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It's another major week in golf, which means one thing: props, and lots of them.
Oddsmakers have priced up a number of unique markets for the U.S. Open, which returns to Torrey Pines for the first time since 2008. Outright tickets and top-10 wagers have their place, but this is an opportunity for the average bettor to spread his proverbial wings in the search of some value - and hopefully a few creative winners.
What will be the winning score? Who will be low continental European? What letter will the champion's last name start with? They're all on the table at PointsBet Sportsbook, along with a number of other novelty props ranging from the winner's nationality to whether there will be a hole-in-one this week on the South Course.
But none of the above made the cut for me in terms of novelty tickets, as I'm instead focusing on the make/miss cut markets as well as some low nationality targets:
Prop Selections (odds via PointsBet Sportsbook)
Phil Mickelson to miss the cut (+120): We're about to get a better perspective for how impressive Mickelson's PGA Championship victory was at Kiawah Island. Replicating the same level of success this week won't be easy, despite the (deserved) attention shown his way as he returns home for the lone major he hasn't snagged despite six runner-up results.
Mickelson hasn't factored at the U.S. Open since 2014, when the career Grand Slam entered the equation, missing the cut in two of his last four appearances. Likewise, while he had ample success at Torrey Pines earlier in his career, he hasn't had the same affinity for the oceanside layout since a Rees Jones redesign a few years back. The folks at Data Golf have Mickelson's cut prospects at about a 50-50 proposition, which feels about right, so this +120 number is more than enticing. Mickelson surprised us all a month ago, and he could do it again this week. But at age 51 his game isn't a good match, either for USGA setups or the South Course in particular.
Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau to both miss the cut (+1200): One piece that factors into the Mickelson play above, as well as this one, is that the U.S. Open is the hardest cut in golf to make. The top 65 and ties play the weekend on the PGA Tour, while it was top 70 and ties last month at Kiawah. But this week out of 156 it'll be whittled to just the top 60 and ties, meaning that the vast majority of participants will be watching this weekend instead of playing.
Koepka and DeChambeau have combined to win this thing three of the last four years, and Koepka has been beaten by exactly one player since 2017. So this isn't likely to cash, but at 12/1 it's worth a speculative investment as both men are dealing with the other as a sizeable distraction entering (and throughout) the week. Koepka insists his surgically-repaired right knee is fine, but video surfaced Wednesday of him stepping quite gingerly up some stairs on the range. DeChambeau bombed his way to victory a year ago, but his high-variance style of play could lead to some big numbers. At this price...stranger things have happened.
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Taylor Pendrith low Canadian (+650): This is one of my favorite plays of the week, as the long-hitting Canadian is the clear underdog in a four-player market that also includes -152 favorite Corey Conners as well as Adam Hadwin and Mackenzie Hughes. Hadwin lacks the firepower off the tee to hang on the South Course and has struggled in recent weeks, while Hughes enters on a run of five straight missed cuts.
Conners will be a likely threat, and this bet will require him to falter somewhere along the line. But it was actually Pendrith who snagged low Canadian honors (honours) last year at Winged Foot, finishing T-23. He's ultra long off the tee, averaging 319.9 yards this season on the Korn Ferry Tour, and he has top-25 finishes in three of his last four KFT starts. Pendrith's length is a big reason why he has some of the best SG: Off-the-Tee stats in the field among long layouts, and it'll give him a significant advantage this week. A similar result to the one he posted at Winged Foot isn't out of the question.
Martin Laird low Scot (+125): This is essentially a head-to-head matchup between Laird and Robert MacIntyre, with the younger MacIntyre a significant favorite thanks in part to his impressive showing in his Masters debut in April. But it was actually Laird who got the better of him at Kiawah, and the veteran has a significant advantage when it comes to course knowledge this week.
Laird has been a mainstay at the Farmers Insurance Open, missing the tournament just once since 2008, making seven of his last nine cuts including a pair of top-10 finishes. It's clearly a track he both understands and enjoys, and even in U.S. Open conditions I expect that arsenal of experience to be worth something. MacIntyre has a bright future ahead of him, but he could run into some trouble if his driver isn't cooperating on a long and demanding layout. Give me the savvy vet at plus-money.
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