Scottie Scheffler
Scottie Scheffler

Golf betting tips: US Open round one three-ball preview and best bets

Scottie Scheffler helps form a 9/2 double as golf expert Ben Coley keeps stakes small for day one of what should be a fantastic US Open.

Golf betting tips: US Open round one

1pt double Bezuidenhout and Scheffler to win their three-balls at 9/2 (Paddy Power, Betfair)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

Pinehurst is the problem when assessing the first-round three-ball coupon, because any one of the many tempting options could be derailed by the golf course. In what you might call a typical US Open, Ben An would look banker material early doors and you could back Denny McCarthy with a degree of confidence in the evening, but not so here.

I did toy with McCarthy, who has a lot in hand over a similar player in Ben Kohles, but closer inspection of Benjamin James made me think twice. Not only is James one of the world's best amateurs – there are plenty of those in this field – but his entire story in this sport can be traced back to Pinehurst, where he was once a teary-eyed four-year-old who had been told to come back another time when he wanted to try his hand.

Years later that's exactly what he did, winning a prestigious junior title here, and while that won't count for much come Thursday evening, it could count for something. McCarthy might just win regardless but I just can't escape a general sense of unease which can be traced back to the golf course. Treading carefully and watching closely is the way to go.

Just two selections then and we'll begin with the obvious, SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER.

Everyone will have their own view on whether the market accurately reflects his chances of winning this tournament. I can't believe there's any real juice in 100/30 but there are very strong arguments in favour of backing by far the best player in the sport, winner of more big titles this year alone than many exceptional golfers have managed in an entire career.

I have though come to the view that he ought to be odds-on in every three-ball he plays in at the moment – even one featuring Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele, who are the next two best players in the world, and both of them US Open specialists.

It's amusing to me to think that if you back Scheffler to win this three-ball, collect, back him again on Friday and, assuming he does the job, you'll win the same as if you'd backed him to win the tournament. That tells you how big a shadow he casts over the field and I suppose the bottom line is I would much rather back him to beat two players twice in a row than a hundred-plus over the course of four rounds.

Numbers-wise, there's plenty to suggest that he should be shorter but the most relevant statistic might be this one: he has the best score in 16 of the 31 rounds these three have each played in 2024, and a further five joint-bests, which would therefore make for a dead-heat payout (roughly stakes returned assuming prices in line with this week's). McIlroy's score is two, Schauffele's is five.

If you widen the lens to include last year, Scheffler has 'won' this imaginary three-ball more times than McIlroy and Schauffele combined, and there are no two players in the game who merit being favourite as a couple to beat the man out on his own in front. To me that really underlines how astonishing he is and at as big as 5/4 in places he looks the value on the coupon.

With Schauffele's long-game poor last week and McIlroy just half a notch below his best since Quail Hollow, anything odds-against looks worth taking and I'll double him with CHRISTIAAN BEZUIDENHOUT.

The South African could be set for a good week and his superior short-game might be decisive come the evening, when he tees off alongside Kurt Kitayama and Taylor Moore and will face a fearsome version of this golf course.

Neither of those two has much experience under the sort of firm, fiery conditions expected and they could find life difficult, particularly with confidence low. Both men missed the cut by a long way at the Memorial, Kitayama shooting 76-80, Moore 75-81. Between them they beat just two players.

Bezuidenhout's major record is unspectacular but solid and that will do nicely for the first round of this long week. Back the best player who also looks to be the best course fit and who certainly boasts the best form. If only Pinehurst were so simple.

I had toyed with the idea that the best time to play simply has to be the morning, because warm weather will firm things up as the day goes on. The USGA have been applying a little water to keep these greens under control but they still look set to be a big problem and those who face them in the evening will have a job on their hands.

However, Martin Kaymer led by three from a late tee-time in 2014 and in the end, teeing off in the second wave certainly wasn't a disadvantage, albeit the course was perhaps a little softer in general.

Still, with little in the way of breeze, the first-round leader could come from anywhere. It will likely be someone who gets a bit of luck with the bounce and rolls in a number of mid-range putts, so I'll end the guesswork there.

Posted at 0745 BST on 12/06/24

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