Our Experts’ Best Bets for U.S. Open Round 1

Our Experts’ Best Bets for U.S. Open Round 1 article feature image

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Pictured: Dustin Johnson (left to right) and Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau

The 2019 U.S. Open gets underway on Thursday morning at 9:45 a.m. ET at the iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links in California.

Dustin Johnson is the current betting favorite at 7-1 with two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka right behind him at 8-1. Koepka, who won the PGA Championship last month, was the favorite to win at Pebble Beach for most of the past month, but he’s since drifted a little bit at the Westgate SuperBook.

Tiger Woods is hanging around near the top of the board at 10-1, the same odds as Rory McIlroy. Jordan Spieth, who all of a sudden is in good form, is tied with Patrick Cantlay at 16-1.

Check out our golf experts’ favorite bets for the first day of the third major of the 2019 season.

Jason Sobel

The Bet: Haotong Li (+160) over Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes

If you’re looking for a little more value than a head-to-head matchup bet can provide, check out 3-Ball options, in which a player has to beat his other two playing partners.

There are a handful of possibilities for the first round in which one of the three can easily be eliminated, essentially rendering it a matchup bet with better odds.

My pick is Li, the talented young player from China, mostly due to the fact that while I like him, I really don’t like his two fellow competitors, Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes.

Maybe my Fade Bubba strategy is going too far, but he’s been awful at the U.S. Open over the past decade. Meanwhile, Holmes has been awful ever since winning at Riviera four months ago. This feels like a perfect fit for Haotong.


The Bet: Dustin Johnson First-Round Leader (16-1)

DJ’s history in the majors is a fascinating topic. He is remembered mostly for his obvious failures to close them on Sundays, but nobody gives him credit for the four times he has led a major after Round 1, or the nine times that he has sat inside the top five.

OK, only golf handicappers would care about his Round 1 record, and I fondly remember 2015, when D.J. was the First-Round Leader in back-to-back majors at Chambers Bay and St. Andrews. D.J. also unsurprisingly ranks third overall in Round 1 scoring average this season in PGA Tour’s events.

So let’s summarize this:

  • We get better odds here compared to his outright winner number.
  • DJ loves to storm out of the gates in majors, and his most concerning attribute — that he fails to come through on Sunday — doesn’t come into play with this wager.
  • He has a morning tee time on a course that he has turned into his golfing playground throughout his career.

Jeremy Pond

The Bet: Three-Balls: Xander Schauffele (+115) over Matt Wallace, Cam Smith

This feels like it could be the week where Schauffele breaks through to win his first major championship. Absolutely love this matchup against Wallace, a regular on the European Tour who had a T40 and two missed cuts before his T3 finish at the PGA Championship, and Smith, who has finished no better than a tie for 51st place since the first week of March. Smith also missed the cut in four of the eight events in that time frame.

On the other hand, Schauffele has been solid in the past two majors, finishing tied for second at Augusta and tied for 16th at the PGA Championship. His most recent T14 finish at The Memorial has me thinking the world’s No. 10 player and owner of 11 Top 25 finishes in 15 starts this season is sitting on another big showing at Pebble Beach.

Drew Stoltz

The Bet: Dustin Johnson First-Round Score Under 70.5

DJ’s track record at Pebble Beach is better than anybody else in this field not named after a jungle cat. He has two wins, two runners-up, and three other top 5’s on his resume at this iconic track. He also held the 54-hole lead last time the US Open was played at Pebble.

All of the info on the ground suggests that the fairways will be softer than a typical U.S. Open and the greens won’t firm up until later in the weekend, so I expect DJ — who could play this track with his eyes closed — to come out of Round 1 with a low score.

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