Scott Shapiro's 2021 U.S. Open Preview
It has been quite a year on the PGA Tour thus far, with Hideki Matsuyama capturing the Masters in April and Phil Mickleson shocking the world with his victory at the PGA Championship last month. Plenty of storylines and a stacked field set the stage for the 2021 U.S. Open, which kicks off on Thursday afternoon at beautiful Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego County.
Most golf fans are familiar with the La Jolla, California based course since it hosts the Farmers Insurance Open annually. However, unlike the Farmers where Torrey Pines North is used on Thursday and Friday, golfers will play their entire tournament on the much more challenging South course.
Torrey Pines South is largely considered one of the more difficult regular stops on the PGA Tour due to its length, tight fairways, and Poa Annua greens. You can expect conditions to be even more challenging this week for the third major. The last time Torrey Pines South hosted the U.S. Open was in 2008 for the historic playoff won by Tiger Woods over Rocco Mediate. Woods captured the event with a winning score of 1-under par. Look for a similar score to be good enough to top the leaderboard once again in 2021.
Like all majors, a complete game is needed this week in La Jolla, but I weighed strokes gained off the tee, driving distance, strokes gained approach, and strokes gained putting most when creating my model for the 2021 United States Open. Success at Torrey Pines is something I considered as a tiebreaker, but I did not give it too much consideration since I anticipate the course will look a lot different after the USGA’s touch.
When we last saw Jon Rahm, he had just completed one of the most dominant three-round performances of the year at the Memorial Tournament before being told he had tested positive for COVID-19. The Spaniard was forced to withdraw from the event despite a 6-stroke lead. After a week off to recover, Rahm is set to get back at it over a course he has had a load of success at throughout his young career. His current form and success at Torrey Pines make him a deserving +1000 favorite on TwinSpires Sportsbook, but I prefer a couple of others at this year’s U.S. Open.
U.S. Open 2021
Sun, June 20 2021, 1:30 PM
Outright odds: +1800
Top 5 odds: +350
No one has been more dominant in recent years at the U.S. Open than Koepka. The West Palm Beach, Florida native captured his first major championship at the 2017 event at Erin Hills and backed it up with a victory at Shinnecock Hills in 2018. The current 10th-ranked player in the world was unable to make it three U.S Open’s in a row at Pebble Beach in 2019, but certainly didn't embarrass himself, finishing second to Gary Woodland. Simply put, Koepka’s game is perfectly suited for the event.
The 31-year-old has had health issues over the last couple of years, but he appears to be heading into Torrey Pines feeling pretty well after shaking off the rust at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree last week. Koepka’s length off the tee, his elite ball striking, and his ability to perform at his best when the stakes are biggest make him an obvious top contender at the 2021 U.S. Open. I love his chances to be in the mix on Sunday afternoon.
Outright odds: +9000
Top 10 odds: +700
Top 20 odds: +275
The 2013 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Golf Champion got his 2021 campaign off to a great start finishing in the Top 25 in six of his first seven events, including a huge win at the Genesis Invitational. Unfortunately, his top-tier form tailed off a bit this spring, but he heads west to his home state of California with some solid momentum after a sixth-place finish at the Memorial Tournament earlier this month.
I normally like to lean on golfers with more elite form heading into a major, but Homa’s value and his play in the Golden State are too much to pass up. The Burbank native will need to play better around the greens to contend this week, but his tee-to-green game and affinity for Poa greens make him a live longshot for the third major. I will dabble in the outright market, but focus the majority of my budget on him in the Top 10 and 20 markets.