But if you care to make things a little more interesting, we’ve created a handy little Gambler’s Guide to the 2017 U.S. Open, highlighting some of the smartest bets—prop and otherwise—you can take from now* until Sunday on online gambling sites like Bovada and BookMakers.
Not that there is such a thing as a “smart” bet when it comes to golf...
Picking the Winner
In golf, you’re pretty much taking a flyer regardless of who you pick to win. The favorite, Dustin Johnson, is currently at +750. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, because it makes the tournament fun as hell to watch. But you should know that, while most sports sites—including this not-sports site—will regale you with sleeper and dark horse picks, the truth is it’s unbelievably rare for a player outside the top 40 (in the world rankings) to win the U.S. Open. Nine out of the last ten winners came from the top 40; six of the last ten from the top 20. The reality is, unless you’re Jordan Spieth or Dustin Johnson, you’re basically a dark horse, at least when it comes to
With that said, here’s who I’m going with...
Favorite: I’m not alone when I say I like the level-headed Englishman Justin Rose at +2500. He’s a former winner (but not last year’s winner) and came extremely close to winning this year’s Masters. If you want better odds, you can also take Justin Rose as the Top Former Winner (+650). I personally like this bet, despite the quality of players in the “former winner” category.
Sleeper: Kevin Kisner is ranked 20th in the world right now and is one of the hottest players on tour. At +4000, he’s probably your best bet when it comes to any kind of long shot.
Dark Horse: Steve Stricker (at +10000), who at one time was the 2nd ranked player in the world, had to play the 36-hole qualifier to get into the field this week. But being from Wisconsin, he’s somewhat of a fan favorite, and a guy you generally kind of want to root for. Plus, the golf gods love a feel-good narrative.
Prop Bets Worth Considering
Top 10 Finisher Bets
Picking a handful of top 10 finishers—either instead of winners or along with winners—is a smart bet. The odds are good enough to give you a decent chance of winning for at least one player, and low enough to cover a few of your losses. Right now, Dustin Johnson is at -160; the rest of the lines are pretty favorable. I like Kisner (at +400), Lee Westwood (at +600, because he’s so frequently in the mix), Shane Lowry (at +500, because he’s been in the top 10 in the last two U.S. Opens) and the always-solid Adam Scott (at +200).
Jon Rahm and Rickie Fowler vs. The Field
This is one of my favorite bets at +900, particularly because of how exciting Rahm (aka a younger, boxier Sergio Garcia) and Fowler (he of the best Snapchat on the PGA tour) are to watch. Also, if one flames out—as either is liable to do—the other can still win you the bet.
Top Irish Finisher: Shane Lowry at +300
You’re more or less betting that Lowry will outperform Rory McIlroy with this one. But Lowry has placed in the top 10 in the last two U.S. Opens, and drives the ball pretty damn well. So is this still a risk? Yes. Is it one I’m willing to take? Probably, if only because I sort of like rooting against Rory.
Special Prop Bets That Will Just Make This Whole Thing Way More Fun
Will there be a playoff?: I’d take “Yes” here at +300, because 1) those are pretty decent odds; and 2) who doesn’t want to root for a playoff?
Will there be a hole-in-one?: “No” is even money right now. Predicting there will be a hole-in-one always feels like a big risk, even if it’s favored.
Over/under most strokes recorded on any hole: The over, at +100, is 9 and a half. There’s a LOT of trouble on this course—as there is on any U.S. Open course—particularly if you’re not driving the ball well. I’m willing to bet someone loses their head and makes a 10.
Will there be an eagle on the 18th hole in the final round?: The 18th hole is 650-plus yard par 5. And yet, given how far these guys drive the ball, I think there’s a good chance someone will reach in two and nab an eagle, especially if they’re in contention and need to go for broke in the final round. So I’ll take “Yes” at +110.
Who will the winner hug first (excluding caddie)?: I love “Wife/Girlfriend” here at +155. “Wife holding child” seems like a risk at +300, because there’s always the chance that someone else—a grandparent, aunt, uncle, whoever—could hold the child while the wife or girlfriend celebrates with her man on the 18th green. “No hug” at +900 is a pretty decent flyer, but it’s also really sad.
*This article was originally published on June 14th. All lines are subject to change, and some bets might not be available once the tournament has started, or at least until the day’s round is over.