Summer means major season in golf and we’re right in the thick of it now with the U.S. Open on the horizon. Sophie Walker gives her expert insight ahead of the third major of the year.
The 122nd United States Open Championship takes place from June 16 to June 19 at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. It is one of the oldest golf tournaments in the world, held at one of the oldest golf courses in America. The course is most famous for hosting the 1999 Ryder Cup where America fought back to capture the match with a dominating 8.5 to 3.5 victory in the singles matches on the Sunday.
Major Talk: US Open 2022 preview
2022 U.S. Open: The course
At 7,264 yards in distance and with the usual U.S. Open par of 70, this major is said to be the toughest and most tiring test of the four. Driving the golf ball is key to a player's success. The Country Club course was redesigned by Gil Hanse in 2009 and has hosted only one significant event since that date – The 2013 US Amateur Championship – which was won by England’s Matt Fitzpatrick.
2022 U.S. Open: The field
156 male golfers will tee it up on Thursday, June 16, with 48 exempt players and 10 past champions included in the field. Not to mention the players who have qualified from nine different tournaments, hence why it's called an Open. 57-year-old Fran Quinn is just one of those qualifiers; he has only made $656 in his PGA Tour career so far!
Unfortunately, he will not be playing alongside three-time winner Tiger Woods who has withdrawn due to injury. There are also all of the USGA and R&A amateur winners of the past year in the field.
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2022 U.S. Open betting: How to make your picks
The huge field can be cut down relatively easily – no amateur has won the US Open since 1933, so we can pretty much discount any amateur in the field. The oldest winner of the U.S. Open was Hale Irwin who won the event in 1990 at the age of 45, so you can narrow down the field to those younger than that.
In fact, seven out of the last 10 winners of the US Open have been American.
The cream rises to the top in the most demanding major of them all, and all of the last 10 winners have all been ranked inside the top 30 in the world.
I am going to look into players that have done well around USGA courses as this event is not run by the PGA Tour. So, looking at past winners of USGA junior and adult titles leads me toward American players. In fact, seven out of the last 10 winners of the U.S. Open have been American.
Using those criteria, we can therefore narrow the field down to a shortlist of possible contenders.
2022 U.S. Open betting: Who are the favourites?
I picked him to win The Masters and the PGA Championship this year, and he didn't let me down, returning a top 10 finish in The Masters and winning the PGA Championship. And I would say you can’t rule him out again this week at odds of 16.050*.
The average age of U.S. Open Champions over the last 10 years is 28 years old and Thomas is currently 29. He’s had two top-10 finishes in his last four U.S. Open appearances and he is currently inside the top 50 for driving, approach, short game, and putting, which makes him a standout player amongst the top players in the world.
Many players are great Tee-to-Green but lose out in putting when compared to their peers but Thomas is good at everything, especially picking his caddies. Jim “Bones” Mackay, who became Thomas’ caddy in the 2021-22 season, has won six majors which is the most of any caddy currently on tour.
Rory has the second-best major record in the field behind Phil Mickelson; however, it has been eight years since his Open Championship win.
The signs have been good for the Northern Irish man, though, as he has finished second and eighth in the first two majors of 2022. He has a colossal driving distance average of 320 yards (third on the tour) and is holing 40% of his putts from 10 -15 feet (third on tour). All of this adds up to a low Stroke Average of 69.3.
I am a huge McIlroy fan but this is the first time I have picked him to win a major since working with Pinnacle. My heart is not ruling my head here, the 33-year-old is second-favourite at 15.450* and may have a point to prove - I believe he wants to be the PGA Tour’s leading player and he's not necessarily just thinking of the money here.
Zalatoris has moved from an outsider to a favourite in my opinion despite only being priced at 30.250* by Pinnacle’s traders. The Wake Forest graduate has now recorded back-to-back top-10 finishes in majors including that heart-breaking playoff loss at last month’s PGA Championship.
He ranks fifth in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and first in approach play. Zalatoris is a major championship specialist with five top-10 finishes in the last six majors that he has completed (he withdrew from last year's Open Championship). He has also won the US Junior title in 2014. What isn’t ideal is that the 25-year-old ranks 154th in SG: Putting which is his obvious Achilles heel.
Cantlay first qualified for the U.S. Open at the age of 19 and lost in the final of a U.S. Amateur tournament during his incredibly successful amateur career. His best finish in a U.S. Open was last year when he finished 15th.
Five out of the last six winners of the U.S. Open had never won a major before.
However, the 30-year-old’s performances these past few weeks are trending in the right direction. He is now inside the top 20 drivers on tour and has produced three top-three finishes in a row on the PGA Tour. The UCLA graduate is ranked third in the world but is 12th in the betting at odds of 24.050*, so could offer some great value this week in Brookline. Don’t be afraid of backing a player to be a first-time major winner this week, as five out of the last six winners of the U.S. Open had never won a major before.
2022 U.S. Open betting: Where could the value be?
I picked Stewart Cink form a value bet at the PGA Championship and he gave us all a great week. At one point he was fifth on the leaderboard.
For this week's U.S. Open I am opting for Mito Pereira (67.000*). The Chilean was one hole away from winning the PGA Championship last month. Since then, he has bounced back from that disappointment with a T7th and 13th place on the PGA Tour.
Just like Justin Thomas, he gains on the average PGA Tour player in every department. Pereira excels in his approach play, hitting 70% of Greens in Regulation. Another stat to always look at for the U.S. Open is a player's performance on par-4’s as there are only two par-5’s in this par-70 layout. The 27-year-old is ranked seventh and has been playing par-4’s under par this season.
Who are you backing for major success? Find Pinnacle’s unrivalled odds on the 2022 U.S. Open.