Best bets for the 2022 U.S. Open

June 15, 2022 11:33 AM
USATSI_16286965

Last week was an eventful one with the debut of the LIV Golf tour and the controversy surrounding it. Charl Schwartzel held on to win the largest purse of his career and cash a 30-1 ticket for this column. 

However, the most exciting golf of the weekend took place at the RBC Canadian Open where Rory McIlroy showed he is still one of the best players in the world, winning the tournament at 11-1 and holding off playing partners Tony Finau and Justin Thomas in the final grouping. The victory had an even more significant meaning for McIlroy as it got him to 21 PGA Tour wins, or as he said, "one more than somebody else," alluding to Greg Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf Investments. Norman had referred to McIlroy as "brainwashed" due to his outspoken defense of the PGA Tour and criticism of LIV Golf. 

LIV Golf will still be a major topic of discussion leading up to Thursday, when the 122nd U.S. Open will begin at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. 

McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, is now this week's favorite at 11-1. Justin Thomas (12-1) won golf's previous major last month, cashing a 17-1 ticket for us at the PGA Championship. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (14-1) has cooled off a smidge from his scorching start to 2022 in which he won four events (including the Masters) in six starts over a two-month span, but he cannot be ignored. Jon Rahm (16-1) is the defending U.S. Open champion and earned this column a victory at 11-1 last year at Torrey Pines. He won the first week of May in a weak field at the Mexico Open, but his game around the greens, ordinarily a strength, will need some tidying up this week. Cameron Smith (22-1) has had a stellar season, with two victories including The Players Championship, but has drifted a bit from peak form after falling short at the Masters. 

Xander Schauffele (22-1) clearly has a game that fits a U.S. Open champion considering he has never finished worse than seventh in any of his five U.S. Open starts. Patrick Cantlay (25-1), ranked No. 4 in the world, has emerged as one of the game's best players but has yet to show out in major championships. Cantlay has only one Top 5 finish (third at the 2019 Masters) in 21 career major starts. Jordan Spieth (28-1), the 2015 U.S. Open champion, has been hit and miss in 2022. He won the RBC Heritage (in a playoff over Cantlay) and has runner-up finishes at the Byron Nelson and Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but the putter has let him down too often, leading to missed cuts at The Players and the Masters. Collin Morikawa (30-1) was solid early in 2022 but has not contended in a while.

Matt Fitzpatrick (30-1) won on this golf course in the 2013 U.S. Amateur as a 19-year-old. Will Zalatoris (30-1) has five Top 10 finishes in the last seven major championships, including a runner-up last month at the PGA. A host of players at 35-1 include Viktor Hovland, Tony Finau, Shane Lowry and Sam Burns. 

It has been nearly 18 months since Dustin Johnson (40-1) has won anywhere in the world. DJ elected to take the money and join LIV Golf, so it’s fair to wonder if that competitive drive is still there. Brooks Koepka (45-1) has won two of the last five U.S. Opens (2017, 2018), but his last tour victory came in February 2021 as various injuries have plagued him. Speaking of injuries, 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau (100-1), who is joining LIV Golf next month, has missed a lot of time with a wrist injury and is priced in some markets at higher than 100-1. 

The Event​

The U.S. Open, sanctioned and governed by the United States Golf Association, returns to The Country Club for the first time since 1988. The Country Club has hosted three prior U.S. Opens (1913, 1963, 1988) in addition to six U.S. Amateurs (1910, 1922, 1934, 1957, 1982, 2013), three U.S. Women's Amateurs (1902, 1941, 1995), plus the 1999 Ryder Cup, which is known as the "Battle of Brookline" and featured a furious comeback victory (14.5-13.5) by the U.S. team after trailing by four points (10-6) heading into Sunday. 

Last week, the USGA released a statement regarding the defectors from the PGA Tour (17 players suspended in all) to LIV Golf, addressing their eligibility for this week's U.S. Open:

"We pride ourselves in being the most open championship in the world and the players who have earned the right to compete in this year's championship, both via exemption and qualifying, will have the opportunity to do so. Our field criteria were set prior to entries opening earlier this year and it's not appropriate, nor fair to competitors, to change criteria once established.

“Regarding players who may choose to play in London this week, we simply asked ourselves this question should a player who had earned his way into the 2022 U.S. Open, via our published field criteria, be pulled out of the field as a result of his decision to play in another event? And we ultimately decided that they should not.

“Our decision around the field for the 2022 U.S. Open should not be construed as the USGA supporting an alternative organizing entity, nor supportive of any individual player actions or comments Rather, it is simply a response to whether or not the USGA views playing in an alternative event, without the consent of their home tour, an offense that should disqualify them for the U.S. Open."

The Course​

It has been 34 years since The Country Club last hosted the U.S. Open. The USGA has gravitated toward longer courses in recent years, including Torrey Pines, Winged Foot, Shinnecock Hills, Erin Hills, Chambers Bay and Pinehurst No. 2. However, they are returning to a more classic course here. 

The Country Club is a Par 70 of 7,264 yards, shorter than some of the 7,500+ yard courses we have seen over the years. In fact, The Country Club will play an average of 350 yards shorter than the U.S. Open's last two venues (Torrey Pines and Winged Foot). Nevertheless, it should be even more challenging. 

Founded as a racetrack for horses in 1882, The Country Club in Brookline is one of the oldest clubs in the United States. It is also one of five charter clubs that founded the USGA in 1894.

The Country Club was the venue for the 1913 U.S. Open which featured amateur Francis Ouimet defeating Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff. That tournament inspired the Mark Frost book, “The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf,” 2002. The book was adapted into the film “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” 2005, directed by Bill Paxton.

The course was originally designed in 1895 by Scotsman Willie Campbell. William Flynn, who designed other U.S. Open venues in Shinnecock Hills and Cherry Hills, designed the executive Primrose Course in 1927. This year’s U.S. Open will be played on a composite course of 15 holes from the two main nines (called Clyde and Squirrel) and three holes from the Primrose Course. Rees Jones conducted a major restoration in preparation of the 1988 U.S. Open and Gil Hanse, who did the Southern Hills restoration for the PGA, did the same here in 2009. Hanse’s contributions include expanding the green sizes to allow for additional pin locations and re-routing the 18-hole tournament layout. 

Hanse noted, “It’s going to be an interesting mental test because many of these guys are going to see holes they’ve never seen in their lives. They’re going to have to play some shots that aren’t going to register on their fairness meter.” 

Good drives will result in bad bounces into the rough due to the sloping fairways. Players will have to deal with numerous blind shots into elevated greens. The course will play like an old-school U.S. Open where precision plus creativity will be rewarded. 

Fairways are made up of both Poa annua and Bentgrass. The infamous rough is a mix of Bluegrass, Ryegrass, Poa and tall fescue. The rough is listed at 3 to 3.5 inches, but some fescue has been reported as high as 6 inches. Course superintendent Dave Johnson says that the 4,388 square foot greens (sixth smallest on this year's tour schedule) are a combination of 70% Poa annua and 30% Bentgrass. They will roll faster than average at around 12.5 on the stimpmeter. The course is also well-bunkered with 82 throughout the layout. 

 “The Country Club is an old-school golf course: small greens, very tight fairways,” said Jeff Hall, the USGA’s managing director of rules and open championships.

Hole No. 1 is the only flat hole on the course, located where the home stretch of the old racetrack once stood. Six of the 12 Par 4s measure close to 475 yards or longer. The three shorter Par 4s will be enticing but are well-protected by bunkers, and plenty of other hazards are in play.

The two Par 5s are not necessarily birdie holes. The eighth is reachable in two for the entire field but has a blind uphill approach to a massive false front. The 14th is a 619-yard beast with another uphill, blind approach and multiple tiers which will force layups for much of the field. 

The Par 3s feature an interesting mix of long (No. 2) and short (No. 11). The 131-yard 11th is a new addition to this year’s layout. The short, downhill shot into a table-top green is surrounded by out-of-bounds areas, forcing players to hit knockdown wedges into tight pin locations that will produce some bad misses.

Comparable courses to The Country Club include other U.S. Open venues such as Olympia Fields, Pebble Beach (2019 U.S. Open setup), Torrey Pines (2021 U.S. Open setup), Merion, Bethpage Black and Oakmont, plus TPC Potomac (2022 Wells Fargo) and St. George's (2022 RBC Canadian Open). 

U.S. Open Recent Winners/History 

Winners

2021: Jon Rahm (-6/278); Torrey Pines (South Course); 10-1

2020: Bryson DeChambeau (-6/274); Winged Foot (West Course); 25-1

2019: Gary Woodland (-13/271); Pebble Beach; 80-1 

2018: Brooks Koepka (+ 1/281); Shinnecock Hills; 25-1 

2017: Brooks Koepka (-16/272); Erin Hills; 45-1 

2016: Dustin Johnson (-4/276); Oakmont; 16-1 

2015: Jordan Spieth (-5/275); Chambers Bay; 9-1 

2014: Martin Kaymer (-9/271); Pinehurst No. 2; 40-1 

2013: Justin Rose (+ 1/281); Merion (East Course); 28-1 

2012: Webb Simpson (+ 1/281); Olympic Club (Lake Course); 80-1 

2011: Rory McIlroy (-16/268); Congressional (Blue Course); 22-1 

2010: Graeme McDowell (E/284); Pebble Beach; 80-1 

Lead-in form for recent champions 

2021: Rahm (OWGR No. 3): 3 Top 5s, 7 Top 10s

2020: DeChambeau (No. 9): 1 Win (Rocket Mortgage Classic), 6 Top 5s, 9 Top 10s

2019: Woodland (No. 24): 1 Top 5, 4 Top 10s 

2018: Koepka (No. 9): 1 Top 5, 1 Top 10 (missed time with an injury) 

2017: Koepka (No. 22): 1 Top 5, 1 Top 10 

2016: Johnson (No. 6): 5 Top 5s, 7 Top 10s 

2015: Spieth (No. 2): 2 Wins (Valspar, Masters), 7 Top 5s, 9 Top 10s 

2014: Kaymer (No. 28): 1 Win (Players), 1 Top 5, 1 Top 10 

2013: Rose (No. 5): 3 Top 5s, 5 Top 10s 

2012: Simpson (No. 13): 2 Top 5s. 4 Top 10s 

2011: McIlroy (No. 7): 3 Top 5s, 6 Top 10s 

2010: McDowell (No. 36): 1 Win (Wales Open), 2 Top 5s, 4 Top 10s 

U.S. Open Trends

— Every U.S. Open winner since 2008 had at least one Top 10 in his previous five starts and 12 of the last 14 had at least one Top 5 in his previous five starts.

— 13 of the last 14 U.S. Open winners made the cut in their previous major.

— Each of the last 6 U.S. Open winners had a Top 6 finish in a previous major.

— 12 of the last 14 U.S. Open winners had at least a Top 10 finish in a previous major.

— 7 of the last 10 U.S. Open winners had a Top 15 finish in one of their two previous starts on tour.

— 7 of the last 10 U.S. Open winners were Americans.

— 8 of the last 11 U.S. Open winners were ranked in the OWGR Top 15.

— The last 11 U.S. Open winners were ranked in the OWGR Top 30. 

— 11 of the last 14 U.S. Open winners were between the ages of 26 and 32. 

— 5 of the last 6 U.S. Open winners had never won a major. 

— The oldest winner of the U.S. Open since 2008 was Woodland in 2019 at age 35. 

Statistical Analysis

Total Driving (2021-2022 PGA Tour season)

Unlike many of the more recent U.S. Opens, bomb-and-gouge is not going to necessarily work at The Country Club. Players are going to need a proper balance of distance and accuracy. On many holes, players will have to club down off the tee just to keep the ball out of the fescue and tall grass. Plus, there are many awkward and blind tee shots. Total Driving gives us an indicator of players who hit it both long and straight. 

1. Jon Rahm, 51 (5 + 46)

2. Viktor Hovland, 79 (38 + 41)

3. Xander Schauffele, 92 (34 + 58)

4. Cameron Young, 102 (7 + 95)

5. Collin Morikawa, 104 (83 + 21)

6. Jason Kokrak, 111 (23 + 88)

6. Davis Riley, 111 (48 + 63)

8. Rory McIlroy, 115 (3 + 112)

9. Sungjae Im, 116 (87 + 29)

10. Corey Conners, 119 (93 + 26)

11. Louis Oosthuizen, 120 (100 + 20)

12. Patrick Cantlay, 126 (60 + 66)

13. Hideki Matsuyama, 128 (45 + 83)

14. Hayden Buckley, 129 (110 + 19)

15. Shane Lowry, 133 (79 + 54)

15. Mito Pereira, 133 (68 + 65)

15. Webb Simpson, 133 (97 + 36)

Total Driving (Driving Distance Ranking + Driving Accuracy Ranking)

Strokes Gained: Approach (last 36 rounds)

The greens at The Country Club are small and players will be hitting blind shots not only off the tee but on approach as well.

1. Will Zalatoris, 37.2

2. Cameron Smith, 34

3. Scottie Scheffler, 32.9

4. Max Homa, 29.5

5. Aaron Wise, 29.4

6. Russell Henley, 29.4 

7. Viktor Hovland, 29.1

8. Jordan Spieth, 28.8

9. Mito Pereira, 28.7

10. Justin Thomas, 28.1

11. Hideki Matsuyama, 28.1

12. Shane Lowry, 26.9

13. Daniel Berger, 26.6

14. Kevin Na, 25.9

15. Xander Schauffele, 25.4

Strokes Gained: Approach (last 24 rounds)

1. Sam Burns, 25.7

2. Scottie Scheffler, 25.2

3. Max Homa, 24.3

4. Harold Varner III, 23.8

5. Kevin Na, 23.8

6. Cameron Smith, 23.7

7. Shane Lowry, 23

8. Xander Schauffele, 22.5

9. Hideki Matsuyama, 22.2

10. Aaron Wise, 21

11. Russell Henley, 20.8

12. Mito Pereira, 20.7

13. Viktor Hovland, 20.5

14. Rory McIlroy, 20.2

15. Jordan Spieth, 19.8

Proximity Gained: 175-200 Yards (last 36 rounds)

To have an even more pinpoint focus on approach shots, we can look at Proximity Gained on approaches from both 175-200 yards and 200+ yards. About half of the approaches players hit will come from at least 175 yards.

1. Tom Hoge, 18.5

2. Abraham Ancer, 16

3. Viktor Hovland, 15.3

4. Si Woo Kim, 14.2

5. Kevin Na, 12.8

6. Kurt Kitayama, 12.5

7. Satoshi Kodaira, 12.1

8. Tommy Fleetwood, 11.4

9. Shane Lowry, 11.2

10. Matt Fitzpatrick, 10.7

11. Justin Thomas, 10.4

12. Webb Simpson, 10.1

13. Brooks Koepka, 9.7

14. Jon Rahm, 9.6

15. Thorbjorn Olesen, 9.5

Proximity Gained: 175-200 Yards (last 24 rounds)

1. Si Woo Kim, 22.2

2. Tom Hoge, 19.1

3. Kevin Na, 19

4. Abraham Ancer, 16.4

5. Tommy Fleetwood, 16.3

6. Tony Finau, 15.5

7. Viktor Hovland, 15.2

8. Satoshi Kodaira, 14.9

9. Brooks Koepka, 14.1

10. Kurt Kitayama, 14.1

11. Patrick Reed, 13.2

12. Sebastian Munoz, 12.5

13. Bo Hoag, 12.2

14. Marc Leishman, 12.2

15. Shane Lowry, 12.1

Proximity Gained: 200+ Yards (last 36 rounds)

1. Will Zalatoris, 23.7

2. Gary Woodland, 22.5

3. Collin Morikawa, 21.7

4. Viktor Hovland, 20.7

5. Bryson DeChambeau, 20.5

6. Jon Rahm, 20.4

7. Shane Lowry, 20.3

8. Hideki Matsuyama, 19

9. Kurt Kitayama, 17.5

10. Aaron Wise, 16.8

11. Cameron Young, 16.6

12. Thorbjorn Olesen, 16.5

13. Justin Thomas, 16.3

14. Tony Finau, 14.9

15. Max Homa, 14.8

Proximity Gained: 200+ Yards (last 24 rounds)

1. Xander Schauffele, 33.1

2. Aaron Wise, 25.2

3. Dustin Johnson, 24.7

4. Kurt Kitayama, 22.3

5. Adam Scott, 21.9

6. Gary Woodland, 21.6

7. Bryson DeChambeau, 21.4

8. Collin Morikawa, 20.5

9. Hideki Matsuyama, 20.5

10. Hayden Buckley, 18.5

11. Mito Pereira, 18

12. Justin Thomas, 17.5

13. Will Zalatoris, 17.4

14. Daniel Berger, 17.1

15. Shane Lowry, 16.4

Proximity Gained measures the average feet gained per shot from these distances

Strokes Gained: Par 4s 450-500 Yards (last 36 rounds)

Seven of the 12 Par 4s measure between 450-500 yards, and five of those seven measure closer to the 500-yard mark. 

1. Rory McIlroy, 30.4

2. Cameron Young, 28.6

3. Shane Lowry, 27.6

4. Max Homa, 23.3

5. Sebastian Munoz, 23

6. Jon Rahm, 22.8

7. Justin Thomas, 22.5

8. Billy Horschel, 21.6

9. Gary Woodland, 20

10. Tony Finau, 19

11. Sungjae Im, 18.4

12. Aaron Wise, 17.6

13. Scottie Scheffler, 16.4

14. Seamus Power, 16.3

15. Alex Noren, 16.1

Strokes Gained: Par 4s 450-500 Yards (last 24 rounds)

1. Rory McIlroy, 26.3

2. Shane Lowry, 20.7

3. Max Homa, 20

4. Aaron Wise, 19.2

5. Cameron Young, 18

6. Jon Rahm, 17.7

7. Sebastian Munoz, 15.6

8. Tony Finau, 15.5

9. Jordan Spieth, 15.2

10. Gary Woodland, 14.9

11. Sam Burns, 14.5

12. Justin Thomas, 14

13. Kurt Kitayama, 13.6

14. Sungjae Im, 13.6

15. Denny McCarthy, 12.3

Strokes Gained: Par 4s 500+ Yards (last 36 rounds)

1. Thomas Pieters, 8.1

2. Cameron Smith, 7.5

3. Satoshi Kodaira, 5.4

4. Erik Van Rooyen, 5.1

5. Rory McIlroy, 4.8

6. Patrick Reed, 4.8

7. Hideki Matsuyama, 4.8

8. Will Zalatoris, 4.5

9. Mito Pereira, 4.2

10. Davis Riley, 4.2

11. Sepp Straka, 4

12. Sebastian Munoz, 3.8

13. Lanto Griffin, 3.8

14. Adam Scott, 3.7

15. Seamus Power, 3.3

Strokes Gained: Par 4s 500+ Yards (last 24 rounds)

1. Richard Bland, 7.1

2. Rory McIlroy, 4.7

3. Cameron Smith, 4.7

4. Satoshi Kodaira, 4.1

5. Gary Woodland, 3.9

6. Mito Pereira, 3.8

7. Will Zalatoris, 3.8

8. Davis Riley, 3.8

9. Sebastian Munoz, 3.8

10. Lanto Griffin, 3.8

11. Marc Leishman, 3.6

12. Sepp Straka, 3.6

13. Patrick Rodgers, 3.2

14. Sam Burns, 3

Strokes Gained: Par 3s 200-225 Yards (last 36 rounds)

Two of the four Par 3s measure more than 200 yards. 

1. Harris English, 11.8

2. Matt Fitzpatrick, 10

3. Tom Hoge, 8.9

4. Thomas Pieters, 8.1

5. Brian Stuard, 7.7

6. Daniel Berger, 6.7

7. Luke List, 6.7

8. Justin Rose, 6.7

9. Collin Morikawa, 6.6

10. Gary Woodland, 6.5

11. Tommy Fleetwood, 6.2

12. Viktor Hovland, 5.8

13. Patrick Reed, 5.7

14. Corey Conners, 5.7

15. Xander Schauffele, 5.5

Strokes Gained: Par 3s 200-225 Yards (last 24 rounds)

1. Harris English, 8.4

2. Luke List, 6.7

3. Daniel Berger, 6.3

4. Matt Fitzpatrick, 5.9

5. Mito Pereira, 5.8

6. Xander Schauffele, 5.4

7. Viktor Hovland, 5.3

8. Gary Woodland, 5.3

9. K.H. Lee, 5

10. Justin Rose, 5

11. Sam Horsfield, 4.9

12. Thomas Pieters, 4.8

13. Collin Morikawa, 4.4

14. Denny McCarthy, 4.3

15. Satoshi Kodaira, 4.3

Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green (last 36 rounds)

Due to the small greens, Greens In Regulation percentages will be far lower than normal, so SG: Around-the-Green will be of greater importance. 

1. Adam Hadwin, 17.5

2. Talor Gooch, 17.1

3. Harold Varner III, 15.3

4. Joaquin Niemann, 15.2

5. Jordan Spieth, 14.6

6. Rory McIlroy, 14.3

7. Sungjae Im, 14.3

8. Scottie Scheffler, 14.2

9. Si Woo Kim, 13.9

10. Billy Horschel, 13.9

11. Russell Henley, 13.7

12. Patrick Reed, 13.3

13. Cameron Smith, 13.1

14. Kevin Kisner, 12.7

15. Tommy Fleetwood, 12.5

Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green (last 24 rounds)

1. Jordan Spieth, 16.7

2. Talor Gooch, 15.2

3. Adam Hadwin, 14

4. Si Woo Kim, 13.9

5. Cameron Young, 13.9

6. Francesco Molinari, 12.7

7. Lucas Herbert, 10.7

8. Billy Horschel, 9.9

9. Harold Varner III, 9.9

10. Cameron Smith, 9.8

11. Russell Henley, 9.7

12. Denny McCarthy, 9.3

13. Matt Fitzpatrick, 9.2

14. Andrew Novak, 9.2

15. Scottie Scheffler, 9

Bogey Avoidance (last 36 rounds)

U.S. Opens are not necessarily won by making birdies. In fact, they are often won by saving pars and avoiding big numbers. 

1. Matt Fitzpatrick, 40.7

2. Shane Lowry, 38.7

3. Justin Thomas, 38.6

4. Sungjae Im, 36.4

5. Corey Conners, 33.5

6. Rory McIlroy, 32.2

7. Tony Finau, 29.3

8. Scottie Scheffler, 25.6

9. Will Zalatoris, 24.9

10. Seamus Power, 23.2

11. Jon Rahm, 22.6

12. Billy Horschel, 22.5

13. Xander Schauffele, 22.3

14. Max Homa, 21.6

15. Talor Gooch, 20.7

Bogey Avoidance (last 24 rounds)

1. Matt Fitzpatrick, 31.4

2. Shane Lowry, 29.8

3. Tony Finau, 25.3

4. Rory McIlroy, 25.3

5. Lanto Griffin, 21.6

6. Corey Conners, 21.2

7. Sungjae Im, 20.3

8. Justin Thomas, 19.2

9. Sebastian Munoz, 18.7

10. Keegan Bradley, 18.1

11. Scottie Scheffler, 17.5

12. Xander Schauffele, 15.9

13. Viktor Hovland, 15.8

14. Denny McCarthy, 15.4

15. Seamus Power, 15

Total Strokes Gained: Difficult Scoring Conditions (last 36 rounds)

During most years, the U.S. Open provides the most difficult scoring conditions of the year. 

1. Scottie Scheffler, 90.6

2. Rory McIlroy, 81.4

3. Collin Morikawa, 78.3

4. Jon Rahm, 74.1

5. Louis Oosthuizen, 69.5

6. Shane Lowry, 68.7

7. Dustin Johnson, 65.5

8. Cameron Smith, 62.2

9. Aaron Wise, 58.8

10. Hideki Matsuyama, 58.1

11. Will Zalatoris, 54.5

12. Matt Fitzpatrick, 53.3

13. Webb Simpson, 52.5

14. Jordan Spieth, 52

15. Justin Thomas, 51.4

Total Strokes Gained: Difficult Scoring Conditions (last 24 rounds)

1. Rory McIlroy, 65

2. Cameron Smith, 53.9

3. Scottie Scheffler, 53.4

4. Shane Lowry, 52.4

5. Jon Rahm, 50

6. Matt Fitzpatrick, 49

7. Sam Burns, 48.5

8. Louis Oosthuizen, 48.2

9. Aaron Wise, 46.3

10. Justin Thomas, 44.1

11. Collin Morikawa, 42

12. Sungjae Im, 40.7

13. Mito Pereira, 39.7

14. Will Zalatoris, 39.1

15. Dustin Johnson, 38.2

Selections​

Jon Rahm (15-1 Boyd Sports)

The World No. 2 has a victory this year (against a weaker field in Mexico), a runner-up (Tournament of Champions) and a third-place finish at Torrey Pines (Farmers), where he won the U.S. Open last year. 

Nevertheless, it has been a down year by Rahm's high standards largely due to his short game being down. He ranks 96th in this field for Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green over the last 36 rounds and 85th over the last 24 rounds. Poa greens are where he putts best, so one should expect improvement in the short game this week. 

Rahm's bread and butter will always be off the tee. He is arguably the best driver in the world and ranks first on the PGA Tour for Total Driving. Furthermore, he is No. 1 for SG: Off-the-Tee over the last 24 and 36 rounds, plus ranks first for SG: Ball Striking (Off-the-Tee + Approach) over the last 36 rounds. He finds the perfect balance of hitting it long and straight and that is the recipe for success on a classic U.S. Open course. 

Xander Schauffele (22-1 BetMGM)

Schauffele still has not won a full-field, 72-hole stroke play event in almost five years (2017 Greenbrier), but he remains a short price because he always seems to be around in big events. He has six Top 5s and nine Top 10s in major championships over the last five and a half years. 

His irons have been sharper of late, as he ranks eighth over the last 24 rounds and fourth over the last 12 rounds for SG: Approach. 

He is always a consistent driver of the ball and ranks third on tour for Total Driving. If he can bring his good driving with an approach game that is peaking, then this week could be his breakthrough moment. 

Will Zalatoris (30-1 DraftKings)

It seems to always lead to disappointment when backing a player who has yet to win on the PGA Tour to win a major at shortish odds. However, Zalatoris's form in majors makes it difficult to stay away. Here are his finishes in the last seven majors: 

— 2020 US Open: 6th

— 2021 Masters: 2nd

— 2021 PGA: 8th

— 2021 US Open: MC

— 2021 Open Championship: WD (injury)

— 2022 Masters: 6th

— 2022 PGA: 2nd

After losing the playoff to Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship, Zalatoris understandably missed the cut the following week at Colonial but rebounded nicely to finish fifth at the Memorial in his last start. 

Matt Fitzpatrick (34-1 Circa Sports)

The Englishman won the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in 2013 and should have some good mojo coming into this week after a Top 5 at the PGA and a Top 10 last week in Canada. 

He had the worst putting week of his career at the Memorial, which led to a missed cut. However, he would have ranked second in the field for SG: Tee-to-Green that week and the putter was way better in Canada. 

Fitzpatrick has an ideal game for the U.S. Open, especially on a traditional course such as The Country Club. He avoids bogeys (No. 1 in the field) and makes very few mistakes. 

Shane Lowry (35-1 DraftKings)

Lowry is amid a 12-tournament run that includes a runner-up at the Honda Classic and third-place finishes at the Masters and RBC Heritage. He also posted a Top 10 in Canada. 

The Irishman ranks 15th in this week's field for Total Driving and has been even better than that of late, ranking seventh at the Masters, fifth at the PGA and 11th in Canada. 

He ranks second in this field for Bogey Avoidance and has shown that he has the game to contend at the U.S. Open. Remember that he held a four-shot lead heading into the final round of the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont before settling for a runner-up finish behind Dustin Johnson. 

Tony Finau (36-1 Circa Sports)

After a painfully slow start to 2022, Finau has three Top 5s in his last five events. 

He comes in with some momentum even though he had to settle for second in Canada behind Rory McIlroy. Finau shot 62-64 on the weekend and should be able to carry that outstanding play into this week. 

He ranked fourth for SG: Around-the-Green and fifth for SG: Putting last week. 

Sungjae Im (44-1 Circa Sports)

I bet Im at 66-1 last week, but he has been hit big time in the market. Nonetheless, the 40s is still a fair price. 

The World No. 22 is coming off a 10th at the Memorial where he gained strokes in all four major categories. His driver is an absolute weapon right now, as he's gained more than 2.5 strokes off the tee in four straight starts.

Im ranks fourth in Bogey Avoidance and seventh for SG: Around-the-Green over the last 36 rounds. He is ninth on the season for Total Driving. 

Tommy Fleetwood (89-1 Circa Sports)

Fleetwood is starting to find some consistency in his game again with finishes of 16th at the Valspar, 14th at the Masters, 10th at the RBC Heritage, fifth at the PGA Championship and 10th last time out at the Porsche European Open.

He has a good history in major championships on difficult golf courses, having finished fourth at the 2017 U.S. Open, second at the 2018 U.S. Open, second at the 2019 Open Championship and fifth at the 2022 PGA Championship. 

In addition, I have a 30-1 ticket on Cameron Smith that was bet during the Masters. Smith is currently in the low 20s and has been out of form since his third-place finish at the Masters. 

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