The US Open is the third of the four major championships in the golfing calendar. It’s widely regarded as the most challenging of the four Majors to win because of its demanding course design. Small targets, fast greens, long rough, and strong winds make the players struggle. For that reason, the Open is the hardest Major to score in, and it’s not even debatable.
Aside from being the toughest Major in terms of course setup, the US Open is also the most accessible of golf’s most prestigious tournaments. Many unknown amateurs get the privilege to play against superstars like Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods.
This year, the 119th edition of the US Open returned to Pebble Beach Golf — one of the most beautiful courses in the world. Its creative design and ever-changing wind also make it one of the most intimidating courses on the Tour. The wind here often blows briskly, swirling at times, which is why the scores soar sky-high at this event more often than not.
Bookmakers offer excellent odds for the US Open and a wide range of betting opportunities. The severe conditions here make it difficult to predict the outright winner of the tournament. But guess what — that means that underdogs have a solid chance to take the famed trophy home. And anyone backing these underdogs could hit it big.
In our comprehensive US Open betting guide, we’ll take a closer look at the various types of betting markets available for this tournament, as well as the best sites to bet on this esteemed event. In our strategy & tips section, you’ll learn how to take your betting knowledge to another level, which will ultimately help you make better-informed betting decisions.
The US Open is a four-round, 72-hole stroke-play tournament, with a cut after 36 holes. Each Major abides by its own set of playoff rules regarding how to handle ties after the completion of 72 holes. At Masters, there is the sudden death rule; the PGA Championship uses a three-hole aggregate, while the Open employs the four-hole aggregate rule.
As for the US Open, the winner is determined after a two-hole aggregate playoff. Before 2018, when the score was tied at the end of regulation play, golfers had to come back the next day to play 18 more holes (we all remember the legendary standoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate in 2008).
The modern rules imply that, if the score is tied at the end of regulation play, golfers will immediately play the par-3 17 and par-5 18, and the player with the lowest total wins the title. If the score is still tied after the two-hole aggregate, the remaining players keep playing the same two holes until the winner is determined.
The US Open is characterized by harsh scoring conditions, and the courses demand accuracy off the tee. As a rule of thumb, the courses are set up quite long, while the farrows are narrow, shriveling to an average of less than 30 yards. Most US Open courses are guarded by high, dense rough, and any player who fails to hit greens and fairways is severely punished. The greens are pushed to their limits here, settling between 13 and 15 on average, which is plenty fast compared to other courses. For this reason, you’ll often hear the following refrain during the tournament “keep the ball below the hole at all costs.”
The courses at the US Open emphasize driving accuracy instead of hitting the fairway as far as you can. Consequently, discipline, strategic approach, and short-game prowess are paramount. As you might have guessed, scoring is difficult, which is why we’ve often seen that the championship games have resulted in sudden death several times. This only highlights the importance of accuracy and patience in this course.
US Open Betting
Only several days after the completion of the 2019 US Open, the bookmakers have started releasing odds for the next year’s edition of the tournament. Of course, these odds fluctuate from the moment they are released all the way until the 2020 event takes place. The initial odds line will be adjusted based on various factors such as injuries, player performance, and public perception. That said, it’s always good to take a sneak peek at the early odds, as you might find some value on underdogs whose odds are likely to change by next year’s tournament.
Sportsbooks generally release top-5, top-10, and top-15 finishes closer to the kickoff. These markets carry smaller value but are easier to predict based on the course history and player’s previous performances. Only a few days before the event, you can expect the bookmakers to release the odds for the 36-Hole leader, 54-Hole leader, and First Round Leader. The outcome of these predictions are mostly affected by weather conditions, so make sure to check out the forecast.
Best Places to Bet
When it’s US Open time in golf, bettors are genuinely spoilt with choices. However, not all sportsbooks are created equal. Choosing a reliable bookmaker is vital for your betting experience. Also, the odds different bookies offer on Majors may vary significantly, and that can affect your potential profit more than you think. Our team of experienced professionals has put together a list of the bookmakers offering the most competitive US Open odds.
Most Popular Betting Markets
Much like other Majors, US Open receives plenty of coverage from the world’s leading bookmakers. There are many ways you can bet on this tournament, and below you’ll find the most popular betting markets.
Betting on the tournament winner is undoubtedly the most popular golf wager, and the US Open is not different in this regard. Given the size and the complexity of the courses at this event, it’s always challenging to predict the outright winner. But that’s also why bookmakers often offer competitive odds for this market, at least compared to the other Grand Slams.
Considering that the US Open field is made up of 156 players, it makes a lot of sense to back a player that isn’t considered one of the top favorites with an each-way wager. Each way is basically a double wager — one bet to win and one bet to place. This pretty much allows bettors to win even if the golfer they’ve placed wagers on doesn’t win the tournament. Depending on the bookmaker, each way terms usually pay five or six places. So, for example, Woodland, who won this year’s US Open, was priced around 150/1 last fall. So, you could have backed him each way at around 40/1 to finish in at least the top 5.
This type of bet is becoming quite popular nowadays. Here, the bookies pick two golfers and let you choose who will finish with a lower score after a certain number of holes. So, their overall performance and placement don’t matter. All that matters is how they fare against one another in the predetermined round or for the tournament. At the US Open, this bet can be potentially quite lucrative if one of the two chosen players from the head-to-head offering has the game better suited for faster courses and windy conditions.
The top nationality market allows you to bet on the best golfer from a specific region. So, you can bet on top Asian, top European, top American, and so on. Depending on how many players are competing from that particular region, it could be a three-player wager or a twenty-player wager. Again, it doesn’t matter if the player you’ve placed bets on wins the tournament or not — they only need to have the lower total aggregate score than his compatriots.
Tips to Consider When Betting
The next year’s US Open tournament will kick off on June 18, which means that you’ll have plenty of preparation time to make your bets. However, you shouldn’t wait too long because the golf market is dynamic, and the odds change from the moment they are released and will continue to do so as new information comes into play. If you stall too much, you could miss out on the opportunity to make some extra cash. So, let’s get started.
Our professional team has prepared a few tips that may help you increase your chances of winning a US Open bet. By all means, have a look.
Don’t Rely too Much on Past Performances at the Winged Foot Golf Club
The 2020 US Open will take place at the Winged Foot Golf Club in New York. If players were playing on a familiar layout, we would advise you to check out their previous performances at that particular golf course. But given how this venue hosted only one Major championship in the last thirty years (the 2006 US Open), that piece of information seems somewhat irrelevant. What you can do, however, is to find a course that has a similar design as the Winged Foot Golf Club and start from there.
We know that Winged Foot West Course, which is the US Open course, is long, complicated, and lightning-fast. So, to start with, you should check out how the player you’re planning to bet on performs under such conditions on similarly-constructed courses. Pebble Beach is in many ways similar to Winged Foot Course, and analyzing the players’ performances there is a great start.
Don’t Overlook Those Who Haven’t Won a Major Yet
Although it might sound like a bad strategy to look past the top 25 when it comes to winning a Major, you shouldn’t rule out the others so quickly. If someone is going to make a breakthrough at the Majors, then the US Open would most likely be the place to do it. After all, Gary Woodland won his Major maiden title at this year’s US Open. Koepka and Mcllroy also captured their first major victory here. Legends of the previous generation like Curtis Strange and Tom Kite won only at the US Open. You get the idea — don’t dismiss players without a Grand Slam, given that this event has been ground zero for many breakthroughs.
Shorter Hitters Can Win, too
It’s true that bombers have always had an advantage over short drivers. Power has always been an essential part of golf because most courses are designed in such a way that it suits hard-hitters more. But don’t take non-bombers for granted. After all, Francesco Molinari won the 2018 Open championship on a course that’s almost as long as the Winged Foot Golf Club. And Molinari has never been a big hitter; he relied more on accuracy than power. In our opinion, if a golfer has a soft touch, it doesn’t matter how far they can hit it.
Look for Mentally Tough Players
All great champions like Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Rose excel at one particular skill — mental toughness. When playing on the most demanding courses, this is what it will ultimately come down to. All of them have the skillset to get the job done, but who can do it now, with so much at stake? Mentally strong players welcome the challenge — it brings the best out of them. Don’t get us wrong, they also feel nervous when the clutch time comes, but they use this pressure to their advantage.
Look for the players who can emotionally detach themselves from the environment, especially from the things they can’t control, such as the weather, course conditions, and so on. Instead, they focus only on the things they can control. Their only goal is to hit the best shot they possibly can, and nothing else matters. Mental strength is often underrated in golf, but it’s much needed on events such as the US Open that is regarded as the “toughest test in golf.”
Who Can Qualify for the US Open?
The tournament is open to any player (professional or amateur) whose USGA Handicap Index is 1.4 or below. The field consists of 156 players, with approximately 50–60 players exempted from qualifying for the event after passing several qualifying standards. The remainder of the field is made up of players who go through either local or sectional qualifying. Local qualifying is contested at 18 holes, and it takes place in most states. The sectional qualifying is contested over 36 holes at several courses around the country.
Here’s the list of the players who are exempt from qualifying for the 2020 event:
- Winners of the previous ten US Open events
- Winner of the Amateur Championship held the year before the Open championship.
- Top-ranked Amateur in the world in 2019 (winner of the Mark H. McCormack Medal)
- Winners of the US Junior Amateur, the US Amateur, the US Mid-Amateur, and the runner-up of the US Amateur
- Winners of the previous five Open Championship events
- Winners of the last five Masters events
- Winners of the past six PGA Championship events
- The 2019 winner of the US Senior Open
- Winners of the previous three Player Championship events
- Winners of multiple full-point PGA Tour Events from the 2019 US Open to the 2020 US Open
- Top 60 point leaders in the OWGR as of June 10, 2020
- Top 60 point leaders in the Official World Golf Ranking as of May 20, 2020
- Special exemptions as selected by the USGA
How It All Came About
The first edition of the US Open was played in 1895 at the Newport Country Club. It featured only 11 participants who competed for the gold medal on a nine-hole course. A 21-year-old British golfer named Horace Rawlings made history that year by becoming the winner of the first-ever US Open tournament.
In the first twenty years of its existence, Britons dominated the event. The first American-born champion was John J. McDermott who won the tournament in 1911 at the age of 19. The period between 1925–1965 marked an era of American dominance at the US Open, with US-native players winning every year. Since 1994, non-Americans started winning the event more regularly, including four consecutive wins between 2004–2007.
Over the years, the tournament was hosted on various golf courses across America, and this year’s edition took place at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California. The most successful players in US Open history are Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, and the legendary Jack Nicklaus, with four titles each. In recent history (last 30 years), only Tiger Woods managed to win the trophy three times. Woods is the only golfer who won the US Open, US Amateur tournament, and US Junior tournaments. Rory Mcllroy holds the record for the lowest aggregate score of 268 (65-66-68-69) in 2011.
The 2019 US Open
Gary Woodland won this year’s tournament after holding off Brooks Koepka in the final round. This was Woodland’s first major championship of his career, and his fourth overall PGA win. His winning score of 271 was the second-best in tournament history. Known as one of the longest hitters on tour, Woodland birdied the final hole to win the event by three strokes ahead of Koepka. Koepka, who was coming into the tournament as a two-time defending champ, was trying to become the first golfer since 1905 to win the US Open three consecutive times.
The total prize purse for the 2019 US Open was $12.5 million, and Woodland received $2.25 million for his triumph.
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