Nor can players with poor course form be counted out. In 2019, for instance, Gary Woodland won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach even though he had missed the cut in three of his four previous appearances at the famed Pacific Coast course.
Other caveats apply (see below), but here’s a look at several golfers who could be worth a few of your betting dollars this week.
All odds taken Wednesday from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Good at majors
Xander Schauffele (+1500)
Schauffele’s name comes up as a potential winner before seemingly every major because he has built his game to contend in the biggest events. In 16 Grand Slam appearances, he has finished in the top 10 eight times. Schauffele, 27, never has finished worse than sixth in four U.S. Open appearances, and of his four professional wins, three have come in limited-field events (the 2017 Tour Championship, the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions and the 2019 Tournament of Champions). His form this season is good, with a tie for second at Torrey Pines in January and top-20 finishes in five of his past six tournaments.
At some point, Schauffele is going to win one of these things. So why not the tournament held in his hometown of San Diego?
Brooks Koepka (+1900)
Koepka seemed to vanquish any worries about his recent knee surgery with his tie for second at the PGA Championship last month. He has won this event twice, has two other Grand Slam wins to his name and is averaging 4.33 birdies or better per round at majors over the past five years, tops on tour by a pretty wide margin. Koepka also has gained 2.89 strokes per round at the U.S. Open, which ranks fourth all-time, and comes in salty after his public eye-roll spat with Bryson DeChambeau.
Horses for courses
This section comes with a few caveats. The course we see this week is going to be considerably different from the course that hosts the regular PGA Tour stop in January, particularly with the length of the rough. And there’s also the fact that the Farmers Insurance Open is played in part on Torrey Pines’ North Course, whereas the U.S. Open will be held entirely on the tougher South Course.
Plus, San Diego’s “June Gloom” marine layer isn’t a factor in the winter, when the annual tournament is held. It is likely to be in play this week, however, with the denser air keeping drive lengths in check.
Jon Rahm (+1050)
Rahm is the tournament favorite, so this pick hardly is going out on a limb. But he has finished T7, 2, T5, T29 and 1 in his past five Farmers appearances and was running away with his most recent tournament appearance at the Memorial before getting waylaid by a positive coronavirus test.
Tony Finau (+2200)
Like Schauffele, Finau has come close but hasn’t gotten over the hump at majors. But unlike Schauffele, Finau has only one PGA Tour win, and that was an alternate event in Puerto Rico more than five years ago, so there’s the added pressure of simply trying to win any tournament, much less a major. But Finau clearly has taken a shine to Torrey Pines: Of golfers with at least 10 rounds there, he has gained strokes on the field in 90.5 percent of his rounds, the most of any golfer in the field. (Some of those rounds have come on the North Course at Torrey Pines, however.) His past six finishes at the Farmers: T2, T6, T13, T6, T4, T18.
Adam Scott (+7000)
Scott has played the Farmers only twice in the past five years, but he tied for 10th in January and finished second in 2019. And no player has a lower average score on the South Course alone over the past five years than Scott, who has made the cut in 12 of the past 13 PGA Tour or WGC tournaments he has played.
Coming in hot
Patrick Cantlay (+2200)
Cantlay, who leads the season-long FedEx Cup points standings, was the beneficiary of Rahm’s withdrawal at the Memorial two weeks ago, as he held on for his second PGA Tour win of the season. That followed a tie for 11th at the Zurich Classic in April (a team event at which he played with Schauffele) and a respectable-enough tie for 23rd at the PGA Championship. And while he has never done much at Torrey Pines — two missed cuts and a tie for 51st in three Farmers appearances — he has finished first, second, tied for third and tied for 15th this season when playing in his home state of California.
Garrick Higgo (+7500)
The 22-year-old South African already punched his ticket for the U.S. Open by virtue of his top-60 status in the Official World Golf Rankings as of the May 24 cutoff date, but his win at last weekend’s Palmetto Championship gives him an added dose of momentum, which he hardly needed: Higgo has won three times on the European Tour since September, with two of those overseas victories in the past six weeks to go with his PGA Tour win last weekend.
Jason Kokrak (+5500)
The PGA’s total driving metric combines length and accuracy off the tee, key qualities at the U.S. Open because of the always-penal rough. Kokrak ranks fourth in that statistic heading into the U.S. Open. He also has two wins since October — including at his latest event, the Charles Schwab Challenge in late May — and has made 13 straight cuts. He’s fifth in strokes gained: putting and 12th in strokes gained: total this season. What’s not to love at 55-1 odds?
Shane Lowry (+4500)
The Irishman understandably slipped a bit amid the celebrations of his 2019 British Open title on his home soil, but his game is starting to get into focus as he finally gets to defend his title next month at Royal St. George’s. But first comes the U.S. Open, where he has two top-10 finishes. Lowry also finished eighth at the Players Championship this year and has top-10 finishes in three of his past four events.
But what about Phil?
Phil Mickelson (+5000)
Lefty’s PGA Championship win was a whole lot of fun, but I’m struggling to see a path to victory at a tournament that has vexed Mickelson in his career. Everyone is talking up his experience at Torrey Pines and his three wins there, but the last of those came in 2001, before “Open Doctor” Rees Jones reconfigured the course to make it palatable for the USGA to host its top event there. In his past seven Farmers appearances, Mickelson has three missed cuts, one withdrawal because of a bad back and no finish better than a tie for 14th. (He tied for 53rd at the tournament in January, which was won by Patrick Reed.) Mickelson ranks 162nd in total driving, and he comes in at 199th in the accuracy portion of that statistic. That is not a recipe for success at the U.S. Open.
As of Tuesday afternoon, via DraftKings Sportsbook
Jon Rahm, +1050
Bryson DeChambeau, +1500
Dustin Johnson, +1500
Xander Schauffele, +1500
Brooks Koepka, +1900
Jordan Spieth, +1900
Rory McIlroy, +2100
Patrick Cantlay, +2200
Tony Finau, +2200
Justin Thomas, +2250
Collin Morikawa, +2300
Viktor Hovland, +2500
Patrick Reed, +2500
Scottie Scheffler, +3500