Best bets for the U.S. Open
Chris Fallica
ESPN INSIDER



Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, New York, will host the 2018 U.S. Open, and many elite golfers enter in good form. Where does the betting value lie?

Here's a look at some of the best ways to bet the tournament, as well as some nuggets you'll want to know before making a wager.

Top picks


Jason Day (16-1)

Day hits it long, with great ball flight, and he leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained-putting. He had a rough weekend at home in the Memorial with a pair of 74s, but prior to that he won at Quail Hollow and finished fifth at The Players Championship. Nobody has more top-10s in majors since 2013 than Day (11), and he has nine U.S. Open rounds in the 60s. Day missed the cut last year at Erin Hills, but had a lot going on in his life off the course, so I'm going to give him a complete pass. Take last year out of the equation, and his previous four U.S. Open finishes are T8, T9, T4 and T2. He was also runner-up to Rory McIlroy at Congressional in 2011. His game -- and mind -- are in a good spot right now, and that combination puts Day at the top of my list of contenders.

Hideki Matsuyama (30-1)

It seems like a lot of the expectations have been lessened with Matsuyama, most likely because of an early-season injury. But this is a guy who has been under par in each of his past six majors (combined 32-under) and been in the top 20 in each of those six, with three top-fives. And you have to remember, he's still only 26. He nearly pulled off a Sunday comeback last year at Erin Hills with a final-round 66. His game is rounding back into form the past couple of weeks, and his combination of driving and iron play should give him chances to make a few birdies and a lot of pars. That's exactly what you want on a course like this. The putter is always a question with him, but he has improved dramatically this year. Last year, he was 173rd in strokes gained-putting; this year, he's 90th. At 30-1 or so, I'm definitely interested in Matsuyama as an option to continue the run of young, first-time major winners.

Dustin Johnson (8-1)

Last year was a lost year in majors for DJ, as evidenced by missing the cut at Erin Hills. Prior to that, his three U.S. Opens were win, T2 and T4. He had spent 12 consecutive rounds in the top six at the U.S. Open, and eight in the top three. His game and even-keel mentality suit this major perfectly. He's got two wins and two runner-up finishes this season, and the only thing that is really keeping him from being my top pick is the probability of winning this week on the heels of last week's win in Memphis. Given we're talking about a guy who leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained-off-the-tee and tee-to-green and scoring average, along with one who is ranked No. 1 in the world, would it really surprise anyone if he became the first person to pull off the "week prior to the U.S. Open/U.S. Open" double-up wins?

Tommy Fleetwood (30-1)

Fleetwood hasn't played as well over the past couple of months as he did to start the year, but you have to respect someone who has won on a long course in Abu Dhabi twice, has been there with Johnson in a WGC (finished second) and has put together a couple of good U.S. Opens in his past two appearances, finishing fourth last year at Erin Hills and posting a pair of 69s at Chambers Bay in 2015. There hasn't been as much buzz around him, and like Matsuyama, maybe a bit of the pressure and expectations are off. As a result, he could be ready to break through and win his first major.

Longshots to consider


Marc Leishman (50-1)

He was the runner-up at the Byron Nelson a few weeks back and posted a top-10 at the Masters in April. It feels like he has been on the verge of winning a major for a while now, as he has four top-six finishes and five top-10s in majors dating back to 2013. He has played his best major golf at The Open, which along with his ball flight could be a precursor to success at Shinnecock, despite his never finishing better than 18th in this event. He has gotten into some trouble off the tee, as well, but if he can keep it in the fairway, it's clear no moment is too big for him. He could be a factor at 50-1.

Brandt Snedeker (100-1)

Snedeker hasn't broken through to win a major, but his track record at the U.S. Open has been very good. Since 2010, he has gone T8, T11, T17, T9, 8, MC and T9. Outside of an injury-riddled 2016, he has been right there. I think the "grind" of the U.S. Open fits his style of play. Eight of his past 14 rounds of U.S. Open golf have been under par. He's also coming off his best tournament of the year, which included a second-round 62. He has had some struggles off-the-tee this year, but maybe playing in his national championship will bring out the best in him. With his consistency in this major, I'd take 1-4 odds on the each-way market at 100-1, or a nice top-10 price.

Brendan Steele (200-1)

He certainly isn't going to win, but he could post a top-20 finish at a nice number. Steele played the U.S. Open three previous times and posted two top-15 finishes. He also has some good metrics this year, as he is eighth in strokes gained-off-the-tee, 13th in driving distance and 10th in GIR. Sounds like a lot of pars to me, which puts him in range of a top-20 finish.

Other noteworthy players


Tiger Woods (20-1)

I will be playing him to miss the cut and for the "no" on any top-10 or -20 props. Woods posted a top-20 finish when the U.S. Open was last here in 2004, but that was 14 years ago, and I don't see Tiger's body or game holding up to the rigors of Shinnecock. Only seven players 42 or older have won the U.S. Open, with the last being 42-year-old Payne Stewart at Pinehurst in 1999. With how Woods has driven the ball this year (182nd in driving accuracy), along with being 99th in GIR and 123rd in strokes gained-tee-to-green, I see a lot of U.S. Open rough and big numbers in Tiger's future.

Justin Rose (14-1)

In his 12 U.S. Open appearances, Rose has six missed cuts, including each of the past two years. He has the win at Merion in 2013, but I'm not sold this is a course he will win on. I'll stand against him here; he is a trendy pick at an underlaid price.

Notes and trends




  • Three straight Americans have won the U.S. Open. The last time we had four straight American winners was a run of 12 straight from 1982-1993.


  • The last U.S. Open winner older than 32 was Angel Cabrera in 2007. This is a long, physically demanding course. I would expect the youth movement to continue.


  • Seven of the past nine and 10 of the past 13 U.S. Open winners were first-time major winners. In addition, nine of the past 10 major winners were first-time major winners.


<aside class="inline inline-table" style='background-color: transparent; border-bottom-color: rgb(220, 221, 223); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-image-outset: 0; border-image-repeat: stretch; border-image-slice: 100%; border-image-source: none; border-image-width: 1; border-left-color: rgb(220, 221, 223); border-left-style: solid; border-left-width: 1px; border-right-color: rgb(220, 221, 223); border-right-style: solid; border-right-width: 1px; border-top-color: rgb(220, 221, 223); border-top-style: solid; border-top-width: 1px; box-sizing: border-box; clear: both; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); display: block; font-family: -apple-system,BlinkMacSystemFont,"Segoe UI","Roboto","Oxygen","Ubuntu","Cantarell","Fira Sans","Droid Sans","Helvetica Neue",sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; margin-bottom: 18px; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-top: 6px; orphans: 2; padding-bottom: 15px; padding-left: 15px; padding-right: 15px; padding-top: 15px; text-align: left; text-decoration: none; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; width: 565px; word-spacing: 0px;'>Last 10 major winners

Year, Major Winner First major?
2018 Masters Patrick Reed Yes
2017 PGA Championship Justin Thomas Yes
2017 Open Championship Jordan Spieth No
2017 U.S. Open Brooks Koepka Yes
2017 Masters Sergio Garcia Yes
2016 PGA Championship Jimmy Walker Yes
2016 Open Championship Henrik Stenson Yes
2016 U.S. Open Dustin Johnson Yes
2016 Masters Danny Willett Yes
2015 PGA Championship Jason Day Yes
</aside>


  • Twenty-one of the past 22 majors were won by a top-30 player. The only exception was Jimmy Walker (48th) in the 2016 PGA Championship. In addition, 16 of those 22 were won by a top-15 player.


<aside class="inline inline-table" style='background-color: transparent; border-bottom-color: rgb(220, 221, 223); border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-image-outset: 0; border-image-repeat: stretch; border-image-slice: 100%; border-image-source: none; border-image-width: 1; border-left-color: rgb(220, 221, 223); border-left-style: solid; border-left-width: 1px; border-right-color: rgb(220, 221, 223); border-right-style: solid; border-right-width: 1px; border-top-color: rgb(220, 221, 223); border-top-style: solid; border-top-width: 1px; box-sizing: border-box; clear: both; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); display: block; font-family: -apple-system,BlinkMacSystemFont,"Segoe UI","Roboto","Oxygen","Ubuntu","Cantarell","Fira Sans","Droid Sans","Helvetica Neue",sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; margin-bottom: 18px; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-top: 6px; orphans: 2; padding-bottom: 15px; padding-left: 15px; padding-right: 15px; padding-top: 15px; text-align: left; text-decoration: none; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; width: 565px; word-spacing: 0px;'>Top-30 players without a major

</aside>
<strike></strike>
<strike></strike>