Golf Betting Systems: 2018 US Open Golf Picks and Expert Analysis
The week before a Major is always a great time to find your game and play four solid rounds of golf. However, if you are Dustin Johnson, who won last week's St. Jude Classic, the timing of the win can be rather precarious. In the history of the modern-day U.S. Open, no player has won the week prior to the Major and then gone on to be crowned U.S. Open champion. Depending on what side of the fence you are on - believing in superstitions like that or not --- Johnson's camp will be more than pleased with his performance last week and will feel that he deserves the title of betting favorite this week at Shinnecock Hills. Johnson shot an incredible 19-under par, six shots better than second-place Andrew Putnam. Johnson also capped his incredible four-day weekend by holing out for eagle from 171-yards away on the 72nd hole.
Johnson essentially shot the lights out all week, turning in rounds of 67,63,65 and 66. He eagled two par-4's, which is crazy, and made light work of the par-4s by birdieing 13 of them. He remains among the leaders in driving distance, while his short game is also nothing short of spectacular. He will be a major player in this week's U.S. Open.
But before we get there, let's take a look at the field for the PGA Tour's second major of the year.
This year's field is composed of 156 total players, and the top-60 and ties will make the cut to play on the weekend. As of writing this, Johnson is the betting favorite at +800. Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose are +1400, while Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, and Rickie Fowler check in at +1800. Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm and the defending champion, Brooks Koepka is round out the Top-10 at +2200.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club - Course Layout
In order to completely break down the field and use the process of elimination to build out the golf card, we must understand what kind of course we are dealing with. The U.S. Open is being contested this year at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, which is a Par-70 that plays 7,455 yards. The field will have to contend with POA grass on smaller-than-average greens in addition to a rough that will eat your ball up in a hurry. The fairways have been widened from 26-yards in 2004 to 41-yards, which is around the Tour average. However, if Mother Nature decides to show up and bring the wind with her, golfers will be in trouble. Shinnecock Hills is essentially the American version of a "links" course, and the weather will play a factor in determining the winner. It'll be interesting to see if/how the breakdown of the draw (afternoon vs morning tee time) plays a factor in the outcome.
Since the U.S. Open switches venues every year, we have a mixed bag of recent results to go over. Koepka crushed last year's course at Erin Hills and finished at 16-under par. Prior to that, Johnson won at Oakmont (-4) and Spieth won at Chambers Bay (-5). The last time the U.S. Open was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 when Retief Goosen won with a score of 4-under par.
U.S. Open - Key Stats
Bogey Avoidance + Stroked Gained: Off The Tee + Approach
There are numerous ways to build your card for this week's tournament, but the one I am going to be sticking with revolves around accuracy and being able to avoid the big numbers. Guys like DJ, McIlroy, Tony Finau, Gary Woodland and Jon Rahm are all big-time drivers of the ball, but none of them are within the top-50 in terms of driving accuracy. You have to go down all the way to 70th where you will find Woodland, a whole 89 spots better than Rahm, who sits in 159th. Here are Shinnecock Hills where the wind could play a massive factor, being able to hit the fairways is going to be a massive advantage. Of these five players I mentioned, DJ ranks second in bogey avoidance with Finau the next guy down at 23rd. The reason I am comparing these guys in bogey avoidance is because both players can hit the long ball and can escape putting up a big number. The only difference is that DJ is the favorite at 9/1 while Finau is 66/1. You are essentially getting the same skill set (to a lesser degree) at seven times the odds. Finau has multiple top-10 finishes the year already and checks in as the second ranked player in driving distance and 25th in strokes gained on approach shots. These are exactly the kind of stats that need to be mastered in order to have any chance of competing at this year's U.S. Open.
Another player that I haven't mentioned yet that could be worth a look at a hefty price is Kyle Stanley. Stanley is making his first trip to the U.S. Open since 2013, and he fits the model of the golfer I'm looking to back perfectly. He is fourth on tour in driving accuracy and averages nearly 295 yards per drive. And if you add his greens in regulation game (71 percent, 4th), you get a pretty nice skill-set for odds of 100/1.
The aforementioned Woodland is known for his length on Tour, and he should be able to navigate these holes with ease barring and major wind issues. The only problem with Woodland is that he struggles with his around-the-green game, ranking 187th on Tour. If and only if Woodland can fix that issue then he may be able to put all the pieces together for a breakthrough win.
And lastly, it wouldn't be a major championship article without talking about the big guns. Guys like McIlroy, Woods, Spieth, Thomas and Fowler are all priced like they have what it takes to win here at Shinnecock Hills. The unfortunate truth for four of those guys is that they just don't have the game that's suited for this style of course. Woods is an absolute mess with his driver. Sure, when he connects he can hit it a mile. However, with avoiding bogeys as one of my key stats, any wayward tee shots Woods plays with his driver will very rarely lead to a scrambling par on this course. Fowler and McIlroy both have been playing well so far this season but have just one win between them, and that was courtesy of the Irishman at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And, finally, the two good buddies, Spieth and Thomas. Thomas has been playing exceptionally well this year so far and has the right style of play for this kind of course. He hits long off the tee, can play in the wind, and has an impressive short game. Spieth, meanwhile, has been a Strokes Gained machine so far this season but cannot putt worth a damn. If that starts clicking here this week (not saying it will) then we could be in for one of those "I told you Spieth was still good" kind of weekends.
This may seem like a contrarian play, but in my opinion, nobody peaks at the right time for a Major like Fowler. Two weeks ago at the Memorial, Fowler was 12th in for greens in regulation, 9th for total driving, 16th for strokes gained off the tee, 6th for ball striking and 8th for all-around numbers. Fowler missed just seven greens over 36 holes on the weekend as he finished in 8th. Fowler is always talking about how he loves Shinnecock, and if the Memorial was the start of an upward trend for Fowler -- someone who has a rep of not being able to close out tournaments - then he could very well make people eat their words and capture his first-ever Major title at 18/1 odds.
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