The 2021 U.S. Open will tee-off at this Thursday at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, near San Diego.
This is the third major golf tournament of the year. So far, longshots have won the first two. Will a longshot win again this week?
In April, Hideki Matsuyama won the Masters as a 35-1 underdog. Then, last month Phil Mickelson shocked everyone at the PGA Championship as a massive 200-1 longshot. Both are playing in the 2021 U.S. Open, with Mickelson, who is looking to complete his career grand slam listed at 66-1 while Matsuyama is listed at 40-1.
First, let's have a look at the basics:
The first round of the 2021 U.S. Open is on Thursday, 17 June. The final round will be held on Sunday 20 June.
Local time in the U.S. is Pacific Standard Time. That means the early starters will begin their first rounds somewhere 7 am and 8am. The full field may not complete their rounds until it nears dark.
Torrey Pines hosts the Farmers Insurance Open, formerly known as the Buick Invitational, on the PGA Tour every January. That tournament is split between Torrey Pines' South Course and the far easier North Course. However, the U.S. Open is determined to be the toughest major tournament on the tour and will consist of 72 holes around the very challenging South Course. In past years. the U.S. Open sometimes has very few golfers who break par, including the winner.
Here's a closer look at the ODDS TO WIN, according to SPREADS.CA. This list iincludes the top-60.....to see the entire field of 100+ entrants, please see the website.
A few thoughts:
-- John Rahn is the odds-on favourite at +850. Remarkably, the next "favourite" is listed at +1600. So, Rahn is getting a huge amount of betting action.
-- The dozen favourites in the +1600 to +2400 range are all capable players. It's hard to find a standout in this talented group because they're all potentially in the hunt. Accordingly, the better gambling value might be looking at the next wrung of participants. Each are serious contenders as well, but are getting better prices.
-- Speaking of serious contenders getting good prices, Bryson DeChambeau enters this week as the defending champion. He'll tee-off at +1800.
-- There's nothing wrong with taking a golfer like Corey Conners at 66-1 (yeah, Ontario!) or Si Woo Kim at 150-1. These are the "due" golfers that can sometimes pull surprises on tough courses with a few lights-out rounds. Since the leaderboard will be cluttered around par, look at these longshots closely.
Here are four picks from Matt Blunt at VegasInsider.com:
JORDAN SPIETH +1700 – Length is going to be much more of a concern for Jordan Spieth (ranked 83rd in driving distance)....but the recent form has been off the charts for Spieth these past few months. He's gained strokes off-the-tee in each of his past nine starts, and when paired with his irons and putting stroke finding their scorching hot ways again, I'm comfortable taking the best price I can with Spieth believing he'll be able to figure out how to succeed this week. The Farmers Insurance Open hasn't always been his favorite stops on Tour, as he did lose strokes off-the-tee in missing the cut back in January, but it was a T4 and T3 in his next two starts and things took off from there. Putting and strong iron play are always going to be needed at any US Open track where par is always going to be a solid score, and there aren't any concerns in that regard either. As long as he executes from the tee box, I think we see Speith's name involved on the weekend. Not to mention the fact that at the end of July, Spieth will be turning 28 on the nose too (the median age for recent winners).
WILL ZALATORIS +4500, JOAQUIN NIEMANN +6600 – This is the range opening up on the longer hitters this year makes the most sense to me, as Will Zalatoris ranks 25th in driving distance entering the week, and Niemann sits 9th. It's Joaquin Niemann that needs that length to hit more greens as it's been some struggles around the greens that have held him back in recent weeks, but when you're strong with the driver and the putter, and above average in the approach game in terms of Strokes Gained numbers like Niemann is, it's not hard to have things fall into place. At just 22-years-old, this former No. 1 ranked amateur golfer has still got his best golf ahead of him by a long shot, and we've already had McIlroy at 22 win the US Open in 2011, and Spieth was 21 when he did it in 2015. Niemann's definitely got the talent to follow in those types of footsteps, and skipping this year's Farmers Insurance Open after some uninspiring results there in 2019 and 2020 may not have been the worst thing for him. This may not end up being the right Major to have a piece of Zalatoris after his runner-up finish at the Masters in April, but the 24-year old is built to have success at US Opens for a long time. He finished 6th in this Tournament back in September, as he's got the length to compete with the best in any depth of US Open field, and his GIR percentage (69.06% this year) is just the perfect pairing of attributes needed to be a factor when playing longer golf courses. If Zalatoris and his 3rd ranked SG: Approach could borrow Niemann's 23rd ranked SG: Putting numbers for a full week he'd be hard to beat, as Zalatoris' result this week is going to have a lot to do with his putter (ranks 128th in SG: Putting). But that's a weakness I think you've got to live with here, especially when par is going to be a good score and this is a guy that's just pumping greens in regulation each and every round. Two-putt pars are going to keep you around a long time on a US Open leaderboard and if Zalatoris can even catch a day and a half of a hot putter, maybe he's the next young budding star in the game to get his first career Major victory.
SHANE LOWRY +4500 – With recent finishes of 43rd, 28th, MC, 46th, 2nd, and 9th, in his last six US Open starts, the 34-year old Shane Lowry tends to always find a way to compete in US Opens, even if the distance off the tee isn't always there (299.8 yards average in 2021). But like Zalatoris, he's strong pretty much everywhere in Strokes Gained categories this year except for putting. However, with three Top 10's in his past four starts, including a T4 and T6 in his last two, and a Top 10 at Torrey Pines from the 2015 edition of the Farmer's Insurance Open, there is enough there to put a Lowry ticket in pocket at this price and hope he can roll some putts in. The confidence has to be there with that club for Lowry right now given his recent finishes, and if the approach game continues to gain strokes on the field as it has in his last six starts I don't see how a few putts won't start to drop.