Though placing bets on players to win the tournament has high rewards, it’s tournament props and matchups that give someone the best chance of raking in a profit. By isolating particular matchups and situations, one stands a better chance of taking advantage of mismatches or taking a side on a prop more favorable to their view of how a tournament will be conducted. It takes a great deal of homework and preparation to successfully bet on props, but if one puts in the work it can be quite a successful way of adding to their bankrolls.
Here are some props for the U.S. Open that have caught my eye (with odds courtesy of mybookie.ag).
Tiger Woods Top 10 – +125
On behalf of everyone on staff at the Sports Gambling Podcast, a website full of Tiger Woods skeptics, we apologize for our meek, timid position on him on the eve of the PGA Championship. We were too scarred from taking a bath at the Masters when it was nearly unanimous on this website that the right call was to fade him, and boy did he make us pay. At the PGA Championship, however, we should have been more adamant to double down on our pessimistic views and fade him wherever possible.
Hindsight is a dangerous thing in gambling, but when we look back at the lead up to the PGA Championship the warning signs were there. It was a tall order to ask even the great Tiger Woods to bounce back after the most emotional win in his career, with no warmup tournament, and expect his 43 year old frame with four back surgeries to hold up walking one of the most grueling golf courses in the world. It should have been very little surprised to see him slowly walk up the 18th fairway on Friday looking like a shell of himself.
With that said, I’m firm with my conviction that he should be much better this time around. Everyone had already circled the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach as the one that most likely would yield his 15th major, but he ended up checking that box a little early. Still, Pebble Beach is a less than driver golf course that demands precision, accuracy, touch, patience and consistency – qualities Tiger Woods has reclaimed during his miraculous comeback.
While there is very little value in betting him to win the U.S. Open, I like getting plus odds on him to finish in the Top 10. He got better and better as the Memorial progressed two weeks ago, and he looked refreshed by the end of that tournament. He’s ready to make some magic once again on a major weekend.
Top 20 Props
Here are a few picks I like for golfers to finish inside the Top 20:
- Hideki Matsuyama & Adam Scott – +150: I covered both these guys in the DFS column this week, but I’m highlighting them here because of how consistent their ball striking is overall. There isn’t many weaknesses in their game tee-to-green, and with the greens progressively getting tougher and tougher throughout the weekend, they should have a very high floor on the leaderboard.
- Jim Furyk – +350: Furyk plays old-man golf that should suit very well this week at Pebble Beach. The stengths of his game is precision off the tee and with his irons, and he has a strong command of his wedges to scramble for par. These skills are critical to finding success this week. He’s also starting to play much better over his last few tournaments and appears to be peaking ahead of possibly his last opportunity to claim another major title.
- Byeong-Hun An – +600: An is a tremendous ball-striker and scrambler but struggles badly on the greens. If he can hold the fort with the flat stick on Thursday then the greens should start to toughen up for everyone. That will then allow his advantages tee-to-green to shine over the field. He may start slow, but if he can make the weekend he’s one to watch to rise up the leaderboard for a backdoor Top 20 finish.
Missed Cut Props
These are some of my favorite props to bet, especially at the U.S. Open where it becomes a test of both skill and mental fortitude. There are certain players who not only come in with poor form, but with a poor attitude. They include the following:
- Bubba Watson – +135
- Sergio Garcia – +160
- Bryson DeChambeau – +225
- Jon Rahm – +240
- Jason Day – +275
All of these players have struggled ahead of the U.S. Open with their ball-striking tee-to-green and their scrambling, and each has been known to let adversity snowball on difficult golf courses where occasionally a player is on the wrong side of lady luck. There’s a reason why these players have a stigma on tour of being hot heads, or soft, or babies. Those are the types of players you only want to ride to their demise.
Here are a handful of matchup props that have caught my eye this week:
- Jason Dufner +1.5 strokes (-120) over Aaron Wise: I don’t have very high hopes for either player this week, but I like Jason Dufner’s form and style of play more than Wise at Pebble Beach. While he’s a far cry from where his career was back in 2013, Dufner is still solid with his irons and he’s a good scrambler. Aaron Wise, meanwhile, is known primarily for his driver and with that taken out of his hands he’ll lose a key component to his game. He has been inaccurate with his irons and has scrambled poorly this year, which is a terrible combination for this week. Dufner getting 1.5 strokes on Wise is a great matchup prop to play.
- Kevin Na -130 over Bubba Watson: Not only can you bet on Bubba to miss the cut, you can bet him against a guy who’s a better fit at Pebble Beach. “Bubba Golf” is basically the antithesis of what it takes to play well on a U.S. Open setup at Pebble Beach. Like Bubba, Kevin Na is also a bit of a psychopath, but he should embrace the short golf course that demands precision, accuracy, and touch around the greens. These areas are Na’s bread and butter of his game, and he should best Bubba one on one this week.
- Brian Stuard +1.5 strokes (-130) over Kyoung Hoon Lee: While Stuard has never made a cut at the U.S. Open, he’s an accurate ball-striker and good enough scrambler to finally break through to the weekend. He’s paired up against a player making his first start in a major and has had problems with his approach shots and scrambling in his rookie season. Stuard should be able to keep it within a stroke of Lee this week.
- The World (Various) over Jon Rahm: I had high hopes for Rahm in 2019, but I’m afraid he’s missed the boat on his shot to breakthrough for his first major championship. Rahm has struggled with his irons and scrambling all season long, and Pebble Beach is not the track that’ll fix those woes. He also still suffers from debilitating blowups mid-round, and another one is surely on the way. Over on mybookie.ag, you can bet Justin Rose -120 straight up over him. Or take Adam Scott -110 straight up. Or take Adam Scott getting 1.5 strokes at -140. Or take Xander Schauffele -105 straight up. Or take Xander getting 1.5 strokes at -135. Bet one of these, or bet them all. I love all these combinations against a player I don’t expect to make the weekend.
Jordan Spieth 1st Round Leader – 28/1
This is a prop I almost never bet. There’s too much variability in golf to even attempt to make a valid case for someone to be leading a tournament after one round. Nevertheless, I will attempt to make one…
Everyone by now knows that Jordan Spieth is unconscious both around and on the greens over the last few months. He’s gained over 33 shots on the field with his putting over his last six tournaments, and over two shots per tournament on the field with his scrambling. At a tournament where it will be tremendously difficult to hit the greens in regulation, his deficiencies with his ball-striking should be neutralized and he can gain a tremendous advantage on the field with the short game.
However, I don’t think Spieth will win the U.S. Open. The greens should get tougher to putt on over the course of the tournament, and that will shorten the gap between the guys who struggle on greens and those who excel. When the greens go to hell (and they probably will), Spieth’s loose ball-striking will end up costing him.
But the greens at least to start on Thursday should be in great shape, and that could enable him to get off to a very fast start. It’s a dangerous proposition to continue to ride a player solely because of his putter, as that component of ones game can cool off as quickly as it got hot. He’s so confident in that area right now, though, and I can see Spieth carding a 66 or 67 in the opening round to take the early lead.
That’s as good of a case I can make to dabble on this longshot prop.