Each week, “Chalk…or not?” looks at exclusive Tour Level Data and past trends to create a model that projects DraftKings ownership. The golfers with our highest projected ownership percentages and some other potentially low-owned golfers are then analyzed for you to give you a true ownership edge on the competition.
As always, get your week started correctly by reading the most comprehensive course breakdown in the industry: The First Cut by James Miles. Plus, Tour Level’s two unique cheat sheets for your statistical needs: Check out The Pin Sheet and The Form Generator. If it’s cash you want, it’s cash you’ll get with Scott McAfee (who had a huge week last week) in our Making The Cut piece. Jason Rouslin gives you some high level game theory in Against The Grain for both DraftKings and FanDuel.
It’s U.S. Open week! There doesn’t seem to be any golfer who is trending towards ridiculous 35-plus percent ownership in GPPs this week, so I wouldn’t completely fade anybody based on ownership alone. That said, if you were playing only one lineup in a huge tournament like the Millionaire Maker, I would strongly consider fading at least one of if not most of the players with the highest ownership projections.
Sergio Garcia ($10,000, 16.5 percent projected-ownership): Garcia will likely be the lowest-owned of the 10k and above players this week so there’s certainly merit to playing him in large-field GPPs. Garcia ranks second in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and third in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. Sergio won the Masters and was 12th his last time out at the Dean & Deluca so he’s playing well coming into the event. Garcia has finished inside the top-20 in his last two U.S. Opens, including a T5 finish at Oakmont last year.
Rory McIlroy ($11,200, 17.9 percent ownership): McIlroy is a DK scoring machine: Per our Pin Sheet, McIlroy’s 92.4 DK points per tournament leads the field by a healthy margin. Rory finished ninth at Chambers Bay in 2015 and has two top-20 finishes at Whistling Straits since 2010. The injury concern should suppress his ownership enough this week to make him a very attractive high-dollar pivot in GPPs.
Jon Rahm ($10,300, 23.8 percent projected ownership): Rahm started the week trending towards the uber-chalk but now there seems to be enough anti-RahmGOAT vibes out there where his ownership won’t go completely bananas. Per the Pin Sheet, Rahm is ninth overall in DK points per tournament at 78.1 and he ranks third in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach.
Adam Scott ($8,800, 26.1 percent ownership): He’s an Aussie, he’s beautiful, and he’s only $8,800 on DK. Bowdo likes him this week and he’d be an auto-lock for me when building cash lineups. You could get away with going underweight on him in the Milly Maker though.
Jordan Spieth ($11,500, 20.3 percent ownership): Spieth won at Chambers Bay in 2015 and was second at Whistling Straits that same year. Jordan ranks first in Strokes Gained: Approach, second in Birdie or Better percentage, and fourth in Birdie or Better percentage from 175 to 200 yards. Because he’s not known as the prototypical bomber, I believe you can grab him at a pretty decent ownership this week.
Rickie Fowler ($10,500, 21.0 percent ownership): The missed cut at the St. Jude Classic last week was a blessing in disguise for those wanting to roster Rickie in the Milly Maker: He likely would have been closer to 30 percent ownership with a decent finish last week. Before his missed cut, Fowler had ripped off seven finishes of 16th or better in eight tournaments, including a win at the Honda Classic. Per the Pins Sheet, Rickie is second to only McIlroy in DK points per tournament at 85.4.
Kevin Kisner ($7,500, 28.6 percent projected ownership): Kisner arrives at the U.S. Open in elite form with a win and a sixth-place finish in his last two starts, in which he has averaged 96.75 DK points per tournament. He ranks ninth in both Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and Approach and is very easy to put in a lineup at his low salary. That said, Tyrrell Hatton arrived at the Masters earlier this year in comparable form with a nearly identical price tag (Hatton was $7,600) where he was owned at close to 28 percent and promptly missed the cut.
Dustin Johnson ($12,000, 29.9 percent ownership): Can DJ repeat as U.S. Open champion? Of course he could: He ranks first on Tour in both Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and Tee to Green, as well as Birdie or Better percentage from the important 175 to 200 yard range. This is more of a gut feeling call: DJ just hasn’t looked the same since he fell down the stairs on the eve of the Masters and he’s projected to be the highest owned golfer in the field.
Hump’s Hole Out
If you listened to the Fringe With Benefits podcast this week, you’ll know Jason Day ($10,800, 19.5 projected ownership) is my pick to win the tournament. Although I originally felt like he was getting overlooked in the 10k-plus salary-tier, I now think his ownership will likely creep towards 20 percent. Day destroyed a similar Whistling Straits course at the PGA Championship in 2015 when he scored 146 DK points and he is starting to show signs of trending back towards the 2015 version of Jason Day. Remember that 60-foot putt at the Byron Nelson when he posted a 63 in the third round? Look for Day to be contending for a win come this Sunday.
Bowdo’s Picks From Down Undah!
A two-time PGA Tour Winner, Steven Bowditch, brings you the edge every week with what he calls “fliers from the semi-cut”. We here at TourLevel call them “Bowdo’s Picks From Down Undah!” These are players on the bottom end of both the ownership and salary spectrum that Bowdo thinks have the potential to surprise if everything comes together.
Bowdo called Brian Stuard ($6,400) “a cut-maker who doesn’t make mistakes”. Stuard is ranked 10th in Good Drive percentage on the Pin Sheet and he finished 36th at the Masters earlier this season.
Andrew “Beef” Johnston ($6,600) finished 54th at the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, eighth at the Open Championship, and made the cut in all three majors in which he played. Beef ranks 14th in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee, a skill that will surely help him navigate his way around Erin Hills this week.
Eddie Pepperell ($6,500) has been showing signs of improvement in his last three starts on the Euro Tour, highlighted by an eighth-place finish at the Nordea Masters earlier this month. Bowdo called Pepperell “a stud in the making that has been out of form but is turning it around”.
Bowdo said George Coetzee ($6,900) “has found form and can just play”. Bowdo’s right: Coetzee has four finishes of 11th or better in his last five starts, including a fourth-place finish at the Nordea Masters his last time out.
Good luck with the U.S. Open this week!