Players to back for first-round leader


We’ve reached our final set of best bets for the US Open at The Country Club — our first-round leader selections.

One of the following four names will look familiar based on our previous bets, but in a majority of cases the names will have been untouched. As far as the selection process, I took the factors outlined in my statistical model and added a “first round” qualifier to re-sort the field.

With that said, here are my four best bets to lead the US Open come Thursday night. All odds come courtesy of Fanduel Sportsbook and are reflective at time of writing.

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US Open First-Round Leader Bet #1 – Hideki Matsuyama (+3300)

I’m already invested in Matsuyama as one of my favorite derivative selections, but I’m doubling down on him as a first-round leader.

Over his last 24 opening rounds, Matsuyama ranks out first in the field and is 28th or better in 10 of 11 individual metrics. Most impressively, Matsuyama ranks eighth in fairways gained, 13th in SG: approach and 12th in GIRs gained. Further, he’s third in the field in SG: Par 4’s and fifth in bogey avoidance.

At the 2020 US Open played at Winged Foot, a correlated course to The Country Club, Matsuyama gained strokes on the field in all but one of the 11 statistical measures in the opening round. And just in terms of his strokes-gained output, Matsuyama ranks third in the field in SG: total over his last 24 opening rounds on difficult Par 70’s.

Hideki Matsuyama
Hideki Matsuyama

Lastly, Matsuyama ranks inside the top-25 players on tour this year in first-round scoring and has an advantage when it comes to his tee time. Going off early Thursday will likely see fewer wind and allow better scoring opportunities.

As a result, I’d play Matsuyama at 25/1 or better for first-round leader.

US Open First-Round Leader Bet #2 – Mito Pereira (+5000)

Admittedly, wouldn’t this be a great story?

Most will remember Pereira as the player who double-bogeyed the 72nd hole at the PGA Championship to lose the lead and missed out on a playoff. So it’s only fitting that we would bet on him to lead after Thursday after the subsequent major.

Beyond the redemption angle, though, there are a lot of metrics supporting Pereira as a good FRL bet. Over his last four qualifying opening rounds — technically, he only has three registered rounds — Pereira ranks fourth overall in the field.

Betting on the US Open 2022?

In terms of the individual measures, Pereira is 11th in fairways gained, 20th in SG: approach and 19th in bogey avoidance. Most impressively, the Chilean ranks fourth in good drives gained, second in GIRs gained and first in opportunities gained in those three rounds. Further, in those three rounds, Pereira has never shot an over-par opening round and has played under par in two.

Further, he’s 19th on the PGA Tour in first round scoring and is 15th in SG: total over his last four qualifying opening rounds. For all those reasons, I believe 50/1 is an absolute steal, especially considering Pereira is also in the early wave.

US Open First-Round Leader Bet #3 – Keegan Bradley (+6000)

Bradley brings a hometown edge as a New England-native and is a wizard in opening rounds.

Over his last 12 opening rounds, Bradley ranks out 18th in my statistical model. And, although there are some concerning metrics — Bradley ranks 91st in good drives gained and 92nd in putting between five and 10 feet — there are positives to mention. He’s 22nd in fairways gained, eighth in SG: approach and 12th in SG: Par 4’s – 450 to 500 yards.

In other categories, he’s just good enough for me to take a flier at this price. Bradley is 29th in GIRs gained, 37th in SG: Par 4’s and 34th in bogey avoidance. Plus, although he’s T-80th in first round scoring on tour this season, he was tied for 13th for all of last season.

Keegan Bradley
Keegan Bradley

Further, just in his last four opening rounds, Bradley has posted an outing of even-par or better in three, with the PGA Championship the lone exception.

For those reasons, take a shot with Bradley in the hopes he can overcome his inefficiencies and rely on his accurate driving and approach play.

US Open First-Round Leader Bet #4 – Webb Simpson (+8000)

Simpson appears to be flying under the radar a touch and my model renders this number incredibly valuable.

Over his last 12 qualifying opening rounds, Simpson ranks out fourth overall in the field. He’ll certainly have a disadvantage at the long par 4’s — Simpson ranks 107th in the field on such holes stretching between 450 and 500 yards — but is exceptional elsewhere. He’s 12th in fairways gained, third in good drives gained, 27th in SG: approach and third in bogey avoidance.

Further, he’s an incredibly reliable putter from short distances — Simpson is second in the field from five to 10 feet — and is fifth in SG: Par 4’s. Plus, despite sitting 43rd in opportunities gained, Simpson has gained in that category in three straight opening rounds.

Lastly, Simpson is tied for 29th on tour in first-round scoring this year and is fourth in SG: total over his last 12 qualifying opening rounds.

As a result, I would play Simpson all the way down to +6500 for first-round leader.

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