Mears: Don’t Sleep on These 5 Under-The-Radar U.S. Open Matchup Bets

Mears: Don’t Sleep on These 5 Under-The-Radar U.S. Open Matchup Bets article feature image

Photo credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kevin Na

  • I created a golf model optimized for the 2019 U.S. Open to identify head-to-head betting opportunities for this week's tournament.
  • Below are my five favorite matchup bets among the longshots in the field, including Kevin Na vs. Bubba Watson.

It can be frustrating betting to-win odds when fields are as big as they are for the U.S. Open. A fun way to bet instead is with head-to-head matchup props.

Below are five of my favorite values for this week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Thorbjorn Olesen (-120) over J.B. Holmes

Olesen has struggled lately, finishing inside the top 25 just once so far this year. But that’s mostly all due to poor putting, which will regress at some point. The ball-striking numbers are fine, and one of his weaknesses — driving the ball — will likely be mitigated at the short Pebble Beach.

But really, this head-to-head bet is all about fading Holmes, who has been atrocious lately.

Holmes won the Genesis Open back in February, but has missed seven-of-eight cuts since. He had to withdraw from the Wells Fargo in May and has since been unable to put any good rounds together. Further, Pebble just isn’t a good fit for him, as his strength is gaining strokes off the tee with his distance.

I don’t think Olesen will win or perhaps even top 20; I just think he can sneak a victory over the struggling Holmes. I’d bet this to -130.

Scottie Scheffler (-120) over Matt Jones

In the last prop I wanted to fade Holmes; in this one, I want to buy Scheffler.

I get it: He’s a Tour player. But he’s been dominating that tour, and he’s done quite well in the PGA events he’s played, including a 35th at the Byron Nelson and 20th at the Texas Open.

Further, he’s consistently shown that ball-striking is his biggest strength. In those recent PGA events, he hit more than 70% of his greens in both. He nailed fairways, and his scrambling has been solid enough to grind at Pebble. Also, it’s hard to ignore this anecdote from our own Jason Sobel: “Before the AT&T Byron Nelson, one caddie told me: ‘He’s the second-best player in this field.’ Behind only Koepka, presumably.”

I’m always wary of guys who have inflated numbers due to playing in sub tours, but remember that Scheffler is only 22 years old. This isn’t a guy in his 30s who has proven he can’t make the jump. He was the Freshman of the Year at Texas a couple years ago, and he was the low U.S. Open amateur in 2017.

Scottie Scheffler-US-Open
Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Scottie Scheffler

The game is there, even if he’s starting with a entrance. I’d bet this to -125.

Lucas Glover (-135) over Kevin Kisner

And we’re back to fading players.

Kisner was playing solid golf earlier this year, placing in the 20s in seven straight events. But he missed the cut badly at the PGA Championship in May, hitting just 38.9% of his greens. He hasn’t really come around since, and his 49.1% Recent GIR mark is the second-worst mark in the field.

Glover, meanwhile, ranks 27th in Strokes Gained: Approach and Around-the-Green this season, which will help him at Pebble. He’s been up-and-down this year, but his short game (particularly his scrambling) has helped him grind to several solid top-20 finishes.

But again, this is more of a Kisner fade than anything else. I don’t think golfers ever really “find their game” at a major, and Kisner could struggle on these Poa greens, as Sobel mentions here. I’d bet this to -140.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (+100) over Luke List

Another fade. List finished sixth just last month at the PGA Championship, but that major fits his game so much better than a U.S. Open, especially Pebble Beach, which is going to take driver away from golfers and really focus on iron play and the short game.

And List’s ball-striking has not been good lately. His 57.4% Recent GIR and 45.8% Recent Driving Accuracy marks are among the worst in the field. He’s never been an amazing putter, either, and he’s missed the cut in all four U.S. Opens he’s played in. He’s missed the two cuts at the Pebble Pro-Ams he’s played in, too.

I’m not dying to roster Aphibarnrat in DFS or bet him in other ways, but his all-around game is solid enough to sneak out a victory of List, who is really searching for answers this week. I’d bet this to -110.

Kevin Na (-115) over Bubba Watson

And one last fade.

I wrote this in our U.S. Open mega guide about Bubba: “Bubba has his spots on tour: Augusta, Riviera, River Highlands. The U.S. Open is not one of his spots: In the eight events since 2011, he’s missed five cuts and finished inside the top 50 just once (T-32 in 2013).”

Pebble seems to especially be a poor course for Bubba, as it will often take his most dangerous weapon out of his hands: His driver. He missed the cut at the PGA Championship, which should have suited him better, and last week he hit just 54.2% of his greens en route to a 63rd-place finish.

Na, meanwhile, just won the Charles Schwab Classic in his most recent event, during which he hit an incredible 77.8% of his greens. His short game remains excellent, and that combination should suit him well at Pebble. I’d bet this to -125.

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