2018 US Open Golf Predictions with Odds and Expert Picks
Let's just cut to the chase: As good as Dustin Johnson looked in his dominating win at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis over the weekend, I will not be picking him to win the 118th U.S. Open this week at very tough Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y. It's tough enough to win back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour. It's just about impossible to win the week before a major and then also take said major. Since 1988, only three guys have done so: Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
Johnson was stellar at the St. Jude, shooting a final-round 66 - including chipping in on his 72nd hole - to finish at 19 under and win by six. It was the 18th victory of Johnson's career. There are now 29 players in PGA Tour history with at least 18 wins and one of them a major since World War II ended. A total of 27 of them are in the Hall of Fame. The two who aren't but will be are Tiger and now DJ. He also reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the world from Justin Thomas.
My winning pick for the St. Jude Classic, which moves later in the summer starting in 2019 as a World Golf Championships event, was Billy Horschel at +2800. He finished T51 at 1 over with just one round in the 60s. By comparison, DJ's worst round was a 67. I missed by a shot on Phil Mickelson for a Top 10 as he finished T12 at 6 under following a final-round 65. I wasn't high on two-time defending champion Daniel Berger at all and he missed the cut.
So now it's off to the toughest challenge in golf at the U.S. Open, returning to Shinnecock Hills for the first time since 2004 when South African Retief Goosen won at 4 under. He was one of only two golfers under par with Mickelson (-2) the other. That was one of Lefty's record six runner-up finishes in this tournament as he continues to chase the career Grand Slam. Mickelson turns 48 on Saturday and would be the oldest winner of this event were he to pull it off.
This year's tournament will not be close to what happened last year at defenseless Erin Hills in Wisconsin when Brooks Koepka won at 16 under, tying the lowest score under par in the U.S. Open. Only three times has the winner reached double digits under par. If you plan on tuning in Thursday, two groups clearly stand out: McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Mickelson teeing off at 8:02 a.m. ET from the 10th tee, and Thomas, Johnson and Tiger, who plays the U.S. Open for the first time in three years, at 1:47 p.m. ET off the first tee. Still can't believe Woods hasn't won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open.
Shinnecock Hills is one of the five charter clubs of the United States Golf Association and is a par 70 measuring 7,440 yards, around 500 yards more than 14 years ago. It was a 12-hole course when it opened in 1891. There aren't many trees on the course; it plays and looks like a Scottish layout with fescue rough and ocean breezes. Goosen, incidentally, didn't qualify this year. All three winners of modern U.S. Opens at Shinnecock have been at least 35 years old. Interestingly, just two golfers on the planet have made the cut at the past five U.S. Opens: Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia, although neither has won it.
One change this year: No more 18-hole Monday playoff for the U.S. Open. It's now two-hole aggregate and then sudden death if still tied after that.
Golf Odds: U.S. Open Favorites
Johnson is the +900 favorite at Bovada - he had been +1200 before winning in Memphis. He missed the cut at last year's U.S. Open in Wisconsin but was Top 5 in the previous three. DJ won in 2016 at Oakmont and should have won the year before at Chambers Bay.
McIlroy, Thomas and Justin Rose are all +1400. McIlroy crushed the field at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional by shooting 16 under but hasn't won a major since the 2014 PGA Championship. He has missed the cut the past two years. Thomas' best U.S. Open finish was ninth last year and comes off a Top 10 at the Memorial. Rose recently won in Fort Worth and was the 2013 U.S. Open champ - but has missed the cut in the past two.
Spieth, the 2015 champion when Johnson collapsed, is +1600. Tiger, a three-time U.S. Open champion, is +1800 and Mickelson +3000. Lefty wants this badly. At the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock, he was T4.
Golf Odds: U.S. Open Picks
There will be tons of props this week, too many to list. For example, you can get Sergio or Jon Rahm at +1400 vs. the field (-5000). No Spaniard has won the U.S. Open. I don't much like Sergio this week, but Rahm winning wouldn't surprise me. Tiger is +1800 vs. the field (-7500).
For a Top 10, I like McIlroy (+120), Rose (+135), Henrik Stenson (+275) and Mickelson (+275). McIlroy is +450 as top European and I'll probably lean that way. The prop of McIlroy, Thomas and Johnson at +325 vs. the field (-500) is interesting … but I'd go field there.
I'm going with newly-engaged Rickie Fowler at +1800 to win his first major. First-timers have been the norm in recent years at majors, and Fowler has been very hit (T5 last year, T2 in 2014) or miss (MC in 2015-16) at the U.S. Open. There's a prop on Fowler and Bubba Watson (+1200) vs. the field (-3300) but I doubt Bubba is a factor.
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