As Pebble Beach celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, the famed golf course will host the best golfers in the world for the U.S. Open Championship beginning this Thursday. It is the sixth time Pebble Beach has hosted the U.S. Open and first since 2010 when Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland won.
Brooks Koepka, who is going for his third consecutive U.S. Open title, enters the tournament among the top three betting favorites along with Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. FanDuel Sports Book has all three golfers offered at odds of 17 to 2 meaning a $20 wager on any of them, if they were to win, would bring a profit of $170 to the lucky punter.
Oddsmakers have Tiger Woods, who returned to elite status with his shocking Masters triumph earlier this year, listed next at 10 to 1 followed by Jordan Spieth at 17 to 1 then Patrick Cantlay, recent Memorial Tournament champion, at 19 to 1.
Among the six aforementioned favorites, I believe that the 8.5 to 1 offered on Brooks Koepka holds the most value. Of course, Koepka is always going to hold second-billing as long as El Tigre is in the hunt. Koepka picked up a club for the first time since his PGA Championship win last week at the RBC Canadian Open, where he finished 50th at 2 under par, but admitted he did not care how he finished and was using it as a tune-up for this week. He has finished 30th or worse in the weekend before the last two U.S. Opens, so he has good reason not to fret as he chases history.
Rory McIlroy is picking up a lot of traction heading into the U.S. Open after his seven-shot victory at the RBC Canadian Open this past weekend where he carded a final round of 61. The Irishman, ranked No. 4 in the world, shot a tournament record 22 under par for the weekend and hopes to carry that momentum into this major just like he did in 2014 when he won the PGA Championship following a tournament victory the prior week. It will be tough to duplicate that kind of performance, and I believe it will be his inconsistency over the last few years that ends up being his undoing.
Dustin Johnson, ranked second in the world, has been knocking at the door in majors this year but came up just short both times. He recently parted ways with his swing coach, Claude Harmon, and replaced him with his former college coach, Allen Terrell. It was a surprising move, and Johnson did not play his best at the Canadian Open, finishing 20th. I know he'll be in the hunt, but the recent swing adjustments give me cause for concern.
If my first choice, Koepka, falters I promised you a hedge play with a long shot. For me, at 25 to 1, that is 25 year old Xander Schauffele. He has a much better chance to win it all than his odds imply. He's already won twice this season and boasts an Official World Golf Ranking of No. 10 thanks to four wins in the last two calendar years. The San Diego State graduate ranks in the top 50 on the PGA Tour in all four major strokes gained categories and is 11th in total strokes gained, picking up 1.444 shots against the average tour player per round.
Schauffele has proven that he's game for major championships by rising to the top of the leaderboard in them with regularity during his short career. He finished second at the Masters and was 16th last month at the PGA Championship to give him four top-10s and six top-20s in nine career major starts. That consistency should eventually give him a chance to win a major, so I see him as a strong bet to climb the 2019 U.S. Open leaderboard in a hurry.
Finally, I always take at least a small position on these three: Adam Scott at 34 to 1 has finally made the adjustment to the PGA outlawing his "chest" putter. And both Tommy Fleetwood at 32 to 1, and Tony Finau at 46 to 1, will be the next two maidens to break through with a major victory.
As always, good luck to all and Happy Father's Day.