This article is part of our PrizePicks Golf series.
PrizePicks offers a unique twist on DFS play in the form of Over/Under picks for individual players in almost every sport imaginable. You have the opportunity to pick two, three or four players per entry, and the goal is to predict whether the individual player will end up over or under the projected total PrizePicks provides. For PGA play, you are required to pick at least one Over and one Under play. The legend for scoring in this format is as follows:
|Double Eagle or Better||13|
|Double Bogey or Worse||-1|
Unlike your usual PGA DFS platforms, PrizePicks offers PGA gameplay on a per-round basis, not for an entire tournament. So, the projected totals you see today are for the individual rounds on Thursday, and once Thursday's round commences, you will see updated numbers for Friday, and so on.
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Today we'll be focusing on the opening round of the third major of the year, the 119th U.S. Open. Let's get right to it!
Pebble Beach Golf Links – Par 71, 7,075 yards
We catch a glimpse of this beachside layout every year with the Pro-Am, but players will see a tweak or two on the course, aside from the customary grown-out rough we usually see at the Open. The second hole, usually a Par 5, will now play as a Par 4, and the fairways have been slimmed down considerably from what was a much more open track when the Open was last played here in 2010. Additionally, many of the greens here are the size of postage stamps, so a lethal approach game is needed to stick these historically tough targets.
As you'll see in my preferred stats below, approach shots and driving accuracy will be crucial this week, as Pebble isn't a course where length is advantageous. This course has a rich history among the 156-player field, so we'll definitely give some love to some players with a decent track record here.
Remarkably enough, there are no weather concerns afoot on Thursday, aside from the usual coastal winds. June is a much better time of year to play here, so we won't see the horrible weather conditions that usually plague this event in February.
Before I make my Over/Under selections, I want to address the barrel-chested elephant in the room, Brooks Koepka. The anointed major-killer will be a prohibitive favorite in the field this week, but as far as Majors go, this course does not play to Koepka's strengths at all. I doubt he'll be able to muscle his way to a low score on Thursday, but his uncanny prowess in these big events is hard to ignore. For this format, I'm electing to fade him entirely and look at other selections, because as solid as Koepka is, his outcome is a little too difficult to predict.
Matt Kuchar – 15.0
Kooch missed the cut at the Memorial but followed up with a -13 total at the RBC. I always like Kuchar In this format because he is one of the Tour's best in Round 1 scoring, and he currently ranks 10th overall with a driving accuracy percentage of 70.18%. He adds a 9th rank in SG – Approach to his resume for Pebble, making him one of my favorites to jump out of the gate with a low score on Thursday.
Tommy Fleetwood – 14.5
Fleetwood is another guy you often see atop the leaderboard in the early rounds. He's a deadly ball-striker in iron approach play, and one intangible to consider is his U.S Open history. He's had two Top 5 finishes over two years in U.S. Open play. Even with those pluses, Fleetwood is more of an instinct play that's bolstered by an attractive 14.5 line.
Justin Thomas – 15.5
Thomas is 2nd on Tour in Round 1 scoring, and he's made my over list often this season. He hasn't quite been able to put together four consecutive rounds this season, but his stats support an argument for an excellent week at Pebble. He ranks in the Top 10 in both SG-Approach and SG- Around The Green. The only concern with Thomas is his ability to keep it in the fairway, as his wrist injury has put a dent in his overall accuracy off the tee. Despite that drawback, he's got a decent shot to come out of the gate with a 5-under score.
Sergio Garcia – 14.5
This under pick is based on recent history for me. He's now missed two straight cuts on relatively easy courses, and his history at Pebble hasn't been particularly strong. He's always been a great iron striker, but the driver has been his Achilles heel so far this season (168th in Driving Accuracy), and you're going to be up against it if your tee shots go astray on this course. He's also statistically dreadful on and around the green this season, so I think Garcia is a reasonable Under target.
Patrick Cantlay – 16.5
Cantlay comes into the week as a big favorite and for good reason, after blitzing the Memorial and coming in 3rd at the PGA Championship. I nailed my Cantlay prediction for this format two weeks ago, as he came on strong in the final round, but stayed under the O/U line on Thursday. I think we will once again see Cantlay near the top of the leaderboard, but he'd need a 6-under day to beat this line on Thursday. If he decides to play a little more conservative off the tee, he could get close to this number, but if he pulls out the big guns, Cantay could end up in trouble.
Dustin Johnson – 17.0
Here's another guy who needs a 6-under first round to achieve the Over. Dustin always finds a way to stick around and climb up the leaderboard, but he's not one to rally out of the gate. There aren't many cracks in his game, but he has a hard time staying out of the rough off the tee, and I think he'll have some early struggles in that department Thursday. We should see him right the ship and perhaps club down on trouble holes heading into the weekend, but don't expect big numbers from Johnson on Thursday.
I want to end this article by discussing a risk-reward pick in Tiger Woods. We all know about Tiger's excellent history here, and if he can manage to keep his driver in the bag, he has a shot at beating the 15.0 Over/Under. He isn't historically strong in the first round, but I thought this course was always going to be his best spot for a Major win. If you aren't a fan of any of the Overs I selected, I'd give Tiger a second look.