The Bullseye – US Open

Ryan Baroff
By Ryan Baroff June 11, 2018 15:49

The Bullseye – US Open

What a week it was for the Shot Clock Masters! We had a stellar week of picks, and even nailed the winner Mikko Korhonen. From that *cough* weak field, we come to the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, which boasts one of the strongest fields of the season.

The year’s second major moves to Long Island this week, where players face the ever-difficult Shinnecock Hills. It’s one of the most prestigious venues in the rotation, but also the most challenging. The event last came here in 2004, where Retief Goosen and his hot putter once again denied Phil Mickelson his U.S. Open title. That event won’t help too much, since the USGA lost control of the greens and the course has changed dramatically. Prior to 2004, the event last came here in 1995, with Phil Mickelson also contending that week. He’s one of two players in the field who played both of those years, with the other being Steve Stricker. That could give them a slight edge in terms of understanding how the course may play.

Back to the course changes. The USGA has added nearly 500 yards to the course for this year’s installment, widened fairways, but also added brutal fescue along the fairways on certain holes. That means that good shots can find the fairway, but poor shots will be penalized more than we’ve seen in recent years. The rough will basically be a hazard in some spots. We definitely won’t see bombers tear this course apart like we saw last year at Erin Hills, but I still think the elite drivers have a substantial advantage (Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, etc.). Shinnecock Hills is a par-70, meaning there’s an extra emphasis on par-4 scoring. There are only two par-5s here, and depending on the wind, one won’t be reachable for most of the field. The U.S. Open is always a test of patience and survival, and I doubt we see anybody get near double digits under par. A winning score around -5 is my guess. Shinnecock Hills is classified as an “American Links” course, meaning it is wide open, wind-swept, and meant to be firm. The areas around the greens have been shaved, so that’s another element that will make the course play like an Open Championship venue. You’ll see plenty of creativity needed around these greens, with many players using putters and hybrids from the chipping areas. I think this will be similar to the last U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where Martin Kaymer (a notoriously bad chipper) won. The top-10 that week included many names I think you’ll see below.

The conditions of the course will dictate how the event will unfold, but I’m not expecting much rain to soften the course. That will place an emphasis on off-the-tee prowess, since you want guys who will have shorter irons in hand (preferably from the fairway). I’m not weighting approach as heavily because everyone will be missing greens this week. For some comp courses, I’m using Riviera Country Club, and recent U.S. Open venues Merion, Pinehurst, and Erin Hills. Statistically, here’s what I’m targeting at the U.S. Open:

 

  • Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green
  • Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained Approach
  • Fairways Gained / Strokes Gained Par-4s

 

And now on to the picks!

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Ryan Baroff
By Ryan Baroff June 11, 2018 15:49

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