As the U.S. Open heads to Shinnecock Hills for the first time since 2004, there was many intriguing fantasy-golf options to consider.
All the big guns are in the field, including Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. Tiger Woods returns to U.S. Open action while Phil Mickelson searches for that elusive final piece to the career Grand Slam – and at a course where he’s had success.
Shinnecock, which will play to nearly 7,500 yards this year (as a par 70!), has typically been one of the tougher classic U.S. Open venues. If it plays firm and fast, par will be a good score.
As usual, the U.S. Open tests every aspect of a player’s game. This week, though, it’s important to look at tee-to-green statistics, as well as scrambling. The fairways were widened a little, but the penalty for misses is still significant. The areas around the greens have been mowed, which should give the short-game stars a chance to separate themselves in that aspect.
The greens will surely be fast and good putters are always welcomed, however, I tend to believe someone can have an average putting week and still win a U.S. Open if they strike it well from tee to green.
Since many fantasy contests are already up, I did these rankings prior to the FedEx St. Jude Classic. I will update the rankings, if necessary, but statistics will remain through the Memorial Tournament.
Here are my top 50 fantasy options for the U.S. Open:
1. Justin Rose: Poised to add second U.S. Open title. Coming off T-6 at Memorial and win at Colonial. Ranks seventh in SGTTG, T-11 in SGP, T-13 in SG around the green, 17th in SGOTT and 17th in scrambling.
2. Dustin Johnson: Another player with a good chance to add a second U.S. Open title. T-8 at Memorial was his first top-10 since Mexico, though he hasn’t finished worse than T-17 in a stroke-play event this season. Leads Tour in SGTTG and SGOTT, and ranks 25th in SGP. Coming off big win in Memphis.
3. Justin Thomas: World No. 1 has comfortable lead in FedEx Cup standings and hasn’t finished worse than T-22 this season. Tied for eighth at Memorial. Ranks second in SGTTG, sixth in SG approach the green and eighth in scrambling.
4. Henrik Stenson: Statistically impressive this season. Leads Tour in driving accuracy and ranks third in SG approach the green, 12th in SGTTG and 19th in SGOTT. Enters Shinnecock with three top-6s among five straight top-25s. Shared 26th at Shinnecock in 2004.
5. Phil Mickelson: No one in the field has played Shinnecock better. Shot final-round 74 to fall into tie for second in 2004. Also was T-4 in 1995. Ranks second in SGP, 12th in SG approach the green. Continued strong season with T-16 at Muirfield Village and T-12 in Memphis.
6. Jason Day: Faltered late at Memorial, tying for 44th, but has won twice with two other top-5s this year. Leads Tour in SGP and ranks third in SG around the green, fourth in scrambling and 15th in SGOTT. Iron play will be key, as he has struggled this season.
7. Rory McIlroy: Other than MC at Players, has looked very good since win at Bay Hill. Ranks 21st in SGTTG, 22nd in SGOTT and 25th in scrambling.
8. Tommy Fleetwood: T-26 or better in eight of last nine worldwide starts. Ranks ninth in SGOTT, 11th in SGTTG and 21st in SG around the green.
9. Tiger Woods: Coming off incredible ballstriking week at Memorial, though cold putter left him T-23. Ranks fourth in SG approach the green, fifth in SG around the green, fifth in SGTTG and T-19 in scrambling. Missed cut at 2004 U.S. Open after rounds of 76-76.
10. Paul Casey: Still playing consistent golf with six top-20s in his last seven starts. Ranks eighth in SG approach the green, ninth in SGTTG, and T-11 in scrambling. Overcame opening 77 to finish 15th at 2004 U.S. Open.
11. Hideki Matsuyama: Playing his best golf post-wrist injury with T-16 at Nelson and T-13 at Memorial. Ranks seventh in SG around the green.
12. Rickie Fowler: Up-and-down season is starting to level out, and at a good point. He has finished T-21 or better in four of last five starts. Ranks seventh in scrambling and 24th in SG around the green.
13. Brooks Koepka: Defending U.S. Open champion is finally rounding into form after wrist injury cost him 17 weeks this year. Runner-up at Colonial followed T-11 at Players. Strong first three rounds in Memphis.
14. Jon Rahm: Should be well rested as he’s played just twice in eight weeks entering Shinnecock. Ranks second in SGOTT and 20th in SGTTG, but like Day needs to improve iron play. Has talent to win U.S. Opens, but needs to handle his emotions better than he did at Erin Hills last year.
15. Bryson DeChambeau: Win at Memorial was his fourth top-4 finish in last seven starts. Ranks 12th in SGOTT, 15th in SGTTG and 16th in SG approach the green. And his putting is the best it’s ever been.
16. Alex Noren: Comes back to U.S. after two starts in Europe riding streak of three straight top-25s. Ranks 13th in SGP and 15th in SG approach the green.
17. Emiliano Grillo: Will be one of last players in U.S. Open field, but is ninth on Tour in total strokes gained. Ranks 12th in driving accuracy, 14th in SGP, 21st in SG approach the green, 25th in SGTTG and T-25 in SGOTT. Has three top-10s in last six starts.
18. Webb Simpson: Hasn’t played since following Players win with MC at Colonial. Ranks second in scrambling, sixth in SGP and T-19 in SG around the green. His tee game will be key.
19. Patrick Reed: Has slowed a bit since red-hot stretch that included Masters victory. Ranks fourth in SG around the green, 15th in scrambling and 23rd in SGTTG. Needs to drive it better to contend.
20. Patrick Cantlay: Nice sleeper option, and is coming off eighth at Memorial. Ranks 10th in SGTTG and 13th in SGOTT.
21. Jordan Spieth: Poor putting starting to put pressure on rest of his game. Ranks fourth in SGTTG, 10th in scrambling, 17th in SG approach the green, 17th in SG around the green and 18th in SGOTT – but he’s dipped a little in most of those categories in the last few weeks. Hasn’t cracked top 20 since Masters, but don’t rule him completely out.
22. Rafa Cabrera Bello: Trending up in last three events – T-17, T-8, fourth. Ranks seventh in SG approach the green and 19th SGTTG. Short game still an issue.
23. Branden Grace: Has made 20 straight cuts worldwide with two top-5s in his last three starts. Ranks 16th in SGP and 23rd in total strokes gained.
24. Luke List: Enjoying his best season on Tour, but has slowed down a little. Two top-10s in last five starts but also two MCs. Ranks third in SGTTG, fourth in SGOTT and T-15 in SG around the green.
25. Chesson Hadley: Had run of six straight top-20s ended with T-40 at Memorial. Ranks fifth in SG approach the green and 22nd in SGP.
26. Ben An: Playing great golf as evidenced by playoff loss at Memorial. Ranks 10th in SGOTT, 14th in SGTTG and 19th in SG approach the green.
27. Tony Finau: T-13 at Memorial was his best finish since T-10 at Masters. Ranks 18th in SGTTG and 25th in SG approach the green. If he drives it straight, he’ll do well.
28. Ian Poulter: Has finished outside top 20 just once in last seven starts. Ranks 23rd in SG approach the green and 26th in driving accuracy. Tied for 12th at 2004 U.S. Open.
29. Adam Scott: Needed the off week instead of having to play Memphis, as he had played five straight weeks. Ranks sixth in SGTTG and 10th in SG approach the green. Putting continues to give him problems. Was T-21 at Shinnecock in 2004.
30. Gary Woodland: T-23 at Memorial snapped a streak of three MCs. Ranks 25th in total strokes gained.
31. Marc Leishman: Not driving it great, but there’s no glaring weaknesses or strengths statistically this season. Has a runner-up at Nelson and ninth at Masters to his credit – and shows up in big events – but also has finished T-62 or worse in three of last four starts.
32. Kiradech Aphibarnrat: Coming off T-13 at Memorial and has already earned special temporary status on Tour. Now 41st on Tour in total strokes gained led by a nice short game. Did MC in Memphis.
33. Francesco Molinari: Playing his best golf in some time with a runner-up at Italian Open and victory at BMW PGA in his last two starts. Ranks seventh in SGOTT and 16th in SGTTG. Needs to scramble better.
34. Bubba Watson: Hasn’t played much since T-5 at Masters, and hasn’t finished inside top 40 in last two Tour starts. Ranks sixth in SGOTT, so he’ll give himself good looks at the greens. Just needs to improve play around greens.
35. Sergio Garcia: Has missed three of four cuts entering this week. Ranks 11th in SG approach the green and 24th in SGTTG, but isn’t playing well on and around the greens. Shot 78-78 to miss cut at 2004 U.S. Open.
36. Jimmy Walker: Has three top-6s during his current streak of five straight top-20s. Ranks 24th in SG approach the green. Needs to drive it better to contend.
37. Brian Harman: Boasts a Tour-leading seven top-10s this season and is coming off T-14 at Colonial. Ranks 20th in SGP and 23rd in driving accuracy.
38. Daniel Berger: Has gone 21 starts without a top-10, but also has missed just two cuts during that span. Ranks 36th in total strokes gained.
39. Keegan Bradley: Got through sectionals for second straight year. Followed T-7 at Players with T-23 at Memorial. Ranks second in SG approach the green, eighth in SGTTG and 18th in driving accuracy.
40. Louis Oosthuizen: T-13 or better in four of last six starts. Leads Tour in scrambling and ranks ninth in SG around the green. But iron play has been concerning.
41. Kyle Stanley: Coming off his best showing of the season, a playoff loss at the Memorial. Ranks sixth in driving accuracy.
42. Zach Johnson: Has finished outside top 35 in six of last seven starts. But ranks 20th in SG approach the green and 23rd in SG around the green. Missed cut at 2004 U.S. Open.
43. Charles Howell III: Had posted top-25s in six of seven starts before T-65 at Memorial. Ranks 18th in scrambling. Was T-37 at the 2004 U.S. Open.
44. Brendan Steele: Since T-3 in Phoenix, he has just two top-20s in six starts. Ranks eighth in SGOTT and 22nd in SGTTG. Play around the greens has been lacking.
45. Matt Kuchar: Has now gone seven starts without a top-10 and hasn’t driven it well this season, but was T-13 at Memorial. Missed cut at 2004 U.S. Open.
46. Steve Stricker: Never count out the veteran. He’s made six of his last seven Tour cuts. Tied for sixth at Shinnecock in 2004 despite third-round 76 and shared 13th in 1995.
47. Scott Piercy: Leads Tour in SG approach the green and ranks 17th in SGTTG. If only he could putt. Has missed three of last four cuts.
48. Xander Schauffele: Has talent to win a U.S. Open and was T-2 at Players. But he has missed two straight cuts, as well.
49. Russell Henley: Ranks 14th on Tour in driving accuracy. Has made six straight cuts in majors, including cracking the top 30 four times.
50. Charl Schwartzel: Not driving it straight or striking the irons well enough to win this week. But he knows how to win the big one, and was recently T-2 at Players. Coming off MC, T-72 finishes at Memorial, Memphis.