2018 U.S. Open Contenders and Sleepers

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The U.S. Open has been my favorite Major Championship since I have gotten into the game of golf. It isn’t based on the fact that it is labeled as the United States Open, because in reality, the Masters is probably more renowned and more appreciated in both the United States and the world. What has always drawn me to the U.S. Open though, is the style of courses that get thrown at the players yearly. They are fair venues but require the utmost skill to win. They reward advanced skillsets and are as challenging as can be and not because they are artificially made to be tough.

The last couple of years, specifically last year at Erin Hills, the U.S. Open has left a very sour taste in my mouth. Erin Hills should have been one of the better tests we have seen, but the players were instead protected. Fairways made as wide as could be so that the weather would not cause a potential bloodbath at the course, and because of that fact, Brooks Koepka overpowered and bludgeoned his way to 16-under par without any real fear of potential disaster. Fast forward to 2018 and Shinnecock Hills should finally get us back on track of what a U.S. Open course is meant to be. Some length off the tee will give players an advantage, but an all-around game mixed with precision, focus, and shot making skills will be needed to hoist the trophy. All luck “should” be taken out of this year’s finish, and for me, that is always what is most important.

Top Contenders

#1 Dustin Johnson (9/1)

What would a U.S. Open list be without DJ near or at the top of a contenders list? The 2016 champion at Oakmont and the 2015 runner-up at Chambers Bay is an ideal fit for any authentic U.S. Open setup. And the reason for that is because he has a complete game and no weaknesses. Johnson not only drives the ball longer, straighter and better than anyone else on tour but he also has his irons dialed in and is a better putter than he gets credit for being. If you haven’t already used Johnson in One and Done contests, he should be at the very top of your selection list. I will be using him this week and will be attaching my league’s wild card feature onto him to double his earnings.

#2 Jon Rahm (22/1)

Jon Rahm had a mental breakdown last year at Erin Hills. His fiery temperament got the best of him, and he not only lost his cool but also missed the cut in the process. Rahm, who is now a year older and hopefully a year more mature mentally, will get a chance to bounce back at Shinnecock Hills this year. The 23-year-old Spanish golfer is about as close to Dustin Johnson’s skillset as maybe anyone on tour. Rahm hasn’t had the best Major success early in his career, and he can still be as red-hot at times as ever, but the fourth-ranked golfer in the world is bound to turn his Major woes around. A fourth-place finish at this year’s Masters was his first top-25 finish in a Major ever. Look for Rahm to build off of that result and potentially post another top-five in New York, with the potential of capturing his first Major title.

#3 Justin Rose (14/1)

Justin Rose has been all or nothing throughout his career at U.S. Open venues. 12 career U.S. Open appearances, with six top-30 finishes and six missed cuts, which includes a victory in 2013 and two additional top-10s in 2003 and 2007. However, Rose comes into Shinnecock Hills this year as dialed in as any golfer in the world. In Rose’s last 15 tournaments, he has produced 11 top-10 results, including wins at the Fort Worth Invitational and the WGC-HSBC. Rose’s price of 14/1 makes him the second favorite in some betting markets. Unfortunately, his price makes him un-bettable given the value that can be had around him, but Justin Rose will not be a surprise champion if he is able to capture his second career U.S. Open title this weekend.

#4 Justin Thomas (14/1)

The gambling market and DFS community refuse to give Justin Thomas the credit he deserves. For whatever reason, Thomas cannot get himself to the top of the DFS or gambling betting market regardless of what he does. For the last 10 months, Thomas has been the best player in the game of golf. He captured his first Major Championship at the PGA Championship in August and since then has produced three additional wins and two more runner-up performances. Thomas’ only real concern this weekend is his lack of consistency off the tee. He is as explosive as anyone on tour but has been known to get a bit sloppy at times with his driver. If he can stay steady this weekend, he has as good of a shot as anyone to capture his second career Major title.

Top Sleepers (Players over 50/1)

#1 All the European Tour Type Grinders- Tommy Fleetwood (50/1), Alex Noren (60/1), Branden Grace (35/1), etc.

Branden Grace has been bet down, so he no longer applies to the players at or over 50/1 rule, but I am going to include him because of him opening at 50/1. Each one of these guys may need the tournament to finish at around eight-under par or less to capture the title, but if it does, they should be right near the top of the leaderboard with a chance to seize their first Major Championship. I am not so sure any of them could win in a birdie shootout, but that isn’t what Shinnecock Hills should turn into this year. The closer to even-par the score can get, the better off it will be for them. Other European players fit the same mold, but these three are the three most likely champions at odds of 50/1 or more.

#2 Tony Finau (80/1)

The 6’4″ American golfer, Tony Finau, is still looking for his first breakthrough win on the PGA Tour. Yes, I know that Finau won the 2016 Puerto Rico Open in a playoff over Steve Marino but that victory doesn’t scream,” I have arrived.” Finau is as big and strong as anyone on tour, and if he gets hot with his putter, everyone better watch out. It may be too tall of a task to ask of Finau, given the fact that he hasn’t even been able to close out small PGA events, but Finau is going to win something big eventually, and Shinnecock Hills should suit his game. At 80/1 he is worth a look.

#3 Gary Woodland (175/1)

Big-hitting Gary Woodland is one of my favorite values on the board at this year’s U.S. Open. He comes into the event having missed four of his last five cuts, but he did produce a T23 finish in his previous outing at the Memorial Tournament. Woodland has the type of game that can win at any venue, especially one that requires length. His lack of form coming into Shinnecock Hills is completely baked into that 175/1 price. Three months ago it wouldn’t have been inconceivable that Woodland would have been 50/1 for a venue like this. My favorite way to bet him is at 8/1 to come top-20, but there is definitely upside for even a better showing than that.

#4 Si Woo Kim (150/1)

Si Woo Kim still provides tons of boom but maybe not as much bust as he has in the past. Kim enters this week having made his last seven cuts, including 84 percent of his cuts on the year. The surprise winner of the 2017 Players Championship, Kim has shown he is able to win star-studded events in the past and seems to go for the win when he has a chance to do so. Statistically, Kim doesn’t have any stats that are extremely eye-popping. However, he does rank 21st in his last 24 rounds compared to the field in strokes gained off the tee, which should be a plus at a course that is so long. There is just something about the young 22-year-old South Korean golfer that makes him show up for significant events. At 150/1, he is worth a hard look.

#5 Brendan Steele (200/1)

Brendan Steele is another player who comes into the week overinflated in price. He very well may turn into a better top 20 bet since he has trouble closing out events, but he provides everything you would hope to see from a player at a U.S. Open venue. After back-to-back top-15 showings in 2017 and 2016 at U.S. Open courses, his 200/1 price, quite frankly, is incredibly disrespectful. He ranks eighth in strokes gained off the tee and 11th in driving distance in his last 24 rounds compared to the field. As mentioned above, Steele will be another player I will be targeting in the top 20 market, but at his bloated 200/1 number, I will be taking a shot on his world-class off the tee skillset.

Please feel free to message me for any U.S. Open questions you may have on Instagram and Twitter @teeoffsports

And check me out on Rotoballer.com for my golf player news.

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