Major time is here again and we’re assessing the hopes of some of the leading contenders ahead of America’s national championship at Pebble Beach
Below are my US Open betting tips. You can see the outsiders I’m backing here…
The venue: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey Peninsula, California
Date: June 13-16, 2019
Course stats: Par 72, 6,816 yards
Course summary: This iconic course has the US Open on its 100th birthday and will look somewhat different from the layout that hosted the Pebble Beach Pro-Am just four months ago. Expect the usual USGA staples of high rough and slick greens. Conditions, as well as setup, will dictate scoring. If the wind and waves are up, this could be very tricky indeed.
Purse: $12.5 million
Defending champion: Brooks Koepka (+1)
The US Open will be live on Sky Sports. See the full schedule here.
US Open betting tips: Steve’s main contenders
Phil Mickelson (33/1)
It’s the last chance saloon for Mickelson. Lefty has finished runner-up six times in his national championship and, if you were going to give him one more opportunity to complete golf’s Grand Slam, Pebble Beach is the place he’d pick to take a crack at it.
Phil loves everything about this fabulous stretch of land and his Pro-Am victory here in February was his fifth success on the famous layout.
Mickelson was imperious four months ago, sweeping Paul Casey aside with a final-round 65 to claim his 44th win on the PGA Tour.
Conditions will obviously be much tougher, but with the current weather forecast predicting sun and very little wind, this could see some lower scores than we’ve been used to at traditional US Open set ups.
Not that ‘difficult’ should trouble Phil. The 48-year-old finished tied for 4th when Graeme McDowell took the trophy nine years ago and no one has come closer without winning the US Open than him.
If he can keep his temper with the USGA, avoid intentionally breaking rules, and rein some of his worst excesses, he could be an attractive bet at the price.
I’m relatively uninterested in his performances at both the Masters and the PGA Championship. A second-round 79 at Memorial concerns me more but, for Phil, this is the one. Can he grasp it?
Dustin Johnson (8/1)
Spectacularly blew up here nine years ago when his first major title seemed within touching distance. A three-shot lead going into the final round was gone within a couple of holes as the former World No. 1 collapsed to 82.
He’s not won at Pebble since the 2010 Pro-Am but has finished in the top 5 on five other occasions. Let’s forgive his T45 in February and remember his 2016 victory at Oakmont and his 3rd-place finish at Shinnecock last year.
If he’s going to grab his second major, the US Open seems the most likely place to do it and he arrives on the back of finishing 2nd, or tied for it, in the Masters and PGA Championship.
He’s in excellent form – enjoying wins at the WGC-Mexico Championship and the Saudi International as well as recording seven top 10s on the PGA Tour – and I can’t really see how he doesn’t feature here.
Xander Schauffele (28/1)
The next step on Schauffele’s path to world domination is winning a major and the 2017 Tour champion is edging ever closer.
Tied for 2nd at the Masters, his PGA Championship week was looking similarly rosy until a final-round 76 – in admittedly tough final day conditions – saw him fall down the leaderboard to T16.
After missing the cut at the Charles Schwab, he returned with a solid performance at Muirfield Village and that feels like a good enough lead in to Pebble.
Given I place quite a lot of importance on course form, it’s disconcerting that Schauffele has tended to give Pebble Beach a swerve in his short career.
In his only appearance in the Pro-Am he missed the cut and what form consistently shows us is that familiar faces do well at Pebble year after year.
But Shauffele does look a major champion in the waiting and I’d like to be ahead of the curve when he finally hits the jackpot.
US Open betting tips: Notable others
He’s clearly the man to beat after his largely dominant showing at the PGA Championship and plenty will be willing to pile in even at this short price.
My feeling is that while Koepka’s major performances made him obvious value at Bethpage Black (he was double the price), the bookies have caught up with him now.
Can he win? Of course, but the longer he goes on this run, the more we have to start considering him as one of the greatest players of all time and I’m not sure he’s quite at that level just yet.
While I reckon he’s primed to win again soon, and has triumphed at Pebble in the past, that price in a tournament that’s going to examine all of his re-found skills feels a bit on the short side.
As do the odds on Patrick Cantlay (20/1). As good as his final round at Memorial was, it was from off the pace and without pressure until close to the conclusion.
When he hit the front at Augusta, he blinked and his high leaderboard position at the PGA Championship doesn’t reveal that he was never really in contention as Brooks Koepka swept the board.
Justin Thomas (22/1) simply hasn’t played enough in my opinion to feature this highly in the betting and, unless it’s absolutely dead calm for four days, I’d never put money on Rory McIlroy (14/1) at a windy links.
And Tiger Woods (12/1)? It largely depends on his back, doesn’t it? When his spine is stiff, so is his swing and his movement. But 70 degrees in California should do wonders for that and we all know what he did at Pebble in 2000.
After three days of searching at Memorial, he found his groove in the final round and there might be a bit of that here as well. If so, and if we see a repeat of what he did at Augusta, then he’s a worthy third favourite at 12/1.
We’ll just have to accept these days that with Woods there will a lot of ‘ifs’ until the first shots are struck.