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2015 US Open @ Chambers Bay Preview
Well, it's finally here, the years second major from beautiful Chambers Bay in the Pacific Northwest. As far as majors go, this event seems to be generating an extreme amount of pre-tournament buzz, and it has everything to do with the venue it's being contested on. Chambers Bay opened up only seven years ago, and just 12 years ago the piece of land it occupies was a sand and gravel mill. This course was built to host a US Open though, and has already hosted a US Amateur. The grounds are MASSIVE. Huge fairways, greens and changes in elevation make this very unlike past US Open venues, and will play much more like an Open Championship on a tricky links track.
There are key stats I've identified that I think will help predict success, but anybody making predictions this week is looking at things more anecdotally than you'd normally like. It's going to be just as crazy for the players in the tournament to predict, as the USGA will be moving tees around each day, so players have 30 potential holes to prepare for, instead of 18. A fit player will have an advantage as well, with the course being an eight mile walk with a lot of hills. Anybody can play Chamber's Bay, as it's a municipally owned, public course, the #2 ranked public course in the United States. Listening to a lot of players discuss the course so far this week, the prevailing theme is that it's like nothing they've ever seen on this side of the pond. I really expect European players to play well and contend here, due to the links style of game required. The average score when the US Amateur played here was just under 80, so there are going to be some big numbers, and pissed off golfers this week. One thing is for certain, it's going to be a very entertaining tournament to watch, with great players being forced to hit shots that take guts and imagination.
Key Stats for Chambers Bay
By all accounts, Chambers Bay is a bombers paradise. With the tees switching day to day, the course will play between 7200 and 7600 yards. I thought it might play upwards of 7900 yards, as was widely reported, so shorter players won't be at as much of a disadvantage as I originally thought. The guys who can fly the ball 290+ yards are going to be able to bomb the ball over a lot of the trouble spots. The fescue rough will punish players who end up there, but the fairways are generously wide throughout much of the course that taking longer hitters is going to be advantageous. Driving distance and Total Driving will factor into every roster decision I make. Jason Day mentioned in his press conference that with the undulations helping some drives become even longer, shorter hitters could be hitting three to four clubs higher into greens.
With that being said, the most important statistical area I'm looking at will be around the greens, especially scrambling and 3 putt avoidance. Lag putting will be a key skill for players to have, as they will be left with putts of 40+ ft. throughout the course, and I want to take guys who can make a par from there. With any links course, scrambling around the greens is essential to success. Other stats to look at are greens in regulation and proximity. Being able to control ball flight and distance will be vital, as the greens at Chambers Bay are rock hard and don't allow you to spin the ball. Whoever you decide to take this week, just pray they avoid the big blow up hole(s). USGA Executive Director has been known to try and surprise players, and said to “be ready for anything this week." In addition to the stats mentioned, look at British Open history to help you judge the links capabilities of golfers you are considering.
The Pin Seekers
The picks section will look a bit different this week, as I'm going to list my favorite plays in different tiers, all based on what I mentioned in the key stats section, and honestly, my gut. You could do thousands of hours of research, and you'll still be taking a leap of faith in many situations due to the lack of familiarity with Chambers Bay. When in doubt, I'm taking the best all-around players who I think have a chance to win the trophy on Sunday, not just make the cut. If you want to win the million dollars on Draftkings, you'll probably need all six golfers inside the top 10. I've identified a bunch of core golfers I will be building lineups around, they will be in the top two tiers, as well as some value plays to help round out your lineups.
Jordan Spieth $12,600
Justin Rose $11,500
Dustin Johnson $11,300
Henrik Stenson $10,000
Hideki Matsuyama $8,900
Patrick Reed $8,500
Billy Horschel $8,000
Brooks Koepka $7,800
Lee Westwood $7,700
Ryan Moore $7,500
JB Holmes $7,500
Francesco Molinari $7,200
Kevin Na $7,100
Kevin Kisner $7,000
Brandon Grace $6,800
Tony Finau $6,400
Also, here is a list of players I really, really like, that I think will be under 5% owned. You'll need a low owned player to go off to win any big money, so good luck, and without further ado….
Brandt Snedeker, Sergio Garcia, Jason Day, Webb Simpson, Jimmy Walker, Brendon Todd, Jason Allred and….Tiger Woods (the last pick couldn't be more biased, do not pick him, or if you do, one lineup just in case)