This week we are at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California for the US Open. The winner will take home $1,350,000 and 600 FedEx Cup points. Rory McIlroy is the defending champion of the second major of the year.
The golf course at the Olympic Club is the stuff that golfers' nightmares are made of. The fairways are impossibly tight and it seems every hole requires a differently shaped tee shot. And the greens? I'm not sure if you should compare them to a sheet of ice or freshly laid pavement. They are so fast and so punishing that it borders on ludicrous.
Despite Rory McIlroy's heroics last year, the US Open is as much a test of survival as it is a test of golf skills. This tournament is for the grinder's grinder. A golfer who can register 72 straight pars could very well win. There are not many professional golf events you can say that about.
So what type of golfers are we looking for here? That's easy. We want mentally-tough, accurate and most importantly, boring golfers. This is not the week to try to hit "hero" shots. Hit the fairway, hit the green, make your two putts and get the hell out of Dodge. That's the plan. So the premium will be on accuracy with consideration to All-Around rankings and Bounce-Back rankings.
The US Open was last played at the Olympic Club back in 1998. A few players in the current field played here then, but for the most part, all of the golfers will be on a level playing field. How well a golfer has been playing recently is more important than his performance(s) at any previous US Open.
This is a very stacked field this week. There will be plenty of quality options to choose from. That also means that you will have to make some difficult choices. Don't worry about it too much. This might be the most difficult stroke play event to forecast.
Yahoo! Weekly Lineup Game
Jim Furyk (Starting)
Furyk has been the "Grinder's Grinder" over the past few months. In his last eight appearances, Furyk has placed between T2 (tied for second place) and T26 in all of them. He remains one of the most accurate golfers on the PGA Tour, ranking 2nd in driving accuracy and 25th in GIR (Greens in Regulation). But that's not all. He also ranks 20th in all around ranking, 11th in scrambling, 2nd in 3-putt avoidance and 8th in GIR percentage from other than the fairway (usually the rough).
Matt Kuchar (Bench)
Kuchar has been another golfer with a "Grinder" mentality this year, although he did win The Players Championship a month ago. Kuchar has made the cut at every event he has played this season, while only twice finishing worse than T26. He also finished T15 here at the US Open (as an amateur) back in 1998. He possesses the accuracy we seek here, ranking 25th in driving accuracy and 10th in GIR. He comes 11th in all around ranking.
Also worth using: Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald
Tiger Woods (Starting)
Just so you know, when I pick Tiger the results haven't been so good this season. But he's playing golf as well as anybody else right now, having won twice in his last five events. Woods finished T18 here back in 1998. Tiger has been surprisingly accurate this season, ranking 22nd in Driving Accuracy and 7th in GIR. He comes in fourth in all around ranking. Sure he could implode again, but he could also play brilliantly.
Lee Westwood (Starting)
Westwood has three top-5 finishes on the PGA Tour this year while only playing in five events. Westwood played here back in 1998, finishing T8. He ranks first on the PGA Tour in GIR and 36th in driving accuracy. He is seventh in all around ranking. He also ranks second in GIR percentage from other than fairway. Westwood doesn't have a lot of "flash" to his game, but he's a very solid golfer. That's what we're looking for here.
Justin Rose (Bench)
Rose is another player who hasn't missed a single cut in 2012. In his last five PGA Tour events, he's only finished outside of the top-10 once. He has been a very accurate golfer so far this season. Rose ranks 19th in driving accuracy and third in GIR. He also ranks sixth in scrambling and sixth in all around ranking. Rose is another player who can find greens even when he misses the fairway, ranking fifth in GIR percentage from other than fairway.
Rickie Fowler (Bench)
Sure, Fowler imploded during the final round of the Memorial Tournament last weekend. But he has been playing outstanding golf since the end of April. Sometimes you just have a bad round. Prior to the Memorial, Fowler had finished in the top-10 in his previous four tournaments, including a victory. He ranks 23rd in driving accuracy and 21st in GIR.
Also worth using: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Hunter Mahan and Dustin Johnson
Jason Dufner (Starting)
In his last four tournaments, Dufner has won twice and finished second once. He's missed one cut in 2012 and it was in his first event back in January. He ranks 11th in driving accuracy and sixth in GIR. He is second in all around ranking in 2012. He also ranks 17th in scrambling and 15th in GIR percentage from other than fairway.
Graeme McDowell (Bench)
After a hot start to 2012, McDowell has struggled recently. But in an event like the US Open, Group C will often be quite weak. He certainly has the accuracy we are looking for, ranking first in driving accuracy and 23rd in GIR. His all around ranking is 26th and he ranks 12th in bounce back.
Also worth using: Jonathan Byrd
Picks for The Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge
Group One: Tiger Woods
Group Two: Jim Furyk
Group Three: Charles Howell III
Group Four: Roberto Castro
Who to choose in your Weekly Survivor/Eliminator/Earnings League
To Tiger or not to Tiger, that is the question. With the way this tournament sets up, I wouldn't fault you for taking almost any golfer in the field.
Given the golfers I have selected already, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler are my best remaining options here.
Despite Mickelson's numerous second-place finishes here, I just don't feel comfortable using him here.
Rickie Fowler's blow-up in the final round last week isn't that big a deal, but it's enough to make me hesitate to use him here. I would be better served saving Fowler for a different tournament, possibly with a weaker field.
That leaves just Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar. Statistically, this is a coin-flip situation. The only real difference is Kuchar has been far more consistent this season. Even though Tiger tends to punish me when I pass him over, I am going with Matt Kuchar this week.
Already Used: Bryce Molder, Steve Marino, Bill Haas, D.A. Points, Martin Laird, Hunter Mahan, K.J. Choi, Rory McIlroy, Jarrod Lyle, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson, Charl Schwartzel, John Senden, Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Bo Van Pelt, Fredrik Jacobson, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Ben Curtis and Dustin Johnson.
Note: Pay attention to your league rules/format. For instance, I am in an Earnings League that has two seasons. One is from the beginning of the year until the U.S. Open, and the other is everything after the Open until the end of the season. In such a format, this is the last event in Season One, so if this applies to you, now is the time to use your best golfers.
Good luck to all this week. If you have any comments or questions, please use the comments feature or reach out to me on Twitter.
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