Read The Line Betting Breakdown: U.S. Open

Read The Line Betting Breakdown: U.S. Open

This article is part of our Golf Picks series.

Full article available at Read The Line.

2024 U.S.Open: History lesson

PINEHURST, NC

It was a rough Sunday at Read The Line. I wrapped up my week watching Collin Morikawa come in second to Scottie Scheffler. While walking with that final group, our second runner-up finish of the day was confirmed when Ayaka Furue failed to catch a ridiculous round by Linnea Strom at the ShopRite in New Jersey. TWO runner-up finishes in one Sunday.

We are onto Pinehurst, North Carolina...

This week is going to be fun. I love betting on golf because it forces you to make difficult (and fun) decisions. Heading into the 124th United States Open Championship there is one player who is the favorite by a mile. This situation takes me back to the days of betting Tiger in his prime. I'll never forget the 2008 Masters. Tiger was +180 to win! Woods had four green jackets and had just won eight of his last 10 starts. What should I do..? We always talk about the Sunday sweat. Much like the week in April of 2008, the sweat for this week started when the last putt fell at Muirfield Village. If you take Scottie, and just Scottie you're worried all week. If you avoid the obvious favorite, then similarly Sunday cannot come quick enough.

We haven't faced a difficult choice like this in modern (legal) sports betting. This situation is brand new to so many. As I watch the content get released across all platforms, I'm reminded of those Tiger days. You must decide, to Scottie or not to Scottie, that is the question. What is your answer?

2024 U.S.Open: Pinehurts

The village of Pinehurst was developed as a wellness retreat in central North Carolina by James Walker Tufts. The irony is this week a field of 156 players will travel to Pinehurst and lose their mind. The #2 course was originally designed by Dornoch's Donald Ross in 1907. The par 70, 7,543-yard examination was renovated in 2010-2011 by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. A serious golf setting, the mixture of barren sand areas and brownish burnt fairways pose a striking visual throughout the landscape. Though the layout lacks a signature hole, anyone who plays Pinehurst #2 walks away with a lasting memory.

Walking the course I'm awestruck by the conditions. A kaleidoscope of vegetation colors frames the fairways. It is very hot and humid down here in central North Carolina. The course was firm and fast yesterday. Maintenance crews were seen all over watering greens and select other parts of the landscape. We do not expect much, if any rain for the rest of the week. There's a high sun and very little breeze. Temperatures are forecasted to approach 100 degrees on Friday. Good luck managing your hydration and patience as six-hour rounds will definitely be par for the course.

I get the same sense I had when I talked to witnesses at Lancaster CC. The USGA would like this to be a brutal test. In doing so, the course is being brought right to the edge. Don't forget, last year we opened round one with two rounds of 62 by Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler. That's not happening again. Ross' test has stood the test of time and will continue to measure all aspects of a player's skill and determination. What worries me most as I walk around, is what happens if we go too far. I believe luck plays a prominent a role in the US Open. One bad bounce in the wire grass and your run for the trophy can be permanently derailed.

The average green size is 6,500 sq/ft. Those putting surfaces are covered in Champion Bermudagrass. That's really the only change since the last edition in 2014. Believe it or not, the rest of the routing remains untouched. The GCSAA states there are 117 bunkers, but that doesn't even count all of the natural areas. Let's put it this way, when you watch this weekend, you will see more sand than grass. A stark contrast to likes of Augusta National and others, Pinehurst #2 is beautiful in another way.

Fifteen of the last 19 US Open winners were first time major champions. That takes us all the way back to Michael Campbell in 2005 who won here at Pinehurst. This template test demands not only precision, but a wealth of creativity. The average cutline at three US Opens on #2 is seven over par. Only the top 60 and ties make the cut, so players better bear down if the plan to play the weekend. Eight par 4s on the property measure over 450 yards. This course is long even though we will witness plenty of roll out. Truth be told, that roll out is really where all of the trouble comes into play.

This is ground architecture at its greatest. Ross designed #2 soon after he came to the states. Coming from Royal Dornoch, there's a tremendous amount of links influence in the design features. One way the USGA is countering some of the firm bounces is by keeping the landing areas off the tee fairly wide. Fairway widths are anywhere from 30-40 yards in some areas. It wasn't a design alteration, but a bunch of vegetation was added around the driver landing areas. You miss these fairways, and you will be playing a serious game of Russian roulette with your scorecard. Receive the wrong bounce and you're toast. That level of luck is loved by some, but bettors and players despise it. We will take our chances with straightforward good and bad luck.

Average winning scores don't necessarily relate, but if you go back 10 years the average winner's pre-tournament odds are +3200. Only three winners held odds over 30-1 since Kaymer captured the trophy here 10 years ago. Will there be a runaway win again? It really looks like the USGA is doing everything in their power to stop that from happening. For the field, I'm not sure if that's a good thing. Sure, making it harder increases the difficulty for Scheffler, but at what cost. The 156 who are chasing him are going to feel that pain as well. There's no doubt this is going to be an electric affair. Let's just all hope unlike Louisville, what we witness in the end is decided by golf and nothing else.

2024 U.S.Open: Lucky strikes

I am not betting Scheffler to win the US Open. The national championship requires too many lucky bounces, and although Scottie gets most of them, at +300 the risk is too high. My plan to win the national championship involves another course of action, a balanced betting card. Heading into this week, my first priority was picking competitors who are excellent long iron players. Although approach is still vital, after seeing the course conditions, around the green acumen is my most important player skill. It's not just chipping off tight lies either, it is the complete package. I want players who can play ANY short game shot - waste bunkers, normal bunkers, tight lies, into the grain, with the grain, high, low, etc. You get the picture.

I have NEVER witnessed practice rounds where players are experimenting with so many different short shots! It's extremely interesting from a handicapping perspective. I'll touch on total driving and approach, but when the score remains so close to even par, the scramblers become relevant. When you review those three previous leaderboards you see it clearly. Our outright card is favoring ARG as priority #1 and pray for Johnson Wagner this week as he tries to replicate some of the key shots.

Approach play comes next as nearly 60% of your iron shots will be played from over 175 yards. Attacking these greens from long range will require a very detailed game plan. Players, caddies, and coaches will need to decide where the safest landing areas are and stick to them. Going after certain hole locations will lead directly to high scores and a trip to the parking lot on Friday night. Players with a higher apex from long range will help, but I'll take all great ball strikers. For a flat course, #2 has a ton of uneven lies, so cleaner consistent contact is imperative.

The addition of those extra plantings along the driver landing areas have put more of a focus on total driving than 2014. Long and accurate is going to help some players separate. The closer you can get to these greens, the easier your approach examination will be. Considering the firm conditions, certain players will be able to take advantage of the roll out in the fairway. Martin Kaymer was not the longest driver on tour, yet by hitting the fairways he gained a ton of length from the course conditions. Whomever can take advantage in a similar fashion will be flirting with the Sunday leaders for sure.

Ten of the tee shots favor a left to right ball flight. Four bend the opposite way. Now don't get too comfortable with a right-handed fader. Ross was notorious for creating switchback holes. A design feature where the tee shot requires one ball flight, and the approach bends the opposite way. Another course attribute that tests how well-rounded your T2G game really is. One more reason why a successful game plan is so important. Kaymer came into the US Open that year with the chipping yips. He decided before the tourney he would putt from off the green. He never wavered from that strategy and it served him very well. Unfortunately, Scheffler keeps winning at Augusta National because he is the most cerebral golfer on the planet.

We are going to build a balanced betting card that gives us the best opportunity for a very positive week. The design is simple, win, attack the live markets, and take advantage of Scottie chances where we can. Much like Valhalla, we have witnessed a little off course drama to start the week. Let's hope once the games begin, everyone can lock in and return another week where the final putt matters. Enjoy our national championship, this is a very good golf course and one that if maintained properly will crown a deserving champion.

2024 U.S.Open: Outright Winners

Collin Morikawa (+1600)

Morikawa's recent results starting at the Masters: 3-9-16-4-4-2.

  • Morikawa is gaining +2.5 strokes ARG on average in his last five starts.
  • During those same five, he's gaining +2 strokes putting.
  • A secret weapon, Collin's full swing coach Rick Sessinghaus is also his mental performance coach.
  • Collin has a bunch of comp wins and his accuracy off the tee will be an incredible edge with all of the firm fairway conditions.

Cameron Smith (+5000)

The closer you keep the winning score closer to par, the more you keep Smith in the conversation.

  • He won in wild weather conditions at THE PLAYERS and the Open Championship at St. Andrews. Great comp courses for #2.
  • Cam grew up playing in the sand belt of Australia, very similar turf conditions to Pinehurst #2.
  • Smith finished fourth at LACC last year and sixth at the Masters in April; his fifth top-10 finish down Magnolia Lane.

For tips and picks, check out Read The Line!

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