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DraftKings Strategy

DraftKings Preview: U.S. Open roster recs

by Will Gray
Updated On: September 17, 2020, 1:18 pm ET

This year's U.S. Open field may be slightly smaller than usual, but there are still plenty of difficult lineup choices to make when selecting a six-man roster for Winged Foot.

From world No. 1 Dustin Johnson to Jon Rahm, who has dominated recently on tough courses, and reigning PGA champ Collin Morikawa, parsing contenders from contenders for the year's second major is a tall task. The West Course is sure to prove a demanding test as the U.S. Open is held in the month of September for the first time since 2013.

Gary Woodland won last year's event at Pebble Beach, becoming the fourth straight American to lift the trophy, and he's one of 10 former champions in this week's field. From a pair of American contenders still in search of a maiden major to the Englishman who finished second just two years ago, here are players to consider before locking in your DraftKings lineups this week:

Favorites

Xander Schauffele ($10,100): The credentials are simply too good to ignore. Schauffele seems to thrive in this event, finishing T-6 or better in each of his three prior U.S. Opens. He also brings with him plenty of recent form, having been a top-20 fixture since the break and clearly the top player in terms of 72-hole score two weeks ago at East Lake. Schauffele has gone nearly two years without a win but has had plenty of close calls, and with top-10s in half of his career major starts he doesn't shy away from the spotlight. There's a reason why Schauffele's salary is priced above other pre-tournament favorites like Morikawa, Bryson DeChambeau and Webb Simpson.

Tony Finau ($9,100): Can he break a four-year victory drought on one of the game's biggest stages? Time will tell, but Finau appears likely to factor one way or another. His T-4 finish at last month's PGA was his sixth top-10 showing in his last nine major starts, as Finau has seemingly done everything but win at the highest level. Just three weeks ago he dazzled amid tough conditions at Olympia Fields, shooting a final-round 65 that was beaten only by eventual champ Jon Rahm. Finau has every tool you'd require of a major champ, he just has yet to put it all together for four straight days. But even if the putter goes cold for a nine- or 18-hole stretch, his advantage off the tee and reliable ball-striking are likely good enough to keep him in the mix.


Value Plays

Tommy Fleetwood ($8,900): Fleetwood was nowhere to be seen since the break until last week, when he put on a ball-striking clinic in Portugal while gaining more than 17 strokes (tee-to-green) against the field. It's the type of performance that is indicative of the Englishman's ceiling, which he also flashed two years ago with a final-round 63 at Shinnecock while nearly chasing down Brooks Koepka. Fleetwood added another runner-up last year at Royal Portrush and appears poised for a breakthrough. If he's hitting it close to what he showed a week ago in Portugal, that breakthrough may come this week.

Tyrrell Hatton ($8,100): Hatton broke through to win earlier this year at Bay Hill, and he has contended since with surprising frequency. The Englishman finished fourth last season in SG: Approach and eighth in total strokes gained, with three top-5 finishes since the break. Hatton also has a strong record in majors, with five top-10 finishes in 15 starts dating back to 2016. That includes a T-6 result two years ago at nearby Shinnecock Hills, and based on his success at Bay Hill Hatton clearly has the chops to contend on a course when par is a coveted score.


Sleepers

Jason Kokrak ($6,800): Long, difficult course? Time to take a look at Kokrak, who remains in search of his first PGA Tour win but has had a few close calls in recent years. Kokrak qualified for the Tour Championship last season and just a few weeks ago finished T-6 at the BMW, shooting a final-round 66 in difficult conditions. Kokrak comes in off three straight top-15 results, finished ninth last season on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee and has made the cut in each of his two prior U.S. Open appearances, including a T-37 showing four years ago at Oakmont.

Will Zalatoris ($6,700): Zalatoris has been crushing it this year on the Korn Ferry Tour, with 11 straight top-20 finishes including six top-10s and a win in July. A qualifier for the U.S. Open two years ago and a former USGA champ, Zalatoris is familiar with the big stage even if he's been playing on a developmental circuit in recent months. A PGA Tour stud of the future, Zalatoris is hitting nearly 82 percent of his greens in regulation this season on the Korn Ferry. Similar ball-striking this week will produce head-turning results.

Will Gray

Will Gray joined Golf Channel in 2007 and currently serves as a staff writer for GolfChannel.com. Gray has been covering fantasy golf since 2012 and is a regular contributor to the Golf Central blog and covers several PGA Tour events each year. He's also a regular contributor to several digital properties on GolfChannel.com, including Stat Man, On the Clock, Fantasy Central, Grill Room and the Monday Scramble podcast.