Twenty-fourth. Twenty-eighth. Twentieth. Tenth. Twenty-sixth. Jordan Spieth’s Strokes Gained rankings this season, for Off the Tee, Approach the Green, Around the Green, Tee to Green, and Total are everything you could hope for in a US Open contender. The Country Club demands all-around excellence, and this is that.
Then you get to the putting number.
In their man’s return from the abyss, Spieth fans can see daylight now. He won last year for the first time since the 2017 Open Championship. He won again this year. The numbers above show his well-documented swing tinkering has worked. But, in a fate that maybe only golf can conceive, it seems as though that while Spieth was fixing one thing, he was breaking another. This year, the once-fantastic putter has had to answer questions about misses from three feet, a teacher said he may have the yips, and, yes, he’s a ghastly 153rd in SG: Putting.
But then came the Memorial two weeks ago. And the reason he’s leading a “picks to win” story.
In his last event before this week’s Open, in SG: Putting, Spieth finished …
And if that’s clicking …
“So I’m confident in my game going forward, and now days like today make me really excited about what could be,” Spieth said after the first round of the Memorial.
Should you be now, too? As we try to find a winner for this week’s Open, that’s a question I’ve asked of colleagues Jessica Marksbury and Josh Sens, and I answered it, too. And to help you even further, members of our staff have each made a to-win bet using odds from BetMGM.
Let’s get to it then. (And if you’re looking to place any of these bets yourself, we teamed with BetMGM, and the online sports book is offering a new: Make a risk-free bet up to $1,000. Sign up for an account to get into the action today.)
Why Jordan Spieth will win the US Open
Jessica Marksbury: Because he’s on an upswing! A win and two runner-ups already this season, and top 10 on Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (a very useful stat for a tough and narrow US Open setup). He’s done it before and can do it again.
Josh Sens: Because no event rewards grinding more than the US Open, and no one outside of Tiger grinds like Spieth. Throw in the fact that his ball-striking woes are behind him, and you’ve got a guy primed to be in the mix.
Nick Piastowski: Everything that Jessica and Josh said. I’ll add his creativity, too. Brookline is going to give you some odd looks, and you want Spieth in those spots.
Why Jordan Spieth won’t win the US Open
Jessica Marksbury: The US Open is the game’s toughest test — especially mentally. And nothing makes your head spin like missing puts. Jordan hasn’t exactly been stellar on the greens this year, as we’ve noted above, and that’s what will ultimately keep him out of the winner’s circle at Brookline.
Josh Sens: Because good ball-striking and a never-say-die mindset will only get you so far if your putter isn’t cooperating. And Spieth’s putter has been a severe weakness this season. You can’t get away with a subpar flatstick on US Open greens.
Nick Piastowski: Thirded. I’ll also slightly contradict myself above and say that while escapability is a plus, that also means, by definition, you’ve found trouble. And trouble at a US Open can be troubling.
Staff picks to win the US Open
To-win: Max Homa, +5000. Since winning the Wells Fargo in early May, Homa has continued to hang around the top of Tour leaderboards, including a T5 at the Memorial a couple of weeks ago. Homa has yet to close the deal at a major but the Open feels like a good chance to do just that: 10 of the last 13 winners have been first-timers.
To-win: Shane Lowry, +3,300. Shane is one of the top five players on tour for proximity to the hole, and with the Country Club’s small greens and his strong recent play at the majors — T3 the Masters and top 25 at the PGA — all it’s going to take is a few extra made puts to put him around the top.
To-win: Sam Burns, +2,800. He’s a great ball-striker and putter, and few players hit more greens in regulation than Sam Burns. That’s going to be crucial this week, as any missed approach will be heavily penalized by that thick rough growing around the greens. And with a T20, 1st and T4 in his past three starts, it’s hard not to love his form coming in.
To-win: Will Zalatoris, +2,500. I can tell you whom I’m not picking, and that’s Rory McIlroy (+1,100), who’s quickly become the prohibitive favorite. Rather, I like someone whose ball-striking I can count on even in the highest-pressure moments: That’s Will Zalatoris, who I think finally breaks through.
To-win: Xander Schauffele, +2,200. His US Open record is absurd — T5, T6, T3, 5, T7. He’s in pretty strong form, he’s one of golf’s best approach players, his chipping has improved, and when he gets hot with driver and putter, it’ll finally be his time to close out a major championship.
To-win: Matthew Fitzpatrick, +2,800. He’s not only having an awesome season (seven top 10s on the PGA Tour since February), he’s also returning to the venue of one of his great triumphs: the US Amateur, where he won at the Country Club in 2013.
To-win: Will Zalatoris, +2,200. Zalatoris has more top 10s (five) than he does missed cuts (two) in majors. When you’re in contention that often, you’re bound to break through. I like his chances heading to Boston.
To-win: Justin Thomas, +1,200. I don’t like the idea of picking him to win back-to-back majors, but he checks two very important boxes for me this week — iron play and creativity.
To-win: Tommy Fleetwood, +5,000. His game is well-suited for US Open setups, and he’s building momentum at the right time after T-14 Masters and T-5 PGA Championship finishes. It’s time for Fleetwood’s major breakthrough. I’ve been burned a lot by picking Tommy Lad to win majors, but this is the one where I *finally* cash in.
To-win: Joaquin Niemann, +4,000. The tougher the course, the better Niemann has played this season. A few other guys (Scheffler, Rahm) might have better chances of winning, but none have odds anywhere near this good.
To-win: Webb Simpson +6,600. The former Open champion has the game to grind it out on brutal layouts. Also like the fact that his iron game is coming back around since he switched to Titleist T100. If he’s striking it well — and he has recently — watch out.
To-win: Cameron Smith +1,800. The guy has won twice this year, but you can argue he has still not gotten everything he SHOULD have out of great form all season long.
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