Prepare for chaos.
The 2020 U.S. Open has arrived and judging from reports at Winged Foot, the host of this year’s second Major Championship, it’s going to be an absolute grind out there in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Narrow fairways, thick rough and fast greens should keep scoring low and that could lead to an interesting betting weekend. Will the tough conditions make this a more wide-open event? Or will the cream truly rise to the top?
Here are our favorite outright bets, sleeper picks, prop bets and matchups for the 2020 U.S. Open:
Jon Rahm (+900, $10 bet wins $90)
Are we finally past the point where observers still believe that Rahm’s emotional outbursts or his relative inexperience should prohibit him from being one of the top picks going into a major championship? We should be.
The guy owns immense talent, as evidenced by victories this summer at the Memorial Tournament and BMW Championship – easily the two most difficult setups since the PGA TOUR’s restart. He was also T-3 last year at Pebble Beach, just another sign pointing toward an impending title contention.
There are about 5-6 players who have played the best during the past few months and I’ll take Rahm to be the best of the best of this week.
Tommy Fleetwood (+3500)
Fleetwood’s game wasn’t in the best shape the last few times we saw him on the PGA TOUR. His ball-striking, especially with the approach, was all over the map. He seemed to iron out those issues last weekend in Portugal. Fleetwood didn’t win, but that was because he lost six strokes with his putter. The tee-to-green numbers lapped field.
With his irons in a better spot, I think Fleetwood has a good chance to contend this week. He’s already shown the ability to compete in a USGA set-up, tallying two top-five finishes in 2017 and 2018.
Daniel Berger (+3500)
Among the golfers I think have a realistic shot at winning, my model shows the best raw value on Daniel Berger and Patrick Reed, two solid yet uninspiring options.
Among those two, I’ll go with Berger, who I think offers a good chunk of value at 35/1 at PointsBet. My model is a blend of recent and long-term form, with perhaps a bit more weighted on current form. And Berger’s is just about as good as anyone’s in the field – no one has noticed, though, due to Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm play god-like lately.
But Berger is fifth in this loaded field in current form, finishing in the top-three in four of his eight starts since the COVID-19 layoff. Outside of the short game, he doesn’t necessarily wow with any part of his game like a DJ or Collin Morikawa do, but his all-around game has been excellent. He seems to be finally getting back to high expectations he garnered as a younger golfer.
I mean, my model has DJ and Rahm in a field of their own this week, so they’re definitely the most likely guys to win this week. But if you’re just looking for a mid-tier guy who is more likely to win than his odds imply, Berger isn’t a bad option.
Patrick Reed (+3300)
When looking at my favorite outrights for a major, an element of value needs to be accounted for with talent and current form, obviously. Sure, DJ, Rahm and JT are the overarching favorites, but at a difficult golf course, anything can happen.
Patrick Reed presents winning upside at a major (2018 Masters) and has shown the ability to grind out four rounds in the U.S. Open ranking fourth in SG: Total since 2015. Reed’s gained strokes off-the-tee in seven straight events and ranks inside the top 7 in SG: Par 4 since the restart.
Justin Thomas (+1400)
JT is one of the most talented golfers in the world when he is clicking on all cylinders. At the TOUR Championship, Thomas gained 6.8 strokes Tee-to-Green and gained significantly in every statistical category with the exception of putting (-3.2).
In his past 24 rounds, he ranks second in the field on approach and fifth Tee-to-Green. In fact, he has gained strokes on approach in 16 of his past 17 starts, including his past seven.
Thomas is arguably the best iron player in the world which will surely come in handy in what should be an incredibly grueling test at Winged Foot. The ability to get from tee to green as efficiently as possible will be the key to victory. While his poor putting is a slight concern, two-putting for par this week may be all that is needed to get into contention.
Just five starts ago, JT won the WGC FedEx St. Jude while losing strokes on the greens (-1.9). If he can putt close to field average, Justin Thomas will have a strong chance to win the 2020 U.S. Open.
Thomas Detry +20000 ($10 bet wins $2,000)
I wasn’t sure if Tony Finau or Matthew Fitzpatrick or even Chez Reavie were sleepy enough to be considered a sleeper, so I’m going deeper here.
Somehow, the 27-year-old big-hitting Detry is playing just his first career major this week, but I don’t see him being too intimidated by it. A strong guy just like fellow Belgium native Thomas Pieters (another player I like this week), don’t be surprised if Detry opens with a solid score and lingers on the leaderboard for a few days.
I like him for top-20 props, in DFS lineups and as a first-round leader bet, which could be a juicy payout on a guy who’s posted scores of 67 or better in three of his last four starts.
Corey Conners +20000
Conners is one of the most complete ball-strikers on TOUR, and with the U.S. Open rough looming off these tight fairways, his precision both off the tee and with the approach makes him a viable longshot.
The short game is always the issue for Conners, so we’ll see if he can make enough par-saving putts to climb the leaderboard. Even so, I think this course should set up well for the Canadian.
Erik van Rooyen (+16000)
EVR’s missed cut at the Safeway Open may work in his favor, getting to upstate New York a couple of days earlier than expected. He brings with him a solid off-the-tee game gaining strokes in five straight with his drives.
A top-three finish at WGC-Mexico earlier this season along with a top-22 at Memorial should give us confidence he can contend in strong fields.
Van Rooyen has two top-20s in past majors and a top-eight in the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, another long par 70 with poa annua greens.
Martin Kaymer (+12500)
Martin Kaymer is coming off of a second-place finish at the Andalucia Masters (European Tour), in an event that played very difficult. The week prior he finished third at the UK Championship. This flash of form is all I need to see from the former World No. 1 to take a shot at him at this price.
Kaymer won the 2010 PGA Championship and the 2014 U.S. Open (by 8 shots!). While he isn’t the same golfer he was back then, we know he has what it takes to get it done in a major championship.
Jordan Spieth to Miss the Cut (+105)
I was on Taylor Zarzour’s show “The Starter” on U.S. Open Radio on Monday morning and he began a question about Spieth with, “If it wasn’t for a final-hole double-bogey on Friday, he would’ve only missed the cut by a few shots…”
That’s not a good sign for a player struggling with his game at the Safeway Open, one who’s looking to find it at the U.S. Open. Judging by the pained expression on Spieth’s face from first thing Thursday morning, there’s clearly something wrong right now — and it’s hard to believe he’ll be able to fix it in time for this one.
At plus-money to miss the cut, I’m fading him here.
Tony Finau Top-20 Finish (+140)
Finau’s game just fits major championships. He’s finished inside the top-20 in nine of his 16 career starts, including two of four at the U.S. Open.
The added emphasis on ball-striking at Winged Foot will only help Tony hang around near the top of the leaderboard and his form has been good. Finau has finished inside the top-20 in five of his last seven starts, including a fourth at the PGA Championship last month.
Brendon Todd Top-20 Finish (+300)
We could debate on what skillset or stat is most important at a major, but it’s undeniable the guys need to have a modicum of accuracy off-the-tee, an ability to scramble and have a solid week putting to do well here. Todd ranks 12th in scrambling, seventh in putting and first in fairways gained since the restart.
Todd shouldn’t fit the description of someone who should do well here but he’s finished no worse than 22nd at the three hardest courses since the restart (Memorial, PGA Championship, BMW Championship) with a top 10 at Olympia Fields.
Adam Scott Top-10 Finish (+400)
At the BMW Championship, Adam Scott found himself in the mix on Sunday without necessarily playing all that well. This is a positive sign for his prospects at a very difficult U.S. Open.
I prefer Scott when he doesn’t have to make a bunch of birdies to keep pace at the top of the leaderboard. His ability to play steady golf and hit fairways and greens while avoiding big numbers should suit him well at Winged Foot.
Scott also has some great history at Northeast courses including a 5th at the 2019 Northern Trust (Liberty National), 8th at the 2019 PGA Championship (Bethpage Black), 5th at the 2018 Northern Trust (Ridgewood CC), 4th at the 2016 Northern Trust (Bethpage Black), and a win at Liberty National (Barclays) in 2013.
His high floor makes him a strong top-10 play this week (I would strongly consider a bet to win also).
Louis Oosthuizen (-106) over Gary Woodland
Woodland is the defending champ, so he’s getting a little love over Louis, but I’ll go with the South African.
Oosthuizen finished ahead of Woodland in seven of the eight U.S. Opens in which they both played. The outlier being Gary’s win, of course.
Oosthuizen is also in better form, finishing ahead of Woodland in their last four shared starts.
I’ll take a shot on Oosthuizen to edge out the defending champ.
Matthew Wolff (-137) over Sebastian Munoz
Munoz has been one of the hottest golfers on TOUR, finishing with back-to-back top-8s (one being at difficult Olympia Fields), but Wolff has the off-the-tee game to perform well at Winged Foot ranking fourth in driving distance and 36th in fairways gained since the restart.
Munoz hasn’t done well in majors missing the cut in all three of his starts, while Wolff recently flirted with the lead on Sunday at TPC Harding Park.
Group B Winner: Patrick Reed +400 (Morikawa, Berger, Dechambeau, Simpson, Reed)
I love Patrick Reed this week. He has outstanding course history in the Northeast including a win at last year’s Northern Trust (Liberty National).
Whoever wins at Winged Foot will need to make some very difficult par saves. Reed is a wizard around the green and is great from 60-100 yards (a scenario I expect to see often this week when players inevitably miss the fairway).
His skill set combined with his strong mental game and ability to grind with tough scoring conditions makes him a strong bet to be the top player in this group.