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Risk and Reward - U.S. Open

I can, without a doubt, state that everyone has questioned their purpose in life. Even billionaire entrepreneurs eventually find themselves asking whether or not their Scrooge McDuck vaults are worth the time and effort along the way. We all seek meaning after a certain point, whether its in building a family, eradicating AIDS or simply exploring a passion. I'd be willing to venture my entire DFS bankroll that Tiger Woods has been battling that same battle as he tries to find his form again. Unlike Tiger, I don't have my McMansion yet and, chances are, you don't either. Since, really, I'm sure you'd have a team of paid advisers for your fantasy sports ventures instead of some dude in his underwear making suggestions from across the interwebs.
The U.S. Open is an unusual tournament. On the one hand, there are the best in the world fighting the most difficult course set ups the USGA can muster. On the other, with some low scores and boatloads of luck, anyone can qualify to try their hand. With that, you'll see the likes of Rory McIlroy striding down the fairways dodging the nervous slices of club pros and top college talent from across this beautiful country. Well, so long as you stay out of Nevada. There ain't much there. 
My Power Rankings draw on statistics only, while Risk and Reward draws more on gut feel and intuition about players who missed my Top 15. In this column, you'll find "Lay-Up", "Going For It", and "Hazard". Look for more subjective analysis here, as opposed to the Power Rankings, where I rely strictly on data. Lay-Up may contain players who, barring a Great Flood, will bank you some points. Going For It is where I'll have players that may have missed the Power Rankings or who I feel present an excellent opportunity to pick up a win, but carry some considerable risk. Lastly, Hazards, where I often find myself on any given Sunday, should be avoided.


Dustin Johnson - TA: 38.63, CHG: (-1.4) - One of the most notable to miss my Power Rankings. No particular reason, just that there's only 15 places and more than 100 in the field this week. His withdrawal last week shouldn't be much of a concern, unless it was actual withdrawal symptoms, in which case he nearly won two majors while contending with those anyhow. All kidding aside, he is easily the longest driver of the golf ball on Tour, averaging more than ten yards more than the guy behind him. On a course measuring 7,742 yards, that has to count for something.
Rickie Fowler - TA: 36.63, CHG: (-17.6) - Pay no mind to his MC at the Memorial. Missing the cut on the number at even par is hardly anything to send up signal flares or send messages through Navajo territory on horseback. Fowler plays his best golf on the biggest stages, proven with five straight finishes of 15th in better in majors and a validating victory at the Players little more than a month ago. If he putts even slightly better than his average, the rest of his exceptional game should make it, at worst, six in a row. At best, well, two wins in three PGA Tour start isn't bad at all.
Brooks Koepka - TA: 49.51, CHG: (+2.8) - Hard to say no to a guy coming off a third place finish into a major where he placed fourth last year. Short of dislocating another rib, Koepka's absurd combination of length and putting prowess (10th and 8th ranked, respectively) should play well at Chambers Bay. Last time he came off a Top 5 finish, Koepka won the Farmers Insurance Open, measuring about 50 yards shorter than this week's test.


Tiger Woods - TA: 41.38, CHG: (+5.8) - You didn't think I'd leave out the butt of many of my jokes, did you? Tiger might be searching for himself, but there should be no doubt that the phenomenon that is Eldrick is still in there somewhere. Sure, he looked terrible at the Memorial, but didn't he also just prior to pulling out a T17 at The Masters? Its no victory, but that should serve as some validation, seeing as how he finished better than players like Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Brandt Snedeker and more. He's a longshot, but don't write him off completely. Yet.
George McNeill - TA: 44.375, CHG: (-3.4) - This is where fantasy golf gets fun. McNeill is playing very well right now, but his best finish in three career attempts at the U.S. Open is 63rd. His best finish in any major, for that matter, is 62nd. The two-time Tour winner is riding a wave of nine straight cuts made with only one finish outside the Top 35. Each time this year I've bet on form over history, I've lost. Chambers Bay, though, it so new that it just might end that dubious streak.
J.B. Holmes - TA: 50.625, CHG: (0) - Had to find some room for a bomber somewhere in this section and Holmes is the man. After tearing up the leaderboards for the entirety of the first half of the season, Holmes has quietly gone, well, quiet. Statistically, it seems to be tied to a fairly precipitous drop in putting proficiency, which is why he's here and not a Lay-Up. There's no denying he's got the power to match up against Chambers Bay but he'll have to figure out the flat-stick if he's going to have a chance.


Ryan Palmer - TA: 51.67, CHG: (+2.2) - I mentioned it in yesterday's piece and I'll say it again here - he's not a fan of the venue. Of course, he'll play it, and he could definitely play it well, but without a positive mindset heading into one of the toughest challenges in professional golf, he's fighting an uphill battle. For him, its a little like going on a date with a girl who's company you just don't enjoy. You're going because you said you would, and you'll be polite enough, probably still pay for the food, but there's no chance you're bringing her home.
Graeme McDowell - TA: 53.38, CHG: (-14.8) - Did you watch him play at all at the FedEx St. Jude? Because I don't think he actually showed up. The man on those tee boxes couldn't possibly have been the 2010 U.S. Open champion. Stay away, far away, because he's completely out of sorts and doesn't look to be recovering any time soon.
Victor Dubuisson - TA: 73.83, CHG: (-16.6) - The ephemeral Frenchman has seemingly vanished into the ether. I'm not sure if he's battling an injury or is just completely out of form, but Dubuisson isn't himself these days. While he won't command much money in salary games, there's good reason for his low value, so steer clear.
Normally, at this point I'd fill in my picks for Golf Channel, Yahoo!, and PGA Tour fantasy games, but I haven't yet had time to set them up. Best of luck and thanks for reading!

Kyle Donovan