5 Big-Name U.S. Open Matchup Bets: Will Spieth Pull Upset vs. Rory?

5 Big-Name U.S. Open Matchup Bets: Will Spieth Pull Upset vs. Rory? article feature image
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Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth

  • 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 studs in the field, including Jordan Spieth vs. Rory McIlroy.

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.

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.

Henrik Stenson (-110) over Gary Woodland

Woodland could be a popular bet and DFS play given his performance at the PGA Championship last month, during which he hit 70.8% of his greens. He’s a super talented golfer and can get hot on any course, but Pebble isn’t a perfect fit, where the driver won’t matter as much.

Woodland ranks 10th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, but he’s just 24th in SG: Approach and 54th in SG: Around-the-Green. I think the latter two will be especially important this week, and Stenson is first in the world this year in Approach, gaining 1.3 strokes per round on average.

Stenson is playing well right now, ranking in the top five in the field in Recent Greens in Regulation and Recent Driving Accuracy. He can take out those famous woods and hit fairways all day, and then we know how good he’s been this year with hitting into greens to set up putts. I like Woodland this week, but I’ll buy Stenson at this price given the superior course fit. I’d bet this to -125.

Adam Scott (-110) over Jon Rahm

I’m as a big of a Rahm fan as anyone long-term, but the short-term play has me scared this week. He’s coming off two missed cuts at the PGA Championship and Charles Schwab Challenge, and unfortunately the issues weren’t just one single thing he could fix. He struggled hitting greens, he wasn’t accurate off the tee, and his short game was terrible.

I’m afraid that’s a recipe for a poor week at Pebble if that play continues. This season, he’s 72nd in SG: Approach and 110th in SG: Around-the-Green. Given how this course will set up, I just don’t think his game is in the right place to compete, as talented as he may be.

Scott, meanwhile, is playing incredible golf right now, finishing in the top 20 in six of his nine events this year. He finished second at his most recent (Memorial) and eighth at the PGA Championship. The only concern is that he doesn’t have great history lately at Pebble, but I think his ball-striking and excellent scrambling this year should help him win this matchup. I would bet this to -125.

Hideki Matsuyama (-110) over Jason Day

Hideki has flown under the radar this season, but he’s been as steady as any golfer in the game. He’s yet to miss a cut this year; in fact, since the Sony Open in January, he hasn’t even been outside the top 35. He’s coming off a sixth-place finish at Memorial, during which he hit 72.2% of his greens. On the year, he’s top 10 in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Approach and Around-the-Green.

Day is the bigger name and has immaculate history at both the U.S. Open and Pebble Beach, albeit in the Pro-Am. But the Open results were a bit ago: He was in the top 10 for four straight years between 2013-2016, but he’s missed each of the last two Open cuts. He’s been in the top five in each of the last three Pebble Pro-Ams, however, so he seems to have an eye for this course.

Still, this will be set up much tougher than that event (where, again, only two of the four days are at Pebble), and on the year he’s 145th in SG: Approach and 87th in SG: Around-the-Green. One of the world’s best putters can obviously get hot and seems to like these greens, but I think Hideki can consistently get superior looks and is thus worth a bet. I’d bet this to -120.

Jordan Spieth (+195) over Rory McIlroy

Rory being -240 over Spieth seems like a massive overreaction to Rory winning last week. Don’t get me wrong: He’s been so freaking good this year, finishing in the top 10 in nine of his 11 tournaments. But 1) golf is often random, especially with putting, and 2) he’s missed the last three cuts at the U.S. Open and he’s never made a cut at any Pebble event.

Spieth, meanwhile, has won a Pebble Pro-Am, and, most importantly, he’s really trending back to his early-career form right now, highlighted by three straight top 10s starting with the PGA Championship. He’s back to being the world’s best putter, and his weakness — accuracy off the tee — could be negated by not having to go driver as often.

Rory should absolutely be favored in this matchup given his form this year. But not at -240, so I’ll bet Spieth at these high plus odds. I’d bet it to +150.

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