A US Open Betting Guide

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… and I just ran out of bubble gum.

The bulk of the world has taken focus on futbol (only the selfish, lazy Americans call it “soccer”… at least that’s what I’m told by my dry cleaner, the donut guy, the guy that sells me cigarettes, the dude that mows my lawn, the chic that runs the register at Jack in the Box, the fellas that changed my oil, the waiter we had the other night at The Oven, my garbage man, the Schwan’s man, the bum I rolled to steal his lighter over by the train station on Friday, and the friendly neighbor that may or may not be stickin’ it to my mom when pops isn’t around) and I’ve failed to make a significant contribution other than some snarky, semi-racist comments in the weekly Monday M-Ass offerings.

To be honest, it’s nothing against the game of soccer/futbol… I get it, I’ve watched a bit here and there, and I want to buy vuvuzelas for my kids (least I can do for the asshole neighbor that keeps bringin’ his god damn beagle over to shit on my front lawn). It seems like a tremendous event and the boys on the field are intriguing… and they lay pipe to intriguing women (in case you missed it, we didn’t). I simply don’t know the game of soccer. Couldn’t pick Tim Howard, Drogba or that naked dude they keep showing on E! Daily 10 out of a lineup at gunpoint.

I’m a fat, lazy white boy.

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Not me, but you get the idea.

I’d don’t run after or away from anything. I prefer to enjoy a cold beverage and/or a smoke along the way. I’m not in a hurry to get done. In other words, I like golf.

I enjoy golf. Yes, it is as boring as soccer (Si crees que voy a seguir llamándola de fútbol que puede ir a la mierda) but it’s part of who I am. I enjoy watching golf , I enjoy trying to play golf, but more than anything, I enjoy wagering on golf… and that brings me to you.

The best tourney of the season, in my humble estimation, is the US Open Golf Championship… and as luck would have it, THIS is the week of this illustrious tourney. Organized and held by the USGA (United States Golf Association), the US Open Golf Championship is widely respected as the ultimate test of golf greatness. The Association selects a historic American venue, they come in months in advance, and they take an already-difficult golf course and they trick it out. They grow the rough (the taller grass that lies beyond the fairway, or the preferred path of travel the golf ball is supposed to traverse) to damaging lengths. They trim and mold greens (the area of short grass where the hole lies) to be as slick and hard as a wedding-night boner. They construct the course and make it the most daunting set of links the professional golfers of the world will see this year.

That’s taking place this week at historic links of Pebble Beach, and since I have refused to leave the bench for the Gunaxin coverage of the World Cup, it only seems right that I come in with an extra offering to atone for my misgivings.

So here ya’ go… Bartleby’s First Annual US Open Betting Guide.

(Ed.Note: You have more than a few choices at hand in selecting the proper host for your sports handicapping entertainment… we are rolling with odds from Bodog. It’s a personal issue, as is gambling which, we remind, is illegal in most states and thus is not condoned by Gunaxin or your’s truly. This is for entertainment purposes only, and if you feel you have a problem with gambling addiction, we suggest you get two jobs so you can pay for that shit ’cause you do NOT want to miss this action.)

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Ummmm…. golf.

The Favorites

(The best in the field as determined by the odds.)

Tiger Woods – Odds: 7/1 (Top 5 Odds: 11/8)
Maybe you’ve heard of him? He’s been ranked #1 in the world for five years running, the vast majority of the golf community considers him the second-best duffer of all time (the Golden Bear would be first… look it up), and to top it all off, he set a new record for margin of victory in a major golf championship in 2000 when the US Open last came to Pebble Beach.
Bartleby’s Grade: Tempting but risky.

Phil Mickelson – Odds: 7/1 (Top 5 Odds: 11/8)
Mickelson has been the focus of the positive PR campaign by the Tour this season and his win at The Masters only adds to an already-astounding professional resume. He was once a regular in the fight for wins at Pebble Beach on Sunday but Lefty’s history at the US Open isn’t as illustrious, often falling short as the USGA course construction often preys on his desire to gamble. Is he the best golfer in the world right now? Maybe, but he has struggled to justify that respect in every outing but The Masters this season and that, mixed with a volatile history at Pebble Beach, has me worried.
Bartleby’s Grade: Best of the best, but not that great.

Lee Westwood – Odds: 10/1 (Top 5 Odds: 2/1)
The world has fallen in love with Westwood for several reasons. A regular force of reckoning on the Euro Tour, Westwood pulled his first Tour win last week in five years at the St. Jude Classic. That surge as well as an impressive list of outings built on the 2010 resume have led many to believe Westwood is playing the best golf of his career right now. That may be true but his best work has NEVER come forth at the US Open. He often competes but he rarely finds himself in the mix on a US Open Sunday.
Bartleby’s Grade: Thanks, but no thanks.

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Right next to the hole…

Value Picks

(Sometimes the best bets aren’t favored to be.)

Jim Furyk – Odds: 28/1 (Top 5 Odds: 9/2)
Furyk has two wins on the season, he is widely respected as one of the most accurate golfers the Tour has ever known, and why he has fallen so far off the US Open radar is beyond me. Since 2003 Furyk has posted one win and two 2nd-place finishes at the US Open and early word from those on the scene suggests this Pebble Beach course could be one of the vulnerable courses the USGA has put forth in recent memory. He should be ranked higher in Vegas and thus I cannot deny the temptation to list Furyk as my favorite pick of the week.
Bartleby’s Grade: Top wager of the week.

Dustin Johnson – Odds: 33/1 (Top 5 Odds: 8/1)
Not only is DJ rated as one of the top young American stars on the Tour today, but he has won at Pebble Beach. In fact, he’s claimed victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in each of the last TWO seasons. His US Open history isn’t the best and he has struggled a bit over recent weeks heading towards the season’s second major, but there is no doubting his abilities when the venue of choice is Pebble Beach.
Bartleby’s Grade: A worthy candidate you should consider.

Ben Crane – Odds: 40/1 (Top 5 Odds: 8/1)
Crane has been one of the hottest golfers on the scene this year. He owns five top-10 finishes over 15 Tour starts thus far, three of which have come over his last four outings (shoving a tie for 12th place in the string last week at the St. Jude Classic). He’s 11th on the Tour in driving accuracy, 29th in greens in regulation, and 9th in putting. You could suggest Crane is the best golfer on the Tour right now and few would rise to object to such an assertion… and he appears to be working towards his best as the US Open comes around.
Bartleby’s Grade: Almost too good to pass up.

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I think you have honors…

Sleepers

(These guys are more than capable of surprising, and you don’t want to be surprised.)

Tim Clark – Odds: 50/1 (Top 5 Odds: 10/1)
The title of “best golfer on the Tour with a major win” is often associated with Clark, and with a win posted at THE PLAYERS Championship (I don’t know why the entire golf world uses all caps to spell that tourney out, but they all do) earlier this year, many feel he’s on his way to solving the problem and getting on track at the US Open this season. He was in the hunt for a win (finishing 10th) at Pebble Beach earlier this season, but struggles over recent weeks heading towards the US Open has pushed him down the Vegas odds (rightfully so… momentum is as influential here as any tourney on the schedule).
Bartleby’s Grade: A quality wager but a temptation to avoid.

Bo Van Pelt – Odds: 66/1 (Top 5 Odds: 12/1)
Van Pelt is quietly enjoying one of the best seasons on the Tour and there is no denying his game is in shape for the major. BVP has five top-10 finishes over his last six Tour outings, four of those five coming in the top five. He has enjoyed some of his best career performances on the links of Pebble Beach as well, and while he struggled at the Beach earlier this year, the state of his game today all but demands you give him thought as you approach the ticket window.
Bartleby’s Grade: The most underrated option available.

Scott Verplank – Odds: 66/1 (Top 5 Odds: 12/1)
The vet of the group has come on strong of late with consecutive 5th-place finishes posted coming towards the US Open. Verplank has long enjoyed the experience of golf at Pebble Beach and has, on more than one occasion, posted efforts capable of putting his name near the top of the final leaderboard on Sunday at these Pebble Beach events. He’s accurate, he’s reliable, and right now he’s playing as well as we have seen in some time. He skipped the trip to Pebble Beach earlier this season but we think he was simply saving his game for the week that mattered.
Bartleby’s Grade: Possibly the most alluring option no one will take.

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The long shots…

Long Shots

(For the love of the underdog and the thrill of the action.)

Ricky Barnes – Odds: 100/1 (Top 5 Odds: 16/1)
David Dusek, Deputy Editor at Golf.com (the home of golf for Sports Illustrated), picks Barnes as his sleeper of the week and for good reason. Barnes has made a habit of playing  his best when the big boys come out to play with him, including a tie for 10th at The Masters earlier this year as well as a 5th-place finish at the Heritage. He also owns a hot hand with two outstanding finishes coming towards the major (7th place at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, 3rd place at the Memorial). However, he struggled at Pebble Beach earlier this season on his way to a missed cut and has found trouble in the past when he’s made the trip to this ocean-side venue.
Bartleby’s Grade: Too much too soon, but a name to remember.

Kevin Na – Odds: 100/1 (Top 5 Odds: 16/1)
Na would be a major gamble even for the brave of heart, but there are signs that suggest he could surprise. He struggled at Pebble Beach earlier this season but also fired an amazing round of 65 in the midst of the 56th-place finish. He’s never posted a strong finish at Pebble Beach but he has never been horrendous either, and the numbers (including rank of 43rd on the Tour in driving accuracy and 49th in putting) show Na is strong in areas that tend to warn of potential at the US Open.
Bartleby’s Grade: May not be as long a shot as the odds suggest.

Ross Fisher – Odds: 100/1 (Top 5 Odds: 16/1)
Fisher won’t register on anyone’s radar this week despite owning the highest rank in the most recent Official World Golf Rankings (currently at #34) of any golfer touting odds at 100/1 or worse. He’s an established power on the European Tour (where he finished in 10th place three weeks ago at the BMW PGA Championship) and has, on occasion, translated his skill to the PGA Tour. That normally happens at the majors, like his 19th-place finish at the PGA Championship or the 13th-place finish at the British Open last season.
Bartleby’s Grade: If you file a ticket for a long shot, Fisher may be your man.

Enjoy.

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