Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: U.S. Open
The second major of the 2018 calendar year is rapidly approaching, as Shinnecock Hills Golf Club is primed to host the U.S. Open.
This will be the fifth U.S. Open to be played at Shinnecock Hills in New York (if you date the whole way back to 1896). The major returned here in 1986, 1995, and 2004. It’s slated to host the 2018 and 2026 U.S. Open, as well.
But this course is a bit unique when it comes to U.S. Opens, so let’s dive in and figure out how to strategize for daily fantasy golf purposes.
Course and Tournament Info
Where to next? The difficulty or the length?
Let’s start with the difficulty. In 2004, Shinnecock Hills proved to be the toughest test on the PGA Tour, as golfers averaged 4.068 strokes over par. In 1995, Shinnecock Hills also graded out as the toughest PGA Tour course. The average was 3.522 strokes over par. The U.S. Open just almost always grades out as one of the most difficult courses on tour (as you'll see below).
Before we get there, though, we'll mention the length, which is a...lengthier…discussion.
Since 2000, we’ve seen the U.S. Open take place on 19 courses, whether repeat courses or single instances. If we throw in the 2018 version of the U.S. Open, that makes 20. Shinnecock Hills, back in 2004, graded out as the 17th-longest of the 20 U.S. Open courses in this span, all of which have played as one of the six most difficult courses on tour in that given year.
With roughly 446 yards added to the total for the 2018 major, Shinnecock Hills jumps up to seventh in total distance.
|Year||Difficulty||Course||Par||Yards||Avg O/U Par|
|2015||3||Chambers Bay GC||70||7,710||2.471|
|2008||3||Torrey Pines (South)||71||7,643||3.712|
|2015||1||Chambers Bay GC 2||70||7,593||3.452|
|2011||6||Congressional CC (Blue)||71||7,574||1.993|
|2014||1||Pinehurst Resort (No. 2)||70||7,546||3.076|
|2018||-||Shinnecock Hills GC||70||7,445||-|
|2009||1||Bethpage State Park (Black)||70||7,426||2.928|
|2006||1||Winged Foot GC||70||7,264||4.993|
|2005||1||Pinehurst Resort (No. 2)||70||7,214||4.166|
|2002||1||Bethpage State Park (Black)||70||7,214||4.901|
|2003||6||Olympia Fields CC (North)||70||7,190||2.381|
|2012||1||The Olympic Club||70||7,170||3.844|
|2010||1||Pebble Beach GL||71||7,040||3.983|
|2004||1||Shinnecock Hills GC||70||6,996||4.068|
|2001||1||Southern Hills CC||70||6,973||3.271|
|2000||1||Pebble Beach GL||71||6,846||4.359|
Here's a hole-by-hole breakdown of where length was added since the 2004 version.
|Hole||Name||Par||2004 Yardage||2018 Yardage||Change|
Thom’s Elbow (the 14th) is now a 519-yard par 4, which will certainly cause problems, as it was already one of the toughest holes on the tour in 2004.
Shinnecock (the hole, not the course) is now a 616-yard par 5. Let’s just say that the added length won’t make things easier for golfers this season.
Winners: And How They Did It
Digging back into these past events can be a little tricky, considering the change in play since the 1980s, plus the added distance to the course.
Still, here is how the three winners have ranked (among golfers who made the cut) in some key stats en route to their U.S. Open victories at Shinnecock Hills.
|Winners||Retief Goosen (2004)||Corey Pavin (1995)||Raymond Floyd (1986)|
|Good Drive Rate||20|
|Greens in Regulation||9||42||7|
|Putts per Round||5||2||11|
|Birdie or Better Rate||3||19||20|
|Par 3 Birdie or Better Rate||32||15||2|
|P4 Birdie or Better Rate||7||46||20|
|P5 Birdie or Better Rate||3||6||45|
|Par 3 Scoring||12||2|
|Par 4 Scoring||2||21|
|Par 5 Scoring||4||1|
All three were top-27 in driving accuracy, and Goosen and Floyd were top-12. Both were top-10 in ball striking and greens in regulation. Goosen was the best scrambler in 2004, and all three ranked top-11 in putts per round.
Avoiding bogeys and scoring on the par 4s (and the par 5s, though there are just two) also proved pretty vital.
We’ll need to tinker with these, and these stat correlations include just 209 golfers who made the cut at the three U.S. Opens at Shinnecock Hills, but here’s how certain stats correlated to stroke differential in those three majors. (The higher the correlation is to 1.00, the stronger it is. A near-zero correlation means there was little relationship between the two.)
|U.S. Opens at Shinnecock Hills||Stroke Differential|
|Par 4 Scoring||0.697|
|Birdie or Better Rate||0.510|
|Par 5 Scoring||0.481|
|Putts per Round||0.430|
|Greens in Regulation||0.410|
|Par 3 Scoring||0.308|
|Good Drive Rate||0.199|
We can expect this course to play tough yet again with the added length, meaning bogey avoidance should be a key stat for us to target. Par 4 scoring, as it’s the bulk of the holes on every course, also correlated pretty strongly to stroke differential for these golfers.
Scrambling ranks third by this method, reiterating the importance of saving par chances on this difficult course, especially with the bunkers in play.
Driving distance will need to be inflated, though, this time around, given the added distance to the course. So, given this and some prognostication for how the course will play with the redesign, these are the stats that look to be most vital for success in 2018.
|Key Stats for the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills|
|Strokes Gained: Off the Tee|
|Strokes Gained: Approach the Green|
|Par 4 Scoring|
Strokes gained: off the tee will encompass distance and accuracy, so it's preferable -- to me -- to just distance this week. Also, with the added length, approach shots can be a way for golfers to make up ground. You can also dig into ball striking.
The course is assuredly going to play tough, so bogey avoidance makes the list.
U.S. Open Studs
We normally close up our course preview with some golfers who have exceeded at the course in the past. We can't really do that given the long layoff between Shinnecock Hills' host status. Instead, we'll look to event form studs: golfers who have done well at U.S. Opens in the past.
The U.S. Open is a unique contest because the host courses rotate, but they all tend to have similarities: they’re long and difficult. For that reason, certain golfers can thrive more at the U.S. Open compared to other events and majors.
These golfers have netted the highest stroke differential (scoring average compared to the field average) over the past 10 U.S. Opens. Players need at least two U.S. Opens to qualify.
|Past 10 U.S. Opens||Rounds||Stroke Diff||Past 10 U.S. Opens||Rounds||Stroke Diff|
|Tommy Fleetwood||8||2.643||Graeme McDowell||30||1.632|
|Brooks Koepka||18||2.433||Kevin Chappell||22||1.602|
|Brandt Snedeker||32||2.164||Justin Thomas||10||1.6|
|Jason Day||26||2.082||Henrik Stenson||29||1.599|
|Hideki Matsuyama||18||1.953||Jordan Spieth||22||1.596|
|Sergio Garcia||40||1.913||Tony Finau||6||1.571|
|Tiger Woods||22||1.878||Jason Dufner||26||1.557|
|Brian Harman||8||1.837||Jim Furyk||36||1.521|
|Dustin Johnson||36||1.824||Martin Kaymer||36||1.506|
|Matt Kuchar||38||1.727||Phil Mickelson||34||1.484|
|Rory McIlroy||28||1.694||Justin Rose||26||1.41|
|Patrick Reed||14||1.666||Charley Hoffman||18||1.246|
Additionally, three golfers debuted at the U.S. Open in 2017 and finished top-15: Xander Schauffele (3.638 stroke differential, fifth-place finish), Trey Mullinax (3.138, ninth-place finish), and Si Woo Kim (2.638 and a 13th-place finish).