Pebble Beach is one of the most iconic golf courses in the world, and this week it will host the U.S. Open for the first time since 2010. Pebble has provided some incredible tournaments over the years including the 2000 US Open where Tiger Woods beat the field by 15 strokes in what many believe is the greatest four rounds of golf ever played. A lot of the talk this week will once again be about how the USGA decides to set up the course. Last year at Shinnecock Hills many criticized the USGA for how difficult the course was playing, but I don’t think anyone expects them to make it any easier this year. The rough is reportedly very thick, and due to the recent heat out west, the poa annua greens will be firm and fast. This season continues to be one of the best seasons for golf storylines in recent memory, and this week is no exception. From another attempt at the career grand slam for Phil to Tiger’s chase for Jack’s record to Brooks Koepka’s insane dominance, there is a lot to be excited about.
Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Rory McIlroy are all tied for the favorite at +800, and just behind them is Tiger Woods at +1000.
Below are my picks, and for anyone who isn’t familiar with my system here is how it works. The first column shows the top 10 players that I think have the best chance to win (in order) with the player in the top spot being my official pick to win. In the second column, I have my dark horses (players with +5000 odds to win or worse) and they are also in order. The third column shows my bust picks (players I think will have a very bad week, often times elite level guys who many people are betting on). The fourth column shows a few more guys that I think should have a solid week, but guys that I don’t think have a great chance to win (typically expect these guys to finish somewhere in the 10th-30th range). The final column shows my prediction for the winning score. Anyone who is not seen on this list I am neutral on meaning I wouldn’t bet on them but I also am not seeking them out to bet against.
- Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has been playing great golf recently. He came in 4th last week at the RBC Canadian, 19th a couple weeks ago at the Charles Schwab, and 16th at the PGA Championship. In addition, he has experience here at Pebble. In the 2010 US Open he finished T8, and then in 2013 at the AT&T Pro-Am here at Pebble he won the tournament. Pebble is a course that benefits veterans with knowledge and experience at the course, and Snedeker is one of those guys. At +5000 Snedeker is at a solid value, and I will be taking him in almost any matchup bet I can get this week.
- Martin Kaymer: Kaymer hasn’t played great this year or in the past couple of years, but very recently his game has started to pick up. Two weeks ago at the Memorial, Kaymer was leading for most of the tournament and ended up finishing third. He was playing beautifully in every aspect of the game, and I expect that to carry over into this week. In addition, Kaymer also has experience at Pebble where he finished T8 at the 2010 US Open. Kaymer is a two-time major champion (2010 PGA and 2014 US Open), so he is no stranger to the moment. At +8000 he is arguably the best value in the entire field this week.
- Keith Mitchell: Many people probably haven’t heard this name, but Mitchell is a younger player who won the Honda Classic this year. But one of the most notable things about Mitchell is his outspoken hatred for poa annua greens. California courses are almost always poa annua greens, and this year Mitchell missed the cut in all three of the California tournaments he played in, including at Pebble. After that stretch, Mitchell said in an interview “I hate poa annua so much I can’t even see straight.” In addition, Mitchell’s last two starts have been 48th at the Memorial and MC at the PGA. I would be shocked if Mitchell made the cut this week. Mitchell is also available in matchup bets on a lot of sites against CT Pan (who has been playing well). I will be hammering CT over Mitchell as it is the LOCK OF THE CENTURY.
- Branden Grace: Grace is playing very poorly lately. His last three starts are a MC at the Memorial, 53rd at the Charles Schwab, and MC at the PGA. He also came in 58th at the Masters. Though he is experienced, his game is just way too out of sorts right now. I expect he will hit a lot of errant shots that will be punished by the tough conditions.
- Bubba Watson: Watson finished 63rd last week at the RBC Canadian and had a MC in his previous start at the PGA. In addition to this poor golf, Pebble does not set up well for Bubba. His shot shaping struggles in the coastal winds, he is not a great poa annua putter, and he has always struggled at US Opens because of the punishing rough. Stay away from Bubba this week.
Winning Score- 9 under
- The winning scores at the last six majors at Pebble Beach have been +2, -6, -6, -3, -12, and E. The course will be very tough with the thick rough and firm greens, but the wind (which is often one of Pebble’s biggest challenges) isn’t supposed to be blowing very hard. I expect guys who can keep it in the fairway to shoot relatively low scores, especially for a US Open.
Picks to Win
- 4th-10th: To quickly summarize this group, I think all six of these guys have a good shot at winning this week. Brooks is the #1 player in the world right now but had a poor week (50th) last week, Rory had a dominant win last week but he had a MC the week before and also said he would “be very hungover on Monday”, Tiger is arguably the best Pebble Beach player of all time and had a solid ninth-place finish at the Memorial despite a MC at the PGA (he was reportedly very sick), Justin Rose has had some struggles recently but had a solid 13th place finish at the Memorial and his iron-play will be very advantageous here, Adam Scott’s last three starts have been a 2nd 8th and 18th and he is back into major championship form after a few years of struggling, Cantlay had a great win at the Memorial and grew up in Cali playing poa annua greens, and as I always say Rickie is bound to put it all together for a major one of these times.
- 3rd– Matt Kuchar: The more I watch Matt Kuchar play, the more I believe he will eventually win a major. Though he had a MC at the Memorial recently, he came in 4th last week and 8th at the PGA. In addition, he is currently the FedEx Cup points leader, which basically means he’s had the best overall body of work this season. This week might be his best chance at that major title. Kuchar came in 6th in the 2010 US Open at Pebble, and he has said that he loves poa annua greens. His consistency and accuracy bode well for a US Open where players who miss fairways and greens are severely punished. Plus this week is one of the few weeks where bombers won’t have a huge advantage. I think it’s insane that Kuchar is being set at somewhere between +4000 and +5000 odds to win. If you’re looking for a good value pick, Kuchar is your guy.
- 2nd– Dustin Johnson: This week will bring up some old demons for DJ. At the 2010 US Open at Pebble, he had a three-stroke lead going into Sunday before collapsing with a final round 82. But I believe he can conquer those demons. He has finished 2nd at both majors this year and had a solid 20th place finish last week. DJ’s iron and wedge game will come in very handy this week. Dustin is not the type to let past experiences affect him, and I think his talent and experience at Pebble will give him a great chance to win.
- Winner- Jordan Spieth: Yes Jordan Spieth had fallen off the map for the last 18 months, but he is back. Spieth has looked extremely confident lately, especially with his putting which is what made him so successful during the 2015-2017 stretch. His last three starts are a 7th at the Memorial, 8th at the Charles Schwab, and 3rd at the PGA. He is trending toward a great week, and he has also has had great success at Pebble where he won the 2017 AT&T Pro-Am. Spieth’s incredible golf IQ makes him the perfect U.S. Open player, and as long as he can keep his tee shots in the middle I think he will definitely be in contention. At the end of the day, winning a U.S. Open is about making putts, and the way Spieth has been putting lately makes me very confident in him. It feels very good to say that I believe Jordan Spieth will be the 2019 US Open champion.