It’s time for our third major of the PGA Tour season, the US Open in Torrey Pines. This is the 121st US Open and the second time it has been played at Torrey Pines. The last time was in 2008 Tiger Woods last big championship win before his amazing run at the Masters 2019. While Tiger won’t be in the field this year, this is still an absolutely stacked group of golfers making it harder to get a PGA Complete the DFS lineup.
The 7,652-yard, par-71 course has changed slightly over the years, but still features narrow fairways and thick rough, as well as poa annua greens. The second hole is the only par 4 under 400 yards on the course. The signature par 3 third hole measures 195 yards, but with multiple tea boxes and wind directions, players can use any number of clubs to attack this hole throughout the week. The easiest hole should again be the 568-yard par-5 finisher, which will add a lot of drama to the course.
US OPEN WETTING: Best bets, sleepers
The biggest change in the 13 years will be the field. These players are more analytical, stronger, leaner, and better overall. The South Course in Torrey is usually among the top 15 toughest in fairways hit, greens in regulation, proximity and scrambling. Driving, approaching and scrambling will be the keys to success.
We should see perfect conditions this weekend. The weather seems to be typical of San Diego in summer, with temperatures around the mid to high 70s. At the moment the wind is forecast to be relatively calm and will be between 8 and 12 MPH all weekend.
PGA DFS strategy for US Open 2021
The US Open has always been known for trying to challenge all parts of the player’s game, from the mental to the physical. They have all the usual US Open features with narrow fairways, thick rough and greens like hardwood floors. A player like Bryson DeChambeau won’t be able to overwhelm this course as much as he did at Winged Foot in 2020. The rough will take its toll on these players if they can’t keep it in the short grass. I will target players who have experience of the US Open and who know what it takes to win. I’m not taking anything away from what DeChambeau did in 2020 – it was phenomenal – but I’m just saying that this week is going to be a different story.
When Tiger Woods won the US Open in Torrey in 2008, he finished with a score of one under par. If you look at the Farmers Insurance Open’s average winning points over the past five years, it’s almost 15 under par. So I’m looking at the recent Farmers results, but they are not heavily weighted, this week is going to be harder to play than in January. I assume the winner is between four and six under par.
US Open DFS picks
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Brooks Koepka: Koepka freely admits that he doesn’t mentally stand up for a regular tour event the way he does for a major championship. He knows that his career is determined by how many big titles he wins. He missed the cut at the Masters, but I’m copying that because of the knee operation. If you put that out of the way, he finished second in the PGA Championship last month, seventh in the 2020 Masters, won the 19 PGA Championship, finished second in the 19 Masters, won the PGA & US Open 18 and won the 17 US Open. I trust that Koepka’s mental game this weekend will be stronger than most of the others in the field.
Jon Rahm: If you don’t think Rahm doesn’t have a big chip on his shoulder this weekend, I’d like to sell you an oceanfront property in Omaha. A six-stroke lead towards Sunday at the Memorial has just been wiped away, and you don’t think it’ll come out with glowing guns at the US Open? He also has a great track record at Torrey Pines with a win and second place in Farmers Insurance. He is second on tour in “Strokes Gained: Tee to Green”, third in “Strokes Gained: Off the Tee”, fifth in “Greens in Regulation” and twelfth in “Strokes Gained: Approach”. The only reason not to like it is its price, but I’ll pay it.
Will Zalatoris: What else can I say about this kid that hasn’t been said 100 times? The only thing he hasn’t achieved in his young career is a win, but he came pretty damn close with a second place in the Masters. He also finished eighth in the PGA championship. That’s just one of his seven top 10 results in 2021. This kid can crush the ball off the tee (25th in “Driving Distance”), hit ball with the best of them on tour (third in “Strokes Gained: Approach “and seventh in” Strokes Gained: Tee to Green “) and managed to make birdies often (14th in” Greens in Regulation “). While his last appearance at Charles Schwab was his worst result of his young career (59th place), I actually hope that he will destroy some of his possessions this weekend.
Gary Woodland: Woodland has been a sideline on the PGA Tour since winning the US Open at Pebble Beach in 2019. He struggled after the big win and then had to deal with a hip injury in his late twenties. We’ve seen signs of life in his game for the past two months, starting with a top 10 at Valero and a few weeks later with a top 5 at Wells Fargo. Despite his difficulties early in the season, he still ranks 10th in “Driving Distance” and the top 50 in “Strokes Gained: Approach”. I think it will be lower than players like Jason Kokrak, Joaquin Niemann, Sungjae Im and Shane Lowry in the similar price range.
Shane Lowry: The reigning Open Champion is in top form as we get closer to defending his title. I feel like Shane Lowry flies under the radar in his last four starts despite three top 10 finishes; Ninth in the RBC Heritage, fourth in the PGA Championship and sixth in the Memorial Tournament. He was also 21st in the Masters. He has two top 10 finishes in his US Open history. Even though he didn’t win this championship, he still has the Claret Jug at home, which gives me extra points. One of the best players in his entire bag, in the top 45 in all strokes gained categories except putting. That’s about as consistent as you can get from a PGA Tour professional.
Jhonattan Vegas: Something has been awakening in Vegas in the past few weeks and personally I love to see it. He just finished second in the Palmetto and ninth in the Byron Nelson on his previous start. Why not ride the hot hand? As one of the best drivers on the PGA Tour, Vegas can be a birdie machine if it gets things rolling. Torrey Pines demands a good driver and that is his best skill on the golf course. He currently ranks fourth in “Strokes Gained: Off the Tee” and 14th in “Driving Distance”.
Jason Kokrak: Jason won his first PGA Tour event earlier this year at the CJ Cup and used that momentum to claim his second win at Charles Schwab a few weeks ago. Apart from these victories, he has top 10 placements at WGC-Workday, Arnold Palmer and The Players. At 36, he’s got all the length it takes to tame Torrey Pines, finishing 22nd in both Driving Distance and Strokes Gained: Off the Tee. He is also fifth on the tour in Strokes Gained: Putting, 14th in Par 5 Scoring, and 25th in Greens in Regulation. Kokrak has consecutive top 30 finishes in the Farmers Insurance Open.