Bet U.S. Open Golf: Mike Kern handicaps the field and gives you a few longshot plays – it's rough at Winged Foot so anything can happen
It’s the U.S. Open, finally. It’s always finished up on Father’s Day, which is an especially nice touch for the winner. But not this year, like a lot of things we’ve come to know and love. Usually it’s the third major of the year, not the second. But again, this is not most years. Or really any other year. So you take what you can get, whenever you can get it. This U.S. Open is actually the second event on the 2020-21 schedule, which means there will be two of them this season. And two Masters. But first things first.
It’s being played at Winged Foot, which historically has been as tough as it gets. Ask Phil Mickelson.
In 1974 the winning score was 7-over par. Three decades later it was 5-over. If you can’t hit the fairways off the tee you probably don’t have too much of a realistic chance. So here we go:
Dustin Johnson, who’s had a great last month, is 7.5-1 coming off his Tour Championship victory. He’s been first, second and first in his last three starts. And he won the 2016 Open at Oakmont. After nearly winning in 2015 at Chambers Bay. And he was the third-round leader in 2010 at Pebble Beach.
Jon Rahm, who’s had a pretty good last month himself, is 8.5-1. Justin Thomas, your 2017 champ, is 12-1. Xander Schauffele, who’s coming off another great Tour Championship and has finished in the top six in each of his three Opens starts, is 14-1. He also nearly won the 2019 Masters that Tiger Woods did (tying for second with Johnson). Plus he was runner-up at the 2018 British Open as well.
Rory McIlroy, who has struggled since the restart, at least by his standards, is 16-1. He won this in 2011, by a lot. Collin Morikawa, who just won the PGA Championship, is also 16-1. Webb Simpson, the 2012 champ who’s having a fine year, is 22-1. Bryson Dechambeau, who was playing as well as anyone not too long ago, is 25-1. Patrick Reed, who has a green jacket, is 28-1 along with Daniel Berger, who rather quietly is having a very solid season. Hideki Matsuyama is 33-1.
Jason Day, who has had a good last two months, is 33-1. So is Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Adam Scott, underrated Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood, who has yet to win in the United States but is real good and is coming off a win in Europe.
Justin Rose, who won at Merion seven years ago, is 40-1. Ditto Tiger Woods. And who really knows about him right now? Paul Casey, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland are 50-1. Harris English and Matthew Wolff and Rickie Fowler are all 66-1. Somehow it doesn’t seem right that Fowler is in that group, but he’s earned it.
Louis Oosthuizen is 70-1. So is Sungjae Im, who can play more than a little. Billy Horschel and Kevin Kisner are 80-1, as are Brendon Todd and Gary Woodland, your defending champ. Phil Mickelson is 90-1. Sergio Garcia is 100-1. Ditto Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Shane Lowry. Just thought they were worth mentioning.
The faves don’t always win this major. Woodland is the latest example. I could give you any number of others. Just thought that was worth duly noting too.
The guy I’m looking at, and actually have in a pool, is Xander Schauffele. His record in this thing is just too good to ignore. I know, I know. That probably means he’s due to have a bad one. But he really does play well in majors, so 14-1 seems like a reasonable enough investment. I’ll also take him at +$350 to finish in the top five. I just think somehow, someway, he’s going to give you a shot.
In the middle tier, I’m going to try Tommy Fleetwood. He too has played well in majors. He has a second in both Opens, and also another top five in this one. And he has to win on this side of the ocean sometime, doesn’t he? So why not a big one? He’s +$650 for a top five. That’s worth putting a little something on too.
As for a longshot, I’ll throw out two: Sungjae Im at 70-1 and Brendon Todd at 80-1. They’re both +$600 for a top 10. Again, if you’re going to play them to win (but obviously not for too much, given the odds), it makes sense to at least back them up with a hedge bet just in case you only get a close call.
As for Tiger, I can’t bet him at this point. Certainly not in an event that will have ungodly rough and demands you hit the fairway. But as I always say with Tiger, if you want to put a couple of bucks on him just because he might do something Tigerish, I have no problem with that logic. He’s also 4-1 to get a top 10. I would tell you pretty much the same thing about Phil, who didn’t play up to his billing last week as the favorite in a watered-down field. But he did almost win here 14 years ago, and golf has a way of playing out those kind of implausible storylines. But again, just a sniff, in case the impossible happens. Which I of course don’t believe it can or will. And he is 9-1 to get a top 10.
Enjoy the show on Sunday. Probably a lot of blood getting spilled, given the track record at this venue. Let’s hope whoever you go with gives you something to cheer about on the final nine. And remember it’s a two-hole playoff now if there’s a tie at the end of regulation, not that 18-hole deal they used to hold on Monday if necessary.