The US Open returns to Torrey Pines (South) in San Diego, Calif., for the first time since Tiger Woods’ victory in 2008. Woods isn’t in this year’s field as Bryson DeChambeau tries to defend his 2020 US Open title at Winged Foot Golf Club. He’ll be challenged by World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, two-time US Open champ and rival Brooks Koepka, and the rest of the world’s top golfers. Below, we preview Torrey Pines and make our 2021 US Open golf betting picks among the sleepers and values at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Jon Rahm, ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is the pre-tournament betting favorite, even after having to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament due to a positive COVID-19 test. He held the 54-hole lead by six strokes at the Memorial and won’t be able to arrive at Torrey Pines until the day before the US Open while quarantining.
Also see: US Open betting guide
The course: Torrey Pines (South)
The annual host of the Farmers Insurance Open, Torrey Pines will host just its second US Open. Unlike the Farmers, the US Open will be played exclusively on the South Course. It’s the longer of the two and can play up to 7,800 yards with a par of 71. The greens are a mix of Bentgrass and Poa Annua.
There’s only one water hazard – on the 18th hole – but 54 sand bunkers are spread throughout the course. As usual at a US Open venue, the rough will be grown out and the greens will play fast and firm. Woods’ winning score in 2008 was 1-under par, while Patrick Reed won the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open in January by five strokes at minus-14.
Three of the four par 3s top 200 yards and all four play over par. Six par 4s play between 450-500 yards with the longest topping out at 505 yards. All four par 5s are at least 564 yards and range from 540 to 621 yards. Seven holes played below par in January, with the easiest being the 564-yard, par-5 6th at a scoring average of 4.632.
Key stats to consider
Tailoring our stats to the course, the focus should be on Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee with a preference for driving distance over accuracy. Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Strokes Gained: Approach, as well as Par 4 Efficiency: 450-500 Yards need to be included.
Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and Scrambling are key to combat the standard US Open conditions. Previous performance in both the US Open and the Farmers Insurance Open should be considered.
Woods and Rocco Mediate went to an 18-hole and then sudden-death playoff at 1-under par in 2008. Lee Westwood finished alone in third at even par and 10 others finished between plus-2 and plus-4. The US Open has since switched to a two-hole aggregate playoff in the event of ties after 72 holes.
2021 US Open sleepers and value bets
Ryan Palmer +20000
There’s hope for the 44-year-old Palmer to get his first career major win after Mickelson became the Tour’s oldest major winner at the PGA Championship. The Texas native lost the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open in a playoff and was a co-runner-up at January’s event. He has averaged 1.44 strokes gained per round over 27 career rounds played on the South Course.
Palmer is 49th in scrambling, T34 in par 4 efficiency from the chosen distance and T39 in driving accuracy. He has struggled around the greens this season but is an excellent putter. His only missed cut of 2021 was at the PGA Championship, and was largely due to poor play around the greens.
He’s +15000 at FanDuel and is an excellent value at DraftKings based on strong course history while ranked 34th in the world.
Max Homa +10000
Homa has 14 career rounds played on the South Course with a modest 0.34 strokes gained on the field per round, but he has had better results of late with a T9 at the 2020 Farmers and a T18 in January. He won February’s Genesis Invitational amid a strong stretch of play to open the 2020-21 season and more recently has T6 finishes at the Valspar Championship and Memorial Tournament. Those bracket missed cuts at the Wells Fargo Championship and PGA Championship.
He’s 48th in driving distance and his iron play has been excellent with 0.49 SG: Tee-to-Green and 0.40 SG: Approach per round. He missed the cut in each of his last five majors but is up to 39th in the OWGR and just two spots shy of his career-best ranking.
Sergio Garcia +8000
Garcia missed four straight cuts following a T9 finish at The Players Championship and a T5 in the WGC-Match Play, but he rebounded with a T20 at the Charles Schwab Challenge to stay inside the top 50 of the OWGR. The 2017 Masters champ missed the cut in 11 of 15 majors since, but he tied for 18th at Torrey Pines in 2008 and has five career top-10 finishes in the US Open.
The veteran is second among qualified golfers behind DeChambeau in SG: Off-the-Tee per round, and he’s 15th in driving distance. He’s also 21st in scrambling. He has averaged 1.55 strokes gained per round on the South Course.
2021 US Open betting picks: Our winner
Viktor Hovland +2700
Hovland’s a value at FanDuel, where he’s 11th by the odds. He’s tied for ninth at DraftKings with odds of +2200.
The 23-year-old has two PGA Tour wins and finished inside the top 15 in each of the last two runnings of the US Open. He has six top-10 finishes against just one missed cut through 13 events this year, including a T2 at the Farmers. He was up to 11th in the OWGR following back-to-back T3 finishes at the Valspar Championship and Wells Fargo Championship.
Hovland is 53rd in driving distance and T66 in par 4 efficiency while fourth among qualified golfers with 0.84 SG: Off-the-Tee per round. He’s also averaging 0.80 SG: Approach and 1.76 SG: Tee-to-Green per round.
Odds last updated Monday, June 7, but subject to change.
Best golf betting sites
The PGA Tour is one of the major focuses of online and mobile sportsbooks such as DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and BetMGM. All three online books, and their respective mobile apps, offer outright, placing, matchup and prop odds on weekly tournaments, as well as futures on majors and the Ryder and Presidents Cups. It’s also possible to live-bet a tournament mid-round or at the end of the first, second, or third rounds as odds adjust.
Once you have an account on your book of choice, select PGA Tour or Golf from the top menu alongside NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and the other sporting options. From there, choose the tournament for a given week, or look to the Masters, PGA Championship, US Open, or Open Championship among the available futures bets. Place your wagers for the outright winner, top 5 or top 10 finishers, or head-to-head round or tournament matchups.
How to bet on golf and win
Odds to win a tournament can range from as low as +500 for a favorite like world No. 1 Dustin Johnson in an event with a weaker field to upward of +250000 for a little-known, low-ranked golfer. Outrights are also available to lead after each round, with odds rising slightly for the top of the field and dropping for the longshots. It’s best to spread out your wagers across several golfers with odds of +2000 or higher while steering clear of the heavy favorites.
All books will offer bets for a top 5, top 10, top 20 or even top 30 finish; these are available for the whole tournament or for each round. The odds drop significantly, especially for a top 30 showing, but it’s a good way to still get action on the longshot you like when backing a win is too much of a risk. Odds are released a little later than the outright odds.
Head-to-head or 3-ball
These bets pair golfers from the same tournament groupings or from similar Official World Golf Ranking positions for the best score in either a single round or the tournament. Compare world rankings of golfers from the same group, while adjusting for current form and course history. Odds will generally range from -150 to +150 for a much smaller return on your investment.
Like the above, books will also compose larger groups of comparable golfers based on their OWGR position, or nationality. Back a golfer to finish as the top American or top South African. Groups generally consist of between six and eight golfers with odds ranging from -110 to +1000.
These bets carry an incredible amount of risk but can be best way to find value in fields fronted by two of the world’s top golfers. You’ll need to predict the exact finishing position of the winner and runner-up, i.e. McIlroy to win and Jon Rahm to finish second. While they’d individually be carrying outright odds lower than +1000, the straight forecast can fetch a much greater return.
Each way bets combine an outright bet with a placing wager. Bettors make both bets and are paid out for both if their golfer wins, or just for the placing of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th.
The PGA Tour website (and other sites) track golfer scoring by round and by tee time, whether it be in the morning or afternoon. Look at these stats and recent form and back a longshot to get off to a hot start before falling off. Additionally, someone like McIlroy will often have higher odds to lead after just 18 holes than he would to win the tournament.
Weekly props ask for a hole-in-one to be scored, for the winner to birdie the 72nd hole, or for the event to go to a playoff. These are generally far less profitable than an outright ticket or other props. Like Super Bowl novelty props, there isn’t a whole lot of research required for most of these odds, and odds will be heavily skewed toward the most likely result.
Golf betting strategy
Having gone over where to bet on the PGA Tour and some of the available betting options, we’ll now look at some strategies for long-term golf betting success to keep you turning a consistent profit week-to-week.
Unlike in the NFL where bettors have up to 16 games on which to bet per week, or the NBA, MLB or NHL with 10-15 games per day, golf bettors have around 155 golfers they could back every week. It’s important to diversify and back several different golfers each week, all while focusing on longshots. Like Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm or Brooks Koepka? They likely won’t be worth your while at odds ranging from +500 to +1500. Focus the majority of your weekly bets on those priced at +2000 or higher, with a win going a lot further.
Separate your weekly allowance – approximately 10 percent of your bankroll – between outright, placing and matchup bets. While the large profits come from hitting an outright winner, hedge those bets on more conservative lines to give yourself a better chance of making at least a moderate return on your overall investment.
One of the most frustrating parts of sports betting, in general, is having a golfer withdraw from a tournament due to injury. Bets are likely to be refunded if the golfer withdrew before hitting their first tee shot. If it comes after the first shot or at any point thereafter, you’re likely to be out of luck. This is another reason to diversify your wagers.
There’s also little news circulating before events regarding which golfers may be dealing with injuries. There aren’t beat reporters tied to each golfer, like in team sports. It’s largely on bettors to monitor schedules, results, and news pertaining to surgeries or injury treatments. Always be wary of golfers coming off a withdrawal, missed cut or a particularly poor round which may have been the result of a minor injury.
Course history vs. recent form vs. stats
The three main areas of PGA Tour betting research focus on past success at a course and/or tournament, recent results and scores, and statistical rankings against the rest of the field. The latter has been a major area of growth in recent years, both on the PGA Tour website and third-party sites, with a focus on Strokes Gained. This measures a golfer’s performance in a statistical area against the rest of the field in events they’ve played.
Course history vs. recent form can be a point of contention in the golf betting community. All too often in golf we see someone come off a string of missed cuts only to put together the perfect four rounds for their first career win. We also see golfers win an event after never having cracked the top 10 of a field there or miss a cut after five-plus years of top finishes. It all goes into making golf one of the most exciting and sweat-inducing sports on which to bet.
The PGA Tour schedule is made up of 49 events over the course of the year, though some of these tournaments run in the same weeks. Sponsorships, prize money or appearance fees can sway top golfers to play a European Tour event over a lesser PGA Tour tournament. Most top-ranked golfers will pick and choose their events throughout a season, focusing on majors and the most profitable tournaments. Others will play nearly every week while attempting to work their way up the OWGR or gain entry to other more exclusive events.
When looking to place a wager, it’s important to track a golfer’s travel, whether it be back-and-forth from the US and Europe, or bouncing between the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour. Other golfers may take prolonged breaks either to rest an injury, prepare for a particular event, or work on their game outside of a tournament format. It’s also common for more experienced and successful golfers to tailor their annual schedules around events and courses where they’ve previously won, or the majors.
Sportsbook line movement
Betting on golf is all about knowing how to spot value. Top-ranked golfers are nearly always worth a wager on the rare occasions when they carry odds higher than 20-1. Proven winners can put it together at any time on any course, regardless of their course history, recent form, or statistical rankings.
Lines can also adjust throughout a tournament week based on the public’s betting action. Someone regarded as a value when the odds are posted Monday afternoon may lose some of their profit margin by Thursday morning.
All of this is especially important when looking to place futures bets on majors. Know a golfer’s worth and true abilities, and be prepared to place your futures bet amid a poor stretch of results in regular tournaments or following a minor injury. While their odds may rise several months out from a major, they’re likely to correct by the time of the tournament week.
While not as commonly discussed as weather pertaining to baseball or football games, forecasts are extremely important in golf betting. Whether a golfer is teeing off in the morning or afternoon waves can make a world of difference. Windier conditions on the west coast or in rainy locations are especially impactful. Always be sure to check daily and hourly forecasts, especially when looking to place a First-Round Leader bet or for any single-round bet.
Many golf fans and professionals alike often joke about the importance of the FedExCup. It has become more of an incentive for others, largely due to the significant financial bonus attached. Additionally, mid-tier golfers will load up their schedules around majors. This can help them gain a late entry to a field with a preceding win or a move up the world rankings. Be wary of a top-ranked golfer appearing in a weaker field at a lesser-known event. Just because sponsors want them there doesn’t mean the tournament will get their full effort.