Not long until the first t-shot is truck at Torrey Pines but who’s tipped who? GolfBets 101 & Golftipser5′ tips are summarized below.
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Viktor Hovland 29-1
Viktor Hovland has been one of the most consistent golfers this season. In 18 total events played, Hovland has made 17 cuts and has six Top 10 finishes. Hovland constantly finds himself in the mix on Sundays because of his ball-striking abilities. A runner-up finish at Torrey Pines back in January is a promising sign, as course familiarity might add confidence to his game heading into the week. Hovland has played in two U.S. Opens in his career, and has finished 12th and 13th. The #13 player in the world has never missed the cut in his five Major Championships which shows he can contend at this level of event.
Hovland’s biggest weakness has been his short-game, in particular his Around-the-Green play. Last year, Hovland was ranked 168th among all PGA Tour players in Around-the-Green, and this year he finds himself currently ranked 99th. While it is still a weakness, the improvement he has shown in such a short timeframe is an encouraging sign. The 23-year-old from Olso, Norway is primarily a ball-striker. Over his last 35 measured rounds, Hovland has gained 1.30 strokes per round with his ball-striking. Over his last 36 rounds, in this field Hovland ranks: fourth in Ball-Striking, eighth in Total Strokes Gained, eighth in Bogey Avoidance, and 19th in GIRs Gained. Hovland is a balanced player who consistently gains strokes on the field. This tournament will come down to his short-game, and Hovland’s recent improvement instills confidence in me that he has what it takes to become a U.S. Open champion.
Tony Finau 29-1
Tony Finau is one of the best golfers in the world, but has been unable to close events and win on the PGA Tour. His last win was at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, and since then he has had multiple chances at claiming victory, but has continuously fallen just short. While Finau has not won, he continues to put himself in positions to win. At the U.S. Open where scoring conditions will be brutally tough, it is far less likely for someone to out-pace Tony on Sunday and steal a win from him, like we have seen during normal PGA Tour events. If Finau can find himself in the mix on Sunday, his ability to avoid mistakes and play clean golf is very attractive. Finau has some of the best course history at Torrey Pines. Finau has played at Torrey Pines seven times in his career, and he has never finished worse than 24th. While the course will be setup differently, his stellar course history shows his love for this course and this is the type of place where Finau can finally breakthrough and win.
Finau has also been successful at U.S. Opens where he has three Top 15 finishes in only five attempts. As mentioned earlier, Around-the-Green play becomes vital at longer courses because it is more likely for golfers to miss greens. Finau is the seventh best Around-the-Green player on the entire PGA Tour this season. Finau’s finesse and touch Around-the-Green does not come at the expense of his ball-striking. Over the last 36 rounds, in this field Finau ranks: third Around-the-Green, fourth Tee-to-Green, ninth in Total Strokes Gained, 18th in Ball-Striking, and 20th in Approach. Finau possesses the rare combination of being able to drive the golfer ball exceptionally well, while also having a great scrambling ability. This combination should lead to a great week for Finau, and if he can find his putter for four days, I think he finally gets that elusive second victory.
Daniel Berger 50-1
Daniel Berger has been one of the best players on the PGA Tour since golf returned to play over a year ago. Since the restart, Berger has won twice. Berger’s most recent win came in February at Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach was the site of the 2019 U.S. Open and also has Poa Annua greens. Berger’s four PGA Tour victories have come at either tough courses, or against tough fields. He has wins at Colonial, Pebble Beach, and two wins at TPC Southwind. Berger’s recent history at Majors has not been pretty but he has had some good showings. Berger’s pathway to victory will not be an easy one given his length Off-the-Tee. However, Berger is a golfer who lives on the short-grass and gets himself onto the greens-in-regulation. Berger also comes into this event in relatively good form, with five Top 20 Finishes in his last seven starts which also includes two Top 10 Finishes.
Over his last 35 rounds, Berger has gained 1.17 strokes Ball-Striking per round, and 1.42 total strokes per round. Berger’s a complete player, and he’s a good putter. With his lack of distance, he will need to compensate with a strong performance on the greens. He is a consistent player, and I really like his ability to avoid trouble. If he can stay out of the rough, and stick to his general blueprint of scoring on the Par 5s, and grinding Par 4s then this should be a good setup for him. Berger ranks second in Par 3 Scoring Average, tenth in Par 4 Scoring Average, and 18th in Par 5 Scoring Average. Berger’s ability to turn possible bogeys into great Par saves is a quality that will go a long way this week.
Paul Casey 50-1
Paul Casey has been on a heater for the better part of six months. Casey won on the European Tour back in January, and turned that good form into positive results on the PGA Tour. Casey has five Top 10 Finishes in fourteen events this season. Casey’s most recent appearance resulted in a T4 finish at the PGA Championship. Casey has played his best golf this season on difficult courses such as Kiawah, TPC Sawgrass, Bay Hill, and Pebble Beach. Casey has made eight straight cuts at Majors and is playing some of the best golf of his career.
The #19 ranked player in the world has been elite with his ball-striking this year. Over his last 25 rounds, Casey has gained 1.08 strokes per round on Approach and 1.41 strokes per round Tee-to-Green. Casey is fifth among all PGA Tour players in Total Driving which means he has a good combination of both distance and accuracy. Casey’s pure ball-striking has been so good that it has allowed him to avoid bogeys. At 50-1, Casey is one of my favorite outright bets and I expect a big week from him.
Will Zalatoris 66-1 (Placed in February)
Zalatoris catapulted onto the PGA Tour scene with an incredible T6 finish at his PGA Tour debut at last year’s U.S. Open. Zalatoris has followed up his impressive debut with a barrage of Top 25 Finishes. In 20 PGA Tour events this season, Zalatoris has recorded thirteen Top 25 Finishes and has played exceptionally well at Majors. Zalatoris has finishes of T6 at the U.S. Open, T8 at the PGA Championship, and T2 at the Masters. Zalatoris is a tee-to-green machine which allows him to frequently find himself at the top of leaderboards.
The 24-year-old has shown no stage is too big for him, and he has quickly risen into the Top 30 OWGR. Over his last 36 rounds, in this field Zalatoris ranks: fifth in GIRs Gained, 12th in Double Bogeys Avoided, and 13th in Ball-Striking. Zalatoris has questionable putting but with much of the field struggling with short putts this week, I think his Tee-to-Green game will excel and keep him in the mix all week.
Abraham Ancer 70-1
Abraham Ancer’s first PGA Tour victory coming at the U.S. Open is a big ask and rather unlikely. However, there are plenty of reasons why it is possible. Ancer is not long Off-the-Tee but he is the epitome of consistency. Similar to Berger, Ancer’s game is reliant on his ability to hit fairways and greens. Ancer does both of these exceptionally well, ranking third in Driving Accuracy and 12th in GIR Percentage among all PGA Tour players. Ancer is a great ball-striker but unlike other ball-strikers his strokes gained are almost a perfectly even split. Ball-Striking is Off-the-Tee + Approach, so being excellent in one of those categories could skew your Ball-Striking number. Over his last 35 rounds, Ancer is gaining 1.39 strokes per round Ball-Striking with .67 strokes per round coming from Off-the-Tee and .72 strokes per round coming on Approach.
Ancer’s balance is very appealing in a week where Par is a good score. Playing error-free will be the pathway to a victory, and Ancer avoids mistakes on tough Par 4s, ranking third in Par 4 Scoring Average among all PGA Tour players. With eleven holes being a Par 4, avoiding bogeys on these holes, while scoring on the Par 5s will be the most likely path to a win. The 30-year-old from Mexico has made ten consecutive cuts, and has five consecutive Top 25 Finishes. Ancer is the model of consistency and hovering around Par should keep him live to make a Sunday run.
Brooks Koepka – 18-1 William Hill 9 Places
Even with all the media hype surrounding Brooks & Bryson that will no doubt appear again this week especially if they get paired together. Brooks will just laugh it off & also use it to his advantage. He is a major player who usually always shows up in the majors even with his knee injury that has hampered his season. He showed at the PGA he is still capable of competing on the big stage even if his reading of putts looks a bit unorthodox at times as he winces in pain. He has missed the cut at the Palmetto so that means he can get to Torrey a few days earlier. He has only played 3 times since the masters which looks like this MC-2(PGA)-MC. This week should hopefully get rid of any rust he has so he is prepared for his crack at winning his 3rd US open Title.
Xander Schauffele – 20-1 William Hill 9 places
The San Diego Native Grew up just a few miles from Torrey Pines so for him it will almost feel like a home major. All his family will be able to be around the course which could give him the boost he needs to get his maiden major. Xander finished 2nd in January behind Patrick Reed & has already been putting in Time at Torrey as shown by his socials online. He ranks 4th in stroke Gained Total this year on tour as well as 1st in sand saves which will come in handy with the 54 bunkers on show this week. His has been a little wayward off the tee this year hitting 59.75% of fairways which is 111th however his green in regulation he ranks 11th with 69.23% but how will he fair in the longer rough on show this week? One more key attribute at a US open Is putting, the USGA will be making the green a lot quicker than players will be used to at a regular event & Xander ranks 9th in putting this year * finished 8th at the Farmer so he should be capable of handling he quicker greens. He also loves a US Open his last 4 starts he has finished 5-6-3-5 & should be inspired by Hideki winning his 1st major at the Masters & gain his first major at Torry.
Shane Lowry – 50-1 Betfred 10 Places.
The current (for a few more weeks) Open champion has hit form at the right time this year. His last 2 starts on tough tracks the PGA & the memorial he has finished 6th & 4th respectively to top his top 10s for the season up to 4 in 13 starts. Shane has played at Torrey 4 times before with 2 top 25 finishes, so he has enough experience to know how to get round with 7 under par rounds from 14 played. Ranking 37th off the tee this season & 60.64% of fairways hit he can get into play on most holes this week to give himself the best of chances. With Ryder cup points on offer he will be keen to stamp his ticket to whistling Straights in September.
Will Zalatoris – 50-1 Mansion Bet 7 Places
Will was in the same bracket for me as Reed. Both have great course form, Will finished 7th this year on debut at Torrey. He loves playing in majors, he finished 8th at the PGA, 2nd at the Masters on US open debut last year when he was 200-1 he finished 6th. He has shown this year that he is more than capable of teeing it up every week with the world’s best. He ranks 3rd this season on approach to the green which will be vital to achievable a winnable score. One stat I’m not a fan off is his putting this year which ranks 127th however he was 24th in January so it shows he likes the Torrey Greens. This season in 14 starts Will has had 4 top 10s in 14 starts.
Marc Leishman 66-1 Sky Bet 11 Places
The Aussie has a fantastic record at Torrey, he has played here 12 times in his career winning in 2020 & had 5 top 10 finishes. 66 I feel was a steal as I was thinking more 40s for Marc this week. He has 2 top 10s this year so far as well as the duo win with Cam smith. His stats for the year could put a few people off taking him this week, his best of the rest strokes gained is for approach to the green he sits at 67th. he finished 18th in January so that was good enough for me to take him this week especially with his course form in previous years.
Lee Westwood 100-1 Boyle Sports 10 places
Lee should be in a very happy place right now after getting married to his long-term partner & in some cases Caddy this week. The current race to Dubai Champions was in fantastic form between Arnies tournament & the players with two 2nd places back to back. He has since missed a couple of cuts & has two to 25s since. He has only played Torrey once in a regular event where he finished 47th but his clubs were lost on the flight to San Diego so his Prep could have been better. One if his best chances of his maiden major was in 2008 when he finished 3rd 1 shot behind the playoff. 13 years on he has a wealth of more experience & 15 more wins could he pull off a Phil Mickelson & show that the youngsters how it’s done.
Rikuya Hoshino 1000-1 Paddy Power 10 places
With a lot of US Open qualifying spots up for grabs there are numerous players over 500-1 this week. 69 of the 156 players are currently 500-1 or higher. These include recent Korn Ferry Tour winner Paul Barjon, Eduardo Molinari & Taylor Pendrith. However, there is one guy who I feel has gone under the radar a bit. Rikuya Hoshino has 2 wins this year from 5 events on the Japanese tour which has projected him to the world no 79. He played in the PGA & missed the cut but appears to have stayed in the US to prep for his 2nd US Open appearance.