Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (7,445 yards, par 70)
$12.0M Purse --$2,160,000 to the champion
Setting the Stage
SOUTHAMPTON, NY – Ninety miles East of New York City, along the coast of Long Island, lies a true gem. Established in 1891 as a 12-hole course that became the first in America to be incorporated and the first to have a clubhouse, Shinnecock Hills quickly turned into an 18-hole championship course that hosted its first U.S. Open in 1896. A full 90-year hiatus saw three other U.S. Opens arise in 1986, 1995, and 2004. This year, 2018’s edition becomes Shinnecock’s fifth U.S. Open, and there are already plans for another in 2026. Such history yields plenty of anticipation as the Scottish links-style course has endured many changes, the most controversial being increases in the size of the fairways, which are on average 15 yards wider than they were in 2004. Five hundred more yards were added to the layout which included 10 more tee boxes. Storylines this week include Phil Mickelson still seeking that elusive U.S. Open to complete the career grand slam at age 47, Tiger making just his second U.S. Open appearance since 2013, now a decade removed from his last major victory. Now World No.1 again, Dustin Johnson enters in peak form seeking his second major championship. With a sizable cohort of 19 amateurs in the field, the 2018 U.S. Open is shaping up to be a youth-driven field with a handful of veterans attempting to turn back the clock at the USGA’s signature event.
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)
2009 – Lucas Glover (Bethpage Black)
2008 – Tiger Woods (Torrey Pines)
Key Stats to Victory
• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
• Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
• Putting conversion inside 10 feet
Experience is Required
All three of the modern U.S. Opens at Shinnecock have produced champions 35 or older in age. Raymond Floyd (1986) was 43, while Corey Pavin (1995) and Retief Goosen (2004) were both 35 years old when they won. Both Pavin and Goosen were also top-10 in the world rankings when they conquered Shinnecock, leading us to believe you need to have both experience and talent to win at such a well-designed and challenging course. Sure, the course is significantly longer than last time around, but the major challenges of the course – its small but undulated putting surfaces and unpredictable winds – have remained unchanged.
Yahoo Value Picks
Best of the Best
Dustin Johnson, $45 – DJ would’ve been in this slot whether he won last week or not, but because he did to reclaim World No.1, it was an automatic recommendation. Johnson leads the Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and possesses an ironclad game throughout his bag. He’s expensive, but well worth it considering his form.
Rory McIlroy, $43 – Arguably the best in the world with a driver in his hand, McIlroy can put himself right in the thick of things if he can find a way to convert his short putts. With his distance he will have many reasonable irons into greens, his keys to success will be hitting plenty of greens and converting the makeable birdie attempts. Rory recently put up a top-10 at the Memorial so his game is in decent form.
Jordan Spieth, $43 – Let’s be upfront here: Spieth is struggling with his putter from short range this season. Now that we got that out of the way, Spieth is also ranked fourth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and is among the great course management strategists in the game. If he can somehow convert the short putts he has been missing lately, he will be there on Sunday. Don’t bank big on it, but a talent like him can turn things around quickly if he can gather some momentum. Expect a made cut and decent finish, but his upside for winning this time around is uncharacteristically limited.
Branden Grace, $37 – Grace is not long, but he’s a consistent driver of the ball and has excellent touch around the greens. Not only that, he has the demeanor to handle a major championship, twice finishing inside the top five at the U.S. Open. At $37, Grace is a solid mid-tier option who is still seeking his first major championship.
Tiger Woods, $27 – What?! Tiger is in the bargain bin? With Tiger’s unbelievable discount this week, he’s an absolute no brainer on Yahoo. It doesn’t matter if he’s slowed down since hooking one out of bounds at Bay Hill on Sunday, or that his putting was awful at the Memorial. It’s Tiger Woods, and his services cost just $27.
Adam Scott, $26 – Scott is a prolific ball striker with a knack for links-style courses, so Shinnecock just might be a great match for the veteran. Four top-20s in his last six U.S. Opens prove he’s a good fit for this tooth-and-nail event.
Strategy Tips on Yahoo this week (based on $200 standard salary cap)
It’s difficult to imagine a complete unknown taking this year’s U.S. Open at such a venerable track like Shinnecock Hills, so stick to familiar names with proven records at majors. While many studs are expensively priced, a few strong and trending names scream value on Yahoo this week. Don’t be afraid to lean on veterans like Tiger or Adam Scott given the profile of older champions at Shinnecock.