It feels weird to be writing about the U.S. Open in the middle of September, but here we are, and trust me, I am not complaining.
2020-2021 Season Record: 4-1 (0-1 Parlay)
Last week at the Safeway Open, we were able to walk away with a nice profit, going 4-1 in our matchups, and nearly cashing the parlay. This week at the U.S. Open, the books are as sharp as ever, pitting golfers against each other with no real value on either side. That’s where I come in.
The 120th U.S. Open takes place at the historic Winged Foot Golf Club (West Course) in Mamaroneck, New York. I think this week, more than any other, the intangibles need to be accounted for – the space between the ears. Yes, you’re going to have to drive it long and straight, be able to scramble like a mad man, and make crucial par or even bogey putts when needed. However, U.S. Opens have been known to make these god-like figures look like weekend hacks and if not careful, some of the world’s best could be packing their bags come Friday afternoon. This is just as much of a mental test as it is a physical test, and as such, I’ll be targeting players I deem mentally tough – and yes, they might drive the ball pretty well too.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (-110) vs. Rickie Fowler (-110)
Matthew Fitzpatrick has been labeled as a “grinder” or “gritty” by every golf pundit in the business. Not only is that disrespectful to the likes of Wes Welker or Brandon Stokley, but also Fitzy himself. This week you’re going to have to stay out of the rough and few do it better than Fitzpatrick. Sure, he may sacrifice some length off the tee, but he makes up for it with his long iron game, ranking 7th in the field in proximity from 200+ yards. Oh, and I haven’t even talked about the best part of his game…the putter. As for the Tour’s darling, the inconsistency of Rickie’s game is a cause for concern. Since the restart, Rickie has struggled off-the-tee, losing strokes with the big stick in half of his starts. That would be all fine and dandy if one part of his game – his putter – was clicking, but it just simply isn’t. Announcers and commentators always paint Rickie’s stroke as the best in the game, but in reality it has been mediocre.
Tommy Fleetwood (-110) vs. Patrick Cantlay (-110)
You know, I would typically make a joke about how Fleetwood Mac will win in a landslide, but I’ll spare you. There was a lot to like about Tommy Boy’s play at the Portugal Masters last week, going bananas tee-to-green, but sadly going blind on the greens. I won’t take too much stock in the putting, he is typically very good, especially on poa. Tommy is going to win one of these sooner or later, he’s just too good, having previously contended at Erin Hills and having had a Sunday to remember at Shinnecock Hills. It’s hard for me to spice up my analysis of Cantlay, he may arguably be the most boring player on Tour, definitely the slowest. But when looking through Cantlay’s off-the-tee numbers, I was surprised to see just how inaccurate he is – ranking outside the top 100 in fairways gained for the field. On top of a wayward driver, his approach numbers from 175+ yards aren’t going to cut it at a course like Winged Foot.
Louis Oosthuizen (-110) vs. Kevin Kisner (-110)
This one may come as a head scratcher to some, but I am very bullish on Louis this week. The pure-swinging South African has the propensity to show up at the majors and arrives this week in good form. Louis has gained strokes tee-to-green in 5 consecutive starts and the putter is now showing signs of life. If you’re looking for a long-shot to contend, I would look no further than the former Open Champ. As for Kiz, I am sure many will fancy his chances, he is the type of player who should find fairways on a consistent basis. However, Kiz isn’t the longest from the box and if his driver behaves like it did in Atlanta, it could be a short trip to New York for the Georgia Bulldog. As we get closer to the green, he’s night and day – absolutely lights out with his putter and a self-proclaimed “horrible chipper” from around the greens. I don’t love that, especially on poa greens – his statistically worst putting surface.
Patrick Reed (-110) vs. Adam Scott (-110)
Patrick Reed is going to win this thing. I have convinced myself it is going to happen and there is no way that this could possibly blow up in my face (missed cut incoming). The guy has a U.S. Open type game and I think this is the week that all the pieces come together. He has won on tough courses – Doral, Bethpage Black – and should do well with no fans in attendance. Sal from the Bronx won’t be able to heckle him alongside his buddy Luigi, two fictitious, Italian guys in the waste management business who love a good hoagie (shoutout Tom). As for the Australian heart-throb, we haven’t seen him all that often, having only made 3 appearances since the COVID-19 restart. He’s got a couple of top-25’s under his belt in those starts, but it’s tough to gauge where his game really is. He drove it well one week, bad the next. Then the irons were good, then they were bad, and so on. I’m not saying Reed is steadier than Scott, but I do think his game is primed to show up at a big-time event.
Justin Rose (+100) vs. Tiger Woods (-120)
Oh, don’t hate me for this Tiger, but I have to do it. There is just too much going on in Tiger’s game, making him an easy fade at a U.S. Open set-up. His driver has been wild and around and on the greens he’s been horrible. When near the putting surface, it’s almost as if his son Charlie has a better chance at getting it in the hole than he does – something that Tiger has never had trouble with in the past. As for Rosey, he checks a lot of boxes this week – good driver, good iron player – and the 2013 U.S. Open Champ has proven he can play tough tracks well. While the chipping numbers may not be where we want them to be, from 75-100 yards, Rose ranks #1 in the field in proximity. That could prove to be vital, especially with missed fairways being all but a guarantee. I am positive we are going to see Rose all four days this week, whether that is on the golf course or in a Morgan Stanley commercial, we will just have to wait and see.