Finding Value among the 2018 US Open Betting Favorites

  • The 2018 US Open returns to Shinnecock Hills, a course that eats up lesser golfers.
  • Phil Mickelson, who finished second at Shinnecock in 2004, can achieve the career Grand Slam with a win.
  • Does the betting value lie with “Lefty,” a resurgent Tiger Woods, or a hotter player like Patrick Reed?

It’s been 14 years since the US Open traveled to New York’s precipitous Shinnecock Hills. With the notable exception of Tiger Woods, who finished +10 back in 2004, the leaderboard was littered with pre-tournament favorites at the end of four rounds. Retief Goosen won his second US Open title, shooting 276 (-4) over four rounds; Phil Mickelson finished runner-up and was the only other player under par (-2); and Mike Weir, Fred Funk, and Ernie Els were all in the top-10.

The 1995 edition was similar, with Corey Pavin’s even par 280 besting Greg Norman (+2), Tom Lehman (+3), Davis Love III and Mickelson (both +4).

Point being: the course is tough, and when it comes to picking out which golfers will outlast the vast US Open field, look to the upper echelon.

The course also plays nearly 500 yards longer today than it did in 2004, so big hitters may have an edge.

The current odds at Bovada have the following top 20.

Top-20 Betting Favorites for 2018 US Open

1. Dustin Johnson: +1100
2. Rory McIlroy: +1200
T3. Jordan Spieth: +1400
T3. Jason Day: +1400
T3. Justin Thomas: +1400
T3. Justin Rose: +1400
T7. Rickie Fowler: +1600
T7. Tiger Woods: +1600
T9. Jon Rahm: +2000
T9. Brooks Koepka: +2000
T11. Hideki Matsuyama: +2800
T11. Phil Mickelson: +2800
13. Henrik Stenson: +3300
T14. Patrick Reed: +4000
T14. Sergio Garcia: +4000
T14. Tommy Fleetwood: +4000
T14. Bryson Dechambeau: +4000
T14. Branden Grace: +4000
T19. Bubba Watson: +5000
T19. Paul Casey: +5000
T19. Alex Noren: +5000

Value Bets for 2018 US Open?

Phil Mickelson

As mentioned, Lefty finished 2nd and T-4th the last two times the US Open was played at Shinnecock. That’s a solid track record. But the six-time runner-up won’t have good memories of the course, having blown his chance at glory with a three-putt on 17 in 2004. Skip to 9:50 in the video below to relive the pain.

Youtube video thumbnail

Mickelson is also 48 years old and just 86th in driving distance on tour. His game isn’t as tailored to the now-longer Shinnecock as it once was.

Verdict: Stay away from Phil at +2800

Justin Rose

The 2013 US Open champ was the best golfer on the planet for a short period at the start of the season and he still hasn’t missed a cut this year (11/11). He cooled off from late March to early May, but then notched his second win of the year at the Fort Worth Invitational late last month.

Rose is 40th off the tee, not phenomenal, but long enough to handle the expanded course. The main reason it’s not wise to back Rose at +1400 is that he shot a dreadful 155 (+15) over two rounds the last time the US Open was at Shinnecock, missing the cut by a country mile.

Verdict: Not much value on the Briton at +1400. 

Tiger Woods

Back in March, Tiger fans were optimistic that we were finally witnessing the return of Tiger to the top tier of the PGA Tour. He followed a solid 12th-place finish at the Honda Classic with a runner-up at the Valspar and a 5th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, inspiring “hype” montages from his legion of faithful followers.

But his last four tournaments have seen him regress, finishing in the top-20 just once (PLAYERS).

The best thing you can say about Tiger heading into Shinnecock is that, even at age 42, he can still launch it. He’s 25th in driving distance, compromised back and all. That’s not nearly enough to put money on him at +1600, especially not with the way he’s been putting and his historical lack of success at the course.

Woods’ odds are only this short because sportsbooks know the public will wager on him regardless.

Verdict: There hasn’t been value on Tiger (+1600) since the turn of the century.

Patrick Reed

Six golfers have won the US Open and the Masters in the same year. Reed is looking to make it seven.

His win at Augusta was sandwiched in the middle of five straight top-10 finishes. That streak ended with an underwhelming 41st at the PLAYERS and a 29th at the Memorial, but the 27-year-old has come into his own the last couple seasons. His best finish at every major has come in the last two-plus years, including a 2nd-place at the 2017 PGA Championship. The man they call Captain America is finally bringing his Ryder Cup form to the tour on a weekly basis.

Verdict: At +4000, Reed is solid value. While Dustin Johnson deserves to be the favorite, his odds (+1100) carry a 8.33% implied win probability. Reed’s +4000 carry a 2.4% implied probability, and it’s absurd to think Johnson is nearly 3.5-time as likely to win the US Open than Reed.

Before you put a wager on Reed or any of the other contenders, shop around at the top online betting sites and find the best odds for your golfer of choice. 


Alexander is the MTS editor-in-chief. Frank, Alex, and Geoff brought him in when they realized that their betting expertise far surpassed their grammatical abilities. He loves overanalyzing college basketball trends. Talking to him during the first weekend of March Madness is like talking to a wall. A very focused wall, but a wall nonetheless.

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