2021 U.S. Open Props & Matchup Picks: Why We Like Tony Finau, Jason Kokrak, and Brooks over Bryson
Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Jason Kokrak
One of the best betting events on the sports calendar has arrived.
The U.S. Open always features a world-class field playing on a tough course, making it a whole lot of fun to watch, but more importantly to bet. Torrey Pines will be the site for the 2021 edition of the tournament and the field couldn’t be more stacked.
Jon Rahm is the betting favorite at +1050 to win the tournament, but the top of the board is a real murderers’ row as Bryson DeChambeau (+1500), Dustin Johnson (+1500), Xander Schauffele (+1500), Brooks Koepka (+1900), Jordan Spieth (+1900), Rory McIlroy (+2100), Patrick Cantlay (+2200), Tony Finau (+2200) and Justin Thomas (+2250) are all sitting under +2500.
As usual, bookmakers have posted a wide menu of props and matchups for the year’s third major. Here are our favorites:
Tony Finau Top-10 Finish (+205)
There are plenty of reasons not to list Top-10 Tony (aka Top-Five Tony) at the top of any list of fave picks for this week’s event – 140 of ‘em, actually, the number of events since his lone victory at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open – but it’s similarly impossible to resist the potential upside.
Since the beginning of 2018, he’s finished top-10 in 9-of-13 major championship starts. That number is more than either Brooks Koepka or Xander Schauffele, perhaps the two players best known during these past few years for the ability to rise to the occasion at the biggest events. If you want to fade Finau as an outright, I can certainly understand that, but don’t ignore him for prop bets and other formats.
I’ve always liked how his game matches up with Torrey and it could – finally – all come to fruition this week.
Chan Kim (+300) & Cameron Young (+500) Top-40 Finish
My favorite props for this event will mostly be focus on bombers near the bottom of the board, as I’m hoping the U.S. Open tradition where length trumps all hold up on Torrey Pines.
Both Kim and Young hit the ball a mile. Kim is second in driving distance in Japan this year, while Young is ninth on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Kim is a West Coast guy who played college golf at Arizona State, so he’s got plenty of experience in California. He proved as much during his qualifier just south of Los Angeles, finishing as the medalist in the 90-man field that produced just five entrants into the event.
Young actually qualified for the Farmers at Torrey this year and played well on the South Course, gaining 3.5 strokes tee-to-green in his round there. A bad round on the North Course did him in and he missed the cut. Luckily, it’s just the South Course at the U.S. Open.
Jason Kokrak Top-10 Finish (+600)
One name that I jumped on before this week was Jason Kokrak. He is playing the best golf of his career and a big part of that is the huge improvement he has made with his putter. He now has a more complete game to bring to the table every week, and he is the exact type of fit I am looking for at Torrey Pines.
Kokrak is long, but accurate off the tee, is sharp with his approach play, and as noted above has shored up his putting. He also comes into the week with a big boost of confidence having taken down Jordan Spieth in Texas a few weeks ago at the Charles Schwab. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him truly contend, but this Top 10 at +600 has plenty of value for him to post a solid finish.
Viktor Hovland Top-5 Finish (+500)
Viktor Hovland has all of the physical tools to be part of golf’s class of “super elites”. While it’s still extremely early in his career, he hasn’t quite had his breakthrough big win on TOUR…yet. The U.S. Open at Torrey Pines feels like a perfect place for that to change.
In his most recent start at Torrey Pines, Viktor Hovland finished tied for second place — although he was well behind the winner, Patrick Reed.
The Norwegian has the ideal skillset to contend at the course: Hitting it long and straight off of the tee. His penchant to post big numbers certainly worries me; but if he can limit the damage and avoid the huge mistake, then I think he can get in contention this week.
Adam Scott Top-40 Finish (+115)
Getting plus-money in this spot is extremely enticing to me. In the seven cuts Scott has made at the U.S Open since 2011, he’s finished inside the top-40 in six of those, and the one where he did not he finished T-45. What this means is, we’re almost getting plus money on Scott simply making the cut.
There’s more good news here, as the Aussie also finished T-10 and T-2 his last two trips to Torrey Pines. It looks like everything is lined up for this to be a plus-EV bet. You can even get him at +175 to top-30 which is also something I like. Scott is 20th on TOUR in driving distance this season and is a grizzled veteran that’s being overlooked.
Let’s take advantage of that this week.
Scottie Scheffler Top-10 (+360)
Scheffler is a player that is going to break through for his first career win very soon. His ability to hit the ball both long and straight off the tee, and rack up birdies in bunches puts him in the conversation for one of the best players on TOUR without a win.
Scottie leads the PGA TOUR this season in total driving, which is a stat that I am paying close attention to this week. On a course that will play over 7,600 yards, that has thick rough looming off any missed fairway, the ability to hit it long and straight will give him an excellent advantage.
While he may not win (though I did place a bet on him to do so), I do like his chances to crack the top 10.
Brooks Koepka (+100) over Bryson DeChambeau
Bryson claims to be living rent-free inside Brooks’ head, while Brooks has imposed his Michelob Ultra Army of frat-bro followers to prove otherwise. It should all equate to millions in PIP windfalls for each player later this year, but at some point they’ve gotta settle this feud inside the ropes. Even though they’re not paired together, books are offering plenty of Brooks-Bryson props, including a no-juice, even-money head-to-head on PointsBet.
Can each of these players get into contention this weekend? Might we even see them in a final pairing well into primetime TV for much of the country? It’s certainly possible. This event fits a specific skillset – and it’s a skillset that fits both of these guys. If I can only pick one, though, I’ll go with Koepka. Each player is capable of winning, of course, but those intangibles – the ability to find his A-game for the biggest events – is what I like about Brooks this week and where I think he owns an edge over Bryson.
Scottie Scheffler (-126) over Shane Lowry
Scottie Scheffler is a name that has really grown on me this week in the build up. I have actually added him to my betting card all the way up to a win, as I really like his upside in this event.
He is a player that fits the mold in being long and straight off the tee, ranking first on TOUR in Total Driving this year. I think that will be one of the biggest benefits to him this week as he begins to come into his own this season having played deep into the WGC-Matchplay and putting himself in contention on Sunday at the Memorial as well. While Lowry has really struggled in the U.S. Open of late, with only one top-30 in his past four trips to the event, this bet is more of a byproduct of my positive outlook for Scheffler than anything against the Irishman.
Brooks Koepka (+145) over Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm certainly has everything going for him this week, but things don’t always go according to script on the PGA TOUR. I simply can’t ignore getting this much value on Koepka to beat Rahm this week. -180 implies that Jon Rahm wins this matchup 64% percent of the time; which in my opinion is far too high.
Joaquin Niemann (-152) over Phil Mickelson
After winning the PGA Championship, Mickelson was on a clear hangover at the Charles Schwab, losing strokes tee-to-green in both of his opening rounds en route to missing the cut. While the U.S Open is the one elusive major that Lefty has yet to capture, I do not think Torrey Pines at this stage of his career is going to be the place he gets it done. He’s never really had success at this course over the past decade, missing four of his past nine cuts with one withdrawal mixed in as well.
Niemann on the other hand is coming off his first missed cut of the season at the Memorial, so I would expect that quickly rebounds this week. He’s made both his cuts at Torrey in his career and is coming off at T-21 at last year’s U.S Open at Winged Foot. This is basically a bet on Niemann making the cut and Mickelson not. Regardless, I do not expect Phil to have a strong week and getting -152 on the young Chilean is decent value.