PGA Betting Guide for the U.S. Open
We're just hours away from the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and you shouldn't need me to get you excited about that.
Unfortunately, that also means we're one weekend away from having just one major left in 2019. It went by so fast.
Let's dig into the field and see what stands out and which golfers might fit your eye to back this week. (All stats come from FantasyNational.com and cover the past 100 rounds on the PGA Tour, unless otherwise noted.)
Approach to the Card
The U.S. Open is no joke, and we saw an even-par winner in 2010 (Graeme McDowell) the last time it was held at Pebble Beach. Back in 2000, nobody was better than +3 outside of Tiger Woods (-12). It'll be tough, and frankly, this isn't the type of event to load up on long shot bets.
For that reason, the second or third tier (just after the favorites) is probably where the most value is overall. As usual, I'll list more names than I would add to my own card because you may not be interested in my favorite pick, but someone else who just misses out for me might catch your eye. More options should help you narrow it down to guys who pique your interest, and you should always feel confident in your own picks.
Picks to Consider
Dustin Johnson (FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +850) - Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Brooks Koepka are all +850 to win. Combined, they probably equate to somewhere around 20% of the total win equity among the field based on projections (it's 21.1%, per my simulations). McIlroy has the unfortunate honor of having won this past weekend at the RBC Canadian Open. The course -- Hamilton -- requires similar skills to what Pebble Beach requires, primarily accuracy and placement over distance, but expecting McIlroy to repeat his high end of variance is tough. Koepka, of course, has won two straight U.S. Opens, but the shift to Pebble Beach requires a much different skillset than at Shinnecock and Erin Hills. Koepka finished 50th at the RBC Canadian Open and gained just 0.1 stroke off the tee on a course that didn't really allow him to launch it 14 times. That leaves us Dustin Johnson, who finished 20th at the RBC Canadian Open but ranked 5th in strokes gained: tee to green. Johnson has two wins at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am since 2009 and held a big lead in the 2010 U.S. Open entering Sunday. You can't back all the really short favorites, but if picking one guy at +850, it's Johnson for me.
Justin Thomas (+2700) - Thomas' number is quite long for a player of his caliber. Thomas' wrist injury kept him from the PGA Championship, but things are pointing up since his return. Over the past 100 rounds, he ranks third in strokes gained: approach and second in opportunities gained, a FantasyNational stat that includes greens and fringes in regulation within 15 feet. That means he could be flirting with the pin often this weekend. He's also 11th in bogey avoidance and 14th in total strokes gained in windy conditions. Thomas also ranks 16th among the field in strokes gained: putting on poa. He's a high-risk play, but at +2700, Thomas, who my simulations think wins 3.8% of the time, is firmly worth considering. Last week, Thomas finished 20th at the RBC Canadian Open. Nobody seems to care. He actually ranked second in the field in strokes gained: tee to green at Hamilton. He had a poor putting outing and really wouldn't have caught McIlroy unless he really caught fire, but he seems past his wrist injury, and that's a situation we can take advantage of.
Adam Scott (+3200) - Scott (+2.11 adjusted strokes gained average) has been better than every golfer in this field other than Rory, Dustin, and Cantlay in 2019. Scott grades out ninth in approach and seventh in greens in regulation over the past 100 rounds. He's also 14th in strokes gained: putting on poa over a 100-round sample. Scott has missed the cut at the past two events at Pebble Beach. However, his ball-striking numbers were positive when playing at Pebble Beach Golf Links, so that's promising, and Scott has the pedigree needed to hang around for four rounds.
Hideki Matsuyama (+3200) - Hideki hasn't won since 2017, and that's always unfortunate when looking for a winner, but he really does fit the course well enough to consider at this price. I've referenced my adjusted strokes gained data a few times already, and Matsuyama (+1.85) ranks sixth in the field in 2019. He's been nearly as good as the top-tier golfers but comes in at significantly lower win odds. Hideki grades out fifth in strokes gained: approach and first in opportunities gained. Simply put: Hidekibot can use elite iron play to stick it close to the flag. With small greens, he shouldn't face long putts. The biggest issue is a lack of course history at Pebble Beach. However, he's been great at majors, grading out 13th in the field in strokes gained since 2014.
Matt Kuchar (+4100) - Kuchar, who ranks 14th in strokes gained: approach, should benefit from an emphasis on accuracy over distance at Pebble Beach. Kuchar has great finishes at majors (but no wins, of course) and really just comes in longer than he probably should at +4100. Kuchar, per my simulations, has a 2.8% chance to win, giving some positive value at these odds.
Webb Simpson (+4600) - Henrik Stenson (+5500) in this range is also intriguing, but Simpson does stand out as a better value objectively. Simpson has thrived at majors, making nine straight cuts and racking up six top-30 finishes consecutively. That doesn't include a win at the 2018 PLAYERS, the fifth major. Simpson grades out 13th in strokes gained approach and stands out around the green (third in scrambling and fourth in strokes gained: around the green), areas where Stenson isn't as good.
Kevin Na (+10000) - Na just won the Charles Schwab and picked up 8.3 strokes on his approach shots to do so. That's his second win since last July (Greenbrier). Neither are super strong fields, but Na has the type of game to contend at Pebble Beach (27th in approach and 10th around the green) if things go well. Na is a volatile golfer, and that's fine for someone who is priced at +10000.
Jim Furyk (+12000) - Furyk has a long history at Pebble Beach, and if it's accuracy and avoiding trouble we're seeking, then Furyk deserves some attention. Furyk leads the field in scrambling and is 20th in approach. He's a good poa player, a good wind player, and a golfer who benefits from having the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach instead of a bomber's paradise.
Tyrrell Hatton (+14000) - Hatton has really good strokes gained numbers in windy conditions (27th in total strokes gained) and has better approach numbers on the European Tour than on the PGA Tour. At a links-style track -- albeit a course he's never played -- Hatton is a much better bet down in this range than a lot of other long shots.