Today's Free Picks for
Posted Wednesday, June 12 at 12:00 PM EST.
Cutoff time for this event is June 13 at 7:00 AM EST.
The 2019 U.S. Open
There are stacks of different criteria for qualifying for the US Open, which is why we get to enjoy such an eclectic and diverse field for this major. The primary focus is on the top-60 in the OWGR, which guarantees that the finest players on the planet will tee up at Pebble Beach. Then there were the various sectional qualifying heats around the globe, as well as those who performed best in the U.S. Amateur series. Champions of the other three majors in the past five years are exempt, as are the last three PLAYERS Championship winners, and there’s a whole bunch of other qualifying criteria that are too in-depth to go into here. All you need to know is that the US Open field is jam-packed with most of the best players in the world, with a sprinkling of veterans, youngsters and the finest amateurs on the planet.
This Week's Course Preview
For a few years now, it is generally accepted that the US Open has been in the doldrums. The USGA have not got their course set-up right at a series of venues that, to spare the blushes of those involved, haven’t quite hit the mark as far as a host of this iconic tournament goes. Happily, that trend comes to an end this week. The Pebble Beach Links is a historic layout that offers both eye-catching beauty and head-scratching complexity, and as golf courses go, they don’t come much better than this. And then you factor in the weather conditions too. There will be a meaty old breeze blowing in from Carmel Bay, which lines nine of the holes, and that will only add to the difficulty on offer to the players.
The Pebble Beach Links: home to some of the most spectacular holes in golf. It is used on the PGA TOUR circuit each year of course for the pro-am event which bears its name, but the idea there is to make the layout as accessible as possible for players of all standards. At the US Open, the emphasis will be on a full frontal assault on the all-round golfing abilities of all in the field. It will play at around 7,040 yards for its Par 71 – down from the Par 72 for the pro-am – with one of the Par 5s changed to a Par 4 for the week. The other features of the layout will be the same: this is a Links in name and style, with wide open spaces and a buffeting from the ocean breeze that drives in from the west.
There are some fairly narrow chutes of fairway to tackle, with water in play on nine holes, and along with the howling breeze, the other key defense are the tiny Poa Annua greens – these are, generally, the smallest surfaces that are used on the Tour. Many are elevated too, which hardly helps matters.
Bettors and DFS gamers should also note that Pebble Beach can play slightly soft in its normal spring timeslot in the schedule; this week, with plenty of dry weather in recent times, it will play much firmer and faster. Pebble Beach might be the most picturesque venues on Tour, but the players aren’t out on the West Coast for the scenery: we’re expecting the winning score to be around even par, so this is a grind rather than a birdie-athon – exactly how the US Open should be. Another point worth noting is that anytime a tournament becomes tough, the usual bomb-and-gouge merchants fall by the wayside. There could be an unusual leaderboard come Sunday, and that lends itself nicely to a sleeper winner.
What We’re Looking For This Week
Aside from the Masters, it is rare for us to have such a library of information to call upon at a major. The Pebble Beach Links we see for the annual AT&T event is not the same venue we will see this week, but the basic parameters are the same. It’s a layout where driving distance, as a rule, is of an irrelevance, with hitting fairways much more important. There are lots of chances to take iron off the tee, so you would like to think that the general Driving Accuracy percentage will be higher than normal – not that the lines off the tee are easy by any means.
The real danger at Pebble Beach is on approach, where the tiny greens are protected by hazards. Miss the green and you are in a whole heap of trouble, and even making bogey will be a success. Pebble Beach is a grind, the perfect US Open layout, which will be supported by a wind-heavy forecast this week. Hitting those low-boring irons and woods off the tee could be crucial, but there’s lots to be said for hitting high approaches to land softly on fast greens – it’s a real conundrum for the players.
With a winning score around level par expected, this could be one of those weeks where the leaderboard is made up of unusual names who are able to grind out par through sheer will alone. A lot of the bomb-and-gauge youngsters, used to participating in birdie fests, are likely to fall by the wayside. This week we’re looking for shred operators who have a healthy bank of history at Pebble Beach to call upon; that might just prove crucial in the final shake-up.
To Win Outright:
Branden Grace 150-1
Most of Branden Grace’s finest achievements in golf have come outside of the US, and as such., you suspect the South African doesn’t quite get the respect he deserves from those in the game on these shores. Grace is a record-breaker – becoming the first man to shoot a round of sub-63 in a major at the British Open in the summer, and he also has 12 wins to his name worldwide. This guy is far more than just somebody to make up the numbers. His sole PGA TOUR triumph came at the RBC Heritage in 2016 – which is a coastal contest played out in windy conditions, and there’s no secret that Grace’s low-bore ball-striking is a huge advantage in the wind. Incidentally, at Pebble Beach at the AT&T Pro-Am the last time Grace was here in February of last year, He was listed at 40-1 to win the event and it was packed with a quality field (Risking 0.2 units to win 30 units).
Lucas Glover 150-1
We’ve already written that this could be the week where a number of ‘surprise’ names feature prominently on the leaderboard, and Lucas Glover could probably be listed in that bracket. He’s a former US Open champion of course, winning at Bethpage Black in 2009, but he’s only showed glimpses of that form in the subsequent decade. But his neat-and-tidy game looks ideally suited to Pebble Beach, where has finished 7-11 in his last two trips, and we’re willing to wager another decent showing is in the cards. Glover will grind his way around the course with no heroics, and it’s an approach that should pay dividends. Dude has some key stats too, as he ranks 3rd ON TOUR in Scrambling, 4th in Bogey Avoidance and 17th in Scoring Average (Risking 0.2 units to win 30 units).
Kevin Na 100-1
With two PGA TOUR wins in the past year, Kevin Na is – rather belatedly – starting to cash in on his undoubted talent. Perhaps he’s ready to mount an assault on a major then; he’s only ever knocked on the door before, as opposed to looking likely. Na has banked a pair of top-fives at Pebble Beach and it feels like a course that suits his game: he’s one of the better players around at approaching small greens with confidence. A proven performer in the wind and in coastal Links tests, Na finally has the psychological toughness of a winner to go with his unquestionable skill on the course (Risking 0.2 units to win 20 units).
Erik Van Rooyen (175-1)
We wrote about Erik Van Rooyen last week prior to the Canadian Open and he easily cashed his H2H matchup. No chance are we letting this talent slip by at these odds. Van Rooyen finished 8th at the PGA Championship and 20th at the RBC Canadian Open. His approach numbers and stats on the PGA Tour are very limited because he’s only played a handful of events but he’s always graded out well on the European Tour in 2018, and he has shown the ability to bring some of that overseas. In four events played this year on the main tour, Van Rooyen has made the cut all four times and finished inside the top-25 three times. He’s in his prime at 29-years-old, he’s getting very comfortable on the main tour and seems to be determined to make his mark. He’s great value on the DFS board too (Risking 0.2 units to win 35 units).
Head-to-head Matchups for the U.S. Open
HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUP below is for 72 holes:
Brooks Koepka -125 over Tiger Woods
Brooks Koepka has to be the most disrespected and underappreciated “one of the greatest golfers” ever. If Tiger, Rory, Jordan Spieth, DJ, Rickie or a slew of others accomplished what Koepka has over the past two years, the networks would be salivating over them. As for Brooks Koepka, FOX created a commercial to promote this event but failed to include the two-time reigning champion. Koepka did not make an appearance in the promotional video, while Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth – among others – were featured. That is seriously f**ked up and don’t think Brooks isn’t aware. “I was just kinda shocked”, he said.
Koepka was underrated heading into just about every major tournament last season – despite winning two of them. Even in 2019, he clearly feels disrespected by the lack of acknowledgement of his accomplishments on the course at this stage in his career and carries a huge chip on his shoulder because of it. Koepka didn’t just win the PGA Championship three weeks ago on Long Island, he crushed the field.
Koepka not only won back-to-back U.S. Open titles but he also won the PGA Championship at Bellerive in St. Louis in 2018 capping a 14-month stretch that rivals some of the best in PGA Tour history. Koepka’s confidence continues to be one of his biggest assets. This week, he stated that major championships are the easiest championships to win. This begs the question: why is he so underrated? The answer is clearly rooted in Koepka’s stoic demeanor. He doesn’t show much emotion on the golf course, instead choosing to stay in the present moment, as athletes like to say. Flat out, many people think he’s boring and the networks don’t want him to win because he doesn’t have the sellability of others. Brooks Koepka is the best golfer in the world right now when it counts most and we get him at a fu**ing steal over Tiger because Tiger is Tiger and this market still salivates over him.
Somehow, by some miracle, Tiger won the Masters back in April and that was his swan song. While we respect Tiger and are as awed by him as everyone else was when he was in his prime, he’s EXTREMELY overpriced, overhyped and overrated as any golfer has ever been because he doesn’t just move the needle in this sport, he IS the needle. That he’s 12-1 to win this event is absolutely incredible and anyone that bets him at that price is clueless unless they want to keep the ticket as a souvenir, much like many people did when Secretariat (the greatest racehorse ever) was destroying fields back in the early 70’s. In any case, Tigers Woods is just as likely to miss the cut as he is to make it and if he goes on to beat the best clutch player in the world, oh well. Chances are he will not but more importantly, this wager is an absolute steal at this price. BTW, Pinny has Brooks -140 but 365 has it at -125. No need to make any other H2H wagers (Risking 3.75 units to win 3).
The total risk for this event is 4.55 units and we'll update the results when it's official.
Others to consider for DFS or to win outright:
There isn’t anyone in the field with the history at Pebble Beach of Dustin Johnson. At the US Open of 2010, DJ was three shots clear with a round to play before making one of his almighty cock-ups that he was famed for at the time. Remember, he has gone on to become one of the most prolific winners in world golf since that point. That effort at Pebble Beach came after he won the pro-am event here in back-to-back years in 2009 and ’10, and he has gone on to record five top-five finishes here since.
With that course history, you might expect Johnson to be high owned, which is not something sharp gamers particularly savor. It’s true, but consider the impact of McIlroy’s win at the Canadian last week: there will be plenty that draft him considering that DJ was down the leaderboard in Ontario, but we’re not too concerned: he gained strokes on the field from tee-to-green after a poor opening round, and that tells us he is striking the ball well enough as a foundation for what is surely his favorite stomping ground in golf. DJ ranks 1st ON TOUR in Scoring Average, 3rd in Bogey Avoidance and 4th on tour in SG: Tee-to-Green.
C.T. Pan 225-1
A player that has knocked on the door for a while, C.T. Pan finally popped his PGA TOUR cherry at the RBC Heritage a few weeks ago. Harbour Town isn’t all that dissimilar to Pebble Beach, and so we make a note of that, and in his last start he was T3 at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Inside the world’s top 50 players now, the time is right for the Chinese Taipei star to make his mark on a major. Pebble Beach could be an ideal venue, given that he’s comfortable playing in an ocean breeze and – ranking inside the Tour’s top-50 for Scrambling and Bogey Avoidance – is not afraid to battle out a score.
Thomas Pieters 200-1
Thomas Pieters can be a frustrating golfer to get behind but the path to success at Pebble Beach is pretty clear. Pieters grades out 22nd in strokes gained: approach over the past 100 rounds on the PGA Tour, and he's 19th in bogey avoidance. Pieters has finished 28th, 6th, and 23rd at the past three majors, as well.
Graeme McDowell 90-1
After months of hard toil, Graeme McDowell has achieved what he set out to do all those weeks ago. By virtue of finishing inside the top-10 at the Canadian Open, he has qualified for the British Open later in the summer, which will be played in the town of his birth – and where he still calls home – Portrush. What a feeling that must be, and the weight off his shoulders could well lend itself to a relaxed performance this week at a layout where he has won before. The Irishman won that infamous US Open here back in 2010, and has played well at Pebble Beach on a couple of occasions since. When conditions are right, McDowell can still hang – he won the Corales Puntacana and banked T7 and T11 at the Texas Open and RSM Classic, and he won’t enjoy himself more on a golf course than he does at Pebble Beach. He ranks 5th in SG: Putting and 29th in Scoring Average.
Brandt Snedeker 55-1
Despite being a multiple-time winner on the PGA TOUR, one of the most memorable performances of Brandt Snedeker’s career came at Chambers Bay in 2015, when he battled horrendous conditions to contest that year’s US Open crown. It wasn’t to be in the end, but that would be the fourth of what is now five US Open top-10 finishes. Make it hard, that’s what Sneds wants. His short game mastery is almost second to none. His ingenuity around the greens has led to a pair of wins at Torrey Pines in the past as part of the pro-am event, and he’s also a two-time champion of the Farmers Insurance Open also on the West Coast. Snedeker is right at home on Poa Annua. Sneds’ T4 finish at the Canadian Open was the culmination of some fine form of late, and right now he looks as well poised as ever to finally win a major title.
Mix and match any or all of the above with your own to create a DFS roster
Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.
U.S. Open (Risking 4.55 units - To Win: 0.00)