Adon’s U.S. Open First-Round Leader Bets: Dustin Johnson and a Few Sleepers

Adon’s U.S. Open First-Round Leader Bets: Dustin Johnson and a Few Sleepers article feature image
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Stephen Spillman-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dustin Johnson.

  • Adon S. runs through his favorite First-Round Leader bets for the 2019 U.S. Open, which gets underway at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Thursday, June 13.
  • Dustin Johnson has shown an ability to get off to quick starts at major championships, and at 16-1 odds, he's worth a wager this week, in addition to five other golfers.

This week brings us to my favorite region of the country when making First-Round Leader wagers — the West Coast. The poa greens out west basically cut the field in half for us on Thursday since we usually always will target the early morning wave to take advantage of smoother greens.

Poa grows throughout the day, which gives the golfers in the afternoon wave bumpier surfaces to putt on, and with there being no wind bias at the time of writing, I see no reason to deviate from my tried-and-true FRL betting strategy for tournaments out west.

Even if we disregard the type of grass here, it is typically a good idea to target the early morning starters when wind is not a factor, since the greens will firm out as the sun bakes them throughout the day. Add in the fact that these are USGA greens, and it makes even more sense to target the softer greens in the morning wave.

Here are my six selections to lead the U.S. Open after Round 1. I’ll will be risking roughly 1 unit total to win 10 units.


Dustin Johnson

Odds: 16-1 (.63u)
Tee time: 11:13 a.m. ET

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.

Shane Lowry

Odds: 70-1 (.14u)
Tee time: 11:13 a.m. ET

I’m sure you guys are getting tired of me writing about this Irishman, but I will continue to bet on Lowry until the oddsmakers adjust for his recent form.

Shane shot an opening-round 62 when he went wire-to-wire to win in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. He also led after Round 1 at Hilton Head when he opened with a 65, and sat second to Keegan Bradley last week in Canada after opening with a 64.

I have discussed in previous articles and on Twitter about how Lowry has performed on some of the toughest major championship courses — Bethpage Black, Chambers Bay and Oakmont, among them.

You know what those all have in common? They all feature poa greens, like we’ll see at Pebble Beach.

Emiliano Grillo

Odds: 110-1 (.09u)
Tee time: 10:07 a.m. ET

I am taking a shot here on one of the streakiest birdie-makers on tour. As a bonus, he’s someone who I’ve had success targeting on poa and Bentgrass greens.

Grillo doesn’t have any course history at Pebble Beach as a pro, but his fairways-and-greens game should mesh well with this USGA setup. He is averaging nearly six strokes gained tee to green over his past five events, according to Fantasy National and has been about field average with his putter, which is actually great news for this ball-striker.

Scott Piercy

Odds: 110-1 (.09u)
Tee time: 9:56 a.m. ET

Similar to Grillo, I am targeting Piercy and his early morning tee time because he is one of the premier ball-strikers on tour, and he can ring up birdies with the best of them when he gets the putter going.

Piercy is actually coming off a missed cut in Canada after a tremendous run of good golf in April and May, but he has had success at Pebble the last two years and his recent MC likely boosted his odds here.

Sam Saunders

Odds: 200-1 (.05u)
Tee time: 9:45 a.m. ET

Saunders is in the first group off No. 1 tee on Thursday, and I love to target golfers who tee off first since they get the purest greens anybody will see all day. That’s especially true when said golfer is Sam Saunders, who had a great run on Thursdays during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and has played well at Pebble Beach the past two years, finishing 38th and 26th.

Saunders got into this U.S. Open by making it through what is consistently the toughest sectional qualifier in Columbus, Ohio, which features the most high quality PGA Tour players due to its proximity to the Memorial Tournament that takes place the same week.

Sepp Straka

Odds: 200-1 (.05u)
Tee time: 9:45 a.m. ET

Like Saunders, Straka will kick the tournament off from the 10th tee as he looks to grab his third first-round lead of the season. He also ranks 20th overall in Round 1 scoring average this season.

Sepp has had some wild putting performances, as he gained a whopping 5.3 and 6.6 strokes putting earlier this year on poa at Torrey Pines and Silverado, but lost nearly six strokes to the field on the greens last week in Canada. Let’s hope the putter swings back the other way on Thursday. At these odds, Straka is definitely worth a flier.

Total risk: 1.05 units
YTD: -4.39 units

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