The U.S. Open is back where it belongs on Fathers’ Day weekend, and the golf season’s third major should be a dandy.
Less than a month after Phil Mickelson’s improbable win PGA Championship win at Kiawah Island, golf’s stiffest test awaits a star-studded field at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.
Mickelson won his sixth major title despite going off at 300-1 odds at some places. Can another overlooked underdog make a similar impact this week? With the U.S. Open, it feels unlikely, but it truly is one of the more unpredictable weeks on the golf calendar.
Here’s a betting preview for this weekend’s U.S. Open.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Bryson DeChambeau (6-under at Winged Foot Golf Club)
THE COURSE — Torrey Pines South Course
Yardage: 7,685 yards
PGA Tour golfers know all about Torrey Pines, as it hosts the Farmers Insurance Open early in the season. How much we can glean from that at a U.S. Open is very much open for debate.
It’s more than likely the course plays far different and far tougher this weekend than it does during the early-season West Coast swing. The Kikuyu rough is going to be grown way up, and the track will play much longer. In fact, it’s playing as a par 71 this week as opposed to the typical 72 it plays for the PGA Tour event.
Furthermore, weather should be a factor this week. Even with forecasts calling for sunny skies, the air is different in June than it is in January, and most believe that will suppress driving distance some.
The return to Torrey Pines also means players will deal with the Poa annua putting greens. That means the putting surface will play bumpier than Tour players are accustomed to, and that will only get worse as the day goes on and grass starts to dry up.
Regardless, it should make for a beautiful setting.
(Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook)
Jon Rahm +950
Bryson DeChambeau +1700
Dustin Johnson +1700
Xander Schauffele +1700
Brooks Koepka +1800
Rory McIlroy +1900
Collin Morikawa +2000
Jordan Spieth +2300
Justin Thomas +2400
Tony Finau +2400
Viktor Hovland +2400
Patrick Cantlay +2500
Patrick Reed +2900
Hideki Matsuyama +3500
Shane Lowry +4000
— Rahm is coming off an unfortunate COVID-19 diagnosis after three rounds at the Memorial, but he has eaten Torrey Pines alive in his various stops over the years. The Spaniard has four top-10s and is 51-under at Torrey since 2017 (including the North Course), which is the best scoring stretch of anyone on Tour.
— Schauffele is going to receive a lot of love in the betting market and DFS. It’s a relatively short number for someone who hasn’t won a major, but he has a couple of things going for him. One — and you’ll hear this a lot in the next few days — is he’s a local kid. Second, is Schauffele has finished no worse than sixth place in his four U.S. Open starts. On top of that, he’s racked up eight top-10 finishes in 16 majors appearances, including a third-place finish at the Masters in April.
— Keep an eye on Koepka — it is a major, after all. He erased doubts about his knee with a second-place finish at the PGA following a missed cut at the Masters. He has two U.S. Open wins to his name, finishing fourth, 18th, 13th, first, first and second in his last six appearances.
— This is big-time “for what it’s worth,” but Reed did win the Farmers by five strokes in January.
STATS THAT MATTER
— Driving distance. It’s typically a big part of any major, and it’s especially true at the U.S. Open. Accuracy? Not so much.
“Total driving” is also worth a look.
— Around the green/scrambling. If you want, you could just look at big hitters who hit it straight and are great on approach. Spoiler alert, though: It’s going to spit out the best players in the world who already are favorites. If you’re looking down the board for betting or DFS value, short game should be important this week. If you hit it in the rough, you’re going to be punching out and probably coming up short of the green. The players who can get up and down for par will hang around.
— Bogey avoidance. Speaking of making par, the U.S. Open is often about attrition. If birdies are going to be at a premium, you can’t be making big numbers and expect to survive.