2013 US Open Picks and PGA Tour Golf Odds
by Alan Matthews - 6/12/2013
Last week's St. Jude Classic in Memphis rather summed up this golf year for me on these recommendations. Yet again, a guy I had barely heard of, Harris English, won his first PGA Tour event. Obviously I didn't predict that. I went with Charles Howell III (33/1), and he finished T39.
So while I am stuck on one winner this season so far -- Tiger Woods at Bay Hill -- I have continued to fare well on the Top-10 props and head-to-head. Last week was no exception. Phil Mickelson was one of the few big names to play in Memphis and finished runner-up, a nice momentum boost heading into this week's U.S. Open. I hit on Mickelson for a Top-10 at +115 as well as head-to-head at -130 against Dustin Johnson. I also hit on red-hot Scott Stallings, who was co-runner-up with Phil, at an excellent +260 for a Top-10. Sometimes you have to spread those bets out -- it's just not easy picking a winner these days as the PGA Tour seems as deep as it's ever been.
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But enough about last week, now I focus on what is always my favorite tournament of the year, the U.S. Open. Why is it my favorite? Because the USGA wants the players to struggle against the toughest conditions in the world. The U.S. Open is generally the only tournament each year that has a chance to see the winner finish over par (sometimes the British Open depending on conditions over there). It makes me feel good to watch as a hacker.
Three of the past seven U.S. Open winners have finished over par, including Webb Simpson at 1-over last year at Olympic Club. That will not happen this year at Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia. First off, history says it won't. The last time it was held there, Aussie David Graham won at 7-under in 1981. But it really won't because this course isn't even 7,000 yards, which makes it almost prehistoric these days with the technology changes. Will it have deep rough and tough greens? Definitely.
However, heavy rains have completely softened the course, leading some to remark that Rory McIlroy's record 16-under total set two years ago at Congressional could be approached. Without all the rain, we'd probably be looking at something like 5-under as the winning score; Merion measures 6,996 yards, the exact same Shinnecock Hills did for the 2004 U.S. Open where Retief Goosen won at 4-under, and he and Mickelson were the only two players under par. This will be the first Open since that one on a course under 7,000 yards.
"You're not going to see a firm U.S. Open this year, I'm sorry," said Ernie Els, a two-time champion, this week. Oh, and more rain is in the forecast for Thursday's first round.
Driving accuracy and not length off the tee will be key here, as will obviously putting, bringing into play guys like Jim Furyk. Remember, he led starting the back nine on Sunday last year but struggled and finished fourth. He could have three U.S. Opens by now, winning in 2003 and nearly also doing so in 2007.
All that said, Tiger Woods is the clear favorite. Of course, his last major win was at the 2008 U.S. Open, and he's not officially back until Tiger wins a major, his four wins this year notwithstanding. Woods was also the heavy favorite last time he teed it up at the Memorial, a tournament he had dominated, but he finished with one his worst-ever results anywhere at 8-over. He still has plenty of time to add five majors to his 14 total and surpass Jack Nicklaus' record haul of 18.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: U.S. Open Favorites
Woods is at 9/2 at Bovada, which is, frankly, ridiculously short odds. Tiger will be in the marquee trio in the first two rounds along with McIlroy and reigning Masters champion Adam Scott (and Woods' former caddie). Tiger was the 36-hole leader at Olympic a year ago but ballooned to 75-73 on the weekend to finish T21. And it's weekends at the majors that have bitten Tiger of late. He hasn't broke 70 on the weekend in a major since he made a run on Sunday at the 2011 Masters (without a 74 on Saturday he would have won). I don't think his Memorial result has any impact, but I am not taking Woods at such short odds.
Mickelson is the 16/1 second-favorite. The U.S. Open is his white whale at this point as Lefty has finished runner-up a record five times. I was actually rather high on Mickelson before he left Merion on Tuesday to attend his daughter's eighth-grade graduation in San Diego. What an incredibly cool thing to do for a father, but he now has to fly overnight Wednesday to get back, and he tees it off at 7:11 a.m. Thursday. That doesn't sound like a recipe for success to me.
Graeme McDowell, Matt Kuchar and McIlroy are all 20/1. McDowell won the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and finally added a second PGA Tour win at the RBC Heritage in April. He missed the cut at the Players Championship in his last event in the USA. Should Kuchar win this week, he'd vault ahead of Tiger as the Player of the Year favorite. Kuchar added win No. 2 this year at the Memorial, finishing a cool 20 shots ahead of Tiger. Kuchar also won the Match Play earlier this year. He's totally overdue a major. At this point, I have no clue which McIlroy shows up. Winning or missing the cut wouldn't surprise me. He was T57 at the Memorial.
2013 US Open Picks and Betting Predictions
I do think Tiger grinds out a Top-10 at -275. I'd also take Scott (+165), Kuchar (+165) and Furyk (+300). Take Tiger head-to-head over McIlroy (Woods -240) and Mickelson (Woods -250). I'm really not high on Mickelson now, even though I so respect his choice, so I'd pretty much go against him head-to-head in every available prop.
I was tempted to go with Furyk to win, but my guy is Aussie Jason Day at 40/1, which is tremendous value. It would be great karma for Day to win here after blowing the Masters late on Sunday in April. Remember the last guy to choke away the Masters? That would be McIlroy in 2011 and he followed that up winning the U.S. Open. Day was runner-up that year, and he punches through for his first major win at Merion.
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