Fifty percent is a decent number for some things. Winning heads-or-tails comes to mind or winning presidential elections, for that matter. I'm not sure what that says about our electoral system, but 50 percent is never a winning number in fantasy golf. That magical numeral that separates minority from majority also happened to be my cut percentage in my DFS games last week. Normally, a Dustin Johnson withdrawal won't hurt much because he takes six months off to manage the symptoms, but this week's WD likely hamstrung thousands of lineups out there.
Risk and Reward - U.S. Open
On that abysmal note, I'm throwing down the gauntlet. The fine folks over at GoDraft.com have informed me that they'll be rolling out a greater Fantasy Golf presence, and with that, I'm issuing a challenge. Click the link, sign up, and when the games go live for lineup selection, come take my money. Given that some of you have already been doing that, it should be business as usual.
Chambers Bay is no place for poor choices, though. At 7,742 yards, the links-ish course on the coast of Washington state is a ball-breaking behemoth. Playing as a par 70 this week, the U.S. Open will easily be this year's longest at that stroke count. Robert Trent Jones, Jr., the course's architect, certainly wouldn't have it other way, having said on multiple occasions that the sport, at its most essential elements, is a player vs. course contest. With countless ways to play tee to green and smooth, speedy, serpentine breaks once near the flag, Chambers Bay is already ruffling some players' feathers. On that note, first piece of advice - avoid Ryan Palmer, he's already on the record for thoroughly disliking the course, which, given the battle between the earns that one must overcome to with the U.S. Open, he's fighting with one hand tied behind his back. Like your mother always told said, you'll never get anywhere with an attitude like that.
Thanks for reading and don't forget to sign up to play against me at GoDraft!
For the first time in what feels like months, there are no storms in the forecast for this week's tournament. Given what appears to be fast and firm conditions, expect this week to play more like the British Open than the U.S. Open. That said, temperatures in the low-to-mid 60s should keep the course from turning into a hard-pan, sub-Saharan wasteland. I'm looking at you, Royal Liverpool. Speaking of Royal Liverpool, Tiger Woods is (somewhere) in the field this week.
For those of you not familiar with my Power Rankings, I'll be listing the Top-15 with their Total Aggregate (TA), a number that combines recent performance with course history and some select other metrics, and the change (CHG) from the last tournament they participated in. Total Aggregate is out of 100, with a lower number indicating a better ranking.
- Hideki Matsuyama - TA: 14.42, CHG: (+3.2) - Here's the thing about Mr. Matsuyama. Everyone knows how good he is. He, like Jordan Spieth heading into the Masters, is a matter of when, not if, for a big win. With just one missed cut and two finishes worse than 23rd this year, picking Matsuyama is like buying stocks that dividend - the return is consistently there and, once in a while, the payoff is handsome. Anything about past U.S. Opens should be taken with a grain of salt given the enormous difference between Chambers Bay and any other U.S. Open, but Matsuyama has a T10 and T35 to his name in the two Opens he's played.
- Rory McIlroy - TA: 21.5, CHG: (+3.2) - Sure, he's missed his last two cuts, both at European Tour events. There's no universe in which Rory shouldn't be considered. Does he look like the best player entering this week? No. But prior to those two MCs, he won. Twice. In three weeks. Those Euro cuts were back-to-back weeks, almost immediately after, and despite what his fitness regimen might do to keep him energized, its hard for anyone not named Tiger Woods to maintain. Hell, even Tiger himself can't do it anymore.
- Francesco Molinari - TA: 21.75, CHG: (+10.8) - Mr. Fairway himself should find some comfort in knowing that the generous driving zones will only accentuate his strength. Ranked 1st overall in fairway percentage, Molinari's weakness is distance, averaging just 278 yards a pop. Certainly the course is long, but I wouldn't expect it to be unplayable for any Tour pro. Solid record in the U.S. Open includes three Top 30s in his last three tries.
- Henrik Stenson - TA: 22.75, CHG: (-10.8) - Is Chambers Bay the place where Stenson finally gets out of his own way and bags a major? Personally, I think so. Statisically, there's no reason Stenson isn't raking up Tour wins like they're on clearance at Ikea. The course looks like it should suit his game perfectly, given his affinity for Euro-style courses. With Stenson, however, the war isn't on the grass, its in his head.
- Justin Rose - TA: 24, CHG: (0) - Peaking at the right time to snag a second major. Rose has battled debilitating allergies for the better part of the last year, requiring a complete diet change and losing roughly 10 pounds in the process. Now, leaner and feeling significantly better, Rose is playing better, too, despite a stumble at the Players. There's no need for him to prove his U.S. Open mettle, having one just two years ago at Merion. Expect him to contend.
- Kevin Na - TA: 27, CHG: (+1.4) - Na is, at times, the most entertaining and most frustrating player to watch in all of golf. His visible emotions on course and his direct and honest assessment of his play his refreshing in an era of PR minded media responses. But, give him the lead on a Sunday and be preparing to watch him fall on his sword. Those emotions cut both ways and the sooner he realizes and believes he has the game to seal the deal, the sooner we'll see Na make it happen. For something statistical to hang your hat on, Na hasn't finished worse that 20th in a stroke-play tournament since the Northern Trust Open. That was nearly four months ago.
- Brandt Snedeker - TA: 27.875, CHG: (+18.8) - There's a very small group of players that the entire golf world knows should have a major to their credit. Sneds is one. One needs only look back at the variety of Top 5s and Top 10s he has in majors to see why. Add in that he's well known as an excellent putter - the great equalizer in golf - and he can likely compete just about anywhere.
- Billy Horschel - TA: 28, CHG: (+8.6) - The more I watch Horschel, the more I love his game. He's not going to dazzle anyone with flashy stats or heroically long tee shots, but he's got his game and he plays it. When it works, like it is right now, he's hard to ignore, when it doesn't, well, just wait 'till it does. Horschel has finished incrementally better in each start since missing the cut at the Masters. Which can only mean one of two things this week after a T8 last week. He's either going to win or miss the cut in spectacular fashion.
- Kevin Kisner - TA: 28.875, CHG: (-1.2) - Holy meteoric rise, Batman! Look, I've doubted. I've ignored. At a certain point I couldn't believe I could be so wrong, so I dodged further. Each and every time, I've been wrong. It took Kisner just six starts to go from 254th in the world to 57th, subsequently qualifying for this week's U.S. Open. This is his first major start, but I wouldn't expect him to fold if his playoff losses are any evidence. Each one was lost not through any fault of his own but simply by being outplayed by two of the hungriest players on Tour.
- Patrick Reed - TA: 32.17, CHG: (+14.8) - Its nut-up or shut-up time for Reed. He's appears to be rounding back into form, with five straight made cuts including four finishes at 35th or better. He notched a third career win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and nearly bought home a fourth were it not for a red-hot Jordan Spieth at the Valspar Championship. Finished 35th in his first U.S. Open attempt last year.
- Charley Hoffman - TA: 32.625, CHG: (+1.4) - Hoffman has been one of the biggest surprises for me this year. He's gone from solid, but inconsistent mid-tier player to a part-time resident at the top of leaderboards across the U.S. Some of that inconsistency bleeds through when he's attempting to seal the deal, but he's not far from the mark. Hard to overlook with a T2 finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
- Phil Mickelson - TA: 33.625, CHG: (+2.8) - Since I've started writing here at We Talk Fantasy Sports, Phil has never been in two consecutive Power Rankings. Granted, I started roughly a year ago, but that should speak volumes to the state of his game over the last year and the state of his game coming into this week. With his third place finish last week, Phil the Thrill has tripled his Top 10 total from last year. He's still missing a W since his incredible victory at the British Open in 2013, but he's looking as close as ever to pulling off the career Grand Slam.
- Matt Kuchar - TA: 33.875, CHG: (+4) - Another of the veterans that are simply too good to not have a major. I'm not sure how well Chambers Bay will pan out for him, but as an excellent putter and short-game magician, Kuchar should be able to recover well from the myriad problems he'll face this week.
- Chris Kirk - TA: 34.57, CHG: (-0.6) - The calm, cool, collected Kirk is more Spock than that famous caption. His level demeanor should help him weather the roller coaster of playing in a major at a highly unusual course and he's proven he can close. I'm not yet convinced Kirk's got the game or killer instinct for a major, but what do I know, I'm sitting here typing while he's getting ready to tee it up.
- Jordan Spieth - TA: 36.25, CHG: (+1.6) - Plays too many darn tournaments for his victories to weight heavily in my math. I don't need to explain why he's worth starting or why this week is really Rory, Jordan, then everyone else. Math is an incredible tool, right up until it directly conflicts with what should be straight-forward analysis. If you've been smart, you've got some starts left for the rest of the season, because Spieth is a must start almost anywhere he plays.
Thanks for reading and don't forget to sign up to play against me at GoDraft!