The U.S. Open, America's beefiest major, is back on the docket, and that means there are opportunities aplenty for you to turn birdies into bucks. Let's dig into the specifics, with all lines courtesy of BetMGM and Yahoo Sportsbook.
What’s the best way to bet the U.S. Open?
Feeling lucky? Then pick one out of the 156 players teeing it up at Torrey Pines this week. Going with the favorite is always a dicey proposition — yes, sometimes the No. 1 player in the world wins, but it's a lot more likely that someone a little further down the rankings is going to have the tournament of his life. The average World Golf Ranking of the last 20 U.S. Open winners is a surprising 21.9, well off the "best in the game" pace.
Jon Rahm is one of the stronger favorites we've seen this year, for reasons we'll detail below. Right now, Rahm leads the field at +900, or 9-1, meaning you would win $900 on a $100 bet. That's not far off the odds of Bryson DeChambeau at the 2020 Masters (+750), equal to those of Dustin Johnson at the 2021 Masters, and better than Rory McIlroy at the PGA Championship (+1100). Spoiler: Exactly none of those players won.
If you're looking to expand the dart board, you can bet that a specific player makes (or, if you are heartless, misses) the cut, or finishes in the top 40, 20, 10 or 5.
Breaking down the leaders
Rahm's leading status is the result of a few factors. Unlike most U.S. Open venues, Torrey Pines is a regular stop on the PGA Tour, hosting the Farmers Insurance Open early in the calendar year. At that tournament, Rahm has been lights out, with four top-seven finishes, including a win. Combine that with the fact that he was absolutely destroying the Memorial before his COVID-induced removal, and he's a player that's dialed in at exactly the right time.
It's always worth paying attention to how players fare on the biggest stage, since there is no greater prize in golf than a major. From that standpoint, three players jump out as having the lowest strokes per round in the last five years, with a minimum of four majors played: Johnson (+1600), Brooks Koepka (+1800) and Xander Schauffele (+1800). Johnson has struggled lately, missing the cut at both the Masters and the PGA and triple-bogeying his way out of a potential win at the Palmetto Championship last weekend. Schauffele appears right on the edge of breaking through given his high-level play in the game's highest-level events. And Koepka is always a beast at the majors, always seeming to find another gear.
Bryson DeChambeau (+1800) validated every bit of the faith he had in himself with a winning performance last year. A couple players seeking to get back on the major-winning train, Jordan Spieth and McIlroy, sit just behind DeChambeau at +2000. Justin Thomas, meanwhile, has seen his odds slip a touch from +2000 to +2200.
A few players who are worth a second look given their recent status or their strong performance in majors: Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris and Masters champ Hideki Matsuyama are all at +4000, and all are worth a look.
What impact will the course have?
At 7,652 yards, Torrey Pines' South Course will play to a par 71. The weather won't have much of an impact, given that skies are supposed to be clear, winds are forecast to be low, and the course is likely to play firm and fast. As always, the rough will be deep enough to hide a minivan.
With all that information in your hand, you're going to want to go with accurate drivers off the tee, guys like Abraham Ancer (+6600), former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson (+4000), and Corey Conners (+6600). Also keep an eye on flatstick specialists like Louis Oosthuizen (+4000), who's leading the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting, as well as Patrick Reed (+2500), who won the Farmers Insurance Open in January.
Who are some notable sleepers?
He's not a sleeper, but boy, does Tony Finau (+2500) have trouble closing — nine top-10 finishes in the majors since 2017. He's also got four top-six finishes in his last six events and, big surprise, no wins. However, he ranks first in shots gained at Torrey Pines among players who have more than 10 rounds there, so that's a good enough track record to give him a second look.
Marc Leishman has four top-10 finishes at Torrey Pines, including a victory, and like Finau, he's strong in strokes gained at the course. And Jason Kokrak has a record of considerable success at Torrey, particularly in strokes gained off the tee, a key metric because of the penalty for getting out of the rough. Plus he stared down Jordan Spieth in Texas at the Charles Schwab Challenge, which takes some special guts.
What are some special bets this week?
You could throw some wagers down on the winning margin — one stroke is +225, four or more is +400, and a playoff is +350. You could bet on anyone carding a hole-in-one, with yes at -135 and no coming in at -110. You could bet on the nationality of the winner (American: -145, European +225, other +400). You could even wager that, say, any of Johnson, Koepka, Thomas and Spieth will be in the last group in the final round (+100). The opportunities are plentiful.
Is Phil Mickelson going to get that career Grand Slam this week?
He's in at +5000, so if he wins, you can too.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook at @jaybusbee or contact him at email@example.com.
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