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11D AGO

Benny and the Bets: Forget Scottie Scheffler at Pinehurst

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    Written by Ben Everill @BEverillGolfbet

    PINEHURST, N.C. – When it comes to betting the U.S. Open this week at Pinehurst, forget about world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.

    Hold on, settle down. This time I’m not writing off the man who has now won five times in his last eight starts. I’m just steering you away from the outright market where he is the prohibitive +333 favorite, and into the “Winner without Scottie Scheffler” market.

    We all know Scheffler is in career-best form and has the stat lines to continue his domination at Pinehurst. But betting such short odds is not advised in a 156-man field at a course where short game and putting will be a big factor.

    Rather than place all your bets elsewhere and then risk the Texan doing what Martin Kaymer did here a decade ago, just pivot to the market where Scheffler is out of the picture.

    This is especially the right play if you like the other chalk candidates at Pinehurst.

    BetMGM Sportsbook has PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele as the +900 favorite in this market, with Rory McIlroy next at +1000 and Collin Morikawa at +1200.

    You’re giving up +200 worth of juice to eliminate Scheffler, which will be annoying if you pick one of them and they win outright, but you’ll still be cheering the profit you’ve banked.

    It was a strategy that worked for me last week at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday where I was lucky enough to predict the double. I had Scheffler as the outright winner but said the best bet of the week was Morikawa without Scheffler.

    This paid at +1000 in Ohio, but is +1200 here this week. This is where I’d be looking to invest again. I love that Morikawa is first on the PGA TOUR in driving accuracy, a key stat at Pinehurst No. 2.

    U.S. Opens generally take accurate ball-striking to survive, but Pinehurst makes this very important. All three previous U.S. Open’s here had the winner inside the top 10 in driving accuracy.

    A decade ago you could get lucky in the sandy waste areas off the tee. This time the USGA has planted significantly more plants and problems should you stray left or right. So while luck may still come into play, there are certainly extra landmines.

    “I think off the tee it's fair. Off the tee there are some narrow fairways, but it's generous enough, and if you hit it off-line you can potentially get penalized,” FedExCup champion Viktor Hovland says. “There is some luck involved in missing the fairways here. Sometimes you might have a good lie, and sometimes it's just a hack-out.”

    Behind Morikawa in Driving Accuracy on TOUR this season sits Sepp Straka, Tommy Fleetwood, Lucas Glover and Russell Henley.

    Fleetwood is +3300 in the without Scheffler outright market, another great option in my opinion. As is Top European at +900. Don’t be afraid to look at the Englishman and the others above in the Top-10 place market either. Fleetwood is +320 for a Top-10 with BetMGM, Henley is +550 and Straka +600.

    The kicker for liking Fleetwood, outside of his driving accuracy and the fact he’s contended in U.S. Open’s before, is he also ranks well in Scrambling.

    The greens represent a significant challenge with their turtleback run-offs and imaginative breaks. They are also lightning-fast. Fleetwood ranks 10th on TOUR this season in Scrambling.

    At the top of the rankings, though, is PGA winner Schauffele. And he has been a U.S. Open specialist since his debut, doing everything but win one. Since his stunning T5 on debut in 2017 Schauffele has been T6-T3-5-T7-T14-T10 in the U.S. Open and opened with a 62 last year in Los Angeles.

    You can still get +110 for a Top-10 this year on Schauffele, which is where I expect him to finish. While I will not be surprised if he wins, getting back-to-back majors is just rare enough for me not to go all-in.

    Michael Campbell was a massive longshot to win at Pinehurst in 2005, while Martin Kaymer was around +4000 before dominating the field in 2014.

    So if we think this trend continues – i.e. not chalk – let’s look at contenders in this realm. While we are starting to lose a lot more juice in the without Scheffler market the higher up we go, I still like staying there if you are thinking outrights.

    Forgive me my Australian bias, but the first thing I thought of when stepping foot on the property, was my native home. This course has a very Mornington Peninsula feel. The slick greens and wastelands off the fairways. The hard and fast conditions.

    While we highlighted player rankings on Scrambling, there is the argument that they haven’t faced THIS type of scrambling yet this year. With that in mind the Australian players, who have grown up using imagination around greens just like this, become longshot options.

    Min Woo Lee leads the TOUR in Total Driving but sits low in Scrambling and Putting. But this type of golf is more his style. He’s +6000 outright without Scheffler, or +240 for a Top-20. Cameron Smith is a short game maestro and is +320 for a Top-10 while Adam Scott, playing his 92nd straight major, is +110 for a Top-40. Jason Day is +270 for a Top-20 and was T4 here in 2014.

    Benny's bets

    • Outright (Without Scheffler): Collin Morikawa +1200, Tommy Fleetwood +3300
    • Top 5: Xander Schauffele +220
    • Top 10: Tommy Fleetwood +320, Cameron Smith +320
    • Top 20: Russell Henley +250, Sepp Straka +250
    • Top 40: Adam Scott +110
    • Top Debutant: Ludvig Åberg +160

    For resources to overcome a gambling problem, call, or text 1-800-GAMBLER today.

    Senior Writer, Golfbet Follow Ben Everill on Twitter.

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