U.S. Open Picks: Four Non-Scottie Scheffler Picks For Pinehurst

Scheffler is a comically low +280 as of Wednesday


Jun 12, 2024

Ahead of the Masters this spring, we asked the question: Who exactly is willing to bet Scottie Scheffler at 4-1?

This week, as the golf world gets set for the U.S. Open, the question has become who exactly is willing to bet against Scheffler — even at a shorter number?

The law of averages suggests the world’s No. 1 player, who did win the Masters, won’t win this week at Pinehurst No. 2. Golf is hard enough as it is, and this might be the most challenging tournament on the entire schedule. He’s certainly the best player on the planet, but one bad hole could open the door for literally anyone else in the field.

Yet, here we are, on the eve of the season’s third major with Scheffler sitting as a major +280 favorite to win the U.S. Open. He’s a more modest 3-1 at BetMGM — bet down from a comparatively monstrous +750 to open.

That’s not going to stop us from making some U.S. Open picks and bets, of course, so let’s get into it.

U.S. Open
Pinehurst No. 2
Defending champion: Wyndham Clark
Favorite: Scottie Scheffler +280
Notes: Clark raised some eyebrows earlier this week when he said in a press conference that the greens are “extremely” firm and fast, saying anything more would be “borderline.” Webb Simpson, meanwhile, called it a “brutally hard golf course.” ? A restoration completed in 2011 could change how the course plays compared the most recent Pinehurst U.S. Open in 2009. The fairways have been widened, and the greens went from bentgrass to Bermuda. That means a grainier grass on which some players struggle, and as Tiger Woods said earlier this week, they could get even slicker if it doesn’t get too humid. ? It’s a Donald Ross design with all the Ross characteristics, including the turtle-back greens. Unlike a lot of PGA Tour stops, Pinehurst No. 2 doesn’t have much rough around the greens, which means this will likely be a very challenging short-game test. ? For what it’s worth, Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Open here in 2014, running away with an eight-shot win; Kaymer finished the tournament 9-under but was one of just three players who finished below par that week. Par is a great score this week.

First-round leader: Corey Conners (+6500, FanDuel)
It’s mid-June in North Carolina, so it’s gonna be a hot one this week. Forecasts call for highs of 88 on Thursday, which might make it the “coolest” day of the week. There seems to be a slight reprieve for players going out early, a group that includes Conners in a 7:18 a.m. ET grouping. Getting out early — before things get super crispy — could be an advantage. Only Scheffler has better approach numbers over his last 36 rounds than Conners. Conners’ short game is so-so, but he has shown improvement there recently, although it won’t be much of an issue if his irons are dialed and he’s holding greens. The putter is always an issue, but it should be mitigated on greens like these where everyone will struggle. He also ranks 15th on the PGA Tour in first-round scoring average.

Top Asian: Hideki Matsuyama (+275, DraftKings)
Golf betting/DFS analyst Pat Mayo pointed out in his research this week that there might be some correlation to The Players Championship this week. Additionally, when you start talking about a ball-striker’s course with little to no rough around the greens, you think of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters. Well, Matsuyama has a green jacket, and he has four top-10 finishes at the Players, including three in his last four starts. That doesn’t include the 2020 Players, which Matusyama led after the first round, that was canceled mid-tournament because of COVID. He’s playing well, too, coming off a T8 last week at the Memorial.

Top LIV golfer: Cameron Smith (+550, DraftKings)
It was tempting to take Smith at +750 in the “rest of the world” market, but this mitigates exposure in exchange for a slightly smaller payout. There’s not much in Smith’s recent form that should excite you. He’s been bad in his last two LIV starts. But he didn’t enter the Masters with a ton of success, and he finished tied for sixth. Similar to Matsuyama, he checks the TPC Sawgrass (former Players champion) and Augusta (five career top-10s) boxes. If short game is going to be an asset, Smith might be better than anyone else in the field around the greens.

Winner (without Scheffler): Collin Morikawa (+1200, FanDuel)
Morikawa is on some kind of a heater. The two-time major champion has five top-10 finishes in his last seven starts, a run that includes both the Masters (tied for third) and last week’s Memorial where he finished runner-up to Scheffler. He’s 14-1 outright, so it’s only a slight discount for the Scheffler insurance. Morikawa is an underrated driver, elite ball-striker and has really solidified his short game, gaining strokes around the green in seven of his last eight starts. As long as the weather doesn’t get super windy, he should be right in the mix — regardless of Scheffler.

Thumbnail photo via Katie Goodale/USA TODAY Sports Images

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