U.S. Open betting preview: Go big or go home at Torrey Pines

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport / Getty

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The U.S. Open.

Simply saying that should get you excited for the week ahead. There's no other tournament on the PGA TOUR schedule like it, and we all know what to expect from the toughest test in golf, one that truly separates the best in the world from the rest.

From a betting perspective, the difficult setup at Torrey Pines South Course simplifies the research process. Torrey's length, thick rough, and firm greens will eliminate a large portion of the field's chances because you can't have a single weakness if you want to win this week.

The course

  • Torrey Pines South Course, La Jolla, California
  • 7,652 yards, par 71
  • Poa annua grass greens
  • Thick Kikuya rough will be extremely tough to play from
  • Two of three par 5s over 600 yards
  • Distance is everything, especially under U.S. Open conditions

Past winners

2020 - Bryson DeChambeau (-6) over Matthew Wolff
2019 - Gary Woodland (-13) over Brooks Koepka
2018 - Brooks Koepka (+1) over Tommy Fleetwood
2017 - Brooks Koepka (-16) over Hideki Matsuyama, Brian Harman
2016 - Dustin Johnson (-4) over three players
2015 - Jordan Spieth (-5) over Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen
2014 - Martin Kaymer (-9) over Erik Compton, Rickie Fowler
2013 - Justin Rose (+1) over Jason Day, Phil Mickelson
2012 - Webb Simpson (+1) over Graeme McDowell, Michael Thompson
2011 - Rory McIlroy (-16) over Jason Day

Before we start, look at the most recent U.S. Open winners. Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, and Dustin Johnson are all extreme power players. Even Gary Woodland can be one of the longest hitters on TOUR any given week.

Additionally, the 2019 PGA Championship was held at Bethpage Black - site of the 2009 U.S. Open - and won by Koepka, with Johnson close behind.

There's nothing to suggest that the USGA will drastically change how it wants to test the best players in the world this week. The longest hitters will always have an advantage, even more so when the rough is punitive and everyone is missing fairways at the same rate. DeChambeau already compared Torrey Pines to Winged Foot, and we saw how the U.S. Open in September played out.

The favorites

Player Odds
Jon Rahm +800
Dustin Johnson +1400
Bryson DeChambeau +1500
Brooks Koepka +1600
Xander Schauffele +1600
Rory McIlroy +1700
Jordan Spieth +1800
Justin Thomas +1800

Jon Rahm is the favorite at +800, but you'd be a fool to consider him at that price. Of course, the Spaniard, who loves Torrey Pines, can win his first major title this week, but when you can take both Koepka and Johnson at roughly the same price, it becomes obvious how overvalued Rahm is.

Speaking of Johnson, the world No. 1 failed to show signs of life for a concerning length of time ... until last week. Johnson came in a tie for 10th at the Palmetto Championship and would have wound up in a playoff if it weren't for a sloppy triple-bogey late Sunday.

DeChambeau and Koepka are both great options, as well. If what DeChambeau says is true, and Torrey Pines plays a lot like Winged Foot, how can you not like the big hitter's chances of defending his title. And for Koepka, the dude was born to play U.S. Opens. He has two wins and a runner-up in his last three appearances at the major.

Xander Schauffele will understandably get a lot of love this week. The San Diego native showed he finally figured out Torrey Pines by finishing as a runner-up in January at the Farmers Insurance Open and has placed inside the top six in his four U.S. Open starts. However, why take Schauffele when you can back a proven major championship winner in Koepka at the same price.

Rory McIlroy at +1700 also deserves attention. The Northern Irishman played very well in his three starts at Torrey Pines and needs to be considered whenever elite driving ability is at a premium.

Finally, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas are fades at +1800. Spieth doesn't set up well for the bomber's paradise that is Torrey, and Thomas hasn't played well enough to suggest he'll find his game at the toughest test in golf.

Player Odds
Collin Morikawa +2400
Viktor Hovland +2400
Patrick Cantlay +2500
Tony Finau +2500
Patrick Reed +3000
Hideki Matsuyama +3300
Will Zalatoris +4000
Tyrrell Hatton +4500
Webb Simpson +4500

We spent a lot of time at the top because that's likely where the winner's coming from. But there are still some interesting options as we go down the board.

Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay are both fine plays at +2400 and +2500, respectively. Neither will overpower the field but can rely on their accuracy and world-class iron play to contend.

On the other hand, Tony Finau and Viktor Hovland are two golfers who profile perfectly for what's required at the oceanside venue. Both can hit it a mile, can go lights out with their irons, and have played well at U.S. Opens in the past, but neither has the winning pedigree at regular PGA TOUR events (Hovland has two wins at lesser TOUR stops) that you want to see from a potential champion.

Will Zalatoris (+4500) is the best value option from this tier. His worst finish in the last three majors he's played in was a tie for eighth a month ago at the PGA Championship. He was also a runner-up in his debut at the Masters.

Long shots

As mentioned above, it's unlikely a long shot will hoist the trophy Sunday, but there are some names who possess the skill set required to contend at Torrey.

  • Scottie Scheffler (+5000): He placed third at the Memorial in his last start and has finished inside the top 10 in his two most recent PGA Championships.
  • Jason Kokrak (+6000): He just won the Charles Schwab Challenge and is one of the longest hitters on TOUR.
  • Sam Burns (+10000): He was the 54-hole leader at Torrey Pines in January and collected his first win at the Valspar Championship in early May.
  • Jhonattan Vegas (+25000): The Venezuelan came tied-for-second last week shortly after qualifying for the U.S Open. He's a bomber who has played the Farmers Insurance Open a ton with some nice success, including a T3 in 2011.


Dustin Johnson (+1400)

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Last week's effort at Congaree will go down as a slump buster for Johnson. He gained strokes in all four categories to record his first top-10 finish since February. If it weren't for one bad hole last Sunday, you could argue Johnson would have been a co-favorite or at least +1000 this week, but thanks to a triple-bogey, we're getting a discount.

Johnson winning a U.S. Open at Torrey Pines makes perfect sense. He's the prototypical power player who can take on the tough venues set up by the USGA. He's also really good at putting on the bumpy poa greens, which will come in handy as pressure cranks up late Sunday.

Let's not forget who the No. 1 player in the world is and how dominant he was to close out his 2020 season. We're not that far removed from a stretch of 13 tournaments where Johnson recorded four worldwide wins. Perhaps this week will kick off another unstoppable summer for Johnson.

Brooks Koepka (+1600)

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Keep it simple and round out your betting card with another elite U.S. Open talent. Now, this decision came down to Koepka and DeChambeau, but we're going with the former at a slightly better number.

Koepka was designed to contend at U.S. Opens. He doesn't get a lot of credit for it, but he may be the most patient player in golf. He rarely gets flustered after one bad hole, which is exactly why his last three finishes at the U.S. Open are 2nd-1st-1st.

His missed cut from last week means nothing. Koepka gained strokes ball-striking at Congaree and is two starts removed from a runner-up showing at Kiawah Island.

It's a major. It's the U.S. Open. Bet on Brooks.

U.S. Open betting preview: Go big or go home at Torrey Pines
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