Out of the Rough: The US Open
For the first time in nearly ten weeks, we lost money on the week. This Canadian Open was a tough one to predict in my opinion. A site the tour had not seen since 2010 and in a new time slot in the schedule, the week before the US Open. We had some minor success with the likes of Sam Burns placing fourth and our favorite, Corey Conners playing sixth. Beyond that, too many missed cuts sank us this week and neither of our outright bets had us close enough to cash out in the green. Anyway, that is behind us as we prepare for the third major of the year, the US Open.
RBC Canadian Open Results
Sam Burns (-14) - T4th
Corey Conners (-12) - 6th
C.T. Pan (WD)
Martin Laird (+3) - MC
Vaughn Taylor (E) - T48th
Shane Lowry (-9) - T10th
Matt Fitzpatrick (-9) - T10th
Brendon Todd (-8) - T13th
Tyler Duncan (+2) - MC
Hayden Buckley (+2) - MC
The US Open is one of, if not the most daunting tournaments in all of professional golf. Birdies will come few and far between and we at home can feel somewhat decent about ourselves with the way the score cards will appear this week.
This year’s installment of the final major on American soil will see the tour take to The Country Club outside of Boston. It plays as a Par 70 at 7,264 yards.
That just over 7,200 yard number may seem not all that bad, but with the elevation changes, blind shots and some of the thickest rough seen on tour, it plays much longer than that number.
On top of the thick rough, The Country Club is notorious for its narrow fairways.
With the rough being so thick that the best some of the world’s best can do is to slap the ball 25 yards back into the fairway, driving accuracy and driving distance will be of a premium. Finding the fairway off the tee will be crucial.
Winning the tournament may be done on the green as getting to the green is challenging enough. Bleeding away the tournament on the greens is a real possibility and those that can catch a hot putter can find themselves in a good position.
When it’s all said and done, those that can bomb off the tee and hit the fairways will have a leg up. On top of that, those that lead the way in greens in regulation will be in contention, again, along with catching a hot putter.
We’ll see the field maxed out at 156 players where just the top 60 and ties will make the cut. That’ll make placement in terms of DFS more valuable than most. This also is due to the low scores we will be seeing and the rare birdie opportunities.
All of the world’s best will be in attendance this week, with the exception of Tiger Woods.
Weather will be in the mid-to-high 70’s this week. Not too hot and hot too cold. There is a chance for scattered thunderstorms on Friday during the early afternoon. If these storms are to hit, those finishing off the early window and teeing off early in the afternoon window could see some wet conditions. Beyond that, wind should remain consistent across the four days between 13 to 16 M.P.H.
Important statistics to consider this week include Good Drives Percentage, Strokes Gained: Around the Green (Scrambling,) Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP,) Bogey Avoidance, Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT,) Average Driving Distance, Greens in Regulation Percentage and Strokes Gained: Approach Proximity 175-200 Yards.
The last time we saw a major (PGA Championship) we predicted the winner out of this price range in Justin Thomas. We’ll look to do that yet again with our favorite in this highest price range, Jon Rahm ($10,800.) Rahm actually comes out third tops in our formula this week. Of the statistical categories we just talked about, he’s top 12 in three of them. He’s 11th in bogey avoidance, 12th in good drives percentage and 12th in SG: APP proximity 175-200 yards. He’s also 22nd in SG: APP, 28th in average driving distance and 32nd in greens in regulation percentage. He’s also above average (74th) in SG: PUTT. His only real dark spot when it comes to The Country Club is his below average standing in SG: ATG (Scrambling.) Rahm is fresh off a T10th at the Memorial Tournament two weeks back. He won the Mexico Open at Vidanta back in early May. On top of that he hasn’t missed a cut dating back to January 9th (12 tournaments.) He has three top fives and six top tens. The former World #1 is ready to repeat as the US Open Champion. That’s right, Rahm took the title home last year at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. We did see Brooks Koepka win back-to-back US Opens in 2017 and 2018. Also consider PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas ($10,900.) When it comes to bogey avoidance no one on tour is better than Thomas. He’s also sixth in both SG: APP and SG: ATG (Scrambling.) Additionally, he’s ninth in SG: APP proximity 175-200 yards. He’s 40th in SG: PUTT and 72nd in good drives percentage. There’s no real knock to his game besides average driving distance where he’s below the tour average. I don’t think that is a real problem for someone like Thomas however. He’s a two time major winner at the PGA Championship and placed T8th at the US Open back in 2020. Thomas has seven top fives on the season and ten top tens as well. Also consider Collin Morikawa ($10,000.) Morikawa can be dangerous this week as he’s one of the best ball strikers in the world as he ranks fifth on tour in SG: APP as well as being tenth in average driving distance. That’s a deadly combination here at The Country Club. On top of that he’s 24th in good drives percentage. The distance and accuracy is both there, combined with elite ball striking. He’s 32nd in bogey avoidance, 63rd in SG: APP (Scrambling) and 84th in SG: APP proximity 175-200 yards. Now he is slightly below average in SG: PUTT and oddly enough in the bottom of the tour in greens in regulation percentage It’s going to take a hot putter from Morikawa to claim victory but it’s not like he hasn’t been here before. He’s already won the PGA Championship and The Open in 2020 and 2021 respectively. He finished T4th at the US Open a year ago. On top of all of that, he’s the cheapest in this price range, which would offer lineup flexibility. Everything is there for Morikawa to compete for his third major title and what a story it would be for him to grab a third championship in route to a possible career grand slam down the road.
Talk about popular names, leading off this price range is the ol’ trusty Shane Lowry ($9,000.) In our module this week, he has the second highest score. When it comes to checking all of the boxes in terms of statistical categories, Lowry does it all. He’s a wizard around the greens as he’s second on tour in SG: ATG (Scrambling.) He’s third when it comes to bogey avoidance, one of the most important statistics in my opinion when it comes to majors. He’s elite with his irons as he’s ninth in SG: APP and 12th in SG: APP proximity 175-200 yards. He’s also 22nd in good drives percentage, 24th in SG: PUTT and 26th in greens in regulation percentage. Lowry has shown that he has what it takes to compete at the US Open, having a T2nd back in 2016. He hasn’t missed a cut since November of last year. He placed T10th last week at the RBC Canadian Open, to go along with his four top ten finishes dating back to the Honda Classic in February. It’s about time the Irishman claims his first career major title. Also consider Viktor Hovland ($9,700.) The 24-year-old Norwegian has one of the brightest futures on tour. Currently, he’s one of the best when it comes to ball striking. He’s fifth on tour in SG: APP proximity 175-200 yards and seventh in SG: APP. He’s also very good on the greens as he’s currently 26th in SG: PUTT. He’s actually top 100 in each of the seven statistical categories we’ve talked about in this article. Hovland is 55th in SG: ATG (Scrambling,) 57th in good drives percentage, 59th in bogey avoidance, 88th in greens in regulation percentage and 97th in average driving distance. In 2019, Hovland placed T12th at the US Open. Hovland hasn’t missed a cut dating back to the WM Phoenix Open in February. He had a very impressive run following the missed cut going T4th at the Genesis Invitational, T2nd at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and T9th at The Players. This could be the event that sets Hovland over the top. Also consider former Masters’ champion Hideki Matsuyama ($9,100.) Matsuyama has made a career out of his elite ball placement. He’s currently eighth on tour in SG: APP, 27th in greens in regulation percentage, 35th in good drives percentage and 43rd in SG: ATG (Scrambling.) Matsuyama is also 14th in bogey avoidance, a stat we already talked about the importance of. It’ll take a hot putter for Matsuyama to be in contention as he’s 140th on tour in SG: PUTT but if he can get a few to fall, the rest of his game will elevate him. He does have a T2nd at the event back in 2017 as well. We haven’t seen him since the PGA Championship as well after he was disqualified from the Memorial. Matsuyama has a knack about him as well to turn it on at majors.
The highest rated golfer according to our module this week can be found in this price range. Matt Fitzpatrick ($8,500) will be receiving some outright bets from us due to this. He’s top 44 in each of the seven statistical categories we continue to harp on about. He’s elite around the greens where he’s fourth in SG: ATG (Scrambling.) He’s also eighth in bogey avoidance, meaning he won’t be giving up many strokes this week. He’s 17th in greens in regulation percentage, 22nd in SG: PUTT, 25th in SG: APP, 32nd in good drives percentage, 42nd in SG: APP proximity 175-200 yards and 44th in average driving distance. Fitzpatrick is also very hot as of recently. He did miss the cut at the Memorial but outside of that went T2nd at the Wells Fargo Championship, T5th at the PGA Championship and T10th last week at the RBC Canadian Open. This could be his event to claim his first major victory. If you haven’t noticed yet, a lot of our suggestions this far have been great ball strikers who may be average in terms of driving distance. Now we’ll bring in our first true bomber of the tour, Tony Finau ($8,200.) Finau is currently the best on tour in average driving distance. He does this while also being 14th in SG: APP proximity 175-200 yards and 19th in SG: APP. Finding someone who can get off the tee as well as Finau who is also well above average in ball striking is rare. He’s also 24th in bogey avoidance and 56th in SG: ATG (Scrambling.) Heck, he’s even top 100 in good drives percentage, ranking 93rd. Of course he will need his putter to get going to really make some noise as he is below average in SG: PUTT. Finau has a top five at each of the four majors in his career. Finau has also quietly been one of the hottest golfers on tour as of late. He hasn’t missed a cut since the Players back in March. He placed second last week at the RBC Canadian Heritage. Finau was T4th at the Charles Schwab Challenge and also placed T2nd at the Mexico Open behind Rahm back in early May. Could this be the year and event that Finau finally breaks through? It very well could be. Also consider Joaquin Niemann ($8,900.) Niemann is unique here because he’s one of the worst golfers on tour when it comes to average driving distance. This does set him back here at the US Open but does make it up elsewhere. He’s top 48 in four of the seven statistical categories. Niemann is 35th in bogey avoidance, 39th in SG: APP, 44th in good drives percentage and 48th in SG: ATG (Scrambling.) He’s also above average on tour in SG: PUTT at 67th and 87th in greens in regulation percentage. Niemann has not missed a cut since The Players in March. He most recently had an impressive T3rd at the Memorial. Before that he had three straight top 25 finishes at the RBC Heritage, AT&T Byron Nelson and PGA Championship.
Now we’re getting into the meat and potatoes. This is a price range I’m very high on for this tournament. I believe there to be a ton of value plays here that can set us over the top in DFS. First off we have Sungjae Im ($7,600.) Im is elite around the green as he ranks third in SG: ATG (Scrambling.) This is a major part in why he is also one of the best on tour in bogey avoidance as he ranks second there. He’s also 14th in good drives percentage as he seems to have a knack for finding the fairway; crucial here at The Country Club. All of this too adds up to his 26th rankings in greens in regulation percentage. Im is also 64th in SG: APP, 65th in SG: APP proximity 175-200 yards and 74th in SG: PUTT. His “weak” spot of his game is average driving distance where he is slightly below average. Im does have a T22nd at the US Open in his young career as well. Im has not missed a cut dating back to the Honda Classic in February. He’s quietly on a bit of a tear as well. Starting with the The Masters, Im has two top tens, four top 15s and five consecutive top 25 finishes. He most recently went T10th at the Memorial. You’re getting this entire package at just $7,600. That’s what I call value. Also consider series legend Mito Pereira ($7,800.) Pereira is a superstar in the making as the young Chilean is only getting started. He’s currently seventh on tour in bogey avoidance and tenth in both good drives percentage and SG: APP. He’s also 19th in SG: ATG (Scrambling.) Beyond that, he’s top 109th in every statistical category we’ve highlighted. He did play the US Open once before in 2019 where he missed the cut. However, that’s not the Pereira we’ve all come to know as of this season. We all know about Pereira’s T3rd at the PGA Championship but since then he has finished T7th at the Charles Schwab Challenge and T13th at the Memorial. Maybe he can recreate some of that magic he had a few weeks back at the PGA Championship. Also consider Tom Hoge ($7,600.) Hoge is a name that continues to make his way into this series week-in-and-week-out. A lot of that has to do with his great ball striking and his all-around great game. He’s tops on tour in SG: APP proximity 175-200 yards. No one is better than him when getting the ball to the green from that distance. He’s also ninth in SG: ATG (Scrambling) and 11th in SG: APP. Hoge is also above-average in average driving distance and he’s 47th on tour in average driving distance. Hoge is top 100 in good drives percentage and 96th in greens in regulation percentage. Hoge has had a rough go of things as of late with two consecutive missed cuts at the Charles Schwab Challenge and the Memorial. Prior to that though he had back-to-back tournaments of T17th at the AT&T Byron Nelson and T9th at the PGA Championship.
As I always say, this is where the money is made. This is where you can set yourself apart from the thousands of DFS lineups you’re facing in any given week. We’ll kick it off with Andrew Putnam ($6,900.) Putnam is actually one of the best on tour when it comes to greens in regulation percentage as he’s currently fourth. He’s also 30th in SG: ATG (Scrambling) and 47th in bogey avoidance. Putnam is top 100 on tour in all three of good drives percentage, SG: PUTT and average driving distance. Even average in both SG: APP (113th) and SG: APP proximity 175-200 yards (102nd.) Putnam last played the US Open in 2019 where he did make the cut and finished T43rd. Not all that bad. Also consider Denny McCarthy ($6,700.) McCarthy is elite with the putter in his hands. He’s sixth best on tour in SG: PUTT. On top of that, he’s also great when it comes to SG: ATG (Scrambling) where he ranks eighth on tour. He’s 22nd in bogey avoidance as well, which offers great value at just $6,700. From there he’s 41st in greens in regulation percentage and 52nd in good drives percentage. McCarthy has also been on a bit of a hot streak as of late. He hasn’t missed the cut in four consecutive events. He most recently finished T5th at the Memorial. He also has a T25th at the Wells Fargo Championship and T27th at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Also consider Kevin Kisner ($6,900.) Kisner is great with finding the fairway as he’s 15th on tour in good drives percentage. Kisner is always great with a putter in his hands as well. Normally one of the tour’s best, he still is ranked 23rd currently. Kisner is also 57th in SG: APP proximity 175-200 yards. He’s also average when it comes to bogey avoidance. Believe it or not, Kisner does have some great historical success at majors. His top finish at the US Open was a T12th back in 2015.
Strokes Gained: Proximity to Course
Strokes gained: Proximity to Course (SG: PTC) is the patented statistic developed by Lenny of the Out of the Rough Podcast. Each week, we will pick a golfer local to the course to be his SG: PTC choice. Last week Lenny went with Canadian Adam Svensson at the RBC Canadian Open. Svensson shot a -6 for a T21st. Not awful.
This week Lenny is going with Fran Quinn. Quinn is from Worcester, MA which is less than an hour west of The County Club.
SG: PTC Past Results
The Honda Classic - Chase Seiffert (+1) - T25th
The Arnold Palmer Invitational - John Pak (+8) - T52nd
The Players - Billy Horschel (WD)
The Valspar Championship - Sam Ryder (-1) - MC
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play - MC
The Valero Texas Open - Adam Long (-5) - T35th
The Masters - Patrick Reed (+6) - T35th
The RBC Heritage - Brian Harman (-6) - T35th
The Zurich Classic - Jay and Billy Haas (E) - T59th
The Mexico Open - Carlos Ortiz (-5) - T51st
The AT&T Byron Nelson - Harry Higgs (-4) - MC
The PGA Championship - Talor Gooch (+1) - T20th
The Charles Schwab Challenge - Tom Hoge (+4) - MC
The Memorial Tournament - Mackenzie Hughes (+2) - T37th
The RBC Canadian Open - Adam Svensson (-6) - T21st
One and Done
*Rules: A golfer can only be played once all season unless the chosen golfer wins the respective tournament. If the chosen golfer wins, he can be used again. We will keep track of success via monetary earnings to add value to bigger tournaments. We will track my choices for the rest of the season below.
Last week at the RBC Canadian Open I went with Corey Conners in a bit of a “home game” for him. He finished sixth at -12, not bad at all. This week I’m going to double down on my Matt Fitzpatrick hype. I feel like this week is his week and I hope not going with one of the big names here at a major doesn’t come back to bite me.
The Masters - Shane Lowry ($870,000)
The RBC Heritage - Adam Hadwin ($54,844)
The Zurich Classic - Marc Lesihman ($24,111.50)
The Mexico Open - Gary Woodland ($60,955)
The AT&T Byron Nelson - Sam Burns ($0)
The PGA Championship - Justin Thomas ($2,700,000)
The Charles Schwab Challenge - Mito Pereira ($246,540)
The Memorial Tournament - Xander Schauffele ($142,800)
The RBC Canadian Open - Corey Conners ($315,375)