Golf’s third major of the year is heading west to scenic Pebble Beach. The 119th U.S. Open begins on Thursday, with all of the top golfers in the world headlining the field. We’re going to take a quick look at the best golfers in the field, along with their odds and how they have a chance to win.
First, what’s special about Pebble Beach? Well for starters, it is one of the most beautiful courses in the world. But it is also one of the most difficult. This 7,040 yard Par-71 features open links-style space, but also penal rough, water hazards (the ocean sits adjacent to many holes), and some of the smallest greens you’ll find on the Tour. Players will have to overcome all of that, as well as that ocean breeze that can definitely go beyond “gentle.”
To succeed at Pebble Beach, driving accuracy will be vital in order to avoid the thick rough on certain holes. In addition, with scores not expected to go very low, any bogey avoidance and minimal mistakes will also be critical. Finally, proximity will play a huge factor, with the players having the most success in the tournament being the ones who land their shots on the small surface area of the greens.
Without further ado, here is a brief look at the favorites, some other big names, and then some darkhorse picks who can all make their case for winning this year’s U.S. Open.
Brooks Koepka – 8/1
Until Koepka falters in a major, or particularly in a U.S. Open, he is going to be considered a massive threat. A win at Pebble Beach would make him just the second golfer to win three straight U.S. Opens, joining Willie Anderson in 1905. Coming off of a victory at the PGA Championship shows his form is in good shape, and with his ability to par consistently and avoid doubling or tripling holes, Koepka should once again be in play to win.
Dustin Johnson – 8/1
Johnson came close to winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010. Up three strokes at -6 going into Sunday, DJ unraveled to shoot an 82, finishing T8. But he has succeeded at Pebble Beach since, with five top-five finishes. Johnson’s stats line up well here, ranking first on the Tour this season in scoring average and third in bogey avoidance. Perhaps this is the year Johnson avenges that crushing loss from nearly a decade ago.
Rory McIlroy – 8/1
If Rory is able to carry over his success from last Sunday, this could be a very good tournament for him. McIlroy shot a 61 on Sunday to win the RBC Canadian Open by seven strokes. He has been playing well all season, ranking first on the Tour in SG: tee-to-green, SG: off the tee, and total strokes gained. While he has missed the cut at the U.S. Open for three consecutive years, he is arguably playing the best golf of his career.
Tiger Woods – 10/1
After the three co-favorites, Tiger has the next best odds to win at Pebble Beach. He has done it before, of course, with a historic win at the U.S. Open in 2000 that saw him lead the field by 15 strokes. He currently leads the Tour in greens in regulation and par-3 scoring and ranks fifth in proximity. Not to mention, he has finished sixth or better in three of his last four majors, including his unforgettable win at Augusta this April.
Jordan Spieth – 16/1
Spieth has played and succeeded at Pebble Beach before, winning the 2017 pro-am. After a stretch of disappointing starts, he has put together three consecutive top-10 finishes. The biggest reason is due to his putting, as he now ranks third on tour in SG: putting. Putting will make or break him once again this week.
Patrick Cantlay – 16/1
Cantlay is without a doubt one of the hottest players going into the tournament. This includes a win at the Memorial Tournament and a T3 at the PGA, plus four top-10s in his last five tournaments. If that wasn’t enough, he’s third on the Tour in total strokes gained, second in SG: tee-to-green, and fifth in birdie average.
Jason Day – 30/1
With only two top-25s in his last four starts, Day’s form hasn’t been spectacular. But Tiger’s old caddie and fellow Aussie Steve Williams will caddie for Day this week in hopes of getting him back on track. However, there is quite a bit of good history at Pebble Beach for Day, with six top-10s and two additional top-15s at the pro-am.
Adam Scott – 35/1
Another golfer who, like Cantlay, has been red-hot, the Englishman has four top 10s dating back to the Farmers Insurance Open. He placed ninth and fourth at the 2014 and 2015 U.S. Opens, respectively, as well. Scott is fourth on tour in total strokes gained and seventh in SG: tee to green, and looks to continue his solid play at Pebble Beach.
Phil Mickelson – 50/1
If you are someone who values storylines and narratives, Phil is your guy this week. He has won every major except the U.S. Open, so a win would complete his career grand slam. He will celebrate his 49th birthday on Sunday, which also happens to be Father’s Day. And he’s one of two golfers to win the Pebble Beach Pro-Am five times, most recently earlier this year. “Lefty” has a lot to play for, to say the least.
Shane Lowry – 65/1
Lowry has played at Pebble Beach for five straight years, so he has some familiarity. But he’s also been playing well, finishing T3, T8, and T2 in his last three tournaments. His tee-to-green game has given him success, and even average putting this weekend can put him in serious contention.
Graeme McDowell – 80/1
Winner of the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, McDowell is back this year and grouped with Johnson and Mickelson. He also comes in with 13 consecutive made cuts, fourth on the Tour behind only Hideki Matsuyama (22), Tommy Fleetwood (21), and Johnson (19).
Tyrell Hatton – 125/1
After a rough spring, Hatton made the cut in both the Masters and PGA. He then followed that up with a T8 at the Colonial and T33 at the Memorial. Despite this being his first appearance at Pebble Beach, the shorter, links-style course should play to his strengths.
This truly is a tournament where surprise names will be near the top of the leaderboard, and big names will fail to make it to the weekend. But the safest play seems to be Koepka, who plays enough mistake-free golf to save par and avoid trouble. Brooks Koepka is my official pick to defend his title as U.S. Open champion.