2023 U.S. Open Odds & Picks: Bet Cameron Smith, Patrick Reed & Jordan Spieth

2023 U.S. Open Odds & Picks: Bet Cameron Smith, Patrick Reed & Jordan Spieth article feature image

GIORGIO VIERA/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Australian golfer Cameron Smith

  • This week's 123rd U.S. Open Championship will be the first at LACC.
  • The 2023 U.S. Open is here and we've got winner picks, updated odds and more.
  • Find Jason Sobel's expert picks and analysis below.
Click arrow to expand the U.S. Open odds via bet365
Scottie Scheffler+650
Jon Rahm+1100
Brooks Koepka+1200
Rory McIlroy+1300
Patrick Cantlay+1700
Viktor Hovland+1700

Xander Schauffele+1900
Jordan Spieth+2200
Max Homa+3000
Cameron Smith+3000
Matt Fitzpatrick+3300
Tyrrell Hatton+3300
Tony Finau+3600
Collin Morikawa+3800
Justin Rose+3800
Dustin Johnson+3800
Bryson DeChambeau+4500
Hideki Matsuyama+4500
Tommy Fleetwood+4500
Justin Thomas+5000
Cameron Young+5000
Jason Day+5000
Rickie Fowler+5000
Shane Lowry+5500
Sungjae Im+6000
Wyndham Clark+6500
Sam Burns+6500
Corey Conners+7500
Si Woo Kim+7500
Adam Scott+8000
Patrick Reed+8000
Sahith Theegala+8500
Mito Pereira+9000
Joaquin Niemann+9000
Min Woo Lee+9000
Keegan Bradley+11000
Russell Henley+12000
Denny McCarthy+12000

Tom Kim+14000
Cameron Davis+14000
Keith Mitchell+14000
Gary Woodland+14000
Harris English+17500
Chris Kirk+17500
Ryan Fox+17500
Phil Mickelson+17500
Matt Kuchar+20000
Sergio Garcia+20000
Kurt Kitayama+20000
Nick Taylor+20000
Adrian Meronk+22500
Taylor Montgomery+22500
Seamus Power+22500
Patrick Rodgers+22500
Victor Perez+22500
Tom Hoge+22500
Eric Cole+22500
Andrew Putnam+22500
Emiliano Grillo+22500
Taylor Moore+25000
Kyoung-Hoon Lee+25000
Jordan Smith+25000
Sebastian Munoz+27500
Lucas Herbert+27500
Brian Harman+27500
Adam Schenk+27500
Adam Hadwin+27500
Pablo Larrazabal+27500
Justin Suh+27500
Thomas Pieters+27500
Sepp Straka+27500
Alex Noren+27500
Abraham Ancer+32500
Sam Stevens+32500
J.T. Poston+35000
Gordon Sargent+37500
Francesco Molinari+37500
Carlos Ortiz+37500

Hayden Buckley+40000
Austin Eckroat+40000
Aaron Wise+40000
Billy Horschel+40000
Mackenzie Hughes+40000
Taylor Pendrith+40000
Adam Svensson+45000
Romain Langasque+45000
Michael Kim+45000
Padraig Harrington+45000
Luke List+45000
Vincent Norrman+60000
Kevin Streelman+60000
Scott Stallings+60000
Joel Dahmen+60000
Charley Hoffman+70000
Matthieu Pavon+70000
Nick Hardy+70000
Carson Young+70000
Stewart Cink+70000
Davis Thompson+70000
Dylan Wu+70000
Michael Thorbjornsen+70000
Wilco Nienaber+85000
Nicolas Echavarria+125000
Thriston Lawrence+125000
Simon Forsstrom+125000
Sam Bennett+125000
Hank Lebioda+125000
Ryan Gerard+175000
Ryan Armour+175000
David Puig+175000
Maxwell Moldovan+175000
Martin Kaymer+175000
Jacob Solomon+175000
Alejandro Del Rey+175000
Ross Fisher+175000
Frankie Capan III+175000
Paul Haley II+175000
Brent Grant+175000
Deon Germishuys+175000

Paul Barjon+250000
Patrick Cover+250000
Bastien Amat+250000
Mac Meissner+250000
Roger Sloan+250000
Jens Dantorp+350000
Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira+350000
Corey Pereira+350000
Ryo Ishikawa+350000
Berry Henson+350000
Andrew Svoboda+350000
Gunn Charoenkul+350000
Yuto Katsuragawa+350000
David Horsey+350000
David Nyfjall+350000
Aldrich Potgieter+350000
Wenyi Ding+350000
J.J. Grey+350000
Ryutaro Nagano+350000
Omar Morales+350000
Kyle Mueller+350000
Alexander Yang+350000
Brendan Valdes+350000
Nick Dunlap+350000
Karl Vilips+350000
Ben Carr+350000
Christian Cavaliere+350000
Barclay Brown+350000
Olin Browne+350000
Matthew McClean+350000
Austen Truslow+350000
Preston Summerhays+350000
Michael Brennan+350000
Jesse Schutte+350000
Alex Schaake+350000
Isaac Simmons+350000
Jordan Gumberg+350000

The world of professional golf has been very slow lately, with hardly anything to talk about, so thank goodness we’ve got another major championship in the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club this week about to hit us like a security guard coming after Adam Hadwin with a champagne bottle.

Nothing like a little merging, power-broking and shape-shifting to prep for the 123rd U.S. Open Championship, where I have a sneaking suspicion that not every interview question from my reporter colleagues is going to be about the current task at hand.

That’s totally understandable, of course, and I’ll be asking plenty of those other questions myself, but you didn’t come here to read about where the PIF’s billions are going. You came to add a few zeroes to your own account.

First things first: I’ve never before been to LACC North, host of this week’s championship for the very first time, and I’m writing this preview before I’ll arrive on-site. (Though I plan to be taking a long walk throughout the entire property by the time you’re reading this.)

In preparation, I have — like so many of you — scoured YouTube to watch all the various (and really well-produced) flyovers of this venue.

My initial reaction is to compare it to last month’s behemoth major venue Oak Hill CC, which held the PGA Championship and really, has very few similarities to LACC besides the ones I’m about to point out.

I thought that course was beautiful, difficult, beautifully difficult and one that I, as a single-digit handicap, wanted no part of, in order to simply maintain some semblance of sanity. From what I’ve seen of this course so far, it’s beautiful, difficult, beautifully difficult and looks like it would be an absolute blast to play – an opinion that I’ve already had confirmed by a number of lucky-bastard colleagues.

For all the turmoil and tumultuousness over the past 18 months and, more explicitly, over the past week, I do believe that this venue will at least offer a four-day reprieve from the hyperbole and hypocrisy — an opportunity to witness a brilliant design and formidable setup, in prime time, no less, for much of the country.

Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed a stark contrast from the previous generation as far as the type of player who finds U.S. Open success. It was once the domain of the likes of Lee Janzen, Corey Pavin and Jim Furyk, but recent winners have included Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Gary Woodland and Jon Rahm. Even last year’s champion, Matt Fitzpatrick, might’ve lacked the brawn of those others, but he certainly didn’t lack much distance or swing speed. The rationale, essentially, has been that even the precise players are going to miss fairways, so those with power have a massive edge when they’re all playing from the thick stuff.

There are signs that the trend of big-hitting Darwinism won’t continue this week. The North course will play as a 7,421-yard par-70 on the scorecard, but the USGA’s propensity for moving tee boxes each day means it could play a few hundred yards shorter for any given round.

With rough that, upon first glance, doesn’t appear as gnarly as some previous venues, there’s a sense this one could be more of a thinking man’s U.S. Open, perhaps not necessarily the type where plotters and plodders thrive, but at least one where creativity doesn’t take a backseat to brute strength.

As such, I’m seeking ball-strikers over bashers and short-game specialists over everyone else.

With so many barrancas fronting these green complexes and hazards lingering around them, the key this week might be bunker avoidance – and in lieu of anyone being able to perfectly execute that, then the key might be bunker proficiency.

In other words, give me the artists over the paint-by-numbers guys – the players who visualize shots rather than swinging away at their stock numbers.

There’s also a bit of an Australian Sandbelt feature to this SoCal track, which should start fast and firm and become continually faster and firmer throughout a week that is expected to have warm temperatures and little to no rain whatsoever. That was certainly something I kept in mind while making my first selection.

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Outright Winner (Short odds)

One player to win the tournament

Cameron Smith (+3000)

If you haven’t seen much of Cameron Smith recently and needed a reminder of how he plays when he’s at his best, that reminder came at the PGA Championship, where he finished “just” T9 but was second in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting at +1.90 per round. Those watching the reigning Open Championship winner intently that week can be forgiven for believing that number might’ve been even better, as it never seemed like Smith found anything but the center of the cup from inside 15 feet.

His lack of driving accuracy undoubtedly kept him from a more serious title contention at that one, but it shouldn’t hurt him as much this week. Smith hasn’t finished better than T38 at a U.S. Open since 2015, when he was T4, but it can be argued that we haven’t seen a setup at this event like the one we’ll see this week since then, either.

The analytics have shown us that ball-striking numbers are largely sustainable (to some degree) while putting numbers are more volatile. I don’t disagree with this stat-based assessment, but too often it forces us to look past the game’s best rock-rollers.

Smith is in the conversation for best putter in the world right now, and there might not be a conversation for best in the clutch. If the magic wand is working to its usual capabilities this week, his 30/1 number sounds like a bargain.

Outright Winner (Long odds)

One player to win the tournament

Patrick Reed (+8000)

Let’s not read too much into this. I promise you: Listing a pair of LIV players as my two favorite outright plays isn’t some sort of referendum on the current state of golf, nor is it some exercise of opinion beyond this week’s event. We’re just trying to hit a winner, and picking Patrick Reed at this number, on a course where the short game should be so important, makes a lot of sense.

If we’ve learned anything about LIV players at the majors in the first two of 'em, it’s that they can obviously still compete with the PGA Tour’s best, and their recent performances on the LIV circuit don’t seem to correlate to those in subsequent majors. Reed already owns results of T4 at the Masters and T18 at the PGA Championship, and in his eight previous U.S. Open starts, he has five top-20 finishes.

Even after Brooks Koepka’s win last month, it appears LIV players (other than Koepka himself) are still a bit underpriced in the marketplace. I like a play on Reed at this number and will back it up with a couple of more conservative props, too.

Other OADers

Potential selections for one-and-done pools

Brooks Koepka (+1100)

If you didn’t play Brooks Koepka in OADs for the year’s first two majors – a T2 at the Masters and a win at the PGA Championship, of course – you’re likely not only kicking yourself for such an omission, but you’re also trying to play catch-up and chase those successes. I get the sense that LACC doesn’t fit Koepka’s game as much as Oak Hill did, but I similarly get the sense that it’s a major championship, and they could be playing a pitch-and-putt and he’d show up with his best stuff, no matter what.

While we don’t know much about the future of LIV Golf beyond this year, we do know (or at least, think we know) that things will remain status quo for the remainder of this season. This means there are only two more opportunities to use the best LIV players, as they won’t be incorporated back into the PGA Tour anytime soon. If you haven’t used Brooks yet, it’s either here, next month’s Open Championship, or leave him on the sidelines. Those are the only options.

Patrick Cantlay (+1400)/Xander Schauffele (+1800)

I’m listing these two together because it’s honestly tough to separate them. Not that we don’t know who these BFFs are, of course, but two of the most well-rounded stars, each back in his native SoCal, trying to win a major for the first time and without any real reason to be faded — other than having failed to close out similar big events in the past.

As they say on the stock market, past performance isn’t an indicator of future results, which could either be a hint that one of them is about to win or a hint that such consistency in majors won’t last.

Patrick Cantlay has finished inside the top 14 in each of the past four majors; Xander Schauffele has been 18th or better in his last five (and owns 10 top 10s in 24 career starts). I don’t have a strong lean either way. Both of them are capable of winning, both have uniquely high floors, and both are obviously very usable in any OAD format.

I realize I’m not telling you anything here you don’t know, but I didn’t want to exclude either from this list, as they’re each more than capable of winning this tournament.

Collin Morikawa (+2000)

For those who are in a majors-only type of OAD and aren’t checking these previews on a weekly basis, allow me to offer a bit of strategic advice here. Sure, you’re trying to pick the best possible player for this event, the one who’s going to finish highest on this leaderboard. We all get that, but there’s more to it.

If you’re in a pool with just a few other buddies, you can afford to play the chalk at times; however a pool with, say, 1,000 people often facilitates a need to zig when everyone else wants to zag. Same goes for your position in the pool. If you’re leading at this point in the year, you don’t need to take nearly as many chances as if you’re near the bottom and trying to play catch-up. Taking the same player as everyone else won’t get you to where you need to be.

I offer up all of this in this particular section because I believe Collin Morikawa will be one of the few players with a high ceiling who will be lower-owned than usual. That, of course, is due to his most recent start, when he was two strokes off the lead entering the final round of the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago, only to withdraw after enduring back spasms.

You have the luxury of waiting a few more days after I’m writing this piece, so I’d certainly suggest hearing from Morikawa and gauging his level of health. I do think, though, that even if he’s fully (or almost fully) healthy, many OADers will be scared to play him. My sense here is that while spasms can always return, it’s probably something he got fixed in the week off and something for which he’s taking extra precautions now.

He’s obviously in good form, as evidenced by his leaderboard position before that WD, so unless we hear that he’s still hurting, Morikawa should make for a high-upside contrarian play in pools.

Tony Finau (+2800)

If you’d asked me for a U.S. Open pick six months ago – and plenty of you did – my answer would’ve been Tony Finau, as he was trending in the right direction, fit the profile of recent winners and owns an underrated short game. I still believe that he has the ability to remain a consistently high-level, top-five player and will win a major at some point.

And I also believe that this major suits him better than any of the others despite three MCs in the past four years, though I’m not so sure about this particular edition at this particular venue.

Now that the erstwhile “Top-Five Tony” has learned how to win, it’s fair to ask the question as to why/how only one of those victories has occurred against the best competition, as well. All of that, however, is geared too much toward the negative, and I’m not listing him here for the negatives.

We might think of Finau as simply a big hitter, but he owns a top-40 ranking around the greens this season. He offers a nice bit of contrarianism for OADs, where your fellow poolsters might be a bit timid to play him, and I don’t hate the outright number, just in case my original Spidey-senses weren’t wrong.

Tommy Fleetwood (+5000)

I get it. Tommy Fleetwood is one of the classiest dudes in golf. He’s the kind of guy who hugs an opponent after losing a playoff in brutal fashion. He’s a great quote. He’s won six times on the DP World Tour and showed out in the Ryder Cup and contended for majors. All of that is terrific, and I can see why bettors get sucked into betting him on a regular basis.

And fresh off losing that playoff to Nick Taylor on Sunday, the attraction is going to be even greater, with more outrights on Tommy even though he’s now 0-for-119 in his PGA Tour career. At the same price as Shane Lowry and a bigger number than Sam Burns, I can’t recommend these wagers, even if you’re chasing past losses on him.

All of that said, I don’t dislike Fleetwood whatsoever. He’s obviously in very strong form, ranking sixth in Strokes Gained: Around the Green this season, while his putter is red-hot, having gained strokes on the greens in six straight starts – and in every round last week.

So, what do we do with a player we really like but don’t necessarily want to bet for an outright? Well, I do like him for an FRL play and DFS, but I think he holds a lot of value in OADs, especially those in which multiple players are chosen for major weeks.

Si Woo Kim (+9000)

In order to have some faith in this selection, you’ll have to look beyond Si Woo Kim’s four missed cuts in his last five U.S. Open starts. I’m willing to chalk that up to the old Si Woo, who paled in comparison to this new and improved version. Ever since he earned his second PGA Tour victory as a 21-year-old at the 2017 Players Championship, Kim owned a reputation as an all-or-nothing type of play – the kind who had a massive ceiling, though one that rarely reared its head, but also had a basement-dwelling floor, as he’d put together bunches of missed cuts in a row.

These days, though, that floor has been refinished and exists somewhere on the first story instead. He’s made the cut in 18 of 21 starts this season, including five of his last six, during which he’s posted three top-seven results. I don’t mind a little outright sprinkle, and I really like him for DFS purposes and top-10/20 props, but he makes for a smart play as an OAD that everyone else wished they’d taken.

Top Five

One player to finish in the top five

Jordan Spieth (+500 for top-five finish)

Well, if we’re ranking the world’s best players on a combination of ball-striking and creativity, Jordan Spieth might be higher than simply a top-five. He was trending in all the right directions prior to last month’s wrist injury – and even that didn’t derail him too much. He improved his score in every round at the PGA Championship, somewhat surprisingly missed the cut at Colonial, then bounced back to finish T-5 at the Memorial. I’d be shocked if the first words we hear out of Spieth’s mouth this week aren’t a confirmation of how much he loves this course at first blush. This feels like a perfect palette on which he can paint a masterpiece – even if that masterpiece looks like it’s coming from one of those artists who looks like he’s painting something abstract, then turns it upside-down and it’s an impeccable portrait representation. It was admittedly a close call between Spieth and Smith for my fave outright, but even though Smith won out for the sake of this preview, I'll still have a play on Spieth, too.

Top 10

One player to finish in the top 10

Ryan Fox (+1000 for top-10 finish)

It’s tough to compile one of those listicle-like inventories of “The Best Player You’ve Never Heard Of” or “The Best Player You Wouldn’t Recognize Walking Down Your Street,” because quite frankly, I don’t know whom you’ve heard of or whom you’d recognize. All of that said, I’m willing to bet that Ryan Fox could knock on your door, offer a hefty sum of money if you could tell him his name, and you’d wind up empty-handed. Which is probably our problem, not his. After all, the 36-year-old Kiwi has done plenty to grab our attention, posting three career wins on the DP World Tour and a pair of top-30s in the previous two majors this year. He also has nine top-30 results in his last 10 worldwide starts (non-WD). There are plenty of reasons to believe a fast, firm golf course should be right up his alley this week. Even if you don’t want to stretch for a top 10 here, he makes a ton of sense as a top 20/30 and DFS selection.

Top 20

One player to finish in the top 20

Adam Scott (+240 for top-20 finish)

Quick: Name one thing you know about Adam Scott’s game. If your answer includes some semblance of the words “classic ball-striker,” pat yourself on the back. That’s exactly what he’s been for the past two decades: one of the game’s premier iron players. And yet – that’s actually been the worst part of his game this season. Scott ranks inside the top 20 off the tee and inside the top 40 both around the greens and putting (true story!), but entering last week’s RBC Canadian Open, which he didn’t play, he was ranked a mere 131st in strokes gained on approach shots. All of these numbers have been on full display lately, too. He’s gained strokes off the tee in each of his last six starts, with his wedges in five of the last six and with his putter in all six. With the irons, though, he’s only done so in two of those last six starts. That might not be a great sign going into this week, but honestly, I’d rather bet on him – not everyone in general, but Scott specifically – to turn around his approach game, rather than a wayward driver or balky putter. His success at nearby Riviera – which includes two wins (one unofficial), two runners-up and seven top-10s – should portend a solid week here, as well.

Top 30

One player to finish in the top 30

Sahith Theegala

The West Coast is Sahith Theegala’s best coast, as the California native has crushed his home state events this season, with a T-6 at the Fortinet Championship, T-54 at The American Express, T-4 at the Farmers Insurance Open and T-6 at the Genesis Invitational. He’s been admittedly middling in his four most recent starts, though, with nothing better than a 38th-place finish, which might be the lone reason I haven’t recommended him for a more aggressive prop here. Regular readers of my weekly previews know that I’m a massive fan of Sahith’s game and think he’s going to be a top-10-level superstar in the not-too-distant future. There remains some inconsistency in his game, but at these prices, he’s an autoplay whenever he’s going back to Cali, Cali, Cali…

Top 40

One player to finish in the top 40

Victor Perez (+140 for top-40 finish)

In the above section on Cameron Smith, I mentioned him being second in the PGA Championship field in putting last month. That’s because Victor Perez nipped him by .01 stroke per round. Much like Adam Scott, Perez is an impressive ball-striker who’s actually been more dangerous with his flatstick than any other clubs this year. That includes a win in Abu Dhabi and three finishes of 13th or better in his last four starts. If you want to be a little more aggressive and play him for top-10/20 props, I don’t mind it – and I think he makes for a solid contrarian DFS play, as well.

DFS Free Bingo Square

A safe plug-and-play option for DFS lineups

Scottie Scheffler ($11,400 DK; $12,100 FD)

Look, you don’t need me to tell you that Scottie Scheffler is good at golf and should help your DFS lineup. But for those parachuting into a major and seeking a little advice, it’s worth understanding his recent floor, especially for cash game plays. Here are his results since November: T-3, T-9, 2nd, T-7, T-11, Win, T-12, T-4, Win, 4th, T-10, T-11, T-5, T-2, T-3, 3rd. That’s 16 consecutive starts and not a single one outside the top 12. None of this means that another high-priced, elite-level player such as Jon Rahm or Rory McIlroy can’t ultimately wind up being a better play for your lineups, but if you’re seeking the surest “sure thing,” then it’s gotta be Scottie. And while there’s certainly some trepidation surrounding his putter – he went from dead-average at 99th for the season to 114th then 146th within two weeks, which is as drastic a decline as we’ve ever witnessed – I’d still rather bank on the guy who’s tee-to-green game is trending in the right direction and needs some work on the greens, rather than the other way around.

DFS Mid-Tier

A medium-priced option for DFS lineups

Andrew Putnam ($6,800 DK; $8,200 FD)

From a statistical standpoint, this week could prove to be one where we chase players from a few specific tangible and intangible rankings. Among the former, I’m not often a fan of blindly targeting above-average putters – especially at this tournament over the past several years – but I really do believe a hot flatstick might be a more useful tool than a powerful driver. Andrew Putnam ranks ninth in putting and when it goes well, it goes really well, such as at the Sony Open (2.6 SGP per round), The Players (2.35) and the Charles Schwab Challenge (1.68). Considering the Washington State native plays some of his best golf on the West Coast, this could be a nice fit. As for the latter, I consider bogey avoidance an intangible quality, just because it’s not something a player can necessarily work on during a practice session. There’s no doubt that littering the scorecard with pars will be important this week, which leads back to Putnam, who ranks third in bogey avoidance this season, behind only Scottie Scheffler and Jason Day. At these prices, he’s more lower-tier than mid-tier, but either way, he’s a salary-saver with some massive upside potential.

DFS 'Dog

A lower-priced option for DFS lineups

Mackenzie Hughes ($6,700 DK; $8,000 FD)

After an early birdie in his second round of the RBC Canadian Open, the native of Canada found himself just one stroke off the lead – and I found myself thinking, “Here we go again…” I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve picked out my favorite player for a major, only for him to peak the previous week, but I can tell you that it goes back to at least Paul Casey winning the Shell Houston Open prior to Masters week in 2009 (and then “only” posting a T-20 the very next week in Augusta). Mackenzie Hughes was never going to be my “favorite” for this U.S. Open, but I certainly didn’t want to look like a bandwagon-jumper if he’d enjoyed a big week in Canada. Well, no worries there. He wound up playing his final 15 holes in 6-over to miss the cut. Instead of feeling like a momentum play, now I’m worried about form, though I do still like him in this situation, especially with some massive Canadian mojo coming off Nick Taylor’s victory – despite five MCs in his last six starts. Two years ago, the last time a U.S. Open was held in California (at Torrey Pines’ South Course), Hughes held a share of the 54-hole lead before posting a final-round 77 to finish in a share of 15th place. Much of his early success that week was due to his putter, as he gained exactly one stroke per round on the greens. For a guy with a reputation as being one of the world’s better fast-greens putters, I think he makes for a very nice low-owned play in GPPs this week.

DFS Super 'Dog

A very low-priced option for DFS lineups

Andrew Svoboda ($6,200 DK; $7,000 FD)

I’ll usually stop at three DFS selections, but I kept going to the Super ‘Dog category this week because I wanted to spotlight a cheaper option since there are so many of these players available from the qualifying process. In a year that’s seen Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka win the first two majors, you’ll undoubtedly want to jam as many big-name superstars into your lineups as possible, which means perhaps taking a chance on a few of those cheaper plays. Andrew Svoboda is a former PGA Tour regular who once finished runner-up at the Zurich Classic and posted three career Korn Ferry Tour victories after winning 14 times during his college years at St. John’s. He’s now 43 and works as an instructor when he’s not playing competitively, but at the minimum price on FanDuel and just above the minimum on DraftKings, all he needs to do is make the cut to pay off his value. There are some younger and decidedly more promising players in the same neighborhood – Michael Thorbjornsen is the same price on DK while Gordon Sargent and Preston Summerhays are $100 cheaper, all of which has me questioning this play in favor of the new blood already – but I do believe that guile and ingenuity could prevail over brute strength this week. The main point here isn’t that you should necessarily hammer Svoboda, but that there are plenty of potential options way down the DFS board, so don’t be afraid to take some chances here.

First-Round Leader

One player to post the low round Thursday

Eric Cole (+13000 for FRL)

Try, if you can, to think all the way back to last month’s PGA Championship, when the world of professional golf wasn’t consistently burning. It was Eric Cole who led at the end of Thursday, though he didn’t cash FRL tickets, as he had four holes remaining and wound up finishing a stroke behind Bryson DeChambeau’s lead the next morning. Perhaps that suggests a Cole FRL ticket just wasn’t bound to happen, but for a guy who’s played maybe as many one-day events and single-round qualifiers as anyone over the past 15 years, I like taking a chance on a big price for a wager with such high variance. Full disclosure: Up until this sentence, everything you’ve read in this category was written last Friday, two days before Cole posted a final-round 63 at the RBC Canadian Open. That only makes me like him more, though, as he’s proven yet again that he’s not afraid to go low. I’ll likely back this up with a few shorter-priced options, such as Adam Scott and Tommy Fleetwood, but if you’re like me and enjoy taking a bigger chance on FRLs, Cole makes sense out of those further down the board.

Matchup Man

One player who should beat comparable players

Phil Mickelson (+15000)

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll continue saying it for years to come: Phil Mickelson is one of the best U.S. Open players of all-time. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Mickelson, of course, is the guy who’s famously flamed out at so many of these – from getting out-daddied by Payne Stewart to finding a trash can at Winged Foot to screwing up a short par-3 at Merion. He’s won the other three, but this remains his white whale – well, unless his white whale was disrupting the professional game to the point it’s at right now, which means he’s actually harpooned the damned thing… but I digress. With six career runner-up finishes at this event, it might be more a matter of bad luck that at least one of those close calls didn’t turn into a win – and in turn, the career grand slam. Though he hasn’t finished better than T-28 in eight U.S. Open starts since that last runner-up a decade ago, we know Lefty can still play solid major championship golf, as evidenced by his second-place finish at this year’s Masters, and let’s just say he might have a little extra hitch in his giddy-up when he arrives to LACC this week, based on everything going on in the world. I’m certainly not all-in, but at the same price as players like Matthew NeSmith, Sebastian Munoz and J.J. Spaun, I think there exists some nice matchup possibilities.

Also Receiving Votes

Other players who should provide value

Max Homa (+3000), Tyrrell Hatton (+3500), Jason Day (+3500), Sungjae Im (+4500), Justin Thomas (+5000), Rickie Fowler (+5500), Min Woo Lee (+11000), Patrick Rodgers (+18000), Kurt Kitayama (+18000), Brian Harman (+25000), Justin Suh (+25000), Carson Young (+60000), Ryo Ishikawa (+250000), Preston Summerhays (+500000)

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