For the fifth time in its illustrious history, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club will crown the champion of the United States Open. Playing 7,440 yards to Par-70 the 118th edition will more than test the 156 players who qualified to compete for our country’s national championship, as it should. It will also test the commitment, strategy and nerves of fantasy players as they enter the busy stretch-run of the season. Shinnecock Hills, located on Long Island just miles from Belmont Race Track, saw a Triple Crown winner in Justify just last weekend. Those folks could witness history again if Phil Mickelson completes the career grand slam this weekend. The second major of the year kicks off a two-month stretch that will include three major championships and a World Golf Championship event before the FedExCup Playoffs even begin. Preparation needs to be complete and the rest needs to have been taken as the events on both sides of the pond will come fast and furious once summer arrives next week. When the best-of-the-best say they schedule around the majors this is what they are preparing for as the calendar compresses. This weekâ€™s champion collects 600 FedExCup points and a five-year exemption on TOUR. If that’s not enough, the winner will also be included in the field of the other three majors for the next five years plus a 10-year exemption at the U.S. Open. Shinnecock’s previous four winners include James Foulis (1896), Raymond Floyd (1986), Corey Pavin (1996) and Retief Goosen (2004). 2017 champion Brooks Koepka will look to join an exclusive club of champions who defended their trophy. Curtis Strange was the last to accomplish this feat in 1988 and 1989. Usually in this section I’ll include the “Tales of the Tape” to identify winning characteristics of the previous champions but that goes out the window this week as, obviously, the USGA rotates the course. It’s also fruitless to point out the keys to victory from Goosen’s victory in 2004 as the course has been reworked by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to capture the routing and angles from William Flynn’s original design from the late 1920s. While it’s not the evolution of Pinehurst No. 2 from 2014, the difference will be noticeable in multiple facets. NOTE: Golfers inside the top 25 in each statistic on the 2017-18 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week. * – Finished inside the top 10 since 2010 or is a former winner. SG: Tee to Green RankÂ Golfer Â 1Â *Dustin Johnson Â 2 Â *Justin Thomas Â 3Â *Henrik Stenson Â 4Â *Jordan Spieth Â 5 Â Â Luke List Â 6Â *Tiger Woods Â 7Â *Adam Scott Â 8Â *Justin Rose Â 9Â *Keegan Bradley 10 Paul Casey 11 Patrick Cantlay 12 *Tommy Fleetwood 13 Ryan Moore 14 Bryson DeChambeau 15 Francesco Molinari 16 Scott Piercy 17 Byeong-Hun An 18 Tony Finau 19 Rafael Cabrera-Bello 20 Jon Rahm 21 *Rory McIlroy 22 Brendan Steele 23 Patrick Reed 24 *Steve Stricker 25 *Sergio Garcia Greens in Regulation RankÂ Golfer Â 1Â *Henrik Stenson Â 2Â *Jordan Spieth Â 3Â *Adam Scott Â 4Â Kyle Stanley Â 5Â Gary Woodland Â 7Â Russell Knox Â 9Â Rafael Cabrera-Bello 10 Brendan Steele 11 Bubba Watson 12 Jon Rahm 15 Scott Piercy 16 *Keegan Bradley 17 *Rickie Fowler 18 Emiliano Grillo 19 Bryson DeChambeau 20 *Justin Rose 20 *Dustin Johnson 22 *Brian Harman 24 Pat Perez 24 *Justin Thomas 24 Patrick Cantlay SG: Putting RankÂ Golfer Â 1Â *Jason Day Â 2Â *Phil Mickelson Â 4Â Sam Burns Â 5Â *Webb Simpson Â 8Â Kevin Kisner 10 *Justin Rose 12 Alex Noren 13 Emiliano Grillo 14 Patrick Rodgers 15 *Branden Grace 20 *Dustin Johnson 21 Kiradech Aphibarnrat 22 *Brian Harman 23 Chesson Hadley 25 *Graeme McDowell Scrambling RankÂ Golfer Â 1Â *Louis Oosthuizen Â 2Â *Webb SimpsonÂ Â Â 4Â *Jason Day Â 6Â *Henrik Stenson Â 7Â *Rickie Fowler Â 8Â *Dustin Johnson Â 9Â *Justin Thomas 10 Ryan Moore 11 *Jordan Spieth 12 Chez Reavie 13 Paul Casey 14 Patrick Reed 16 *Steve Stricker 18 *Justin Rose 19 *Brandt Snedeker 20 Aaron Baddeley 21 Brian Gay 22 *Tiger Woods 23 Charles Howell III 24 *Jim Furyk 24 Scott Stallings 26 *Rory McIlroy Shinnecock Hills presents a massive and new test of 7,440 yards playing to par-70. The only club to host the championship in three centuries, Shinnecock Hills has been changed and groomed over the last six years under the watchful eyes of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and will play strikingly different from the previous challenge of 2004, the last time it hosted the U.S. Open. The old card played just a tad over 6,940 yards but with the addition of nine new tee boxes that’s no longer the case as the modern game comes to town. Fairways of Rye grass have been removed and expanded fescue fairways are back in fashion. The graduated fescue rough will give players a chance to hit recovery shots. Over 500 trees that were in play have been removed as sightlines and angles have improved but will bring the bunkers back into the thought process. The greens have also been increased to the original drawings and will provide additional pin placements while the bulky rough surrounding them has been shaved dramatically down. As I’ve shown below, there aren’t many players who have dealt with the routing, rough and green speeds so the playing field is somewhat level this week and that favors premium players. Toss in the design changes and the advantages lessen even more. When a “new” venue hosts, the fundamentals for putting together a roster shouldn’t change. The same adage is true for selecting players in a major championship as the rules usually outweigh the exceptions. The players who keep their ball in play and find greens in regulation will have the most chances to score and avoid bogey. Par is a fantastic score this week so finding players who can get up-and-down and have no problem grinding won’t hurt either. The USGA intends to test EVERY facet of the game, every club in the bag and all of the decision making that goes along with it. This beast of a layout isn’t going to roll over and have its belly rubbed so find players who have survived before and are ready for more. Remember, this is NOT a standard TOUR event and in my opinion, major experience matters even more this week. There will be bogeys. There will be doubles. There will be bad, horrible, terrible breaks and unfair, calamitous lies. Dealing with it is part of the challenge. The course is routed similarly to TPC Sawgrass where consecutive holes do not play in the same direction (minus No. 9 and No. 10). It’s uncomfortable to continuously recalculate the wind and just as mentally strenuous, as they implement their strategy. The USGA won’t set this place up to favor one style over another. Guys who hit it a mile better not hit it offline as the graduated rough will gobble up poor shots. Players who aren’t as long off the tee will have extra clubs in their hands with tough greens to hold. Once on the greens the Poa annua will wobble, bobble and wiggle enough that every putt of any length will demand full concentration. The greens will be “Stimped” at the classical “tournament speed” for the week. A couple of thoughts for this week and selecting lineups: This isn’t the event or venue to get back on track. If pros aren’t playing to their expectation so far this season I don’t believe the switch flips on a track like this in an event of this magnitude. If players are off, I’ll gladly move on to those who are on. I know that nobody has won the week before the U.S. Open and gone on to win it the following week. I’m also not daft enough to think that eliminates Dustin Johnson from the word go. Records are meant to be broken! I’ve included for you below recent majors history because I believe guys who handle these tests for frequently have a better chance of handling this test this week. There are always exceptions to the rules, I get it, but this will give you an idea of who has played the last nine majors well (if not listed already in the chart). I firmly believe that guys who do not play the U.S. Open well are not going to all of a sudden show up this week. This classic track doesn’t have four par-5 holes to pass out birdies to clean bogeys off the card. The rough this week isn’t going to be difficult to find and the greens more difficult to hit. I would lean on the results of Oakmont and even Merion before those of Chambers Bay or Erin Hills. Keep the classics with the classics and the moderns with the moderns! When the dust settles, I don’t think it will be surprising at all to see a veteran hoisting the trophy on Father’s Day. Good luck! Rob Bolton’s Power Rankings will give you more juice for the week so make sure you stop by. It’s also who I trust with the weather each week so pay attention!Â NOTE: The groups below are comprehensive to assist in data mining. Inclusion doesn’t imply automatic endorsement in every fantasy game as all decisions are specific to your situation. Â
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