Mears: 5 Intriguing Underdog Head-to-Head U.S. Open Props

Mears: 5 Intriguing Underdog Head-to-Head U.S. Open Props article feature image
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Photo credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tommy Fleetwood

  • 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 underdog matchup bets this week, including Tommy Fleetwood vs. Matt Kuchar.

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 underdog (golfers getting plus money) values for this week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

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. I’ll bet Spieth at these high plus odds. I’d bet it to +150.

Tommy Fleetwood (+105) over Matt Kuchar


Fleetwood underperformed at the PGA Championship, but that was mostly because he struggled to find fairways with his driver (unusual for him) and couldn’t get the short stick going. He won’t have the driver issue at Pebble, and if his putter gets going, he absolutely has the talent to win.

He’s arguably the most underrated golfer in the world.

Kuchar is no slouch, of course, but his GIR marks have been down over the last month; he finished fourth at last week’s Canadian Open almost solely because of a stupid-hot putter. Further, if you’re into putting surface splits, Kuchar does have a history of struggling with poa greens.

Fleetwood has finished fourth and second in the last two U.S. Opens, and I’m betting on another solid performance again this week. I’ll take the plus odds happily here.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (+100) over Luke List

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.

Matt Wallace (+130) over Patrick Reed

Reed has been inside the top 20 just once since January, and in his most recent events he finished 63rd at the Byron Nelson and then badly missed the cut at the PGA Championship. This season, he ranks 95th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and 148th in SG: Approach; the latter will be especially important this week at Pebble.

Wallace, meanwhile, is 30th in SG: Tee-to-Green and finished third at the PGA Championship last month; he’s shown he can compete in these big-field events.

Matt Wallace-US Open
Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: U.S. Open

Further, his main weakness, accuracy off the tee, should be mitigated by not having to pull driver as much this week. His short game — he’s 11th this year in SG: Around-the-Green — should keep him around for the weekend, something I can’t say with confidence about Reed. I’d bet this to +110.

Adam Scott (+100) over Justin Thomas

This isn’t as much of a slam dunk as it would have been a couple weeks ago, as JT has come back around after having to withdraw from the PGA Championship with a wrist injury and following that up with a brutal missed cut at Memorial. Last week he played well, hitting 72.2% of his greens at the Canadian Open en route to a 20th-place finish.

Still, the rough here will be tough, and there’s a chance hitting it out of there if he’s consistently in trouble could re-aggravate the injury. And Scott is an easy guy to be excited about: He’s playing some of his best golf of the last few years, finishing in the top 20 in each of his last four events, including a runner-up last time out at Memorial.

I would put Scott as a slight favorite in this matchup given those factors, so I’ll buy him at even money this week.