2023 PGA DFS: US Open DraftKings Preview

by Keith Flemming
2023 PGA DFS: US Open DraftKings Preview

The final golf major hosted this season on US soil starts Thursday at Los Angeles Country Club. That brings me to my 2023 PGA DFS: US Open DraftKings Preview.

This week for the first time the Los Angeles Country Club will host a major golf championship. Unfortunately, I doubt the course or the US Open tournament will be the main topic of discussion. This is due to it being the first event post-merger where both PGA Tour and LIV Golf players tee it up together.

Instead of focusing on the venue or field full of golfing stars this week, we will be forced to talk ad nauseam about the merger of the two rival tours. For me, this is the least appealing angle possible this week. I would literally rather talk about anything other than this merger.

What Should Be Discussed

The golf media should focus on the battle for the top spot in the game between Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, and Brooks Koepka. Koepka appears to be back to his old dominant ways. With his runner-up finish at Augusta and winning his fifth major at the PGA Championship last month. Rahm won his second major in Augusta earlier this year. That is only one of his four wins in twelve events in 2023. Scheffler has not finished worse than 12th since November 2022. During those 13 events, he has seven top 5s and two victories.

I worry the golf media is going to focus this week on the merger between the two rival tours. Players will be asked their opinion on the merger. Was it the right or wrong move? I fear the merger is going to receive a lion-share of the discussion this week and potentially for no reason. Many believe this deal will not be allowed to go through due to the fact it would violate the United States Antitrust laws. Now that we have that out of the way, let's get to this week's preview and plays.

Last week I had another solid week for my DraftKings plays from this article. I had eight of the ten golfers in this article make the cut at the Canadian Open. With four of those plays finishing inside the top 10 and 6 inside the top 30. Let's keep the good plays going this week!

You can find me on Twitter @KeithFlemming to keep the conversation going! Be sure to listen to me during my weekly guest appearance Wednesdays at 1pm eastern on The Inside Drive on ESPN Northwest Radio. Where I will preview that week's PGA Event. 

2023 PGA DFS: US Open DraftKings Preview

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Venue (Los Angeles Country Club)

Los Angeles Country Club has never hosted a major championship but has been the host of five Genesis Invitationals in the past and the 2017 Walker Cup. The club is located in the hills of Southern California. The US Open has been hosted in California many times at Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines. However, both of those courses are coastal courses and won't be as firm as LA Country Club will play this week. I expect an extremely firm and fast golf course. Which is exactly how it played in the 2017 Walker Cup.

Los Angeles Country Club is not going to play as long as the scorecard says with the firm conditions. That doesn't mean players with length won't have a big advantage.  It includes a Par 3 playing 290 yards (this is not a typo) and six Par 4s playing 480 yards or more. The course features greens that are complicated and borderline cruel. A majority of them feature areas that have closely mown run-off areas with penalizing bunkers and thick rough surrounding them.

Hanse's Redesign

Gil Hanse recently restored the original design of this course by George C. Thomas and William P. Bell in 1927. Hanse has done restorations of other major championship venues in the past, including Southern Hills and Winged Foot. Southern Hills is arguably the most comparable comp course you can find for this venue.

I mentioned earlier that Los Angeles Country Club features gnarly and penalizing rough that you've come to expect from the US Open. What makes this course different from other US Open venues is LA Country Club features wide fairways. Players will have an easier time finding fairways than in your typical US Open event. This will give a huge advantage to the players in the field with elite length off the tee.

Where Los Angeles Country Club shows its teeth is on and around the greens. The challenge for players will be on their approach shots to the greens. A player who misses the green will find themselves either in the penalizing bunkers I mentioned earlier or in very heavy rough that surrounds all greens.

At 7400 yards and with firm conditions expected, I can see many pundits believing length is not a huge issue this week. I think players with elite length are going to have a huge advantage on the field this week. The fairways are wide enough for the longer hitters to bomb away. Making it more likely those players hit more greens in regulation and avoid the difficult task of scrambling around these greens.

It's still the US Open

This week I am going to lean heavily on players with good records at US Open venues. Of the four major championships the US Open is arguably the toughest task mentally. There are players better suited for the difficult and unpredictable nature of this event.

The other big factors I am accounting for in the players I target this week are guys who excel on approach and around the greens. Players who limit the number of times they are forced to get it up and down to save par. Seem to always find success at this event. I'm also targeting players who excel in scrambling for when they inevitably miss greens in regulation.

Course Comps

For the second consecutive week, I will not list any official course comps in this article. I did the same for the Canadian Open last week that also was held at a new venue. Instead, I am going to focus on players who have found success at US Opens.

The USGA has a core of characteristics it implements at all US Open venues. Even though this year's event will feature more room than normal room off the tee and it is less likely a player finds thick rough with their tee shots. There is gnarly rough everywhere surrounding the greens. Players who are elite ball strikers and play well in difficult conditions will find their way to the top of the leaderboard.

Players with zero missed cuts and multiple top 15 finishes in the last 5 US Opens (min 3 starts)

  • Xander Schauffele
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Patrick Reed
  • Patrick Cantlay
  • Harris English

Top 15 in Total Strokes Gained over Last 5 US Opens

  • Xander Schauffele (46.87)
  • Louis Oosthuizen (45.59)
  • Dustin Johnson (43.21)
  • Rory McIlroy (42.69)
  • Jon Rahm (42.69)
  • Brooks Koepka (40.92) only 4 starts
  • Hideki Matsuyama (40.87)
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick (35.75)
  • Collin Morikawa (28.16) only 4 starts
  • Bryson Dechambeau (27.87)
  • Gary Woodland (26.34)
  • Patrick Reed (25.87)
  • Scottie Scheffler (24.73) only 3 starts
  • Patrick Cantlay (23.87)
  • Adam Scott (22.31)

Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained Total (Difficult Scoring Conditions)
  • Strokes Gained Approach
  • Strokes Gained Around The Greens (Difficult Courses)
  • Strokes Gained Putting (Bent)
  • Strokes Gained Tee To Green (Recent Form)
  • Par 3 Scoring 200+ Yards
  • Par 4 Scoring 450+ Yards
  •  Bogey Avoidance (Difficult Scoring Conditions)
  • Event History

Top 10 in Proximity from 200+ yards

  • Jon Rahm
  • Tom Hoge
  • Gary Woodland
  • Cameron Triangle
  • Scottie Scheffler
  • Bryson Dechambeau
  • Tony Finau
  • Shane Lowry
  • Viktor Hovland
  • Mito Pereira

Eight Players rank Top 25 in both Strokes Gained Approach and Strokes Gained Around The Greens

  • Rory McIlroy
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Harold Varner III
  • Tony Finau
  • Tommy Fleetwood
  • Hideki Matsuyama
  • Scottie Scheffler
  • Mito Pereira

Top 10 in Strokes Gained Total in Difficult Scoring Conditions

  • Collin Morikawa
  • Tyrrell Hatton
  • Denny McCarthy
  • Wyndham Clark
  • Patrick Cantlay
  • Xander Schauffele
  •  Rory McIlroy
  • Viktor Hovland
  • Scottie Scheffler

My 2023 PGA DFS: US Open DraftKings Lineup

Brooks Koepka ($10,800)

I learned my lesson by leaving Koepka out of my lineup for The Masters earlier this year. He rewarded me for including him in my PGA Championship lineup with a win. There is no player I would rather have in a golf major championship than Brooks Koepka. Last year is officially an aberration for Brooks Koepka with his results from the first two majors of this season. It is evident that Koepka was injured during the 2022 season and that is what led to his poor play throughout the year.

You can make a case that Koepka is a good fit for any major venue or event, but when it comes to Los Angeles Country Club that is definitely the case. The wider fairways will allow Koepka to hit his driver on most tee boxes and give him shorter clubs into the difficult greens at LA Country Club. Brooks is an underrated player in terms of scrambling and putting but both will give him a significant advantage this week. At the PGA Championship Kopeka gained over eight shots on the field on and around the greens.

Koepka has gained an absurd 30.8 shots on the field in the first two majors played this year. This shouldn't come as a surprise with Koepka's history at golf majors. Since 2017 he has five wins, 14 top 10s, and 11 top 5s in the 23 majors he's teed it up in. This kind of consistent dominance in majors is rarified air if your name isn't Jack or Tiger. I think Koepka should be a heavy favorite this week and I am shocked there are two players significantly more expensive in this field.

Another option in this price range: Cameron Smith ($9,000)

Viktor Hovland ($10,000)

This week I love the value plays you can find in the 7k range on DraftKings for this event. This will allow me to anchor my lineup with Brooks Koepka and Viktor Hovland. Hovland is playing arguably the best golf of his career over his last three starts. In that span, Hovland has a win at Memorial and a runner-up finish at the PGA Championship.

Hovland has always been a superior ball striker but his issues are always on and around the greens. Particularly his chipping and pitching near the green. Viktor appears to have had a breakthrough in both recently. Over his last three events, he's gained 3.8 strokes on the field around the greens and 12.1 on them. For reference in his previous ten events, Hovland lost 9.7 shots total around the greens and lost 5 total shots on the greens.

As you can see from the tweet I included under Hovalnd's name he is playing his best golf at the majors over the last year. He hasn't been worse than 7th at the conclusion of any round over his last three majors played. Viktor has had success at US Opens as well. He has two previous top-15 finishes before his WD in 2021 and his missed cut in 2022. I think Hovland is a very safe play this week and I love pairing him with Brooks Koepka to anchor my lineup.

Another option in this price range: Jason Day ($8,100)

Rickie Fowler ($7,500)

If you read my column regularly you will know that Fowler is one of the two plays in my official DraftKings lineup whom I have used often this year with a lot of success. Fowler is everything I am looking for in a player in this field and at this venue. He has a good track record at US Opens. In his eleven US Open appearances he's made the cut in eight of them, with four top 20s and three top 10s.

Rickie has great recent form with ten of eleven cuts made in the 2023 season. In those events, Fowler has nine top-20 finishes and eight top-15 finishes. Most encouraging is his best two finishes have come at the last two events he's played with a 6th and 9th place finish.

Fowler's strokes gained numbers are great across the board. Over his last 5 tournaments, he is gaining over six shots on the field in total strokes gained. In that same span, he is gaining over a shot on the field off the tee, on approach, around the greens, and on the greens. Fowler plays difficult courses well gaining over a shot per round on the field and this season he has putted the best on Bent greens.

Patrick Reed ($7,500)

The tweet above by @RBaroff427 is exactly how I feel about Reed this week. Anyone who listens to our show on Fantasy Six Pack's YouTube channel Two Off the Tee knows I'm not a fan of Patrick Reed. However, when it comes to attempting to win money on DraftKings or in my golf bets, my feelings for a particular player take a back seat.

Reed has quietly finished inside the top 18 in both of the golf majors played so far in 2023. His history at the US Open and his play at the first two majors this year make me very bullish on him this week. Reed has made the cut in 8 of the 9 US Opens he's played in for his career. He has five top 20s in those nine events played. Reed was one of the eight players in the field who are in the top 25 in both strokes gained approach and strokes gained around the greens.

The reason Reed is so good at this particular major is simple. Reed is one of the best putters in the game year in and year out. He has consistently been one of the better players around the greens as well his entire career. At the PGA Championship Reed gained 1.7 shots around the greens and 6.8 on the greens on the rest of the field. Finally, in his last 17 starts in major championships, Reed has only missed two cuts. I think Reed is an unreal value this week at this price.

Another option in this price range: Joaquin Niemann ($7,700)

Mito Pereira ($7,200)

I did not expect to have Mito Pereira in this article before I started my research. I love him this week after a deeper dive and believe he will be low-owned because of his missing the cut in his two previous US Open appearances. Mito is in the top ten in the field for proximity from 200-plus yards into the greens. He's also one of the eight players in the field in the top 25 in both strokes gained approach and strokes gained around the greens.

Mito is in good recent form with two top-5 finishes in his last three LIV events. He's made the cut in both of his starts in the majors in 2023. He finished 43rd at the Masters in April and 18th at the PGA Championship last month. If Mito can have a decent week on the greens. I am confident he will make the cut and wouldn't be surprised if he is in contention come Sunday afternoon.

Eric Cole ($7,000)

Eric Cole like Rickie Fowler has been a staple in my lineups this season. He was my favorite play at the Canadian Open last week at $7,900 and finished T6 thanks to a 63 on Sunday. I am giddy about being able to use him this week at only $7,000 on DraftKings.

Cole has five top-25 finishes in his last seven events with two top-10s in that span. He racked up 24 birdies at the Canadian Open last week. Giving him 16 or more birdies in six of his last nine tournaments on tour.

Despite this being a major championship field, Cole is top 20 in total strokes gained, strokes gained short game, around the greens, and putting. He's 19th in the field in DraftKings scoring but there are 56 players in the field who are more expensive on DK this week.

Over his last five events Cole is averaging 5.9 total strokes on the field, 4.4 strokes tee to green, 1.0 strokes around the greens, and 1.5 strokes on the greens. His one weakness has been his accuracy and efficiency off the tee. Los Angeles Country Club features wide fairways. It's why I am so high on Cole this week. He hits it plenty far averaging over 300 yards off the tee. If he can find more fairways this week, I truly believe he has a chance to contend.

Another option in this price range: Sam Bennett ($6,500)

Now that you have read the 2023 PGA DFS: US Open DraftKings Preview, be sure to check out the rest of our golf content, including my show Two off the Tee on the Fantasy Six Pack YouTube Channel Tuesday night. Each week, my cohost Allen and I will break down the tournament for that week and give betting/DFS plays.

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