2018 U.S. Open Betting Guide
The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock Hills Golf Course for the 2018 season to once again provide one of the toughest tests in golf. The winning score at the U.S. Open has been better than 5-under just four times in the last 20 years, and this course seems likely to continue the trend. Picking a winner at any event is always extremely difficult, but particularly so when the every golfer is simply trying to make par on most holes. Last year and 2011 notwithstanding, the goal at the U.S. Open is survival.
An effective strategy when searching the Vegas odds for value is to narrow your picks into tiers to try to compare similarly skilled players. Obviously, given the choice between Dustin Johnson (PaddyPower Win Odds of 8/1) and Harold Varner (300/1), no one could reasonably choose Varner. The former has a relatively good chance to win and the latter has next to no chance.
But by pitting DJ against someone like Jason Day (16/1), former World No. 1 and major champion, the decision becomes much more difficult. Even if you favor DJ, do you like him twice as much?
Let's go through some tiers, and the tiers will be divided into plays and fades, identifying golfers in each tier that are good values versus ones who are overpriced.
Keep in mind that betting lines can -- and will -- change in the days leading up to Thursday's opening round.
The Studs Tier (25/1 or shorter)
Play: Justin Rose (14/1) -- The 2013 U.S. Open champion has been on an absolute tear of late, racking up a T6 at the Memorial, preceded by a win at the Fort Worth Invitational. Rose is playing as well as anyone right now and has the pedigree of a former winner in difficult conditions.
Fade: Jordan Spieth (16/1) -- Another former U.S. Open champion, Spieth’s game has been off all year. Normally so reliable with the flatstick, Spieth has lost strokes on the greens in six of last seven events that track that data (in other words, excluding the Masters). The only event where he gained strokes was the Memorial, where his tee-to-green game was so bad he missed the cut anyway. He was incredible Sunday at Augusta, but the fact remains that even a 64 in the final round wasn’t enough to hoist the trophy.
The Best of the Rest Tier (30/1-50.1)
Play: Tommy Fleetwood (40/1) -- Fleetwood has performed well recently, with back-to-back top-25’s on the EuroTour after a 7th-place finish at the PLAYERS, missed cut at the Wells Fargo, and T-17 at the Masters. He is ranked 31st in ball-striking and top-25 in birdies or better gained, bogeys avoided, and doubles avoided.
Fade: Bubba Watson (50/1) -- Bubba’s game simply does not fit this major. His last five finishes at the U.S. Open are missed cut, 51st, missed cut, missed cut and 32nd. His odds are inflated thanks to two wins earlier this year, but his game has never set up well for these conditions. There are better options at longer odds.
The Middle Tier (55/1-90/1)
Play: Shane Lowry (80/1) -- A T-30 finish at the St. Jude Classic still resulted in a bump in Lowry’s odds thanks to his strong tee-to-green game and a bogey-free 32 on the Sunday back 9. The odds-on favorite this week, as we mentioned at the start, is former U.S. Open champ Dustin Johnson (8/1), but Lowry is the man DJ had to chase down when he captured the title in 2016.
Fade: Charl Schwartzel (66/1) -- Schwartzel has been hit-or-miss at prior U.S. Open showings, with recent finishes of missed cut, 23rd, 7th, missed cut and 14th in his last five attempts. The form has been similar lately, with four missed cuts in his last seven events mixed with a pair of top-10s in strong fields at the Memorial and PLAYERS. His Sunday 75 placed him in dead last among players who made the cut at the St. Jude Classic. Schwartzel’s top-10 upside is baked into this price, but he gives away too many strokes off the tee to seriously contend at a course of this length.
The Long Shots Tier (100/1-125/1)
Play: Matthew Fitzpatrick (125/1) -- Fitz is not a household name because he splits his time between the PGA and Eurotour events for most of the season, but his time across the pond has helped him hone his scrambling game. He ranks fifth in sand saves gained -- and as our Brandon Gdula points out in his course primer, there are more than 100 bunkers on this course -- and sixth in strokes gained: putting.
Fade: Daniel Berger (100/1) -- Berger has two wins to his name on the PGA Tour, both coming at the weak-fielded St. Jude Classic in 2016 and 2017. He missed the cut at that event last week, and he hasn’t reached the weekend in two of his last three U.S. Opens.
The Lloyd Christmas “So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance!” Tier (150/1 or longer)
Play: Gary Woodland (150/1) -- Woodland missed four straight cuts before a 23rd-place finish at the Memorial, but he still ranks 12th in strokes gained: ball-striking and 25th in birdies or better gained. Each of the last five U.S. Open champions had a top-5 finish earlier in their season, and Woodland won the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this campaign.
Fade: Lucas Glover (200/1) -- While it may be tempting to go with a former U.S. Open champ at these odds, Glover has never lived up to the promise of that 2009 performance. He has missed six straight U.S. Open cuts and is 64th in total strokes gained.