Golfers are preparing for a daunting week at Shinnecock Hills for the 2018 U.S. Open. Unlike most tournaments, past history does not offer much help as the U.S. Open will be at Shinnecock Hills for the first time since 2004. Rory McIlroy is one of a few golfers that has been critical of past U.S. Open courses.
“I think the USGA thinks we’re better than we actually are, if that makes sense,” McIlroy told ESPN. “I think they overthink it. I don’t want to single out [USGA executive director] Mike Davis here; I think it’s a collective thought process. I don’t think it should be as much of an exact science to set up the golf course as it is. I mean, I get the fairways sort of firm, grow the rough, put the pins in some tough locations. But fair — and go let us play.”
The course has undergone quite a few changes over the past several years, which means the handful of golfers that played the 2004 event will not be at much of an advantage. ESPN described the changes, including lengthening the course by 450 yards, which could assist golfers who are able to drive the ball.
Shinnecock should at least look like a traditional U.S. Open, even if it will be different from the last time it was there in 2004. For starters, the course has added 10 new tees that have lengthened it by 450 yards. Most of the additional tees have been moved back at angles, instead of straight back, to try to restore the shot values that architect William Flynn had in mind.
The fairways were widened in a renovation project just over five years ago. Then in a response to the swing-for-the-fences style that wide-open Erin Hills allowed, the USGA had 200,000 square feet of turf removed from the sides of the fairways and replaced it with fescue.
As for the players I like, the value comes after the favorites. There is not a golfer that comes in with a huge advantage, which means the majority of favorites do not offer much value. For DraftKings and FanDuel, the real value comes in the second tier of golfers, loading up your lineup with as many of these golfers as possible. All odds listed below are courtesy of OddsShark.
Here’s my top five picks for the 2018 U.S. Open.
U.S. Open Picks 2018
No. 1 Rickie Fowler
Odds: 16 to 1
DraftKings Price: $10,200
FanDuel Price: $11,400
Fowler keeps knocking on the door for his first major, and the U.S. Open could finally be the tournament where he closes the deal. Fowler’s recent form gives us a lot of confidence heading into a grueling four days at Shinnecock Hills. Aside from a disappointing outing at THE PLAYERS, Fowler enters the U.S. Open with a number of strong performances including T-8 at the Memorial, T-14 at the Fort Worth Invitational and second at the Masters.
In addition to his overall consistency, what has been most impressive about Fowler is his short game. Fowler ranks 27th in Strokes Gained and 24th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green. What better way to celebrate his new engagement to girlfriend, Allison Stokke, than by winning his first major. Fowler and Justin Thomas recently played at Shinnecock, and the duo shot the “easiest 65’s ever”, per Golf Digest. There is nothing easy about this week, but look for Fowler to get his chance on Sunday.
No. 2 John Rahm
Odds: 20 to 1
DraftKings Price: $9,500
FanDuel Price: $11,000
Rahm is one of the best drivers in golf, and it is a trait that will come in handy with the extended length of the course. Rahm has two top-five finishes in his last three tournaments with a T-5 in Fort Worth, along with an impressive fourth place finish at Augusta.
The Spaniard is second in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, 20th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and 17th in Stroked Gained: Total. Rahm has four top five finishes in 2018, and has a good chance to make it five this week.
No. 3 Tiger Woods
Odds: 20 to 1
DraftKings Price: $9,200
FanDuel Price: $11,000
Woods is one of the few golfers in the field who played in the 2004 U.S. Open, the last time it was played at Shinnecock. Times have changed since then for both Woods and the course, but it can’t hurt that he has experience playing the course. Woods also has made time over the last few weeks to practice the course with all its recent changes.
Woods comes into the U.S. Open with solid recent form including a T-23 at the Memorial, T-11 at THE PLAYERS and T-5 at the Arnold Palmer. Woods is known for his patience, and he will need it with the difficult week ahead. While other golfers play themselves out of contention, Woods will take what the course gives him, which should put him in striking distance on the final day.
Woods is one of the best golfers in the Strokes Gained category. He ranks 10th in overall Strokes Gained, fourth in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green, fifth in both Strokes Gained: Around the Green and Strokes Gained: Tee to Green.
No. 4 Rory McIlroy
Odds: 12 to 1
DraftKings Price: $11,500
FanDuel Price: $11,700
If I had to pick a favorite, it would be McIlroy, but there are things that concern me heading into the U.S. Open. McIlroy’s public criticism of recent U.S. Opens makes me wonder how his confidence will be this week. Aside from THE PLAYERS, McIlroy has been strong, notching a T-8 at the Memorial, T-16 at Wells Fargo and T-5 at the Masters.
McIlroy has missed the cut in his last two U.S. Opens, but it is not a huge concern given it is a different course. Aside from that, McIlroy has a strong track record at majors notching four top 10 finishes in his last six majors. McIlroy has experience playing in adverse conditions, and this week’s expected wind could give McIlroy a big of an advantage.
No. 5 Tony Finau
Odds: 80 to 1
DraftKings Price: $7,500
FanDuel Price: $10,200
Finau offers great value, and enters the U.S. Open with strong form. Finau finished T-13 at the Memorial, T-21 at Wells Fargo and T-10 at the Masters. With the premium placed on drives, I like Finau’s chances given he is one of the best drivers on the Tour. Finau ranks 20th in Strokes Gained: Total and 18th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.
Over his short career, Finau has performed well in majors. Finau has finished in the top 15 in three of his six major appearances. If you’re looking for a longshot in Vegas, take Finau with 80 to 1 odds.
Sleeper Pick: Louis Oosthuizen
Odds: 60 to 1
DraftKings Price: $7,800
FanDuel Price: $10,200
This week’s sleeper pick to win the U.S. Open is Louis Oosthuizen, who is coming off a T-13 finish at the Memorial and T-5 at Forth Worth. According to Yahoo Sports, Oosthuizen has made the cut at his last four U.S. Opens, and has finished first or second in majors five times in his career. Oosthuizen ranks 9th in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green.