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3 Free Bets for the 2024 U.S. Open

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Pinehurst Resort readies their sandy soil in preparation of the 2024 U.S. Open. It’s the third major championship of the PGA Tour season.

There are a few notables missing in the field this week, with Joaquin Niemann being the more glaring omission. Other than that, it’s an elite field with 156 golfers prepped to start the week. That field size will be trimmed to the low 60 and ties after 36 holes. This is five fewer than the average week, making it one of the toughest cutlines to crack all season. 

Let’s jump right in and talk about the host course and what bets might stand out based on those host course characteristics. 

Course Fit

The host venue this week is Pinehurst No. 2, which will be hosting this event for the fourth time, first since the 2014 romp by Martin Kaymer. This is the 124th U.S. Open, which means roughly 3% have been at Pinehurst, but that ratio will increase now that it’s an anchor site with plans of hosting in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047. 

While we’ve seen this course in the past, it’s worth noting the turf conditions will be slightly different. Similar to 2014, there is still no traditional rough, but the greens are now Champion ultradwarf bermuda instead of the bentgrass we saw in previous U.S. Opens hosted by Pinehurst.

Off the tee, fairways are generous and firm and fast conditions lead to plenty of rollout on drives, which is much needed when you consider this par-70 layout stretches out past 7,500 yards. 

We should expect a relatively high number of fairways hit (field average of 70% last time) while missed fairways will find themselves in the native area. Some shots out of the native area will be perfect lies while others will be nestled in a wiregrass “bush.”

After the drive comes the real challenge of the course. With extreme turtleback greens that repel poor approach shots, precision with the iron shots is crucial if you want to contend this week. That could mean landing the most GIR or it could mean that a golfer misses in the right spots when they are slightly off. 

With six of the par s playing over 480 yards, emphasis should be on mid-iron and long-iron performance. 

With only sand and shortgrass surrounding the greens, there are a lot of options when it comes to around-the-green play this week.

As for the green complexes, they are undulated and already extremely fast to start the week. Again, that puts an emphasis on smart approach play because you don’t want to be scrambling from the wrong areas here. 

You can use that course description to round up your favorite stat model but when finding a course fit, I prefer to look at split stats and this week I’m using those course characteristics I just talked about to drill down on long courses, hard courses, courses with bermuda greens while also factoring in performance in major championships. 

If we weigh all of those split stats, then here are the names that show the biggest increase in performance over their baseline. 

Cameron Young
Keegan Bradley
Tom Kim
Sungjae Im
Will Zalatoris
Tony Finau
Brooks Koepka
Dustin Johnson
Jon Rahm
Shane Lowry
Adam Scott

I gave a top 10 but added a bonus 11th (Scott) since Rahm is questionable with the foot injury. 

What stands out to me on this list is we are looking at some very elite iron play, but none are short off the tee. Ideally we want a golfer to be longer than average and also better than average with long irons. 

Head over to the Split Stats page to see who the top performers are in these split stat categories.

Outright Odds

Here’s what the top of the board looks like on DraftKings Sportsbook:

We’re finally seeing the bookmakers go to extreme lengths when pricing World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler. In recent weeks, we’ve seen his odds line up pretty close to expectations but now they are still making him a massive favorite despite this being a strong field with elites from LIV joining the party as well. This will lead me to looking further down the board when finding some outright options. 

U.S. Open Free Bets

Russell Henley Top 20 Finish +240

My first play was going to take the scrappy route. When playing a tough course like Pinehurst I want someone who is not overly aggressive and also want a golfer that can happily grind out an even-par score. 

Henley and Hatton were the two that stood out, but Hatton’s temperament is also a wild card. I may still add Hatton to the card if further analysis skews in his direction. But for now, I’m hopping on Henley. 

Looking at the FTN stats, Henley ranks 25th or better in approach, around-the-green, and putting. If Henley already finds a lot of fairways and Pinehurst fairways will be generous then we could see some 12+ fairway days for Henley and I like his chances from there, given those stats I just spit off. 

Sungjae Im Top 20 Finish +230

He started 2024 in a bit of slump, but he’s now rattled off top-15 finishes in five of his last six worldwide starts. 

Historically, we know his strength lies in long-iron performance which has also been why he can contend on longer courses despite him not being a true bomber in terms of driving distance. 

His long-term top-20 rate on courses with similar splits is 43% which would imply a +133 fair price here. 

Adam Scott to Win (100-1 each-way, 7 places)

Looking at the FTN stats, there are just 26 golfers gaining with distance and accuracy off the tee. Scott is one of those 26 golfers. He is driving the ball so well in 2024 it’s really unfortunate that he has just one top 10 on the PGA Tour this season. 

Historically, he flashes more big-finish upside when playing long, tough courses. The bonus of playing on sandy soil could work in his favor, perhaps reminding him of the courses he grew up on. 

The FTN Betting Model pegs his top-five odds at +1400, so this +2000 price for a top-seven finish looks nice. I will gladly grab one of the best drivers in the field, also a past major winner, at this triple-digit price.

Keep an eye on the PGA bet tracker for more plays. Hop in the Discord to get those bet alerts. 

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