US Open Championship Picks to Win

The U.S. Open Championship Picks
Date: June 12-15, 2014
Course: Pinehurst No. 2 Pinehurst, NC
by Evergreen, PGA Golf Handicapper,

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Im not sure where half the year went, but here we are in June, right on the doorstep of the second Major the PGA season, The U.S. Open. This week marks the 114thedition of this historic event and Pinehurst No. 2 serves as an equally historic host. The championship venue at one of the largest golf complexes in the world is hosting its third U.S. Open. The USGA views this tournament as an opportunity to challenge the players to the most extreme levels and many golf fans tune into the Open to see the professionals struggle in the same manner that all of us hackers are all too familiar with. Justin Rose solved the Open puzzle last year and is back to defend his title against a stellar field that includes just about every top player in the world.

You cant talk about Pinehurst without mentioning the 1999 Championship and Payne Stewart. The knicker-clad, crowd favorite held off Phil Mickelson to win the 99 Open by a stroke after a birdie on seventeen and a long par save at the last. Tragically, Stewart would die just a few months later as a result of a small jet crash. Payne was memorialized at Pinehurst with the 2005 unveiling of a statue, struck in the same triumphant pose he displayed after sinking that putt in 1999. 2014 will also remember Stewart as all the pin locations on Sunday will be in the same locations as they were fifteen years ago. RIP, Payne.

Pinehurst No.2 will surely be U.S. Open tough but there are elements here that are unlike other Open venues. The 7,562 yard, par-70 course will feature the normal ribbon fairways but there is an absence of “Open” rough as fairways run into native wire grasses, sandy areas or pine straw. These are just as hazardous as the 6-inch rough that is typically associated with this championship but they look much different. Pinehurst has always been most difficult on the greens however. Many PGA stops feature undulating putting surfaces, but the greens at Pinehurst are crowned. That crowning requires impeccable distance control to keep approaches from kicking away from the hole locations and many pins will simply be inaccessible altogether. The 1999 winning total was 1-under with even par winning in 2005. In both of those years, a handful of players managed to be under par through one or two rounds but the weekend exposed so many and sent them home on the bogey train. Expect a similar winning total, although scores may again be relatively low on the first two days.

The online betting sites love the Majors and the odds are out so lets take a look at some of the best bets for this week. For those wanting to bet on golf who don’t have any idea where the best place is to get down a bet, we’ve got ya covered! The lowest golf betting odds and fastest paying sportsbook on the web is 5Dimes.

The Favorites

Rory McIlroy (10 to 1 odds to win)
Without Tiger in the field, Rory is the kneejerk favorite, especially only two years removed from his record setting Open win at Congressional. McIlroy hasnt been dominant since but it isnt as if hes been terrible. My only concern surrounds his consistency. Do we get the Rory that fired a 63 to open the Memorial, or the one that followed that up with a 76? Most of the online sportsbooks have McIlroy as an even money bet to be in the top-10 so there is a lot of love for the talented youngster to produce this week.

Adam Scott (12 to 1)
The number one player in the world can lose that title if one of a small group winds up with awin here but make no mistake, Scott isnt going anywhere for a long while. Adam hasnt really put up the numbers at the Open over his career with only a T15 as his best result and a 73.6 scoring average but he is entering his prime and is not a bad bet this week. He might not have the stats to back it up but most bets at Majors are from the gut anyway.

Phil Mickelson (15 to 1)
Oh, the Shakespearian tragedy that is Lefty at the U.S. Open. Mickelson has been a runner-up on six different Open occasions, with two of those coming after taking a lead to Sunday, including 2013. Aside from the heartbreak element, it is hard to ignore a vet who is making his 24thOpen start. The Open has been kind to the veteran grinders over the years and this could be the year that Lefty completes the career grand slam.

20 to 1 Club
There is a contingent tabbed at 20 to 1 that basically rounds out the conventional favorites. Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth are all on the radar but all have a wart here or there keeping them from joining the standouts. Watson is too crooked to win, Spieth is too young, Kuchar is a little too off his game right now and Rose would be the first to go back to back at the U.S. Open in nearly 30 years. I dont expect any of these guys to win so you wont see me betting them that way but I think they are all good options to log top-20 finishes. Check out the various online betting sites for those odds. All four golfers will have pretty good value from that standpoint.

My Picks and Bets
Im sticking with veterans mostly as their grind-it-out approach is suited for Open conditions and Im slipping in a longshot that metrically looks fantastic on paper.

Jim Furyk (30 to 1)
Furyk is the 2003 U.S. Open champ and he makes his 20thOpen start this week. That experience is impossible to put a value on and I think he is a great bet to make the weekend and at least be in the conversation on the weekend. Jim is 11thin fairways, 46thin greens and 19thin scoring average. That scoring mark is more impressive when you factor in his below average birdie rate. Furyk is just 169thin birdie average but scores with the best by making nearly no mistakes, or at least covering them up well. He brings the best scrambling stat into the week and what is better than that at a Major?

Steve Stricker (50 to 1)
Stricker is semi-retired from Tour play but is a clean six for six in cuts made when he has decided to play this year. Steve was 6that the Memorial and 13that the PLAYERS Championship with both of those events sporting Major-strength fields so I really dont see knocking him simply on lack of play. Strick has two 5thplace finishes on his U.S. Open record, including one in 1999 at this very course. The stats wont show you too much as they dont qualify for ranking yet but rest assured, Stricker still putts with the best and is accurate enough to tame the greens. My guess is that he would be a 25 or 30 to 1 bet if he was still a full-timer so the value is here if nothing else.

Graham DeLaet (80 to 1)
DeLaet is making his first Open start and that is historically a dooming fact but he has the raw stats to make things interesting and they dont call them longshots for nothing. Graham leads the Tour in greens hit and overall ballstriking so he should be considered a threat to win at any course. He has two second place finishes this year while only missing three cuts overall and is long enough to take on Pinehursts few scoring opportunities. If you dont like him to win, I understand. His current line of +600 for a top-10 or +275 for a top-20 shouldnt be as easily overlooked though.

Head to Head Matches
In looking at several betting outlets, a trend emerged with McIlroy and Scott as pretty sizable favorites over the likes of Mickeslon, Watson and Rose. Those three were about equal favorites then over the next group including Spieth and Kuchar. Given the unique challenge of the event, there are plenty of opportunities to score big with underdog picks in the head to heads if the favorites dont exactly justify their lofty positions with likewise scoring.

Jordan Spieth (-115) v. Dustin Johnson (-115) (my pick to win: Johnson)
This head to head is listed virtually everywhere and it is a great pairing between two of the best scoring machines on Tour. Spieth gets it done with his putting and Johnson routinely overpowers any course but their scoring averages come out virtually identical. If Spieth was more accurate off the tee, hed be my pick here but he is about as wild as Johnson is but doesnt get the bonus of being one of the longest players on Tour. Johnson therefore hits more greens on average and has a much better overall ballstriking mark and that is too hard to ignore at an Open. Plus, DJ has been around the Major Championship block a few more times that the young Spieth.

Rickie Fowler (-115) v. Keegan Bradley (-115) (my pick to win: Bradley)
With very similar marks in distance off the tee and fairways hit, this match comes down to greens and putting and Bradley has the edge there. That would make him a good bet against Fowler at any point this season but an Open venue will only emphasize Keegans statistical advantages. Fowler trails in birdies, scoring and ballstriking and his flattish swing is not a good fit for the long grass lies that he will encounter.

Good luck and good golf!