The key to betting on golf is picking your spots. When it comes to the 2018 edition of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, starry names like Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are topping odds lists, but there’s plenty of sleeper value in the tournament if you dig deep.
With that in mind, here’s a look at some potential sleeper value in this year’s U.S. Open. For a full betting breakdown of the tournament, visit my preview. To find out which three golfers are my top plays of the weekend, check out my PGA Expert Picks piece.
Odds courtesy of Bovada
My favorite sleeper pick: Matt Kuchar +6600
One of the nicest guys on the PGA Tour, it’s hard to root against Kuchar. Despite never winning a major, the 39-year-old came agonizingly close at the 2017 Open Championship before falling short to eventual champion Jordan Spieth. Considering the depth of the field at Shinnecock Hills, it’s easy to forget about Kuchar, but his experience and sheer talent provides some fantastic value for both pre-tournament bettors and DFS players looking for decently priced options.
Kuchar used to be a stay-away at the U.S. Open but he’s found his groove at the event over time. The Drake University product missed the cut in five of his first seven starts at the tournament but has played into the weekend in every renewal since 2010. Kuchar’s Sunday stroke average of 71.75 at the U.S. Open doesn’t hurt either.
My second favorite sleeper pick: Xander Schauffele +10000
The U.S. Open is an extremely tough test for anyone, but it’s historically hard on first-timers. Don’t tell that to Schauffele, though. The reigning rookie of the year raised eyebrows across the tour by collecting a T-5 in his first U.S. Open start at Erin Hills a year ago, and I’m expecting him to keep the momentum going in the Empire State.
Schauffele is in excellent form, evidenced by a T-2 finish at The Players, and has missed the cut only three times in his last 17 appearances. He’s yet to pick up a win in 2018 after garnering two victories in 2017 but looks like he’s poised to make regular appearances atop the leaderboard in big tournaments going forward.
My third favorite sleeper pick: Zach Johnson +15000
While Johnson has never won a U.S. Open, he did post a T-8 at the tournament in 2016. The two-time major winner (Masters in 2007, Open Championship in 2015) is on the tail end of his career at 42 but is always a threat to come out of seemingly nowhere and steal a tournament. The Iowa native is having another solid year, placing fifth at the Valero Texas Open, T-8 at the RSM Classic and T-13 at the Safeway Open.
Johnson has missed only one cut in 16 starts this season and ranks 29th in strokes gained from tee to green and 23rd in strokes gained around the green. It’s the definition of a long shot, but at the +15000 price, there are far worse options for a player who’s proven he can win on the biggest stages.