It’s time for our third major of the PGA Tour season, the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. This will be the 121st U.S. Open and the second time that it has been played at Torrey Pines. The last time was in 2008 in what would be Tiger Woods’ last major championship victory before his amazing run at the 2019 Masters. While Tiger won’t be in the field this year, this is still an absolutely stacked group of golfers, which makes it more challenging to fill out a PGA DFS lineup.
The 7,652-yard, par-71 course has changed slightly over the years but still features narrow fairways and thick rough in addition to poa annua greens. The second hole is the only par 4 under 400 yards on the course. The signature par-3 third hole is measured at 195 yards, but with multiple tee boxes and wind directions, players could be using any number of clubs to attack this hole throughout the week. The easiest hole should once again be the 568-yard par-5 finisher, which will make for high levels of drama down the stretch.
U.S. OPEN BETTING: Best bets, sleepers
The biggest change over the 13 years will be the field. These players are more analytical, stronger, leaner and overall better. The South course at Torrey typically ranks inside the top-15 toughest in Fairways Hit, Greens in Regulation, Proximity, and Scrambling. Driving, approach and scrambling will be keys to success.
We should see perfect conditions this weekend. The weather looks to be typical of San Diego in the summer, with temperatures in the mid-to-high 70s. As of right now, the forecast has the winds being relatively calm sitting between eight-to-12 MPH throughout the weekend.
PGA DFS strategy for U.S. Open 2021
The U.S. Open has always been known for trying to challenge all parts of the player’s game, from the mental to the physical. You’ll have all the usual characteristics of the U.S. Open with narrow fairways, thick rough, and greens like hardwood floors. A player like Bryson DeChambeau won’t be able to overpower this course the way he did at Winged Foot in 2020. The rough will take its toll of these players if they can’t keep it in the short grass. I’m going to be targeting players who have experience playing in U.S. Open and know what it takes to win. I’m not taking away anything from what DeChambeau did in 2020 — it was phenomenal — but I’m just saying this week will be a different story.
When Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open on Torrey in 2008, he finished with a score of one-under par. When you look at the average winning score of the Farmers Insurance Open over the past five years, it’s nearly 15-under par. That’s why I’ll look at the recent results at the Farmers, but it won’t be heavily weighted, this week will play more difficult than it did back in January. I expect the winner to come in around four- to six-under par.
U.S. Open DFS picks
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Brooks Koepka: Koepka freely admits that he doesn’t get up mentally for a regular tour event like he does for a major championship. He knows that his career will be defined by how many major titles he wins. He missed the cut at the Masters, but I’m writing that off because of the knee surgery. If you take that out, he finished runner-up at last month’s PGA Championship, seventh at the 2020 Masters, won the ’19 PGA Championship, runner-up at the ’19 Masters, won the PGA & U.S. Open in ’18, and won the ’17 U.S. Open. I trust Koepka’s mental game being stronger than most anyone else in the field this weekend.
Jon Rahm: If you don’t think Rahm doesn’t have a huge chip on his shoulder heading into this weekend, I have some ocean front property to sell you in Omaha. A six-stroke lead heading into Sunday at the Memorial just got wiped away, and you don’t think he’s going to come out guns blazing at the U.S. Open? He also has a great track record at Torrey Pines with a win and runner-up finish at the Farmers Insurance. He is second on tour in “Strokes Gained: Tee to Green,” third in “Strokes Gained: Off the Tee,” fifth in “Greens in Regulation,” and 12th in “Strokes Gained: Approach.” The only reason not to like him is his price, but I’m going to pay up.
Will Zalatoris: What more can I say about this kid that hasn’t been said 100 times over? The only thing he hasn’t done yet in his young career is win, but he came darn close with a runner-up finish at the Masters. He also finished eighth at the PGA Championship. That is just one of his seven top-10 finishes in 2021. This kid can crush the ball off the tee (25th in “Driving Distance”), ball strike with the best of them on tour (third in “Strokes Gained: Approach” and seventh in “Strokes Gained: Tee to Green”) and put himself into position to make birdies often (14th in “Greens in Regulation”). While his last outing at the Charles Schwab was his worst finish in his young career (59th place), I’m actually hoping that will kill some of his ownership this weekend.
Gary Woodland: Woodland has been an afterthought on the PGA Tour since his U.S. Open victory at Pebble Beach in 2019. He struggled after the big win and then dealt with a hip injury at the end of ’20. We’ve seen signs of life in his game over the past two months starting with a top-10 finish at the Valero and followed that up with a top-five finish a few weeks later at the Wells Fargo. He still ranks 10th in “Driving Distance” and top 50 in “Strokes Gained: Approach” despite his struggles in the early part of the season. I think he’ll be lower owned than players like Jason Kokrak, Joaquin Niemann, Sungjae Im and Shane Lowry in the similar price range.
Shane Lowry: The reigning Open Champion is rounding into top form as we get closer to his title defense. I feel Shane Lowry is flying under the radar despite three top-10 finishes in his past four starts; ninth at the RBC Heritage, fourth at the PGA Championship, and sixth in Memorial Tournament. He also finished 21st at the Masters. He does have two top-10 finishes in his U.S. Open history. While he hasn’t won this championship, he does still have the Claret Jug at home, so that scores extra points with me. One of the best players throughout his bag ranking inside the top 45 in all Strokes Gained categories except putting. That’s about as consistent as you can get when it comes to a PGA Tour professional.
Jhonattan Vegas: Something has awoken in Vegas over the past few weeks, and I personally love to see it. He just finished runner-up at the Palmetto and ninth at the Byron Nelson in his previous start. Why not ride the hot hand? One of the best drivers on the PGA Tour, Vegas can be a birdie machine if he gets things rolling. Torrey Pines demands a good driver, and that’s his best skill on the golf course. He currently ranks fourth in “Strokes Gained: Off the Tee” and 14th in “Driving Distance.”
Jason Kokrak: Jason won his first PGA Tour event earlier this year at the CJ Cup and used that momentum to score his second win at the Charles Schwab just a couple weeks ago. Aside from those victories, he has top-10 finishes at WGC-Workday, Arnold Palmer, and The Players. At 36, he has all the length needed to tame Torrey Pines, ranking 22nd in both “Driving Distance” and “Strokes Gained: Off the Tee.” He’s also fifth on Tour in “Strokes Gained: Putting,” 14th in “Par 5 Scoring,” and 25th in “Greens in Regulation.” Kokrak has back-to-back top-30 finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open.
|R. McIlory||$9900||$11600||Upgrade to Playbook PRO!|
|B. Koepka||$10100||$11900||See above|
|J. Rahm||$11200||$1200||See above|
|X. Schauffele||$9300||$11400||Upgrade to Playbook PRO!|
|W. Zalatoris||$8600||$10400||See above|
|C. Morikawa||$9500||$10200||Upgrade to Playbook PRO!|
|P. Reed||$9000||$10700||Upgrade to Playbook PRO!|
|T. Finau||$8900||$10600||Upgrade to Playbook PRO!|
|G. Woodland||$7500||$9100||See above|
|S. Lowry||$7600||$9600||See above|
|D. Berger||$8400||$10500||Upgrade to Playbook PRO!|
|L. Oosthuizen||$8100||$10000||Upgrade to Playbook PRO!|
|H. English||$7300||$8900||Upgrade to Playbook PRO!|
|T. Merritt||$6500||$7400||Upgrade to Playbook PRO!|
|B. Steele||$6500||$7400||Upgrade to Playbook PRO!|
|J. Vegas||$6800||$8000||See above|
|S. Cink||$7200||$8700||Upgrade to Playbook PRO!|
|J. Kokrak||$7600||$9400||See above|