US Open Golf Betting Preview: Sleepers, Values, And Our Pick To Win

Posted By Esten McLaren on June 12, 2019 - Last Updated on February 18, 2020

The third Major of the 2019 PGA Tour season is the 119th US OpenPebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif. will host the event for the sixth time in its history but for the first time since Graeme McDowell‘s lone career Major victory in 2010. Reigning Masters champion, Tiger Woods, won the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach as he beat the field by 15 strokes with his finishing score of minus-12.

Two-time defending US Open champ Brooks Koepka headlines the field as the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking. Koepka is less than a month removed from his second straight win of the PGA Championship and the Wanamaker Trophy. He aims to tie Willie Anderson‘s all-time record with his third consecutive US Open title. The 29-year-old is coming off an uninspired T50 finish at the RBC Canadian Open.

The US Open will next return to Pebble Beach in 2027.

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The course: Pebble Beach Golf Links

Unlike the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am held in February and won by Phil Mickelson, the US Open won’t be split between Pebble Beach GL, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and Monterey Peninsula Country Club. The event will be played solely on Pebble Beach GL for all four rounds.

The original Jack Neville and Douglas Grant design underwent a renovation in 2016 overseen by Arnold Palmer and Thad Layton. The par-71 course will now measure 7,075 yards for the Major.

The rough was already lengthened and thickened ahead of the pro-am in February and should be up to the punishing standard golfers and fans have come to expect for the US Open. The greens will be firm and quick, and there will be little room for error.

McDowell’s winning score nine years ago was even par, with no player other than Tiger finishing in red figures 10 years before that.

Two of the most iconic holes in golf are par 3s at Pebble Beach. The 109-yard 7th is the shortest hole in Major championship golf. The 208-yard 17th is among the most difficult par 3s on Tour with bunkers turning the putting surface into a near-island and forcing precise tee shots.

Two par 4s on the front nine are longer than 500 yards, and two are shorter than 400. The longest hole on the course is the 580-yard, par-5 14th.

Only two holes averaged scores below par in 2010: the 331-yard, par-4 4th, and the 523-yard, par-5 6th. The most difficult was No. 17 at a scoring average of 3.487.

Key stats to consider for the 2019 US Open

Pebble Beach GC will play 35 yards longer than it did for McDowell’s win in 2010 but remains among the shortest courses on the US Open rotation. The pro-am can’t offer too much valuable information as the degree of difficulty is increased dramatically for the Major championship.

Prior success in Major fields and in US Open conditions is much more valuable than course history.

Looking at the course design and hole lengths, golf bettors should be focusing on the key stats of Strokes Gained: ApproachStrokes Gained: Around-the-Green, Proximity Gained: 125-150 Yards and Fairways Gained. Add in Strokes Gained: Putting as the US Open often goes to the golfer who can best handle the lightning-quick greens. Sand Saves Gained should also factor into decision making, as the most predominant hazard on the course, other than the undefeated Pacific Ocean and associated winds.

2019 US Open: Sleepers and value bets

Cameron Smith +14000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Smith missed the cut at last year’s US Open, but he first broke onto the scene on the PGA Tour with his T4 finish at the 2015 event. The Australian is 33rd in the world, and although he’s coming off a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament, he finished T64 at the PGA Championship and T51 at the Masters.

He’s second in the field in SG: Putting over everyone’s last 24 rounds on Poa Annua greens, according to Fantasy National. He’s the two-time defending champ at the European Tour‘s Australian PGA Championship, and he finished T6 at the WGC-Mexico Championship earlier this season.

Kevin Na +10000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Na ranks second behind Canadian Open-winner and US Open-co-favorite Rory McIlroy (+850) in this week’s stat model. He’s in the top 10 of the field in SG: Approach and SG: Around-the-Green. The 35-year-old picked up his third career PGA Tour victory at last month’s Charles Schwab Challenge, defeating Tony Finau by four strokes with a final-round 66.

He didn’t participate in last year’s event, but he had a career-best Major finish of seventh at the 2016 US Open. Na is 31st in the OWGR but he’s 34th at the sportsbook to represent a value bet.

Paul Casey +5000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Casey is fifth in my model at Fantasy National, ranking inside the top 10 in both Fairways Gained and Proximity over his last 24 rounds. He rebounded from a missed cut at the Masters to finish 29th at the PGA Championship before withdrawing from the Charles Schwab Challenge after the first round.

The three-time PGA Tour winner has been inconsistent in all four Majors but especially the US Open. He placed T16 last year and 26th in 2017; his best finish was a T10 in 2007. At 41 years old, the Englishman is one of the top contenders on Tour for best-player-without-a-Major-win.

Matthew Fitzpatrick +10000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Fitzpatrick ranks 36th in the world despite never winning on the PGA Tour. He’s a five-time champion on the European circuit, including back-to-back playoff wins in the Omega European Masters. His three consecutive made cuts at the US Open include a T12 finish last year, and he made it to the weekend in both of this year’s first two Majors.

He’s 28th on the PGA in SG: Total with just 17 measured rounds this year. He has only the 42nd-best odds to win the tournament despite his world ranking, making him a tremendous value in a field watered down by sectional qualifiers and amateurs.

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2019 US Open: Golfers to avoid

Jon Rahm +3700 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Rahm isn’t a good statistical fit for Pebble Beach GL. He ranks outside the top 100 on tour in four of the six key stats over everyone’s last 50 rounds. He’s just 148th in SG: Putting on the Poa Annua surface, despite an overall Tour rank of 53rd in putting this season. His best US Open finish was a T23 as the low Amateur in 2016. He’s missed the cut in back-to-back years as a professional.

The Spaniard also missed the cut at both the PGA Championship and Charles Schwab Challenge. He’s fallen to 13th in the OWGR and ranks 13th by the odds.

Jordan Spieth +1900 (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Spieth has a significant discrepancy between his world ranking and his odds to win. He’s fallen 11 spots from the end of 2018 to enter the week at 28th in the OWGR. The former world No. 1 is still fifth by the odds at FanDuel and DraftKings. Don’t get trapped by the better number at DraftKings and other books. Despite some better results of late, Spieth lacks the necessary value for wagering as a public favorite.

Bubba Watson +14000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Watson’s lone top-10 finish in a US Open was in his second-career appearance in 2007. He’s missed the cut in five of the past seven years as he struggles with the tighter fairways, longer rough, and quicker greens. He doesn’t have a win this year after picking up three victories in 2018. Don’t get suckered into the high odds for a two-time Masters champion.

2019 US Open: The winner

Justin Thomas +3300 (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Thomas, the No. 7 player in the world, has made three consecutive cuts at the US Open, topping out at T9 in 2017. Fourteen golfers have better odds to win than Thomas, likely a result of his withdrawal from the PGA Championship and missed cut at the Memorial Tournament. He most recently finished T20 in a group including world No. 2 Dustin Johnson at the Canadian Open.

He ranks fifth on Tour in both SG: Total and SG: Tee-to-Green. He’s seventh in SG: Approach in 34 measured rounds this season. Thomas leads the Tour by breaking par on 27.54 percent of holes. He’s also been the best on Tour in par-5 scoring.

The 26-year-old’s performance at the Canadian Open should have been enough to dispel any concerns over the wrist injury which forced his withdrawal from the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black last month.

Round 1 Leader

Shane Lowry +5000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Lowry rode a hot putter to a T2 finish at the Canadian Open, finishing seven strokes behind McIlroy at 15-under. He averaged 1.91 Strokes Gained: Putting, according to Data Golf for his best finish of the year. He was third at the RBC Heritage in mid-April and came eighth at the PGA Championship. His best US Open finish was a T2 in 2016.

Other bets to consider

Top 5 Finish: Jason Day +550 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Eight golfers have better odds to finish in the top five than Day. He’s fallen to No. 16 in the OWGR as he hasn’t won this season after winning the Farmers Insurance Open and Wells Fargo Championship last year. He has three top-5 and five top-10 finishes at the US Open in his career.

Group A Betting: Rory McIlroy +260 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

McIlroy trails both Koepka and Johnson (+240) coming off his Canadian victory. He leads my stat model over everyone’s most recent 24 rounds played on Poa Annua greens. He just picked up his fourth career victory by at least seven strokes over the field. McIlroy gained 1.46 strokes putting and led the field with 5.27 SG: Total.

Esten McLaren Avatar
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Esten McLaren

Esten grew up on a golf course and made the switch from real-life trunk slammer to the daily fantasy realm as soon as the game was launched. He's been betting golf regularly for the better part of the last 10 years, most memorably winning big on Rory McIlroy's 2014 Open title, but a trip to Carnoustie for the 2018 Open and a walk around St. Andrews share the honor for best golf highlight. He has written about all major sports at FNTSY Sports Network, theScore, and SportsBookWire.

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