Billy Horschel believes. And it looks like you may too.
Over at oddschecker.com, a site that tracks both odds and which players are the most popular with gamblers, Horschel was the bettors’ favorite late last week heading into this week’s U.S. Open (though he’s dipped some in bettors’ eyes since last weekend’s play). Recency bias? Absolutely. He won two weeks ago at the Memorial. But listen to Horschel, and he’ll tell you that there’s more to backing him than just being hot.
“I’ve always felt like U.S. Open venues and the way they set them up favors me very well,” Horschel said after the win. “I know my only top 10 in a major is in a U.S. Open. Obviously my major record is pretty abysmal. But I feel very confident with what we’ve done over the last two years. And, like I said, results don’t always show. But going into a U.S. Open, understanding you have to drive the ball really well, that’s one thing I do very well. And you have to make putts. And I’m a really good putter inside of 10 feet. Two things that are crucial at a U.S. Open, I think I check the boxes off with that.
“So this course is very U.S. Open-like with how firm and fast the greens are. The fairways are a little bit more generous than maybe we’re going to see at a U.S. Open, but it’s a very second-shot-oriented golf course and you have to control your iron play. Obviously in U.S. Opens, you’ve got to have very good control of your iron play into greens when they get very firm and very fast and laying them exactly where you’re trying to on the green to stay on the green, but also have a legitimate chance of making a birdie.
“So I’m very comfortable with where my game’s at this point. … But I’m just going to take next week off and I’ll fly up Sunday morning and check out Brookline for the first time. I haven’t been there. I’ve never been there. Watched it in ’99. And my wife played in a member-guest last year, so she has more insight on the course than I do.”
That’s some sell. Our staff also likes a few more to-win bets and sleeper picks. We have made one of each using odds from BetMGM 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. (And if you’re looking to place any of these bets yourself, we teamed with BetMGM, and the online sports book is offering a new promotion: Make a risk-free bet up to $1,000. Sign up for an account to get into the action today.)
On to the picks.
Expert picks to win and sleepers to watch for the U.S. Open
To-win: Shane Lowry, +3,300. Shane is one of the top five players on tour for proximity to the hole, and with the Country Club’s small greens and his strong recent play at the majors — T3 the Masters and top 25 at the PGA — all it’s going to take is a few extra made putts to put him around the top.
Sleeper pick: Seamus Power, +10,000. Power has had some very strong finishes this year, including a top 10 at the recent PGA Championship. He’s in the top 10 on tour for greens in regulation, and at 100-1, offers some great odds for a top 50 player in the world.
To-win: Max Homa, +5,000. Since winning the Wells Fargo in early May, Homa has continued to hang around the top of Tour leaderboards, including a T5 at the Memorial a couple of weeks ago. Homa has yet to close the deal at a major, but the Open feels like a good chance to do just that: 10 of the past 13 winners have been first-timers.
Sleeper pick: Seamus Power, +10,000: I’m with Barath. Seamus Power is primed to become the next breakout major winner from the Emerald Isle. No real weaknesses and hits a ton of greens (ninth on Tour). Mark it on a Post-It: He will win a major someday.
To-win: Sam Burns, +2,800. He’s a great ball-striker and putter, and few players hit more greens in regulation than Sam Burns. That’s going to be crucial this week, as any missed approach will be heavily penalized by that thick rough growing around the greens. And with a T20, 1st and T4 in his past three starts, it’s hard not to love his form coming in.
Sleeper pick: Keegan Bradley, +10,000. Home game! That has to count for something, plus, he’s had a pretty solid season this year. A good putting week will get him in the mix.
To-win: Will Zalatoris, +2,500. I can tell you whom I’m not picking, and that’s Rory McIlroy (+1,100), who’s quickly become the prohibitive favorite. Rather, I like someone whose ball-striking I can count on even in the highest-pressure moments: Will Zalatoris (+2,500), who I think finally breaks through.
Sleeper pick: Richard Bland, +50,000. It would be inarguably funny — in a deeply morbid way — if someone from the highly controversial new tour found himself winning the national championship. It would be even funnier if that person was Richard Bland, whose career to this point is defined by being golf’s most anonymous pro.
To-win: Xander Schauffele, +2,200. His U.S. Open record is absurd — T5, T6, T3, 5, T7. He’s in pretty strong form, he’s one of golf’s best approach players, his chipping has improved, and when he gets hot with driver and putter, it’ll finally be his time to close out a major championship.
Sleeper pick: Keegan Bradley, +10,000. Home-game model off the charts. Having a way better season than you think. Get ready for the C’mon KEEGS cheers to rattle around the Brookline pines.
To-win: Matthew Fitzpatrick, +2,800. He’s not only having an awesome season (six top 10s on the PGA Tour since February), he’s also returning to the venue of one of his great triumphs: the U.S. Amateur, where he won at the Country Club in 2013.
Sleeper pick: Harold Varner III, +10,000. Varner is another player on a serious upswing: three top 10s this season, including a T6 at the Players Championship. A big-time breakout seems imminent.
To-win: Will Zalatoris, +2,200. Zalatoris has more top 10s (five) than he does missed cuts (two) in majors. When you’re in contention that often, you’re bound to break through. I like his chances heading to Boston.
Sleeper pick: Travis Vick, +100,000. Hook ’em Horns, baby.
To-win: Justin Thomas, +1,200. I don’t like the idea of picking him to win back-to-back majors, but he checks two very important boxes for me this week — iron play and creativity.
Sleeper pick: Tom Hoge, +15,000. He made the cut at the Masters and top-10’d at the PGA. Hoge’s also a respectable 36th this season in Strokes Gained: Total. That works for me this week.
To-win: Tommy Fleetwood, +5,000. His game is well-suited for U.S. Open setups, and he’s building momentum at the right time after T-14 Masters and T-5 PGA Championship finishes. It’s time for Fleetwood’s major breakthrough. I’ve been burned a lot by picking Tommy Lad to win majors, but this is the one where I *finally* cash in.
Sleeper pick: Phil Mickelson, +15,000. Do I really think Phil’s going to win? Not really. But I said the same thing prior to last year’s PGA Championship. I’m rooting to see the mayhem that would ensue if Phil were to win the one major that has eluded him throughout his career amid all of this LIV Golf controversy. Few athletes create chaos for themselves like Phil, and this would take it to a new level.
To-win: Joaquin Niemann, +4,000. The tougher the course, the better Niemann has played this season. A few other guys (Scheffler, Rahm) might have better chances of winning, but none has odds anywhere near this good.
Sleeper pick: Davis Riley, +10,000. Anyone who has watched Riley this season knows that the guy is no longer a sleeper. But somehow, Vegas still has him listed as one.
To-win: Webb Simpson +6,600. The former Open champion has the game to grind it out on brutal layouts. Also like the fact that his iron game is coming back around since he switched to Titleist T100. If he’s striking it well — and he has recently — watch out.
Sleeper pick: Phil Mickelson +15,000: If the golf gods have a sense of humor, they’ll make this happen. Even an in-contention Phil would be delicious.
To-win: Cameron Smith +1,800. The guy has won twice this year, but you can argue he has still not gotten everything he SHOULD have out of great form all season long.
Sleeper pick: Brian Harman +15,000. This grinder is a great bet whenever the golf is tough.