2019 U.S. Open Picks: Our Experts’ Favorite Bets for Pebble Beach
Rob Schumacher, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jon Rahm
- The 2019 U.S. Open takes place from June 13 to June 16 at Pebble Beach in California.
- Here are our staff's favorite bets for the third major of the golf season.
The 2019 U.S. Open begins on Thursday morning (9:45 a.m. ET) at one of golf’s most iconic courses, Pebble Beach.
Dustin Johnson is the current betting favorite at 7-1 with Brooks Koepka (8-1), Tiger Woods (10-1) and Rory McIlroy (10-1) right behind him.
Given the size of these events, the elite fields that participate and the attention that they garner, bookmakers light up the board, giving bettors a gigantic menu of betting options.
Here are our staff’s favorite bets for the 2019 U.S. Open.
The Bet: Ian Poulter over Bubba Watson (-110)
There are a handful of juicy matchup bets for this week’s event. I’m talking about below the most elite level. Sure, you might be able to choose between Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, or Tommy Fleetwood and Patrick Cantlay, but these players are among the favorites because any of ‘em have a chance of playing superior golf.
I like delving a little bit below the upper surface for some value-driven head-to-heads.
Among my favorites: Matt Wallace (+130) over Patrick Reed, Sam Horsfield (+110) over Shugo Imahira and Rob Oppenheim (-125) over Billy Hurley III.
But the best of the bunch is Poulter over Bubba.
Make no mistake: This is not so much support for the Englishman as it is a fade for the two-time Masters champion. In a dozen career U.S. Open starts, Watson owns a T-5 in 2007, a T-18 in 2009 and nothing else inside the top-30. In fact, in his past five appearances, he’s gone MC-MC-51-MC-MC.
There are some tournaments — the Masters, the Travelers Championship, the Genesis Open — which suit his eye and yield solid results every year. Others decidedly don’t. This one is firmly in that latter category.
If you can find any other matchups against Bubba (I’ve seen Kevin Na at -130, too), fire away. He’s an easy fade this week.
Dr. Lou Riccio*
The Bet: Justin Rose Top 10 (+275)
You’re getting a ton of value here on Justin Rose, a past U.S. Open champion on one of the most comparable venues (Merion East). As stated above, my model gives Justin Rose the second most likely chance to win this week given the strength of his approaches from these expected distances and improved putting over the past two seasons.
So you’re getting value in all sorts of bets on Rose, as oddsmakers barely have him in their top 10 of players with the lowest odds. Rose was in position to finish top-10 at the PGA Championship before struggling on Sunday, but I’d expect him to cash this ticket at Pebble.
*Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia’s Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA’s handicap research team for three decades. More of his predictive analysis can be found over at Golf Digest.
The Bet: Webb Simpson (-150) over Phil Mickelson
According to Westgate SuperBook this past Sunday, Phil Mickelson was apparently their biggest liability for the U.S. Open. It makes sense why: He’s one of the biggest names in golf and he won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year. He has great history at that event.
But this isn’t a Pro-Am — where only two of the four days are played at Pebble, mind you — and the U.S. Open will be set up as a much tougher test. Under those conditions, Simpson is an easy buy even at this price.
The former U.S. Open winner is coming off a second-place at the Canadian Open and remains in excellent ball-striking form this season. He seems to fit this course well, as it will reward accuracy given the brutal rough and tiny greens.
Phil has been erratic as usual lately and has now missed four of his last six cuts. I’d bet this to -180.
The Bet: Justin Thomas over Jon Rahm -105
I’ve backed Thomas to win the tournament and Rahm is one of the top guys I’d look to fade this week. So getting JT as a small underdog against Rahm is just a bonus.
He’s drifted in the odds because of that wrist injury, but his ball-striking was just fine last week. If the putter cooperates, he’s in the top 5 and we’re probably seeing his odds to win chopped in half. We talk all the time about how volatile the putter is, so it wouldn’t be surprising it bounce back this week.
Rahm, on the other hand, has struggled with U.S. Open setups in the past and has missed the last two cuts, losing strokes on the tee both times.
That’s a troubling sign for his game considering he gained strokes off the tee in 11 straight events.
The Bet: Roberto Castro (-105) over Ryan Fox
I cannot, for the life of me, think of a worse course fit for Ryan Fox than Pebble Beach with a USGA setup.
If you don’t follow the European Tour, Fox is one of the longest players in the world off the tee but needs a landing strip in front of him to get on the fairway. He will not get that at Pebble Beach.
Yes, he can club down but that would take away his biggest weapon and strength, what good is Thor without his hammer?
Fox has missed the cut in his last four events which all took place in the last five weeks and has never played a professional round at Pebble.
Castro, on the other hand, has played the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in seven of the past eight years and has a couple of impressive 8th and 19th-place finishes to go along with three missed cuts.
He is a fairway-finder who will not be playing his second shot from the beach like I see Fox doing at some point on Thursday or Friday.
Castro is fresh off a 35th-place finish in Canada where he gained three strokes over the field on approach and gained four strokes putting on similar Poa greens. Course experience, course fit, and recent form, Castro hits the head to head trifecta over Fox with great odds to boot.
The Bet: Webb Simpson ($7,700 on DraftKings)
Simpson is one of my top overall values on DraftKings this week. He is a -170 favorite over Finau (and $700 cheaper), -161 favorite over Phil Mickelson (and $500 cheaper), and essentially a coin flip (-110) vs Justin Rose ($2000 cheaper).
The pricing for the U.S. Open came out early which benefited players who played well at the Canadian Open. Simpson finished T2 last week and is a clear buy in any cash game format on Draftkings this week. Consider pivoting off of Simpson in tournaments.
The Bet: Viktor Hovland to Be Top Amateur (+330)
The US Open at Pebble Beach will have 19 amateurs teeing it up this week, but it will have only one defending US Amateur Champion and one reigning Ben Hogan (top amateur golfer) Award winner in the field, and that man is Viktor Hovland.
Regarded as one of the best, if not the best amateurs on the planet, Hovland is not even one year removed from winning the US Amateur on the very course where he will be playing the U.S. Open this week. He is set to turn pro at the Travelers Championship and will be playing his final event as an amateur this week.
The most-talented amateur in the field will definitely be looking to go out with a bang. The price of this bet is far too good to pass up, as you are getting a massive favorite to win low amateur at the price of a serious underdog.
The Bet: Patrick Cantlay (18-1) to Win U.S. Open
Cantlay was among my Top-5 plays at The Masters before another member of my Augusta quintet decided to add another green jacket to his already massive collection.
Really love the way Cantlay is playing coming into the U.S. Open, highlighted by his win at The Memorial two weeks ago. Prior to that victory, the Long Beach, Ca., native wound up T9 at the Masters and secured T3 finishes at the Heritage and PGA Championship to go along with a missed cut at the Zurich Classic.
Cantlay has eight Top-10 finishes in 14 starts this season and stands second in Scoring Average (69.164) on the PGA Tour rankings. Throw in the fact Cantlay is ranked 37th in GIR (68.43 percent) to go along with being ninth in overall putting average and you have a player who can bring it from tee to green, especially at major tournaments this season.
I’m also keen on Xander Schauffele (25-1), Matt Kuchar (50-1); Tony Finau (50-1) and Shane Lowry (80-1) in the outright market.