June 14, 2021
2021 U.S. Open Best Bets
2021 U.S. Open Picks & Predictions
The second golf major of the year is upon us, as the annual tradition of having the US Open conclude on Father's Day has been restored this year. The other annual tradition the US Open brings no matter when on the calendar it's played is long and thick rough on top of a golf course that's set up to already play very long to begin with.
The good news in that regard for the players this year is that for anyone who's had a year or two playing on the PGA Tour, they are likely going to be somewhat familiar with the challenges Torrey Pines brings.
It's the usual host for Farmers Insurance Open typically played in late-January as it was earlier this year. Patrick Reed tamed this track that week with a five-shot victory (-14), but there still were a handful of names who finished in the Top 15 that week that are among the longer hitters in the game right now. Length is always going to be a plus at any US Open, and you don't have to look much further than the past handful of US Open winners to see what I mean.
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Bryson DeChambeau enters this week as the defending champion and length is the biggest part of his game right now. But in terms of driving distance stats at the time of playing the US Open since 2016, the eventual US Open winner is going to be ranked rather high.
In 2019, Gary Woodland ranked 11th in driving distance coming into the US Open, Brooks Koepka in 2018 (didn't have enough starts at the time) ultimately finished 8th in driving distance for the year that year, after entering the 2017 US Open ranked 5th in that category prior to winning it then as well.
And in 2016, it was Dustin Johnson who entered this week ranked 3rd in driving distance before going on to win, a year after he blew his chance at the 2015 US Open crown when he ranked 1st in driving distance at the time. Longer shots off the tee lead to shorter clubs in the hands for approach shots and with how long the USGA always wants their national championship to be, it's an event that does actually end up pricing out a good chunk of the field so to speak.
And while the stat is specifically related to distance from the tee box, as long as the US Open continually wants to make sure its venues have knee-high rough, having length is going to always help the longer players muscle the ball out of that thick rough. Whether it's the ability to use shorter clubs to not get a hosel stuck going through the thick stuff, or just pure brute force, this really is the one Major every year where you've got to hone in on length in general.
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|U.S. Open Winners (2010-2020)|
At 26-years-old, Jon Rahm (+800) comes into the week as the favorite, and had I been a member of the 2017 UCF football team I'd say coming off a win as well. I'm not sure how any player responds to the kind of result Rahm had to deal with a couple of weeks ago, and even with him checking off all the boxes in terms of prime age, having length (21st in driving distance), and some great course history (a win and a runner-up at the Farmers since 2017), being priced as the favorite probably isn't worth the headache of trying to figure out how Rahm will respond.
Chances are he won't be running away with it even at his best, meaning the idea of waiting for a better price should he be playing well may be the better way to go. And if it's affected his play negatively this week, getting a better price won't be a problem.
After that it's a great group of names such as defending champion DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, and Collin Morikawa can all be found somewhere in the +1200 to +2000 range depending where you look.
Five of those eight names have won this tournament before, and seven of the eight names there are within four years of that average winning age of 28.09 the past decade.
No shortage of length for most of those names either, and with hitting the smaller Torrey Pines greens being another likely skill set the eventual winner will have excelled at this week, hard to pick too many holes in the games of any of those guys.
It's one name from that group that starts off the selections for the week, even if the driving distance numbers aren't really there for him.
Length is going to be much more of a concern for Jordan Spieth (ranked 83rd in driving distance) than it will be for Thomas (ranked 50th), but the recent form has been off the charts for Spieth these past few months. He's gained strokes off-the-tee in each of his past nine starts, and when paired with his irons and putting stroke finding their scorching hot ways again, I'm comfortable taking the best price I can with Spieth believing he'll be able to figure out how to succeed this week.
The Farmers Insurance Open hasn't always been his favorite stops on Tour, as he did lose strokes off-the-tee in missing the cut back in January, but it was a T4 and T3 in his next two starts and things took off from there.
Putting and strong iron play are always going to be needed at any US Open track where par is always going to be a solid score, and there aren't any concerns in that regard either. As long as he executes from the tee box, I think we see Speith's name involved on the weekend.
Not to mention the fact that at the end of July, Spieth will be turning 28 on the nose too.
This is the range opening up on the longer hitters this year makes the most sense to me, as Will Zalatoris ranks 25th in driving distance entering the week, and Niemann sits 9th.
It's Joaquin Niemann that needs that length to hit more greens as it's been some struggles around the greens that have held him back in recent weeks, but when you're strong with the driver and the putter, and above average in the approach game in terms of Strokes Gained numbers like Niemann is, it's not hard to have things fall into place.
At just 22-years-old, this former No. 1 ranked amateur golfer has still got his best golf ahead of him by a long shot, and we've already had McIlroy at 22 win the US Open in 2011, and Spieth was 21 when he did it in 2015. Niemann's definitely got the talent to follow in those types of footsteps, and skipping this year's Farmers Insurance Open after some uninspiring results there in 2019 and 2020 may not have been the worst thing for him.
This may not end up being the right Major to have a piece of Zalatoris after his runner-up finish at the Masters in April, but the 24-year old is built to have success at US Opens for a long time.
He finished 6th in this Tournament back in September, as he's got the length to compete with the best in any depth of US Open field, and his GIR percentage (69.06% this year) is just the perfect pairing of attributes needed to be a factor when playing longer golf courses.
If Zalatoris and his 3rd ranked SG: Approach could borrow Niemann's 23rd ranked SG: Putting numbers for a full week he'd be hard to beat, as Zalatoris' result this week is going to have a lot to do with his putter (ranks 128th in SG: Putting). But that's a weakness I think you've got to live with here, especially when par is going to be a good score and this is a guy that's just pumping greens in regulation each and every round. Two-putt pars are going to keep you around a long time on a US Open leaderboard and if Zalatoris can even catch a day and a half of a hot putter, maybe he's the next young budding star in the game to get his first career Major victory.
With recent finishes of 43rd, 28th, MC, 46th, 2nd, and 9th, in his last six US Open starts, the 34-year old Shane Lowry tends to always find a way to compete in US Opens, even if the distance off the tee isn't always there (299.8 yards average in 2021). But like Zalatoris, he's strong pretty much everywhere in Strokes Gained categories this year except for putting.
However, with three Top 10's in his past four starts, including a T4 and T6 in his last two, and a Top 10 at Torrey Pines from the 2015 edition of the Farmer's Insurance Open, there is enough there to put a Lowry ticket in pocket at this price and hope he can roll some putts in. The confidence has to be there with that club for Lowry right now given his recent finishes, and if the approach game continues to gain strokes on the field as it has in his last six starts I don't see how a few putts won't start to drop.
Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.
Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.
Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.
If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.