U.S. Open picks and best bets: Who the experts and a gambler are picking

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka hits a tee shot during last week's Palmetto Championship.

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At this week’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, who does the journalists and betting analysts like? Or the caddie? Or the old-school gambler? Gimme the facts, storylines and trends. Gimme that inside-the-ropes look. Gimme your gut feeling. 

You bet, bettor. 

Welcome to GOLF.com’s new gambling advice column, where we’ve assembled a panel of those aforementioned experts to make three “best bets.” A real-life professional bettor here will then heed that advice, add his acumen and wager his own cash. It’s not unlike what you do through texts and Google searches — except now it’s all in one place. 

Our hope is 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 parent company that is available in the App Store and at Google Play

Now, on to some facts, the expert picks, the bettor’s best bets and info on how to bet for free.

The facts 

This week’s tournament: U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, San Diego. 


Thursday: 9:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET, Peacock; 12:30-7 p.m., Golf Channel; 7-10 p.m., NBC; 10-11 p.m., Peacock

Friday: 9:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET, Peacock; 12:30-6 p.m., Golf Channel; 6-9 p.m., NBC; 9-10 p.m, Golf Channel; 10-11 p.m., Peacock

Saturday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m., NBC

Sunday: 10 a.m.-noon, Golf Channel; noon-8 p.m., NBC 

Weather (weather.com): Thursday, partly cloudy, 75 degrees, 9 mph SW wind; Friday, mostly sunny, 75 degrees, 8 mph WSW wind; Saturday, sunny, 78 degrees, 9 mph WNW wind; sunny, 77 degrees, 10 mph WNW wind 

Defending champion: Bryson DeChambeau (Winged Foot Golf Club) 

Top 10 in odds (via DraftKings): Jon Rahm, +1,050; Bryson DeChambeau, +1,500; Dustin Johnson, +1,500; Xander Schauffele, +1,500; Brooks Koepka, +1,900; Jordan Spieth, +1,900; Rory McIlroy, +2,100; Patrick Cantlay, +2,200; Tony Finau, +2,200; Justin Thomas, +2,250. 

Expert picks 

The sportsbook at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.
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Nick Piastowski, GOLF.com, @nickpia

Bet 1: Brooks Koepka, to-win, +1,900. I occasionally fall into the trap of betting storylines. But this one is too lovely — Brooks backs up a month of smack with his fifth major win. 

Bet 2: Justin Rose, top 20, +200. He’ll hang around the top of the leaderboard, just as he did at the Masters and the PGA Championship. 

Bet 3: Charl Schwartzel, top 10, +1,100. Steady all year, he’ll contend at at least one major this year, and I’m believing it’s this one. 

Jessica Marksbury, GOLF.com, @Jess_Marksbury

Bet 1: Brooks Koepka, top 5, +350. Kopeka has proven time and again that major weeks are where he really shows up. I expect this one to be no different.

Bet 2: Justin Rose, top 10, +400. I really like these odds for Rose, who has two top 8s in the majors this year thus far and is a former champion at Torrey.

Bet 3: Marc Leishman, top 20, +240. Though he doesn’t have a stellar U.S. Open record, Leishman won the Farmers at Torrey last year. Given his comfort and familiarity with the course, I think this could be a breakthrough week for him. 

Brady Kannon, host, Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN), @lasvegasgolfer

Bet 1: Webb Simpson, top 20, +170. Simpson pops big time when I crunch the stats I figure will apply to this golf course and the U.S. Open set-up. He has great history in this championship, including a win in 2012. He’s also been a force in major championships lately as well as at BIG golf courses like Torrey Pines — eighth at Winged Foot, fifth and 12th recently at Augusta, and top 30 finishes at both Bethpage and Royal Portrush.

Bet 2: Charley Hoffman over Tommy Fleetwood, full tournament head-to-head matchup, -135. Fleetwood often shows up in majors, but his form has not been great as of late. Hoffman is arguably having the best season of his career and grew up on this course, of which he’s played 22 times over the years in the normal January slot for the Farmers Insurance Open. He’s also been a successful U.S. Open player, having missed only one cut in seven tries. He, too, comes off of a top 20 finish at the recent PGA Championship.

Bet 3: Ryan Palmer over Carlos Ortiz, full tournament head-to-head matchup, +125. Ortiz is getting a lot of love this week because he did well back in January at Torrey Pines at the Farmers Insurance Open, despite shooting a final-round 78 to fall off the pace. Palmer, meanwhile, finished second in that same event and, by my numbers, should be the favorite over Ortiz. Palmer also finished second at the Farmers in 2018, with a 13th and a 21st squeezed in between.

Wes Reynolds, host, Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN), @WesReynolds1

Bet 1: Jon Rahm, to-win, +1,050. “Rahmbo” has emerged from isolation and should be fired up considering the negative press he got for the circumstances that led to his W/D at the Memorial. Let us not forget that he had a six-shot lead through 54 holes last time out against a field that had 11 of the top 15 players in the world participating. Rahm returns to the site of his first professional victory, Torrey Pines, where he won the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open. 

Bet 2: Taylor Pendrith, top Canadian player, +450. Pendrith is a big bomber (fourth in driving distance) from the Korn Ferry Tour. He was the low man at last year’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot, finishing 23rd.

Bet 3: Max Homa, top 20, +275. Homa returns to his home state, where he always plays well as proven by his victory at Riviera earlier this season. Like Torrey Pines, Riviera has the rare kikuyu grass and poa annua greens. Homa has finishes of 18th and ninth, respectively, on this course.  

John Rathouz, PGA Tour caddie and Caddie Network contributor, @rathouz

Ryan Palmer hits out of the sand during last year's Charles Schwab Challenge.
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Bet 1: Jon Rahm, top 5, +250. Solid argument for the best player in his prime without a major. Has motivation after Memorial mishap, a win at Torrey Pines, and three other top 10s in his past five starts. More than a handful of rounds in the 60s on the South Course, which tells me he knows something about the greens. Another guy who has made a meaningful eagle putt down from the back-left corner of the 18th green? Tiger Woods. 

Bet 2: Xander Schauffele, top 5, +335. Has played in the U.S. Open four times — fifth, sixth, third and fifth aren’t too bad. Showed his motivation to play well in his home tournament by placing second at Torrey Pines in January. Good bet his previously disclosed favorite taqueria would host the after-party should he hoist the trophy.

Bet 3: Max Homa, top 20, +275. California kid returning home after his West Coast dominance. Owns an 18th and a ninth in his past two starts at Torrey Pines and has never been more confident in his game as evidenced by his T6 at Jack’s two weeks ago. It would be his best finish in a major by a long shot, but a much more fun four-day bet than Bryson DeChambeau to MC Hammer at the same odds with his “bomb ’n gouge” strategy. Good luck.    

The “old-school” gambler, an “old-school” gambler, @notthefakeW 

Bet 1: Will Zalatoris, top 5, +800. When someone shows you who they are, believe them. After watching young Will’s showings in the majors, I believe he’ll be in the mix again.

Bet 2: Brooks Koepka, top American player, +1,200. As if the social media feuding with Bryson weren’t enough to fire him up, this is a major. We know what Koepka does in majors.

Bet 3: Collin Morikawa, to-win, +1,600. Tees and greens. Tees and greens. Few do it better under pressure than this man.

The pro bettor’s best bets 

Erick Lindgren. Lindgren, the 2008 World Series of Poker Player of the Year,  has won more than $10.5 million in poker tournament earnings and is an avid sports bettor. @EdogPoker

Bet 1: Bryson DeChambeau, to-win, +1,500. Bomb and gouge. Bomb and bouge. What worked at Winged Foot will work at Torrey, too.

Bet 2: Jon Rahm, top 5, +250. A top five won’t make up for the million-plus he missed out on at the Memorial. But it will earn me some nice beer money.

Bet 3: Cameron Champ, top 10, +2,000. He’s put up some high numbers of late. But he also has a high ceiling. On a big-boy course like this, I’ll take him at these odds.

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