3M Open Betting Guide: Why You Should Fade the Favorites This Week
Leon Halip/Getty Images. Pictured: Erik van Rooyen
- Jason Sobel breaks down the PGA Tour's 3M Open, complete with analysis of betting odds.
- You'll find his favorite golf picks below -- from outrights and sleepers to prop bets and DFS plays.
They’ve now played six PGA TOUR events since the restart and we’ve witnessed six winners of varying degrees of upper echelon status, concluding with Jon Rahm’s victory at the Memorial Tournament this weekend to become No. 1 in the world for the first time in his career.
There’s a pretty good chance that run will come to an end this week.
I covered the final few rounds of last year’s inaugural edition of the 3M Open and it was fantastic. The crowds were buzzing, the local folks were friendly and it’s tough to beat a summer night in Minnesota. Oh, and watching stud Matthew Wolff post eagle on the final hole to beat stud Bryson DeChambeau, who’d eagled it minutes earlier, didn’t hurt the festivities, either.
It’s too bad there are no spectators allowed at this (and every other) event, just as it’s too bad there aren’t more star players in attendance for, well, those local folks to watch on TV. Not every tourney can be packed with powerhouse performers and this week’s 3M Open field leaves plenty to be desired.
In fact, I can – and will – make a case against each of the four top-20 players who are playing this week.
Dustin Johnson is fresh off a pair of 80s to finish near-DFL at the Memorial. Even though he’d won in his previous start and could win this one, those numbers don’t exactly inspire confidence in him this week.
Brooks Koepka is admittedly less than 100 percent right now, his lingering knee injury still bothering him, which makes it puzzling why he’s continuing to play for a third consecutive week.
Tommy Fleetwood is making a similarly curious emergence from quarantine, teeing it up competitively for the first time since missing the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational four months ago.
And then there’s poor Tony Finau, who probably has PTSD after parlaying a Saturday lead into an eighth-place finish and a Sunday contention into a front-nine 42.
If any or all of these guys aren’t in the mix, this could be the weekend when your fair-weather fan buddies will work on the ol’ honey-do list, but thankfully, you know better.
That’s because this could also be the week that only diehard golf nuts – and bettors – could love.
There aren’t a whole lot of big-name players on my list for this one, but that just means there’s tons of value across the board at a tournament where one player posted a score of 62 in each of the four rounds last year, meaning we should see some, uh, non-Memorial-like conditions this week. Let’s get right to it.
One player to win the tournament.
Erik Van Rooyen (+4500, $10 wins $450)
Trust me: This won’t be the last time this week that you’ll hear about EVR’s local connection, as the South African went to college at the University of Minnesota, married a Minnesota girl and will be staying with his Minnesota in-laws during the event. “This one will be special for me, because it is somewhat of a homecoming,” he told Brian Stensaas of the Star Tribune. “It’s a track that I love, a track that I have so many fond memories of playing with my old teammates.”
The world’s 43rd-ranked player has been a bit all-or-nothing on the PGA TOUR this year in his first full campaign on the U.S. circuit. In seven starts during this calendar year, he’s missed the cut four times, but also has three finishes of 22nd or better, including at last week’s Memorial.
I like everything about him this week and think he has what it takes to win this title.
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Dylan Frittelli (+6600)
At some point, it’s going to be very awkward when a player who’s tested positive for COVID-19 is not only playing as a single on the weekend (which Frittelli and others did at the Memorial), but playing as a single with a late tee time, while in contention for a title. (Although I guess it’s no more awkward than Frittelli fist-bumping Jack Nicklaus on live TV for the same reason.)
In any case, Frittelli is a very good player who tends to play some of his better golf on Midwest courses. He’s a nice contrarian OAD play this week.
Patrick Rodgers (+6600)
TPC Twin Cities should play into the hands of the big hitters this week and Rodgers qualifies, currently ranking 16th in driving distance at 308.1 yards. I still like the Indiana native on Midwest tracks, fresh off a T-18 at last week’s Memorial. What I don’t love is his weekend scoring average, so maybe Rodgers is a better FRL play, but a strong first few days could at least give him some momentum. Quite frankly, it’s taken longer than expected for Rodgers to win a PGA TOUR title; he was the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur when the likes of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas were still ams. He does own loads of talent, though, so maybe it’s only a matter of time before he finally breaks through.
One player to finish top-five.
Sahith Theegala (+7000)
Remember when everyone went gaga for Will Gordon a few weeks ago after his T-3 result at the Travelers Championship? Well, here’s some news for you: Theegala is a more heralded and decorated young player and will be facing a less competitive field this week.
The reigning winner of the Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus awards, Theegala was ranked as high as third in the world as an amateur. If you don’t think he can finish top-five this week – or maybe even win – then you’re probably still in disbelief that recent college kid Matthew Wolff won here last year.
One player to finish top-10.
Henrik Norlander (+550)
Hey, might as well ride the hot hand. Prior to last month’s Travelers, there wasn’t much in Norlander’s recent results that suggested the 33-year-old was about to start playing some of the best golf of his career.
Since then, though, he’s finished 41-12-31-6. If he’s still got something left in the tank after last week, this is a guy who hits the ball nicely and has some impressive touch around the greens, which could work well for him again at this one.
One player to finish top-20.
Jhonattan Vegas (+275)
Regular readers of my previews – and listeners of the pod – know that I think Vegas is criminally underrated for a player of his accomplishments, talents and long-term ceiling.
Until the books – and everyone else – start valuing him as they should, he’s a popular play for me, especially on courses where he can bang driver all over the place.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
As I wrote in the intro, I don’t love any of the four players at the top this week, but if I had to choose one, I’d take Finau in a close call over Fleetwood and Johnson. If you look at Finau’s results over the past few years, there’s a definitive ebb and flow to them.
When he gets going, he tends to stay on a roll for three, four, five events before losing his mojo. Last week felt like the first in what could be a multi-event streak for him. If he’s got PTSD from that Sunday finish, then I might similarly have PTSD from continually betting him outright, so I’ll likely stick with him as just a DFS play this week.
A lower-priced option for DFS.
He might’ve played third fiddle to Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff at Oklahoma State, but Ventura is carving out a nice professional career for himself so far.
Lost in the glow of those two players earning their PGA TOUR cards through exemptions last year was the fact that Ventura did the same thing by winning twice on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Still bouncing between the two a bit, his last five starts have included a T-20 and T-21 on the PGA TOUR and two top-10s on the KFT. I like him this week for top-10 and top-20 bets and potential matchups, but he’s the kind of guy who could be a difference-maker in your DFS lineup.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Troy Merritt (+7000)
Prior to last week’s Memorial, Merritt had posted sub-par rounds in each of his previous four starts, with Thursday scores of 70-68-68-69. He can also go low at this one, with rounds of 70-64-66-68 a year ago.
Betting FRL this week might be more of a dart throw than most weeks, but there’s some merit to choosing Merritt here.
One player who should beat comparable players.
There are two things I like about Straka for matchup bets: 1) He’s been making cuts, with three straight and four of his last five, which at least gives you a chance, perhaps even cashing these bets by Friday afternoon; and 2) Until Sunday’s 75 (which was still two strokes below the field scoring average), Straka was second on the PGA TOUR in final-round scoring average, which should give him a boost if he’s in a tightly contested head-to-head entering the weekend.
The Big Fade
One top player to avoid at this tournament.
Brooks Koepka (+1400)
Of the four top-20 players mentioned in the intro, I could at least make a case for each of the other three this week, but it would be tough for me to come up with reasons for backing Koepka, who seems like he’s unnecessarily searching for his major championship form during non-major events.
Really, I don’t get it. This is a guy who’s made no bones about the fact that he’s way more motivated for the bigger tournaments. This is also a guy who’s repeatedly admitted that his knee injury is still bothering him. And yet, this is a guy who keeps playing these other tourneys anyway, showing up for his third straight this week. It’s tough to imagine he’s on the verge of turning it all around.
My favorite non-PGA Tour play of the week.
Lee Westwood (+900) to win the Betfred British Masters
Actually, that’s not the full name of this tournament. It’s officially called the Betfred British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood, who could be like that guy in your neighborhood who invites everyone over for Poker Night, buys the pizza and beer, then wipes out the entire table in a couple of hours.
Perhaps the better analogy is that of Miguel Angel Jimenez, who used money out of his own pocket to fund the Andalucia Open in 2012, then nearly won. Or, well, Tiger Woods, who’s won plenty of his “own” tourneys over the years.
When I spoke with Westwood during his title contention at the Honda Classic earlier this year, he seemed to be in a better place than ever before in his career – happy, relaxed, comfortable.
At the time, I remember thinking to myself that it would be very Darren Clarke-ish of him to win The Open after anyone thought he would win The Open, but with that event canceled for this year, I’ll keep backing him to parlay that happiness into other victories.