This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Course: The Country Club at Brookline (7,264 yards, par 70)
Winner: $2,250,000 and 600 FedExCup points
What a week of golf we are coming off. The first LIV Golf event was held in London and featured a number of former standout players on the backend of their careers hoping to grab a quick bag from this Saudi-funded league. Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed also announced they would join the likes of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, and Sergio Garcia at LIV Golf for their next event. It will be interesting to see how the Boston area crowds respond to those players who decided to jump ship this week.
Meanwhile the PGA Tour, where all the best players compete in a real golf tournament that earns world ranking points, is coming off an incredible final round at the RBC Canadian Open that saw Rory McIlroy get his second win of the season and second straight Canadian Open title with an 8-under 62 in the final round. His two playing partners of Tony Finau and Justin Thomas both shot 64s en route to second and third place finishes, respectively. Justin Rose also bogeyed the 18th hole to shoot 60 and finish T4, a round that included three eagles and three bogeys.
Tiger Woods is really the only big name not playing this week, as he has elected to rest his surgically repaired right leg following withdrawing after three rounds at last month's PGA Championship. He is hopeful to tee it up at St. Andrew's for the Open Championship next month. Despite the lack of "the needle" this week, it is still set to be a fascinating tournament at The Country Club at Brookline. This will be the first U.S. Open held here since Curtis Strange defeated Nick Faldo in a playoff at the 1988 U.S. Open. Since then, The Country Club has hosted the Ryder Cup in 1999, which is known for how the U.S. overcome a 10-6 deficit to Europe going into singles matches, and the 2013 U.S. Amateur won by Matt Fitzpatrick.
For the most part it is going to be a pretty dry week, which will make this course play very difficult. There is a chance for storms on Friday afternoon, however, which could soften the course for the weekend. The wind will consistently blow in the 15 mph range all week, and some higher gusts are possible as well. That will certainly further challenge the best players at the toughest test in golf.
2021 – Jon Rahm (Torrey Pines)
2020 – Bryson DeChambeau (Winged Foot)
2019 – Gary Woodland (Pebble Beach)
2018 – Brooks Koepka (Shinnecock Hills)
2017 – Brooks Koepka (Erin Hills)
2016 – Dustin Johnson (Oakmont)
2015 – Jordan Spieth (Chambers Bay)
2014 – Martin Kaymer (Pinehurst Resort)
2013 – Justin Rose (Merion)
2012 – Webb Simpson (Olympic Club)
Key Stats to Victory
- GIR Percentage
- Total Driving
- SG: Tee-to-Green
The Country Club makes incredible use of the landscape and features some breathtaking holes. It will play short by recent U.S. Open standards at 7,264 yards as a stock par-70. The biggest defense of the course will be the greens. Other than Pebble Beach, they are the smallest greens in all of major championship golf. Not only are the small by area, but they are extremely undulating and can either funnel balls toward the hole or repel balls away and off the greens. Just shifting the hole location can make a particular hole play drastically different from one day to another. Greens in regulation is going to be a critically important stat to success at The Country Club.
Another critical thing will be putting yourself in the short grass. The rough is how you would expect it to look at the U.S. Open. If you don't hit the fairways, it is going to be extremely difficult to get the ball to stay on these tiny greens if it stays firm, and that's if you are able to advance the ball more than 100 yards. There is going to be a lot of luck involved this week when it comes to the rough. That will apply to shots around the green as well. Most of the scrambling opportunities will be out of thick rough close the greens, which as I've talked about in recent weeks will shrink the gap from the best and worst short game players. Plain and simply, the more you can keep your ball on short grass, the happier you are going to be. DeChambeau's "bomb and gauge" formula at Winged Foot in 2020 will not work at The Country Club this week.
FanDuel Value Picks
Jon Rahm ($11,800)
Rahm is absolutely built for a USGA setup at The Country Club. The 2021 U.S. Open Champion leads the PGA Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee, total driving and GIR percentage. If Rahm did that again at this course he would run away and hide. The Spaniard has made his last 12 cuts, including a win and nine top-25 finishes in that stretch.
Xander Schauffele ($11,100)
Nobody has been better at the U.S. Open over the last five years than Schauffele. His worst finish in that span is a T7 last year at Torrey Pines. Schauffele has one of the most complete games on Tour, ranking top-20 on Tour in SG: Approach, SG: Tee-to-Green, total driving, GIR percentage, sand-save percentage and putts per GIR. The San Diego product has finished top-20 in four straight starts.
Will Zalatoris ($10,700)
Someone went to sleep on the salaries on these next two guys. Zalatoris has finished inside the top-eight in five of his seven starts in majors as a professional, two of which were runner-ups. Zalatoris ranks sixth in SG: Off-the-Tee, first in SG: Approach, second in SG: Tee-to-Green and sixth in GIR percentage. Those are prime U.S. Open numbers. Zalatoris has finished inside the top-six in five of his last seven starts overall.
Sam Burns ($10,500)
13. That's how many players have a higher salary than Burns this week. I'm not sure what else he needs to do to get some more respect, but this is an opportunity for DFS payers to take advantage of. Since last year's U.S. Open, Burns has finished outside the top-26 just once when he has made the cut. During that stretch he has collected three wins and 10 total top-10 finishes. The metrics for Brookline are great as well, as Burns ranks fourth in SG: Approach, 16th in SG: Putting, 18th in SG: Tee-to-Green and fifth in GIR percentage this season.
Longer Shots with Value
Mito Pereira ($9,000)
Pereira was just one hole away from winning the PGA Championship a few weeks ago. At this price he is a major value given how great of a ball striker he is and how consistent his finishes are. Pereira ranks 21st in SG: Off-the-Tee, 10th in SG: Approach, 22nd in total driving and seventh in GIR percentage. He finished top-30 in nine of his last 10 starts in individual events.
Aaron Wise ($9,000)
Wise is coming into the U.S. Open in great form with four top-25s in his last five starts, including that runner-up at the Memorial. He is a terrific ball-striker, ranking 16th in SG: Approach and 17th in GIR percentage. Wise is also 18th in birdie average and has improved his short game and putting this season.
Russell Henley ($8,900)
Henley has been a bit off as of late, but he still is 15-for-16 this season with eight top-25 finishes. Henley's ball-striking numbers have been impressive, ranking second in SG: Approach, 14th in SG: Tee-to-green, 23rd in driving accuracy, and 13th in GIR percentage. The Georgia Bulldog is also 12th in birdie average and eighth in scoring average. Henley has gone 6-for-8 at the U.S. Open with four top-27 finishes.
Tom Hoge ($8,400)
Hoge is coming off a his first career top-10 in a major at the PGA Championship a few weeks ago. He has been a terrific iron player this season, ranking 11th in SG: Approach and 14th in proximity to the hole. Hoge is also top-10 in scrambling and 33rd in putts per round. The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner is leading the PGA Tour in par-3 scoring average.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
Last week's field in Canada was extremely top-heavy, and the one we will see at Brookline is particularly deep. It gets even deeper when you consider that this is not an overly long course by U.S. Open standards and the rough will hold players accountable. Fairways and greens will be the name of the game, as it usually is at the U.S. Open. Scrambling and converting putts on these very slick and undulating greens will be extremely difficult. Collin Morikawa ($11,400), Dustin Johnson ($11,000), and Brooks Koepka ($10,900) are all guys I would stay away from because they aren't playing well at all. Some real bargain bin options to keep an eye out for this week would be Victor Perez ($8,400), Adam Hadwin ($8,200), Matthew NeSmith ($7,900), and Adri Arnaus ($7,000).