2024 U.S. Open expert picks to win, sleepers to watch at Pinehurst 

Martin Kaymer

Martin Kaymer last month at LIV Golf's Singapore event.

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As he was embarrassing the field, Martin Kaymer felt embarrassed himself. 

That guess he’d made ahead of the 2014 U.S. Open? It was very, very wrong. 

“I was asked what I believed the winning score would be,” Kaymer said, “and I said probably two- or three-over par, and then you shoot 10-under, and you surprise yourself.”

Kaymer wasn’t alone. Others were stunned at Pinehurst No. 2. In 1999, when Pinehurst hosted its first Open, the winning number was one-under. In 2005, when it hosted a second time, it was even-par. But then Kaymer opened strong, and his rout was on. On the weekend, he shot a 72 and a 69, and he won by eight. 

All of this makes him at least an investment thought as we head back to Pinehurst this week for the Open. Kaymer’s not just a horse for a course. He’s Secretariat. He’s also listed around 200-1, which is spicy. 

Of course, there’s a reason. Kaymer left Pinehurst that June, and he hasn’t won since. 

Is this the week? Among the Schefflers, McIlroys, Schauffeles and Rahms? Likely not. But stranger things have happened. 

Like 10-under at Pinehurst. 

“if you would have told me at the press conference that I’m not going to win the tournament from 2014 until 2024, I would have thought you were crazy,” Kaymer said last week ahead of his LIV Golf tournament. “But this is the reality and this obviously is quite difficult for me to handle, that I haven’t won since then.

“But this is the sport, and I guess this is what we try to do to become better, and hopefully we’re going to be on top soon again.”

With that, members of our staff have each made a to-win and a sleeper selection to assist you with your own weekly picks, whether those are for a low-stakes office fantasy league, or (legal!) big-bucks bets with a sportsbook. It’s an enjoyable endeavor for us. Deploy it as you wish. 

On to our analysis. 

2024 U.S. Open expert picks to win, sleepers to watch

Ryan Barath

To-win: Scottie Scheffler, +400. He’s the best ball-striker and one of the best chippers in the game, and both of those traits are going to be advantageous around Pinehurst No. 2, so for me, it’s a no-brainer.  

Sleeper pick: Zak Blair, +40,000. Blair has been playing pretty well recently and got into the field through sectionals. He’s not an overly long player, but Pinehurst will be playing firm and fast, and every player is going to miss a lot of greens, meaning his WAY above-average chipping and putting could help him around No. 2. 

Alan Bastable 

To-win: Bryson DeChambeau, +2,000. The big fella’s firing on all cylinders again. Tied for sixth at the Masters. Runner-up at the PGA. Here comes a win at Pinehurst.    

Sleeper pick: Lucas Glover, +15,000. Don’t let Glover’s U.S. Open record (11 MCs — and a win! — in 15 starts) scare you off. He’s quietly having a steady year (just two MCs) and remains among the Tour’s best ball-strikers. Hitting greens at No. 2 is essential and that’s what Glover does best.  

Adam Christensen 

To-win: Scottie Scheffler, +400. Look, I get it, picking the favorite is no fun. But winning is fun, and nobody in the field is better at winning than Scottie Scheffler. Pinehurst No. 2’s undulating greens require precise shots on approaches and around the greens. Oh look, those happen to be the strongest skills in Scheffler’s well-rounded arsenal. He’s built his game to win anywhere, but this course with a U.S. Open set-up makes it his trophy to lose.

Sleeper pick: Aaron Rai, +15,000. The double gloves he uses for extra grip will be an advantage in the humid Southern climate, giving him a slight leg up on the competition. He’s also extremely accurate off the tee and above average in approaches and around the greens. If he can magically conjure up a good putting week, maybe he can pull off a miracle. 

James Colgan 

To-win: Xander Schauffele, +1,200. With my esteemed colleague Dylan Dethier freed from the shackles of picking Schauffele in every single major for the past five years, I’ll step up to the plate and select the X-Man. Odds of him winning two-straight majors feel low, particularly on a course like Pinehurst No. 2, which is like Valhalla in roughly the same way “Moby Dick” is like Jack Nicklaus’ “Short Cuts to Lower Scores.” BUT there’s also the chance that Xander breaks through a few times now that the major monkey is off his back, and his Tour-leading three-putt avoidance could prove very, very important.

Sleeper pick: Peter Malnati, +40,000: The last time a major came to Pinehurst, Martin Kaymer won by putting EVERYTHING around those mightly turtleback greens. Malnati ranks near the top on Tour in nearly every putting statistic, and at his odds, I’ve seen worse values.

Nick Dimengo    

To-win: Bryson DeChambeau, +2,000. The guy has brought the fun back to golf and seems like he’s returned to peak Bryson — mixing jovial quips with incredible golf. While it’s good for the game to see DeChambeau back to his quirky self, for the purpose of this exercise, it’s more important to me that he’s had two T6 finishes at the first two majors this year, so now he’s got to put it together and finish the job at Pinehurst No. 2.

Sleeper pick: Keegan Bradley, +8,000. It’s Keegan time. Not only is he slowly rediscovering his form — coming off a T2 finish at the Charles Schwab Challenge in May — but something just feels right about picking Bradley to win his second career major right now. Maybe it’s still the “Full Swing” effect where I’ve got a soft spot for him, but, more than anything, I like the fact that he finished T4 here a decade ago. I’m laying down the money for him to win and enthusiastically looking forward to watching him go to work.

Connor Federico  

To-win: Max Homa, +2,800. At last year’s U.S. Open, an up-and-coming PGA Tour winner broke through to claim his first major. It will happen again. Like Wyndham Clark did at LACC, Max Homa wins a major championship for the first time. Homa’s decision-making and execution under pressure are only getting better with experience, and his T3 at Augusta and T35 at Valhalla make for his best-ever start to a major championship season. Coming down the stretch on Sunday, I expect the Pinehurst crowd to be vocally behind one of golf’s most likable characters. 

Sleeper pick: Phil Mickelson, +25,000. Lefty’s 54th birthday just so happens to fall on U.S. Open Sunday this year. If the oldest man to ever win a major is ever going to make another run at one, why not at Pinehurst, one of the most notorious short-game tests in all of golf? If Mickelson, after his past few embattled years, could finish off the career grand slam on his birthday and Father’s Day, it would go down as one of the greatest stories in the history of the sport.

Viktor Hovland and caddie Shay Knight at the Puerto Rico Open in February.
How often favorites win tournaments (and when to bet on them)
By: Nick Piastowski

Jack Hirsh

To win: Scottie Scheffler, +400. YAWNNNNNN. Judging by his play this past week in Columbus, Scheffler has more than recovered from the turmoil of the PGA Championship. Back to business as usual for the World No. 1. I can’t find a reason to pick against him.

Sleeper pick: Sahith Theegala, +4500. Sahith Theegala may only have one PGA Tour win, but he’s playing like someone who should be among the favorites every week. He was right there at the PGA Championship until a Sunday 73 took him out of contention. He has five top-10s and all in the biggest events of the year. You say his wildness off the tee makes him a liability at a U.S. Open, I say his creativity makes him a perfect dark horse candidate.

Jessica Marksbury

To-win: Scottie Scheffler, +400. The man is a machine. His worst finish of the entire year is T17. (!!) That was at the American Express, where he still posted a score of 21-under par. He was T8 at the PGA Championship after getting arrested. Pinehurst feels like an excellent fit for him, and I simply can’t imagine a reality in which he isn’t in contention next week.

Sleeper pick: Justin Rose, +8,000. Quite a nice price for a former U.S. Open champ, who also showed some fine form at the PGA Championship with a T6 finish.

Zephyr Melton 

To-win: Collin Morikawa, +2,000. Morikawa already has two top-fives in majors this season, and perhaps no player’s skill set is more suited to Pinehurst than his. Leaning on his strong approach play, Morikawa will once again be a factor.

Sleeper pick: Nick Dunlap, +30,000. Last summer, Dunlap had a little bit of success at Pinehurst as he won the North-South Amateur. This year, he returns to the Carolina sandhills a PGA Tour winner. Why not throw down a little cash on the long shot? 

Nick Piastowski 

To-win: Hideki Matsuyama, +1,600. The putter’s been worrisome this year. Everything else has been excellent. I’d also like to use this space to toss out Sahith Theegala, another wonderful ball-striker. 

Sleeper pick: Akshay Bhatia, +15,000. I’m a sucker for story lines. But Bhatia grew up near nearby Raleigh, where good friend Grayson Murray also grew up. I’d also like to use this space to toss out Harry Higgs, who’s hotter than anyone and is listing around 350-1. 

Josh Sens

To-win: Cam Smith, +2,800. Smith isn’t known as the world’s straightest driver, so he’s not an obvious fit for a U.S. Open. But his short game is deadly, he finished fourth last year at LACC, and his showings at Augusta and the Old Course only bolster his resume on humpy, bumpy Golden Age designs. A lot of the week at Pinehurst is going to be figuring out how to grind out a score. Smith does that about as well as anyone. 

Sleeper pick: Tiger Woods, +15,000. Of course, he’s not the force he once was. But he’s still Tiger Freakin’ Woods, listed on your betting board at 150-1.

Sean Zak 

To-win: Scottie Scheffler, +400. It feels professionally irresponsible to choose any other golfer to win a tournament these days. 

Sleeper pick: Alex Noren, +8,000. People have been sleeping on Noren all year long. He may not win at Pinehurst, but he’d be a very juicy top 10 bet. 

Josh Berhow

To-win: Xander Schauffele, +1,200. The monkey is off his back. Plus, his game can win on all types of courses, and I feel like his strengths (6th in Strokes Gained: approach, 1st in scrambling and 2nd in 3-putt avoidance) are crucial for success at Pinehurst No. 2.

Sleeper pick: Tom Hoge, +15,000. He hits a lot of greens and is one of the best putters on Tour from mid-range distance. I give him the slight edge over my backup sleeper pick, Corey Conners.

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.