2022 U.S. Open odds, picks, predictions, golf bets, schedule


Yesterday we outlined our favorite derivative selections for the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. Today our focus is on the matchup markets.

I’ve identified three head-to-head plays that I believe give bettors a great chance to cash a ticket. In fact, one of the matchup features an underdog that, according to my statistical model, should be a favorite. As for the remaining two, I’m backing favorites that are justified.

So, without further delay, here are the head-to-head markets I’m targeting for the 2022 U.S. Open – which tees off Thursday, June 16 and will be broadcast on NBC and USA Network, as well as streamed on Peacock.

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Best Bet #1 – Xander Schauffele (-125) over Cameron Smith

Odds via BetMGM

Had you asked me about this matchup a few weeks ago, I would have rated these players on a similar level.

However, Smith’s RBC Canadian Open performance, at a course with similar skill requirements to The Country Club, leave me wondering if he can conquer this weekend’s event. Plus, the Australian’s normally-reliable putter has fallen off in recent weeks — he’s now lost strokes to the field with the flat-stick in three of his last four events.

Finally, although he’s fairly consistent in terms of my model (13th in 12-round model, 18th in 24-round projection), I’m alarmed by his ability to hit fairways. In the 12-round projection, Smith ranks 79th in the field in fairways gained. Further, he’s outside the top-75 in both putting measures, including ranking 101st in the field from 5-10 feet.

Xander Schauffele on the greeen.
Xander Schauffele watches a put.
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On the flip-side, Schauffele has seen his numbers improve of late. Over his last eight qualifying rounds, he ranks 11th in the field — seven spots ahead of Smith. Crucially, he’s finding fairways and greens — ninth in good drives gained, 26th in GIRs gained — and is also strong around the greens (11th in SG: ARG).

But the biggest difference between this pair lately — avoiding mistakes. Over their last eight rounds, Schauffele is 27th in the field in bogey avoidance, while Smith is a full 40 spots worse at 67th.

Given Schauffele comes somewhat close to matching Smith’s SG: approach record (1st for Smith vs. 14th for Schauffele), I would play this up to -130.

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Best Bet #2 – Brian Harman (-120) over Jason Kokrak

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

At a course where length isn’t paramount, Harman’s accuracy with the driver and on approach should give him a good chance this week.

Over his last 12 qualifying rounds, Harman ranks out 22nd in the field in my statistical model. Most notably, he’s 14th in fairways gained, 18th in strokes-gained: approach and seventh in opportunities gained. Further, he’s 22nd in the field in SG: Par 4’s.

Meanwhile, Kokrak is not a player that models out well at The Country Club. He’s 77th in the field over his last 12 qualifying rounds and has lost strokes on approach in five of his last seven qualifying rounds. Further, he’s lost strokes around the green in four of his last five rounds and has lost strokes on par 4’s in three of his last four.

Kokrak is also a player that doesn’t avoid bogeys at a very high rate. Over the last 12 rounds, he’s 92nd in the field in bogey avoidance. He also doesn’t earn a lot of opportunities to offset those mistakes, as he ranks 59th in opportunities gained.

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The final edge for Harman? His U.S. Open form. He’s made the cut in four straight appearances at this major and has two top-20 finishes while finishing inside the top-40 all four times. As for Kokrak, he missed the cut last year and only has two top-40 finishes in his last four U.S. Open starts.

For all those reasons, play Harman up to -135.

Best Bet #3 – Collin Morikawa (+105) over Will Zalatoris

Odds via BetMGM

Which element do you trust more — Morikawa’s putting or Willy Z’s driver? It’s my opinion the answer to that question decides this matchup.

My modeling suggests that, if Morikawa can even putt average, he’ll have the edge over Zalatoris. Over the last 12 qualifying rounds, Morikawa ranks out 19th in the field. In terms of specific measures, he’s 24th in good drives gained, third in SG: approach and 24th in GIRs gained. He’s also fifth in opportunities gained and 19th in bogey avoidance.

Now, I’d be remiss not to mention the fact he’s 88th in putting from five to 10 feet and 112th from 10 to 15 feet despite gaining all those opportunities.

Collin Morikawa walks to the second green during the third round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia.
Collin Morikawa
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But, Zalatoris has proven markedly worse with the driver. He’s 122nd in fairways gained and 99th in good drives gained over his last 12 qualifying rounds. He’s also 27 spots behind Morikawa in SG: approach and 31 spots behind in bogey avoidance.

Crucially, Zalatoris could also see some negative regression with the putter soon. He’s 73rd in opportunities gained but is 98th in putting from 10 to 15 feet.

Based on those metrics, I’d have these players rated closer to a pick ’em. Thus, I’m happy to back Morikawa at a good price.

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