2014 US Open Expert Picks with Golf Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 6/10/2014
About the only thing I can tell you for sure about this week's US Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina is that Ben Crane won't win it. How do I know that? No player has won a PGA Tour event the week before the US Open and then taken that tournament.
OK it also helps Crane isn't playing this week. He certainly deserved to win last week's St. Jude Classic in Memphis, going wire-to-wire for his fifth career victory but first since 2011. He had to play 30 holes on Sunday and closed with a 3-over 73 to beat out Troy Merritt by a shot. It was a bit of satisfaction for Crane as he failed to qualify for the US Open at a Monday qualifier before Memphis. Merritt's finish was the best of his career, and I think the guy who came out the best last week and who is playing at Pinehurst is 2012 US Open champion Webb Simpson. In his first start since missing the cut at the Players Championship and since his wife gave birth to third child, Simpson finished T3, his first Top 10 in a stroke play event since February. He's a North Carolina native and knows Pinehurst well.
I didn't forecast a Crane win, but then neither did any other expert whom I follow. That's been the case pretty much all season. I liked Ryan Palmer but he finished a disappointing T32. I didn't expect much from Phil Mickelson, but he played pretty well for a T11, a needed shot of confidence. I'm just going to put last week in the rearview mirror because not much went right overall.
So that brings us to the US Open, my favorite golf tournament of the year because it makes the pros look rather like the duffer I am. I've also had the opportunity to play Pinehurst, although the course was revamped in 2011. You won't see that crazy thick rough as is often the case in a US Open. It has been replaced by the sandy soil and wire grass native to that part of the state of North Carolina. With the wide fairways and no rough, it should play a bit like a British Open track. The turtle-back greens (i.e. think of an upside-down bowl) are going to be incredibly tough. It's also 348 yards longer than the last time the Open visited in 2005. At 7,562 yards, Pinehurst No. 2 will be the third-longest US Open course in history (the U.S. Women's Open visits next week). Pinehurst also has the two longest par 4s in tournament history, the 529-yard fourth and 528-yard No. 16.
With no Tiger Woods, the clear story line is Mickelson trying to catch his white whale as he has famously finished second in the US Open a record six times, including last year. One of those also came when Pinehurst hosted in 1999, a tournament memorably won by Payne Stewart, who would die in a plane crash a few months later. Mickelson wore a beeper all week with his wife Amy about to give birth to their first child. Lefty, who would complete the career Grand Slam with a win, was ready to leave if that happened. It's an understatement to say he will be the overwhelming fan favorite here. Michael Campbell won the '05 US Open at Pinehurst and has fallen off the face of the earth from a golf perspective. Campbell finished at even par, two shots ahead of Tiger.
Americans used to dominate this tournament, but a non-American has won it eight times this century and three of the past four. England's Justin Rose got his first major title in 2013 at Merion. Rose was the fifth straight first-time major winner at the US Open. A sixth in a row would tie the longest such streak in tournament history.
Golf Odds: US Open Favorites
Rory McIlroy is the 12/1 favorite at Bovada . Of course he won in 2011 at Congressional with a record score of 16-under. The players won't be approaching that this week, but I do expect the winner to be under par after two straight years of over-par winners. McIlroy won a couple of weeks ago on the European Tour and was T15 at the Memorial in his last PGA Tour start. He had four straight Top 10s prior to that.
World No. 1 Adam Scott is 12/1 . The US Open doesn't usually agree with Scott as he has a best finish of T15 in the tournament. Otherwise he's been in contention at every major of late it seems. Scott is playing well, with a win at Colonial and T4 at the Memorial.
Mickelson is 14/1. He believes Pinehurst is perfect for him with those wide fairways and an emphasis on creative short-game play. But is it possible to want something too much? This might be his last best chance to win this tournament in that he doesn't have to worry about Tiger, for one. Bubba Watson is the last player priced under 25/1; the Masters winner is 16/1. It's all but impossible to win the Masters and US Open in the same year. The last to do so was Jack Nicklaus in 1972.
Golf Odds: US Open Picks
There are an unbelievable amount of props at Bovada, and I recommend you take a look. You can get most of the top guys on whether they will simply make the cut or not. The only guy I'd recommend for a “no” is struggling Jason Day at +250.
For a Top-10 finish, I am going with Mickelson (+135), McIlroy (even money), Dustin Johnson (+250) and Simpson (+350). I like Ian Poulter (13/2) as the top English player, McIlroy (3/1) as the top European, Sergio Garcia (-175) as the top Spanish player and John Senden (10/1) as the top Aussie.
If one of the Americans can win this week, it would be the fourth straight major win for a U.S. player, which hasn't happened in a decade. Here's what I'm recommending: take the Big 4 of McIlroy, Scott, Mickelson and Watson at +275 against the field (-400), but I'm backing it up with Johnson to win at 28/1. Yes, he's struggling a bit right now, but he's a bomber and that should be an advantage on this course. Johnson would also pay 14/1 as the top American. I am hoping for once I am wrong and it's Lefty, but that seems too unlikely with how Mickelson has played this year.
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