GOLF Free Picks for
Posted Wednesday, September 16.
Cutoff time for this event is September 17 at 10:00 AM EST.
Streaming Subscribers: Watch on Sky Sports Golf Channel in the Sky Sports Group beginning at 7:00 AM EST on Thursday and every day thereafter.
The U.S. Open Preview
One invests considerable time and effort into building an analytical model that you think gives you an edge and then along comes a guy who hasn’t won for 11 years to spoil it all. Stewart Cink’s triumph at the Safeway Open – his first since downing Tom Watson in the British Open of 2009 – came amid a myriad of ‘inspirational’ factors that one simply cannot build into one’s pre-tournament analysis. He had one of his sons caddying for him, it was his other son’s birthday and his wife, who has survived a major cancer scare, was at his side cheering on the family.
Those loved ones can’t hit the ball in the hole and so Cink himself still deserves a huge amount of credit, but even so, it’s hard to put a price on the difference that emotion-led motivators can have on sporting performance. From west coast to the east….the PGA TOUR travels across the country for the all-together more serious U.S. Open this week. That’s not to underscore the Safeway Open by any means, but the long overdue major – just the second of 2020 to date – has long been anticipated. That is, perhaps, until the players see what Winged Foot Golf Club has in store for them.
The general profile of Winged Foot in New York remains the same as it was for the 2006 edition of this event, which means lots of huge trees lining the fairways (and the greens in some cases), narrow fairways, thick rough and unusual green complexes, many of which slope from back to front with run-off zones, false fronts and all manner of nastiness. As if to compound the misery, some of the bunkers this week are as much as eight feet lower than the green itself. That’s the bad news. The good news….well, there isn’t any. But that’s okay, because the players profess to enjoy proper major-style tests, and they will certainly enjoy one of those this week. If Winged Foot plays as tough as we might think, it will be very difficult for a leader to really assert their dominance on the field with danger lurking at every turn. That will likely keep the leaderboard bunched, and that always leaves an opportunity for somebody – perhaps one of our sleeper picks – to win from off the pace.
To Win Outright: These are played at BET365 because of their cashout option.
The usual suspects, Dustin Johnson, John Rahm, JT, Rory, Xander, The Mad Scientist and others all have a great chance to win this week and one of them probably will. However, picking which one is a big challenge and then when you throw in the odds of anywhere between 9-1 and 20-1, it makes all of them unplayable when you consider that there are great players at 40-1 or more. They, too, have a very good chance to win. Our focus is on bombs because we promise you that one or two of them will be on the leaderboard come Sunday while many of the top players will be nowhere near the leaderboard and that’s the difference and it’s a big one. With that in mind, here are our selections:
Sebastian Munoz 200-1
You can plug all manner of stats into your thinking this week, but nothing will quite prepare the players for what Winged Foot has to throw at them. And so we go with our instincts as much as our spreadsheets, and while the data tells us Sebastian Munoz is a quality driver of the ball who doesn’t make too many mistakes, our eyes tell us he is the kind of player who could put together a winning score this week. Top 10 at both the BMW and TOUR Championships, the Colombian is being disrespected in the betting market given his form and style of play so at this price, he’s worth a small bet (Risking 0.2 units to win 40 units).
Brian Harman 250-1
Having run into some decent form towards the conclusion of the FedEx Cup play-offs, Brian Harman’s price here is something of a gift. The left-hander followed T11 at the Northern Trust with T12 at the BMW Championship, with excellent ball-striking performances in both. Ideally, we’d like this event to be more towards the east coast to get really excited about the prospect of Harman as a sleeper play, but even so, his grinding game and ability to shape the ball both ways off the tee makes him a steal this week. Harman ranks 17th ON YOUR in Bogey Avoidance, 21st in Scoring Average and 43rd in SG: Putting (Risking 0.2 units to win 50).
Mackenzie Hughes 175-1
You really do get the sense that Mackenzie Hughes is shaping up to be a fantastic player for years to come – solo second in the Honda Classic, T3 in the Travelers Championship and T6 at the Memorial this season alone shows he can mix with elite company and in some difficult conditions too. The Canadian should enjoy the stiff challenge presented by Winged Foot, considering the positive takeaways he received from performing so well at Olympia Fields back in late August. Olympia tested similar to what he faces this week. Hughes is all business this week, as he comes in sharp and with a week off to get ready. A noted performer on Bentgrass/Poa greens, Hughes heads to New York off so many fine performances, He ranks 7th ON TOUR in SG: Around-the-Green and 19th in SG: Putting (Risking 0.2 units to win 35 units).
Rasmus Hojgaard 150-1
We have introduced many pros to casual PGA bettors long before they were on the radar. Guys like Harry Higgs, Talor Gooch, Doc Redman and a few others come to mind and now we present to you, Rasmus Hojgaard. At No. 65 in the world ranking, Hojgaard enters as a relative unknown player in the US, but for followers of the European Tour, the 19-year-old Dane has become quite well known in the past year. With two victories in the past nine months, Hojgaard will enter the Open as one of the game’s hottest players. In his past five starts in Europe, Hojgaard owns four finishes of sixth or better, including a victory at the recent UK Championship. Dude has no weaknesses in his game, other than experience in major championships. This will be his first start in a major and if he can get off to a solid start, he could fall into a solid spoiler position and maybe even emerge as the surprise of the U.S. Open. No matter what happens, keep him on your radar (Risking 0.2 units to win 30).
Head-to-head Matchups for the US Open
HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUP below is for 72 holes:
Viktor Hovland -125 over Tiger Woods Coolbet
As long as books keep putting out bad prices, we’ll continue to try and take advantage. Tiger Woods at 55-1 to win this event is beyond absurd but the books cannot expose themselves by putting out a number like 200-1 (which is what he should be), because every casual bettor would bet him at those odds. Some will still bet Tiger at his current odds because they want to watch the event and root for him. Regardless, Viktor Hovland should be -220 or more. A lot of you will not be able to bet this. Tiger isn’t even offered up at H2H matchups because the “sharper books” don’t want to get buried by sharp players. At Pinnacle for instance, Tyrell Hatton is -154 over Tiger, which is also a steal if you like. Bet365 has no Tiger H2H matchups and neither does SportsInteraction. We found this wager available at Coolbet.
Having put in the hard yards to improve his short game with Pete Cowen, Viktor Hovland seemed to abdicate his long game for a while….and his results have paid the price. However, the Norwegian seemed to strike the ball much better at the TOUR Championship, and while T14 in the strokeplay element there hardly gets the pulse racing, it was a much improved showing. Hovland, if he can combine both elements of his game, has the potential to be a major winner but more importantly, he is vastly superior to a washed up Tiger (Risking 2.22 units to win 2).
Jordan Spieth is likely going to miss the cut and he’s likely going to be all over the place too. Obviously we have no idea how Jordan will fair this week but it would be somewhat unreasonable to expect him to find his game at this difficult course that punishes those that frequently miss the fairway. Fairways hit last year for Jordan Spieth? 52% or 450 fairways hit in 863 attempts. Fairways hit in 2021 for Jordan? How about 11 out of 28 for a 39% mark. Winged Foot’s greatest challenges are the ones that are bothering Spieth to a high degree.
With one of the most consistently excellent short games around, Brendon Todd is able to make hay even at courses which don’t necessarily suit his natural preference. It may be that he is too short off the tee to really contend this week but we really don’t need him to contend. We only need him to beat one pro. In Todd, we are putting our money on one of the most reliable putters around, which is always a great place to start. His accuracy is also one of his greatest strengths. A two-time winner this season who finished inside the top-10 at the BW Championship, here we have a player in-form who ranks 4th ON TOUR in Driving Accuracy and 26th on Tour in Scoring Average. How can he lose to Spieth this week? Anything is possible at this course but this is truly a bargain (Risking 2.22 units to win 2).
Others to consider for DFS or to win outright.
Sungjae Im 90-1
Remember, it’s imperative that you get good drives away at Winged Foot, and this is one department where Sungjae Im continues to thrive – he was 10th on Tour in 2019-20 for Total Driving. There have been two performances this season which confirmed to us that the Korean is ready to take the step up in majors. The first was his maiden PGA TOUR win at the Honda Classic, where he showed tremendous resilience and character under pressure to get the victory. And then at the Arnold Palmer he ground out a score of -2 on his way to solo third, and that showed his temperament and willingness to simply take par – not all players possess that characteristic. Im opened up 68-64 at the TOUR Championship, and so he is shaping up rather nicely. He ranks 10th ON TOUR in Total Driving, 19th in Scoring Average and 35th in Scrambling.
Jason Kokrak 150-1
The grinding theme continues with Jason Kokrak also on board. It’s not been a stellar year so far for the Canadian, but timing is everything in sport and Kokrak showed his battling qualities with T6 in that tough BMW Championship renewal. Most impressive of all, Kokrak ranked first in the field there for SG: Off-the-Tee, and remember how narrow the fairways were at Olympia Fields – it’s a comparison that is relevant, for sure. It’s not the first time that he’s put together a solid score in tough conditions, and so hopefully he will come to the party at Winged Foot while all around him lose their heads.
Harris English 75-1
He’s been knocking at the door a few times this season, and maybe the ultra-consistent Harris English can finally cash in at a layout where his neat-and-tidy play will give him an edge. One could argue that English is under-priced in the betting most weeks, given that he doesn’t have the explosive birdie-making style that tends to win PGA TOUR events these days. But in a more old-fashioned tournament where strategy is key, he can thrive. Because he gets good drives away (34th for Total Driving in 2019-20) English tends to make few mistakes, and his ability to convert on the Par 4s (10th for Par 4 Scoring Average) clearly plays well at Winged Foot.
Kevin Na 200-1
We’d like to take about five more 200-1 shots but one has to draw the line somewhere, no? The price on Kevin Na is simply too high. This man can putt the lights out, which is an invaluable weapon at brutes such as Winged Foot, where 6-footers for par are a rather common occurrence. Currently ranked 34th in the Official World Golf Ranking, Na hasn’t done much since winning in Las Vegas last fall, but he has the type of game you look for in an unlikely U.S. Open champion. He’s fairly straight off the tee. He owns a terrific short game, which has him fourth on the Tour in overall scrambling, and his lack of power off the tee shouldn’t matter much this week. This course isn’t about to let the bombers get away with murder. Not at this old ballpark.
Daniel Berger 33-1
Despite his impressive playoff win over Collin Morikawa at Colonial, the 27-year-old Berger was not in the U.S. Open field until his T-2 at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. By the way, he’s not in the Masters, which would be awkward if he were to win at Winged Foot. When Berger gets it going, get out of the way. He had a third-round 64 at East Lake before a final-round 73 sank his battleship. He also went 63-65 on the weekend at Harbour Town to tie for third at RBC Heritage. Over his last 11 starts, Berger has seven top-10s, including six results of fifth or better. And during that stretch, he has soared from 152nd in the OWGR to 13th. This is a dangerous man with a chip on his shoulder so if you are looking for a “lesser owned horse” in DFS, he could be the guy.
Total units bet: 5.24
We will update results after this event.
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PGA Wagers (Risking 5.24 units - To Win: 0.00)
GOLF Historical - Totals
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