone last season, ranking first in Total Driving, ninth in SG: Approach, and 14th in GIR percentage. He also has experience around Winged Foot, notching a top-15 back in 2006. The thick rough and extremely undulating greens this week should lessen some of his weaknesses around the greens and with the putter, much the same way it did back at the PGA Championship where he finished T2.
Viktor Hovland ($9,700)
Hovland has not missed a cut in his 11 starts since the resumption of tournament play. That stretch includes seven top-25's. Hovland's ball striking is prime for a U.S. Open at Winged Foot, as last season he ranked 18th in SG: Off-the-Tee, seventh in SG: Approach, and 20th in SG: Tee-to-Green. The former Oklahoma State standout has improved his putting as the season has gone on, leading to those more consistent results. He finished T12 in his U.S. Open debut last season.
Joaquin Niemann ($8,800)
The closest U.S. Open setup this season came a few weeks ago at Olympia Fields where Niemann was among the top contenders at the end of the week because of his excellent ball striking. He led that stout field in SG: Tee-to-green and GIR percentage. If Niemann can do that again, he will have an excellent shot to win his first major championship at age 21. The Chilean ranked top-26 in SG: Off-the-tee, SG: Approach, proximity, and SG: Tee-to-green last season.
Chesson Hadley ($7,200)
An absolute bargain who would be a great addition to round out your roster, Hadley is coming off a week in which he led the field in total birdies at the Safeway Open. His ball-striking was fantastic last season, ranking 30th in SG: Approach, 21st in Total driving, 20th in GIR percentage, and fourth in proximity to the hole. Hadley showed he can handle a U.S. Open setup last year when he finished T9 at Pebble Beach.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
Players that ranked high last season in SG: Tee-to-green and the Ball Striking stat are the players you will want to focus in on this week at a brutally difficult venue. It's hard to find a lot of players who strike it well enough under $8,500 to warrant a selection. I think because of that you will need to be wise with who you go after near the top of the salary board. Most of your money picks will be made in that $9,000-$10,500 range this week. There is a ton of depth there and some players not listed above that I would consider would be Jason Day, Tony Finau, Adam Scott, and Harris English. Other options on the cheaper end that I think are worth considering include Thomas Pieters ($8,500), Corey Conners ($8,300), Thomas Detry ($8,000), and Kevin Streelman ($7,700). With so little chances for birdies, the name of the game will be just about keeping those big numbers off the card. If you can draft six players that make the cut this week, it's going to be hard for you to not finish in the money.