U.S. Open expert picks to win, sleepers to watch at Torrey Pines

Xander Schauffele hits a tee shot

Xander Schauffele will be a hometown favorite this week.

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Shane Lowry wasn’t telling you to bet on him. But he also wasn’t not telling you to do so. Lowry had just signed for his fourth straight round of par or better two weeks ago at the always difficult Memorial, and it would end up being his third top 10 in four tournaments, including a tie for fourth at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. He’d take a week off now and get ready for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where he’s had a decent two top 20s in four Farmers Insurance Opens. 

“Yeah, I’m excited,” Lowry said. “I’m coming off a decent week at Kiawah and another decent week here, got a week off next week, so I’m excited to go out to Torrey Pines and hopefully, you know, a place that I really like. I haven’t played there in a while, but I’ve shot a couple of decent scores there. Obviously that’s in the tournament that’s there at the start of the year and it’s obviously going to be a different golf course when we get there for the U.S. Open, but I know the golf course quite well and it would be nice to be able to go there and kind relax myself into the week and hopefully kind of get off to a good start and hopefully put up another good performance.”

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It was if Lowry were checking every bet-on-me box. 

Lowry was excited. Gamblers are just as excited. The major sites are listing Lowry around 45-1 to win, but as of Tuesday morning, he was the third-most popular bet, according to oddschecker.com, a site that tracks both odds and which players are the most popular with gamblers. The players ahead of Lowry are another betting underdog and the betting favorite — Garrick Higgo is the most popular bet, according to oddschecker, and Jon Rahm is second. 

Our staff likes a few more to-win bets and sleeper picks, too. We have made one of each using odds from DraftKings to help you with your own weekly picks, whether those are for a low-stakes office fantasy league, (legal!) big-bucks bets with a sportsbook or through free-to-play Chirp Golf, an app from our 8AM Golf affiliate partner that is available in the App Store and at Google Play.     

On to our expert picks — and info on how to bet for free. 

Expert picks 

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Alan Bastable 

To-win: Webb Simpson, +5,500. Shows up at virtually every major, but especially the U.S. Open, where in his past three starts he’s gone T10, T16, T8. Webb will finish his career with at least two major titles — might keep picking him until he proves me right.

Sleeper pick: Kevin Streelman, +11,000. Hits fairways and greens (which I’m told is an effective formula at U.S. Opens) and knows how to get to the weekend: has finished outside the top 40 just once in his past eight starts. Was in the hunt at Kiawah through three rounds until a Sunday 75 derailed him.   

Josh Berhow

To-win: Collin Morikawa, +2,550. In form and an absolute lethal ball-striker. Let’s see if he can get streaky with his putter.

Sleeper pick: Phil Mickelson, +7,000. He won the PGA Championship and is now about to tee it up in front of the hometown crowd while still riding high from his Kiawah Island triumph. He’s confident and part of me thinks he’s playing with house money coming off a major win at age 50. I like these odds!

James Colgan

To-win: Xander Schauffele, +1,500. I’m not sure I believe it. In fact, I’m fairly sure I don’t believe it. But somebody has to keep the mantle of picking Xander to win in every major, and it might as well be me, with the X-man at his home course.

Sleeper pick: Sungjae Im, +11,000. Ball-strikers of Sungjae’s caliber generally find themselves in contention in at least one major every year. He certainly has the talent to win one of these. Why not at Torrey?

Dylan Dethier

To-win: Will Zalatoris, +4,650. A quick scan of the clumped odds reveals that Vegas is just as confused about who is “supposed” to win this as we are. But Zalatoris is way too far down the odds sheet, so grab him at this price — while you can.

Sleeper pick: Lets go four of ’em! Wilco Nienaber (+30,000), Taylor Pendrith (+25,000), Cameron Young (+40,000) and Matthew Wolff (+22,500). They won’t all play well, but I love each of their odds to sneak into the top 20 at least.

Jessica Marksbury

To-win: Jon Rahm, +1,050. I know, I know, picking the favorite isn’t very original. But hey, give me a player more likely to pull it off this week! Rahm was on fire before Covid stymied his run at the Memorial, and he’s won at Torrey before. The one-two punch of comfort on the course and a desire for retribution should prove pretty potent this week.

Sleeper pick: Justin Rose, +6,600. I might be stretching the sleeper definition juuuuust a touch by picking a former U.S. Open champion, but Rose is pretty under the radar this week. He hasn’t won on Tour since 2019, but that win was at … you guessed it, Torrey! And the guy has been showing up for majors, with two T8 finishes this year. I like his chances.

Zephyr Melton 

To-win: Scottie Scheffler, +3,500. Since the beginning of 2020, no one — not DJ, not Brooks, not JT — has a lower cumulative score to par than Scottie Scheffler. He’s 18 under in majors since his T4 finish at the 2020 PGA Championship, and his worst finish in that time is T19 at the Masters. I know he’s yet to win on Tour, but Scheffler is about as “due” as one can be.

Sleeper pick: Stewart Cink, +11,000. He might be a little old (sorry, Stewart), but Cink is playing as good a golf as anyone in the world this season. He’s got two wins already, and a U.S. Open win would put a cherry on top of the career renaissance he’s experienced over the past year. 

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Nick Piastowski 

To-win: Brooks Koepka, +1,900. I’m likely making this pick for every major going forward for the next decade. I have little reason to believe otherwise. He loves that edge — and now he’s got a whole month’s worth of tweets to back up. Koepka wins. Maybe easily. 

Sleeper pick: Charl Schwartzel, +22,500. Steady all year, with one missed cut (though it came at the PGA). He also tied for 18th in January at Torrey at the Farmers Insurance Open.  I also considered Ryan Palmer and Bernd Wiesberger here. 

Tim Reilly

To-win: Tony Finau, +2,200. Finau always seems to raise his game during major weeks, but he never quite gets the job done. While scrolling through Instagram this morning, I came across a video of him singing 2Pac’s “California Love” en route to Torrey Pines. He was free flowing, and I’m taking that as a sign he’ll be free swinging this week. That’s right, I’m basing my pick off what my gut told me after watching Finau do his best 2Pac impression. Toss up the W for the West Coast and a Finau win this week.

Sleeper pick: Lee Westwood, +16,000. Westwood was a popular pick heading into the Masters. Since then, his status has cooled. Fresh off a surprise wedding in Vegas, I’m looking for Lee and his caddie-wife to celebrate their honeymoon on the California coast while drinking out of the U.S. Open trophy. 

Josh Sens

To-win: Collin Morikawa, +2,500. A California kid, playing on his home turf, Morikawa is also an astounding model of consistency who has now made the cut in 43 of his 49 starts on Tour while finishing in the top 10 in nearly a third of those appearances. Putting has been a relative weakness. But Torrey’s greens are hardly complex by U.S. Open standards. Not taking Morikawa to be in the mix makes little sense.

Sleeper pick: Branden Grace, +12,500. There was a time when Grace was a pretty reliable contender on big stages and tough setups. He is back to playing that way again.

Andrew Tursky 

To-win: Will Zalatoris, +4,650. Willy Z has finished tied for sixth (2020 U.S. Open), second (2021 Masters) and tied for eighth (2021 PGA Championship) in his past three starts at the majors. As he continues to get comfortable playing in major championships, it feels like a matter of time before he ends up winning one. Why not the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines?

Sleeper pick: Wilco Nienaber, +30,000. Since it’s his first major championship ever, admittedly, it’s a bit unlikely he pulls it off, but this is a pure power pick. Nienaber hits it ridiculously far, averaging 358.4 yards in his T14 finish at Congaree last week. Around the lengthy Torrey Pines, that distance could prove quite useful, and he has the power to gouge it out of the long rough when necessary.

Jonathan Wall

To-win: Webb Simpson, +6,000. This week is going to be a grind, and few know how to handle a U.S. Open setup better than Simpson. Gimme one of the best putters in the world. 

Sleeper pick: Lee Westwood, +16,000. Finished third the last time the U.S. Open was contested at Torrey. More than a decade has passed since the 2008 edition, but Westwood continues to defy the odds and contend as he approaches 50. If Phil can do it, why not Lee?

How to bet on the U.S. Open — for free! 

Chirp is a new golf-gaming platform that allows users to place live bets using fake money to win amazing, real-life prizes. The app, which is operated by our 8AM Golf affiliate partner 8AM Golf, is designed to inject the adrenaline of live gambling into a fun, risk-free contest. For more on Chirp, click here.

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor