Brooks Koepka heads into this week’s US Open at Pebble Beach looking to do something that hasn’t been done since 1905. That year at Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, Willie Anderson won his third straight US Open. Koepka is hoping to do exactly that this week in California.
There is no shortage of storylines for this week’s event, as Tiger Woods looks for his fourth US Open to tie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus for the most all-time. This star-studded field is loaded with all the game’s top players, including Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, and Justin Thomas, just to name a few.
It should be an awesome week at Pebble Beach and we could have a ton of drama with Sunday’s final pairings. Odds for this week’s tournament are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and below the comment box for mobile viewers as we take a look at the US Open field.
(Check out the YouTube video linked above for golf expert Brian Blessing’s analysis of the field)
Back to Pebble
This is the second PGA Tour stop at Pebble Beach for this season. Usually we see courses skipped if they have regular events during the year that they are hosting a major, but not Pebble Beach. That means we have course form data from this year and tons from the annual Pro-Am to rely on.
This is the first time that the US Open has been at Pebble Beach since 2010. Graeme McDowell won that year at even par. Gregory Havret finished second. Obviously it was one of those strange years and the wind was whipping around. Tiger won at Pebble in 2000. Tom Kite won in 1992. Tom Watson won in 1982. Jack Nicklaus won his second US Open at Pebble Beach in 1972. That makes this the sixth time that Pebble Beach has hosted the US Open.
Heavy rains have hit Pebble Beach in recent weeks, so the fairways and the rough are both luscious and thick. That means that the course will play longer than usual, but it also means that the greens are soft and very forgiving. That has not been the case in some recent US Opens, including last year at Shinnecock, when everything played like a skating rink.
The course will play as a par 71 just under 7,100 yards, but wind can make some holes longer and some holes shorter.
Note that FOX will have the coverage of this year’s event.
We’re hitting the US Open at the right time. Rory McIlroy was dominant last week at the Canadian Open and has two wins on the season, with the other at TPC Sawgrass. He’s finished in the top 10 in five of his last six events. Dustin Johnson has two runner-up finishes, at the Masters and the PGA Championship, and two additional top-five finishes in his last seven events. Patrick Cantlay is a burgeoning superstar and he won The Memorial two weeks ago. Justin Rose has struggled of late, but he was hot early in the year, including good efforts at the Match Play and the Wells Fargo. Tiger won the Masters, as we all know.
Adam Scott was second two weeks ago at the Memorial and seems to be back on track with four top-20 finishes in his last five starts. Jordan Spieth has three straight top-eight finishes, including a third at the PGA, so he seems to have figured it all out again. Matt Kuchar has five top-eight finishes in his last seven events. Henrik Stenson was eighth last week.
A lot of golf’s best players are swinging it well right now. That should make for a lot of fun.
What about form at Pebble Beach? Phil Mickelson won here earlier this year, so he has to be happy about his chances heading into this one. Phil has two wins and two runner-up finishes since 2012 on the Pacific coast. Dustin Johnson has two wins dating back to 2009 and has only finished outside the top 10 on four occasions dating back to 2008. He wasn’t spectacular last week in Canada, but he, like so many other players, had his sights set on this week.
Jason Day really likes Pebble Beach as well. He’s finished in the top five each of the last three years here and has three additional top-10 finishes dating back to 2008. He also has two in the top-15. He is not in great form, with his best finish fifth at the Masters, but he loves this course and is a very solid wind player.
Brandt Snedeker was on my radar last week at the RBC Canadian Open and he finished fourth. He’s got two wins and a fourth in his last seven starts at Pebble Beach. In this deeper field, he’s got slightly longer odds at 50/1. He’s a guy to keep an eye on for sure.
Jimmy Walker is a real long shot this week at 150/1 and won’t win, but you can get a top-five or top-10 finish prop on him at a good price. He has five top-five finishes and a win at Pebble Beach this decade.
Handicapping the Field
As great as it would be to get a long shot up there, and we’ll probably have one or two in the final pairings, this looks like a very chalky event. The top ball strikers on Tour in strokes gained off the tee and approach are all stellar players. The top 10 is Rory, DJ, Cantlay, Garcia, Matsuyama, Thomas, Koepka, Casey, Emiliano Grillo, and Keegan Bradley.
The greens seem to be forgiving this week, so guys just outside the top 10 like Gary Woodland, last year’s runner-up Tommy Fleetwood, Scott, Kuchar, Stenson, Woods, Rahm, Xander Schauffele, and Keith Mitchell should be aggressive and flag hunting.
Without a lot of intrigue down the board, it’s about finding short prices to like. Jordan Spieth’s putting has been excellent this year and he plays really well at Pebble Beach, so he’s interesting at +1760. I’d prefer Jason Day at +2800, but may take a small piece of Spieth. Day is also top 10 in strokes gained putting and has a lot of great success here.
I’ll also have Snedeker on my card again this week. I was hoping for better than 50/1, but oddsmakers are smart and know he plays well in Cali. Last week’s top-five finish may have shaved a few dollars off of that price. Ian Poulter at 100/1 is the only long shot I’m interested in, as he has a lot of experience playing in wind and the shorter track doesn’t hurt him as much as a longer track would. This hasn’t been his best major, but he has three top-15 finishes in the last two months.
For fun, I’ll play Rickie Fowler small at 25/1 and have another reason to root for him. It is interesting that Fowler rarely plays here and I think that shows in his price. He hasn’t played here since 2012. He’s going to get that major soon. Because of his relative inexperience at Pebble, I think he can focus more on golf as opposed to all the noise that surrounds him without a major.
Ultimately, it’s Dustin Johnson this week. Rory is great and so is Koepka, but this feels like DJ’s tournament to lose. He almost always plays well here, even though he didn’t earlier this year. He’s only +765, but he’s very much deserving of the low price.