The 2019 U.S. Open presents a betting board that's flush with world-class players who could all easily win the season's third major. But golf betting is all about finding value on those with a better chance of winning than their odds suggest, and with big names at the top commanding plenty of attention, there are plenty of opportunities to exploit some mispriced options.
It also helps that the venue, Pebble Beach, is just 7,075 yards. So, unlike the recent PGA Championship at the lengthy Bethpage Black, you can't just eliminate half the field because they don't hit the ball far enough. More players have a chance to win, making a repeat of a Brooks Koepka-Dustin Johnson one-two finish a lot less likely.
What you could call the "Big Four" makes up the top of the U.S. Open betting board, with Rory McIlroy (8-1), Johnson (8-1), Koepka (9-1) and Tiger Woods (12-1) entering the week as the favorites. In fact, this group has been given 3-2 odds of winning the tournament versus the field.
The numbers do suggest there's a good chance the winner comes from the top, but with no player standing out above the rest, there isn't enough value to go all-in on one of them.
However, if you're only looking for one player to bet on this week, this is an obvious group to pick from. If forced to choose, Johnson would be the best bet, with Tiger a close second, but these are not recommended plays.
The case against the other two are as follows: As dominant as Koepka has been, he's never won back-to-back majors and doesn't have an obvious advantage over the field like he did at Bethpage Black. McIlroy has missed three straight U.S. Open cuts and prefers soft conditions where birdies are easier to come by, which will not be the case at Pebble Beach.
Once you get past the top dogs, value starts to become apparent. World-class players with major championship titles on their resumes are priced above 25-1, and one could argue their chances of winning aren't that much less than the favorites.
Justin Thomas leaps off the page as a mispriced golfer at 30-1. His wrist injury is a thing of the past, and it's almost impossible to argue that Patrick Cantlay, who's priced at 18-1, is a better player than JT.
Adam Scott (33-1), Jason Day (35-1), and Francesco Molinari (40-1) all fit the mold of major winners who should play well at Pebble Beach. They've all appeared on recent major championship leaderboards, and if you bet all three, they'd pay out more than a single favorite.
Meanwhile, two under-the-radar candidates with impeccable U.S. Open records are Xander Schauffele (28-1) and Tommy Fleetwood (35-1). Schauffele's collected big PGA Tour wins in his short career and finished inside the top six in both of his past U.S. Open appearances. Fleetwood is still searching for his first win in North America, but something about U.S. Open setups brings out his best; he finished as the runner-up last year and fourth in 2017.
While it's unlikely a long shot will hoist the U.S. Open trophy, the short setup at Pebble Beach certainly levels the playing field and brings more players into consideration.
First, look for golfers with multiple things going their way, such as recent form, past U.S. Open success, or history at Pebble Beach. Brandt Snedeker (50-1) checks all three boxes following a T-4 showing in Canada. He's also a two-time winner of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and has three top-10 results in his last five U.S. Open appearances.
Elsewhere, Phil Mickelson (55-1) will have his best - and perhaps his final - chance to complete the career Grand Slam. He won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am this season and is a six-time runner-up at the U.S. Open. And Henrik Stenson (66-1) is playing great these days, especially with his irons, and will hit plenty of fairways, allowing him to stay aggressive on approach shots.
Of course, don't get carried away chasing long shots, as most of their true odds of winning are actually worse than the large numbers they are listed at. With so many elite golfers entering the week at the top of their games, it's tough to imagine a winner coming from anything higher than 75-1.
Justin Thomas (30-1)
The last time Thomas was mispriced in a tournament was the 2018 WGC-Bridgestone, where was listed at 40-1 and won the whole thing by four shots. He's now healthy, which was proven by a tee-to-green performance at the Canadian Open that ranked second only to McIlroy. It's pretty wild to think that if Thomas had made five more putts last week, he'd probably be priced right behind Tiger, at around 15-1.
Adam Scott (33-1)
Scott is at another level of focus this season, as he's drastically cut back his schedule to play in big events he knows he can win. He has two runner-up results already, with one coming at the Memorial - his last Tour appearance. His irons are dialed in, and if he continues to use a long putter, he won't be out of contention.
Henrik Stenson (66-1)
Stenson is simply too good of a player to be priced this high. His recent results aren't jaw-dropping, but his iron play has been off the charts over the past two months, and he should be one of the leaders in terms of driving accuracy at Pebble. The main concern is his short game, but if he's regularly missing greens, he wasn't destined to win anyway.
(Odds courtesy: Bet365)