Betting Analysis
September 15, 2020

U.S. Open 2020 expert picks: The Bryson DeChambeau debate

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Keyur Khamar

Strategic golf is a hallmark of our most classic courses. Winged Foot is one of this country’s best examples of that. These are putting surfaces perhaps matched by only Augusta National and Oakmont for their ingenuity and ability to test the best in the world. The thick, lose-your-car-keys-and-cell-phone type of rough you’ve seen photos of, plus the need to play from the right position into these greens, should make this week like many traditional U.S. Opens we’ve come to know.

Don’t tell Bryson DeChambeau that. Bulked up, taking lines over these towering oaks at Winged Foot … he’s attempting to break the game. How could you possibly bomb-and-gouge your way around this layout? At a classic venue, where Bobby Jones won for damn sakes. We’ll have to see. Maybe this will be a keep-it-in-the-fairway, plod your way around type of U.S. Open. But hey, go-for-broke Phil Mickelson nearly won here in 2006. Maybe Bryson DeChambeau does have a chance.

Our experts are split. Scroll down to read their analysis on what type of player will win here, plus all their best bets. And these handicappers know a thing or two: Our panel predicted 14 of 33 tournaments correctly last season, and we ended up with a profit of more than 200 units (collectively, including everyone’s outright winners plus top-10 and matchup bets). This the best expert panel in golf gambling, and we’re here to keep the profits flowing. Our picks are brought to you by a caddie reporting anonymously from Mamaroneck, N.Y., noted experts Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network; Brandon Gdula of numberFire; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; Lee Alldrick of FanShareSports; and us two knuckleheads.

Read on to see who we like this week at the 2020 U.S. Open.

U.S. Open 2020 Picks To Win (Odds from FanDuel)

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Dustin Johnson (9-1) — Give me the chalk. I don’t care. Once Brooks Koepka WDed, I said, ‘This is DJ’s week.’ DJ knows how well he’s playing … and adding a second major means a lot to him, don’t think he’ll be content with his $20 million year (though he is, of course). The possibility of dunking a major in Koepka’s face after the PGA comments will help DJ have that edge all week.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Webb Simpson (28-1) — Despite being the sixth-ranked player in the world, and, you know, a former U.S. Open champion, it doesn’t appear like any wants Webb this week. He’s not going to win a long drive contest any time soon, but he’s finding the short grass at an incredibly high clip. In this field Webb is 15th in fairways gained per FantasyNational.com, and just below average in distance (87th). He’s not Steve Stricker in the driving distance department. If he continues to hit fairways at his yearly baseline, the rest of game is so well-rounded he’ll be able to grind out pars with the best of them.

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Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Patrick Reed (34-1) — It’s tough to avoid the top three on the odds board, but I can’t really get behind backing golfers around 10-1 in a field this good at a course that is going to be testing. So I’m hopping down the card for mid-range value with guys such as Reed (34-1), Webb Simpson (28-1), and Daniel Berger (30-1). Winged Foot is going to require fairways to be hit, and Reed doesn’t rate out well there (107th over the past 50 rounds, via FantasyNational). However, he’s 27th in scrambling, 16th in strokes gained/around the green, and 27th in strokes gained/putting. I’d rather maximize realistic winners on my card by starting with Reed.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Collin Morikawa (18-1) — Morikawa has got it done in so many ways in his young career. First, an alternate field win, then a victory at a regular PGA Tour event and of course last month’s PGA Championship. His elite, complete skill-set translates to any course, but it’s most especially vital at a traditional U.S. Open setup like we’ll see at Winged Foot. He’s going to find the fairway on the majority of his tee shots then he turns into one of the best players on Earth when he gets to play from the short grass. Of course it would be remarkable for Morikawa to win back-to-back majors, but he’s already won three times in his first 31 starts on tour and is ranked No. 5 in the world. Everything he’s already done has been remarkable ... why stop now?

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Jon Rahm (10-1) — Rahm won on the two toughest courses since the restart (Muirfield Village and Olympia Fields) in near U.S. Open conditions. So it’s difficult to talk myself out of this. I know, there’s not much value here, but if you didn’t jump on Rahm at the 14-1 or 16-1 numbers you could’ve got on him in June or July, I’m going to bet him here—especially if you’re someone who cashed a ticket on him in the past couple of months.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Bryson DeChambeau (28-1) — Not too long ago, Bryson DeChambeau was the favorite along with Dustin Johnson to win both the U.S. Open and the Masters. He’s now at 28-1. What happened? Obviously, his form took a dip, but to that I’d say this: coming into the PGA Championship at Harding Park, DeChambeau had gone MC at Memorial and 30th in a no-cut WGC event. He then went on to finish fourth at Harding Park. I see no reason he can’t similarly get right again for Winged Foot, especially considering he had a week off to correct whatever needed correcting. He’ll need to adopt a more conservative, strategic approach, rather than the swinging-out-of-his-shoes routine. I expect exactly that to happen. He can think his way around with the best of them. The wedge play is definitely concerning, but as long as he has looks of 10 feet or less for pars, he’ll be in the mix. Nobody on tour was better from five-to-10 feet last season. If he can avoid any mega meltdowns, I really like the chances of a major Bryson breakthrough.

Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Rory McIlroy (18-1) — Simply put, this is too big of a price. He’s No. 1 in this field in strokes gained off the tee in the past 100 rounds on really difficult-to-hit fairways. McIlroy also ranks second in Opportunities Gained over the past two months, per FantasyNational.com. His game is returning back to its best, and a major might be where he puts it all together.

Results from last season: Golf Digest's betting panel predicted 14 winners correctly last season, and we nearly added another victory in the season-opening Safeway Open, with Hennessey getting close with a Sunday charge by Doc Redman. Collectively on outright winners, top-10 bets and matchups won and lost, our panel went up 225.30 units (the equivalent of being up $2,253 if you wagered $10 on all of our bets) last season. Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!

U.S. Open 2020 Picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses That Could Win (odds from FanDuel)

Caddie: Will Zalatoris (120-1) — Would it be absurd for a Korn Ferry Tour player to win at Winged Foot? Yes. But expect the unexpected in 2020. Plus, oddsmakers are scared of the KFT star. He’s got better odds than Cameron Champ, who led on the back nine of the most recent major…

Mayo: Matthew Wolff (65-1) — Now that Scottie Scheffler has withdrawn from the 2020 US Open, the WOLFFMAN possesses the best combination of distance and accuracy of anyone not named Jon Rahm. In his past 24 rounds, Wolff sits sixth in the field in driving distance and 42nd in accuracy. That can be a lethal combo this week. We just saw him storm the leaderboard at the PGA Championship, despite a brutal effort on the greens, and he lingered at the BMW Championship in tough conditions before the flat stick once again got the best of him. On the whole, he hasn’t been a bad putter in short career, but it seems to crop up when the rest of his game is rolling along nicely. Fortunately, beyond his elite driving, he sits 15th in strokes gained/approach since the restart, and he’s elite from far distance: He’s second in proximity 200+ yards and 27th from 175-200 yards.

Gdula: Matthew Wolff (65-1) — Wolff might frankly be the best driver in the world right now. Over the past six months, he’s third in distance gained and 29th in fairways gained per FantasyNational.com. Only Jon Rahm (sixth and 20th, respectively) is better. Wolff also is a good poa putter in a limited sample, and overall he’s a solid enough putter not to destroy his chances. I’ll gladly bet him at 65-1.

Gehman: Matthew Fitzpatrick (48-1) — Fitzpatrick doesn’t have the most appealing statistical profile in the world. He’s above average off the tee and on approach, but he really makes his mark with the putter. With as volatile as putting can be from week-to-week, it’s difficult to back these types of golfers. However, it doesn’t really matter how Fitzpatrick has been getting it done, because it’s hard to argue with the results. He has four top-10s in his past 10 starts at very impressive tournaments: Bay Hill, Muirfield Village, WGC-FedEx St. Jude and the BMW Championship. That’s a combination of the most difficult courses, deepest fields and largest prize pools that we have on tour. His back-to-back T-12 finishes at the U.S. Open continue to prove that he is unphased on the brightest stages.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Branden Grace (210-1) — These odds are just absurd. Grace is a world-class grinder. You might forget he led with a few holes left at Chambers Bay. And he finished top five on another par-70, 7,350-plus yard course in the Northeast (Baltusrol at the 2016 PGA). Grace can plod his way into contention, giving you a ticket that provides some strong hedge equity. (And by the way, at a competing book, he’s 100-1, so someone’s way off here.)

Powers, Golf Digest: Adam Scott (40-1) — It’s not a true longshot, but the number I found at another book (50-1) was the ultimate “how can you not bet it?” number for Adam Scott. It’s likely a product of him only playing three times since the restart and failing to even finish in the top 20 in any of those events. But he came close, finishing T-22 at the PGA and T-25 at the BMW, where he was just a few off the lead on Sunday but could not buy a birdie putt and stumbled down the stretch. Since his T-21 finish at Winged Foot in 2006, Scotty has added a Masters win, three top 10s in the U.S. Open and 13 top 10s in the other majors. His game is built to contend in the biggest events at the biggest courses. Let’s not forget about that win at Riviera, which feels like years ago but was actually just seven months ago. Had the season not stopped and Scott posted a few more top 10s, this number would be 25-1 or lower. Plenty of win equity with the Aussie at 50-1. It’s a must-bet, in my opinion.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Si Woo Kim (150-1) — Consider these stats, and tell me the odds aren’t off: He’s ranked sixth in strokes gained/tee-to-green and eighth in Opportunities Gained per FantasyNational.com over the past two months. That’s impressive in this elite field. FanShare also has him marked as being 13th in strokes gained/total on corollary courses.

Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)

Caddie: Tiger Woods (48-1) — Do you think oddsmakers would hang this number if they were worried about Tiger winning? His odds have actually gotten worse in the past week. My biggest observation is Tiger’s putting stroke on these 5-10 footers. He’s been tentative and missed so many of them since the restart. That’s not the Tiger we saw win the Masters last year. That’s not a player who will win this week.

Mayo: Rory McIlroy (18-1) — It pains me, but against the other elite options at short odds, he’s just not close. I really hope I’m wrong, but it’s been a struggle for him since the restart. He just hasn’t been able to string together four rounds in a row.

Gdula: Tommy Fleetwood (33-1) — Fleetwood has lost 16.3 strokes from his approach play over his past three PGA Tour events (the PGA, Wyndham and Northern Trust). That’s wild. I don’t think Dustin Johnson is viable at +850, but he’s hard to fade. I also don’t think Bryson DeChambeau (28-1) fits well for what this course requires. That said, I can’t get behind Fleetwood at this number.

Gehman: Bryson DeChambeau (28-1) — There’s a lot to unwrap with DeChambeau, who had the most disappointing run in the FedEx Cup playoffs of any big-name golfer. His approach game has been disastrous, losing a total of 29.29 strokes on approach over his last six starts. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, that’s the worst six-start stretch of his career. The bigger problem for DeChambeau is that he has committed to a strategy of distance, not accuracy, with his driver. So while he ranked first in driving distance last season, he ranked 140th in driving accuracy. No matter how far you hit it at Winged Foot, it’s going to be a huge task to try and find success when routinely playing from the rough.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Dustin Johnson (9-1) — It’s the number for me, plain and simple. Do I think DJ could win? Obviously. But this is a 150-plus player golf tournament where a blow-up is waiting around every dogleg. DJ is capable of some inconsistent golf, and so I’d rather miss out on the DJ coronation than lay this number.

Powers, Golf Digest: Xander Schauffele (14-1) — Don’t get me wrong, I understand all the Xander love. He’s an elite player and has shown that he is a menace in the U.S. Open. But 15-1? Shorter odds than four-time major winner Rory McIlroy? I can’t stomach it. I’d love him at 25 or 30-1 like he used to be, but I’m not ready to pay DJ-like prices for X-man.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Bryson DeChambeau (28-1) — DeChambeau is 84th in this field in strokes gained/tee-togreen over the past two months. He is also the only player in the top 10 in the market that loses shots to the field playing on correlating courses to Winged Foot.

U.S. Open 2020 Picks: Matchups

Caddie: Xander Schauffele (+100) over Justin Thomas (DraftKings) — Xander’s U.S. Open success isn’t just some lazy narrative. The guy is a grinder with a world-class game to go with it. JT is more prone to inconsistent golf.

Mayo: Tyrrell Hatton (-130) over Harris English (DraftKings) — Hatton has ascended into the world-elite conversation while English is a tour grinder who peaked three weeks ago. Take Tyrrell.

Gdula: Hideki Matsuyama (-110) over Tommy Fleetwood (FanDuel) — The long-term stats really favor Hideki in the irons department, and Fleetwood’s form is just not quite there. Matsuyama’s tee-to-green game gives him the higher floor.

Gehman: Collin Morikawa (-118) over Bryson DeChambeau (DraftKings) — This is the rare opportunity to back one of the most consistent golfers on tour (Morikawa) against one of the most volatile (DeChambeau). You’re probably well aware that Morikawa has missed only two cuts in his 31 starts since the beginning of 2019. DeChambeau is committed to a style of play that really widens the range of outcomes, meaning that he is likely to win a lot of tournaments and also miss a lot of cuts. His style of “bomb and gouge” hasn’t been tested at a U.S. Open venue. Winged Foot is going to require you to play from the short-grass and play the proper angles, which is not something we’ve seen from DeChambeau’s new strategy.

Hennessey: Jon Rahm (-106) over Dustin Johnson (BetMGM) — You know now I like Rahm to win and I’m fading DJ, so this is an easy call.

Powers: Webb Simpson (+100) over Rory McIlroy (DraftKings) — If you like Rory this week, now is the time to bet him at 18-1. I personally do not, so I’ll put my money where my mouth is and take arguably one of the top 3 or 4 players in the world over the last year in Webb Simpson to beat him. When you look up consistency in the dictionary, Webb’s face is there. In his nine starts post-quarantine, Simpson was T-12 or better in five, including his victory at Harbour Town. Rory, meanwhile, had one top 10, and it came in the Tour Championship, so does it even count? Gimme Webb here at plus money. Former U.S. Open winner, T-16 and T-10 in his last two U.S. Opens. He’ll be steady as ever.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Patrick Reed (-125) over Tiger Woods (Betway) — Woods has not finished in the top 20 of a full field event since June 2019. The course also doesn’t suit Woods at all (he even missed the cut here in his prime in 2016). Reed ranks 5th in for SGT on correlating courses on the other hand and is playing solid golf right now.

Matchup Results from the 2020 Safeway Open: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Doc Redman (-110) over Erik Van Rooyen); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Keegan Bradley (-110) over Brandt Snedeker); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Doc Redman (-118) over Shane Lowry); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Cameron Davis (-120) over Talor Gooch); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Kevin Streelman (-137) over Jim Furyk); Gdula: 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1.

Matchup Results from last season: Alldrick: 14 wins, 7 losses, 2 pushes (up 4.94 units); Powers: 8 wins, 4 losses, 1 push (up 4.65 units); Tour caddie: 12 wins, 7 losses, 1 push (up 4.36 units); Hennessey: 8 wins, 5 losses (up 4.15 units); Gehman: 3 wins, 1 loss (up 1.68 units); Mayo: 11 wins, 12 losses (down 0.86 units); Gdula: 7 wins, 13 losses, 2 pushes (down 5.27 units).

Top 10 (odds from DraftKings Sportsbook)

Caddie: Jason Kokrak (+800) — Kokrak gets overlooked, but his distance is in the upper tier on tour. Look at his three most recent finishes (sixth at BMW, 13th at Northern Trust and 15th at Wyndham): He gained 5.1, 7.8 and 8.3 strokes off the tee, respectively, in those starts. This big boy’s better suited than most of this field for chopping it out of the thick rough.

Mayo: Kevin Streelman (+1000) — The hyper-accurate Streelman has reeled off eight made cuts in a row since stumbling out of the restart, but his upside tends to hinge on his putter. It’s either hilariously bad or scorching hot. In the eight straight cuts, in the events where he’s lost on the greens, Streelman’s losing an average of 3.3 strokes putting. In the other four events he’s gaining average of 3.8 strokes putting. He picked up a top-10 finish in three of those starts. Plus, he’s been lofty in the positives in both his starts on Poa greens.

Gdula: Matthew Fitzpatrick (+500) — Jon Rahm has won at two really tough courses in recent weeks at Olympia Fields and Muirfield Village. What does that have to do with Fitzpatrick? Nothing specifically, but a lot of chatter is out there about Rahm’s tough wins. Fitzpatrick finished top-six at each of those events. Fitzpatrick is second in putting and 10th in fairways gained. He can stick around with that profile and plays better at difficult courses.

Gehman: Tyrrell Hatton (+400) — Olympia Fields and Muirfield Village receive a lot of credit for being difficult golf courses, and rightfully so, but it was Bay Hill that was actually the most difficult course on the PGA Tour last season. Hatton was victorious at Bay Hill and possesses that true “grinder” mentality required on such a challenging course. His last two starts were top-25 finishes at the Northern Trust and the BMW Championship. He’s been buoyed by his ball-striking, which will be critical this week at Winged Foot.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Eddie Pepperell (+5000) — This number is just absurd to me. I know Eddie isn’t one of the longer hitters here, but he’s still a world-class player. Give me a good-tempered European player in a grind fest, and please give me this fun personality who can laugh off bogeys on his way to plodding to a big payday … for a top-10!

Powers, Golf Digest: Thomas Pieters (+1400) — Remember when we all fell in love with this guy a few years ago? He finished T-4 at the 2017 Masters, T-6 at the 2018 PGA Championship and was one of Europe’s top performers in a losing Ryder Cup effort in 2016. The 28-year-old seems to be returning to that form of late, having posted a T-3 and a T-15 consecutively on the European Tour in August. He’d also been coming on strong pre-pandemic, having gone T-6 at the DP World Tour Championship in November and T-3 at the Saudi International in February. He’s a big-time player that steps up in big games (shoutout Santana Moss). Love Pieters to pick up his third career top 10 in a major at Winged Foot.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jason Day (+350) — Winged Foot sets up beautifully for Jason Day. Per FanShare data, J-Day is sixth in strokes gained/overall on similar courses. People will be thrown off by his awful strokes gained/approach numbers, but over a longer sample, his results are much better. The icing on this cake is how well he putts on Poa greens—he’s third in the field in strokes gained/putting on Poa greens.

Top 10 results from the Safeway Open: Everybody: 0 for 1.

Top 10 results from last season: Mayo: 4 for 22 (+14.5 units); Alldrick: 5 for 22 (+4.5 units); Hennessey: 3 for 12 (+4 units); Gehman: 1 for 4 (+3 units); Gdula: 3 for 23 (-4.8 units); Powers: 1 for 12 (-9.35 units); Tour Caddie: 1 for 30 (-16.5 units).

One and Done:

Gehman: Jon Rahm — With a $12.5 million purse, it’s time to deploy your studs. Rahm has been one of the best players on the planet recently with two impressive wins at Muirfield Village and Olympia Fields. It’s time to get that first major.

Hennessey: Hideki Matsuyama — I would definitely consider going Rahm here, but I want to save him for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. I love Matsuyama’s elite ball-striking and improved scrambling lately. I will be betting him to win.

Powers: Louis Oosthuizen — Outside of the majors, I don’t envision needing to pick Oosthuizen in any other event. He barely plays anyway. This is a good spot to use him and hope that he adds an eighth finish of T-9 or better in a major.

By The Numbers:

Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:

+10 — The cut line at the 2006 U.S. Open, the last time this event was held at Winged Foot. Geoff Ogilvy would go on to win at +5.

3.17 — The average number of strokes gained per round by Xander Schauffele at the U.S. Open since 2017. It’s the most of any golfer in this field during that stretch.

57.37 percent — The percentage of fairways that Bryson DeChambeau hit last season, ranking him 140th on TOUR.

-61 — The total score, relative to par, for Dustin Johnson in the five events since his WD at the 3M Open. This does not include the starting strokes for the Tour Championship.

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.

Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.

Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.

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