U.S. Open DFS picks 2023: Why I’m fading Max Homa
The North Course at Los Angeles Country Club will play host to one of the most pivotal and memorable major championships in recent memory, and I don’t think that’s hyperbole. With everything that is going on in the world of golf combined with a major played in the heart of Beverly Hills, it’s going to produce unreal drama.
The course itself demands elite ball-striking but connects the first two shots together like few other courses. There are many holes that will be blind approaches if you don’t hit your drive in the correct spot. Normally, off-the-tee and approach are two different skill-sets, but they will definitely play “together” more this week than most.
Here are the players who have my interest—and those who certainly don’t—this week at the 2023 U.S. Open
Golfers I'm Definitely Playing
Viktor Hovland ($10,000 DraftKings | $11,300 FanDuel)
If we are looking for elite ball-striking, look no further than Viktor Hovland. Fresh off his Memorial victory, Hovland boasts incredible metrics to tackle LACC. He has gained strokes ball-striking in 18 straight events, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. During that stretch, he has earned two wins and eight more top 20s. He has three straight top-seven finishes in majors, and LACC might arguably be the best setup for him.
Xander Schauffele ($9,600 DraftKings | $11,100 FanDuel)
Speaking of major-championship success, Schauffele has earned five top-18 finishes in a row, dating back to the 2022 PGA Championship. He has gained strokes to the field in 19 of his last 20 majors and has gained 10-plus strokes to the field in nine of his 24 career major starts. He enters this week gaining over 28 strokes ball-striking in his last four events alone—making him a solid option to capture his first major title.
Joaquin Niemann ($7,700 DraftKings | $9,500 FanDuel)
Niemann went wire-to-wire at Riviera in 2022, another famous George C. Thomas design. He doesn’t have the same depth of metrics since he resides on the LIV Tour, but we know he’s a sound ball-striker with enough distance off-the-tee to compete. He should be able to tap into his shot-shaping and creativity to make noise this week in Los Angeles.
Wyndham Clark ($7,500 DraftKings | $8,800 FanDuel)
There’s only been one blemish on the schedule for Clark, who missed the cut at the PGA Championship right after winning the Wells Fargo Championship. I can forgive him for that! Since the start of 2023, he’s turned into one of the better iron players on tour, and he combines that with elite distance and a competent short game. He’s very dangerous every time he tees it up.
Sam Stevens ($6,600 DraftKings | $8,000 FanDuel)
Stevens has extended his made cut streak to five, which includes a few really impressive events—the Memorial, PGA Championship and Wells Fargo Championship. His putter is a problem, but he’s been able to cover those losses with top-end ball-striking. This will only be his third major, but he has made the cut in each of his last two, including a 49th-place finish at last year’s U.S. Open.
Los Angeles, CA
Golfers I Might Play
Scottie Scheffler ($10,500 DraftKings | $12,100 FanDuel)
Scheffler is breaking all the models right now. He lost a staggering 8.52 strokes/putting at the Memorial and still finished third. To put that into perspective, there have only been 162 instances of a golfer losing eight strokes putting and making the cut in a single event. Previously, the best finish of those instances was John Rollins finishing T-26 at the 2021 Zurich Classic. Scheffler is, by far, the best tee-to-green player on the planet, and he could still win even if he loses multiple strokes with the flatstick.
Jordan Spieth ($9,200 DraftKings | $10,700 FanDuel)
The two best driving performances of the year for Spieth have come within his last three starts. He gained 5.70 strokes off-the-tee at the PGA Championship and 4.27 at the Memorial. Combine those recent driving gains with positive approach performances in 11 of his past 12, and you’ve got a golfer who is flushing it. He’ll be able to tap into his creativity and short-game magic at LACC to provide a scare to the rest of the field.
Tony Finau ($8,800 DraftKings | $10,300 FanDuel)
Finau has been a bit disappointing since his win in Mexico but the price is right when considering his raw talent and fit for this course. Finau won’t care what the yardage is on the scorecard because he has all the power necessary. Before his recent “slump”, he gained multiple strokes on approach in 11 straight starts, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He took some extra time off before this week so I expect him to be well-rested and dialed.
Bryson DeChambeau ($7,600 DraftKings | $9,800 FanDuel)
DeChambeau is playing some of his best golf right now, earning three straight top-10 finishes—highlighted by a T-4 at the PGA Championship. He was mashing it at Oak Hill, where he gained 7.46 strokes off-the-tee and tacked on another 4.32 on approach. He’s missed the cut in each of his last two Masters but has found the weekend in every other major dating back to the 2020 PGA Championship.
Hayden Buckley ($6,900 DraftKings | $7,900 FanDuel)
Buckley is not a safe option, but he possesses a skill-set that becomes more valuable on demanding courses. His ability to gain multiple strokes off-the-tee is amongst the elite on the PGA Tour. The rest of his game is questionable, but he’s gotten hot with the irons (Wells Fargo and RBC Heritage) while gaining strokes putting in four of his past six. If you need safety, Buckley is not your guy. If you’re willing to take on risk for potential reward, click his name.
Golfers I'm Fading
Max Homa ($9,400 DraftKings | $10,800 FanDuel)
For the last year, everyone has bookmarked Homa for contention at this U.S. Open. For good reason: The California kid has the (competitive) course record, shooting a 61 during Pac-12s in 2013. But Homa’s not playing nearly as well as he was to start 2023. He’s lost strokes off-the-tee in five of his past six starts. For comparison, from his win at the 2022 Wells Fargo Championship to his win at the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open, Homa played 16 measured events and only lost strokes off-the-tee once. The rest of his game is showing leaks, and now we’re being asked to pay a price that seems steep.
Sungjae Im ($8,400 DraftKings | $9,900 FanDuel)
It’s shocking that Im could fall on this list on a golf course that will reward elite ball-striking. However, Im has lost 4.99 strokes ball-striking in his last four starts, which includes two disappointing MCs. Three of the five best majors on Im’s career have all come at Augusta National, which allows us to wonder how his game will translate to other major venues.
Dustin Johnson ($8,300 DraftKings | $10,400 FanDuel)
The performance we saw from Dustin Johnson at Oak Hill was Fool’s Gold. He was giving up plenty of strokes from tee-to-green and was riding a scorching putter to even make the weekend. Regression came on Saturday and Johnson faded to a T-55 finish. His T-23 at LIV Golf DC was uninspiring and leaves more questions than answers about his form for this week.
Cameron Davis ($7,300 DraftKings | $8,500 FanDuel)
Davis flew up the leaderboard on Sunday at the PGA Championship shooting a 65 and earning himself a T-4 finish. Since then, he’s been unable to put much together. He’s missed both cuts at the Charles Schwab Challenge and the Memorial while losing strokes in more areas than he’d care to admit. It’s been a streaky year for Davis who appears to be on another downtrend.
Kurt Kitayama ($6,800 DraftKings | $8,700 FanDuel)
Kitayama is one of the few “not Rahm” and “not Scheffler” winners in an elevated event this year. However, since that win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he’s missed five cuts in nine starts. He’s struggled to keep it in play off-the-tee, and he’s struggled with distance control on his second shot. Those are two areas where you don’t want any flaws when heading to LA.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly podcast, "The Loop" where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "The Loop" wherever you get your podcasts!
Rick Gehman, founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
• • •