Sleeper Picks: U.S. Open
June 15, 2021
By Rob Bolton, GolfBet for PGATOUR.COM
- Carlos Ortiz is flying under the radar at Torrey Pines. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Carlos Ortiz (+10000) … He’d like a do-over, thank you. The native of Mexico will forever be forgotten as the 54-hole co-leader of the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines because he blew up for a 78 to finish T29 while the other 54-hole co-leader, Patrick Reed, went on to prevail by five (with a closing 68). Despite four previous seasons with a PGA TOUR card, Ortiz really didn’t splash onto the scene until the experience generated his breakthrough victory in Houston last November, so he’s now on the ascent of the learning curve in the majors. The 30-year-old has the power and the precision not to be overwhelmed anywhere, including at Muirfield Village where he placed T16 in his last start.
Chan Kim (+40000) … As it concerns American golfers who don’t compete on the PGA TOUR regularly, at T83 in the Official World Golf Ranking, he’s at the front of the pack with avid fan favorites John Catlin (82nd) and Kurt Kitayama (107th). All played collegiately in the United States – Kim at Arizona State University – but only Kim qualified for the 2021 U.S. Open. The 31-year-old was born in South Korea and he’s done the majority of his damage on the Japan Golf Tour where he’s a five-time winner, including once during the 2020-21 season. He’s 0-for-3 in this major but he’s on an international heater with a 2nd-T9-T15-T23 run upon arrival, the finale of that foursome at Kiawah Island. Currently fourth on the JGTO’s Order of Merit, fourth in scoring average, second in both distance and total driving, second in greens in regulation and first in ball-striking.
Rikuya Hoshino (+10000) … He was the runner-up to fellow JGTO member Chan Kim at the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in California. That was Hoshino’s backup plan if he didn’t qualify automatically, which is what happened when he missed the cut in his PGA Championship debut at Kiawah Island. Like Kim, the 25-year-old from Japan also has five victories on his home circuit, but with three this season, he’s perched atop the Order of Merit. He ranks third in scoring. He also shares a notable birthday (May 12) among professional golfers with major champions Mike Weir and Jim Furyk, both of whom famously were born in 1970 (as well as two-time European Tour winner and current Sky Sports analyst, Andrew Coltart). Another emerging talent also born on that date was none other than Palmetto Championship at Congaree champion Garrick Higgo, who is three years younger than Hoshino.
Guido Migliozzi (+30000) … The lean six-footer from Italy is making his PGA TOUR debut this week. He’s one of the 10 automatic qualifiers via the special three-event series on the European Tour during which he recorded a pair of runner-up finishes. With three silvers on the season, he’s ninth in the Race to Dubai. Just 24 years of age but already twice a winner on his home circuit and thrice a champion on the Alps Tour before that, he’s put it all together this season by ranking 30th in distance off the tee, 13th in greens in regulation and fourth in scoring average.
Matthias Schmid (+10000) … It’s been 88 years since Johnny Goodman was the last amateur to win the U.S. Open, so ignore that line for Schmid to win. Rather, pivot to the easier task to make the cut. Since Tiger Woods prevailed at Torrey Pines in the 2008 U.S. Open, at least one amateur has made the cut in every edition. In fact, 34 have survived in the last 13 U.S. Opens combined. (Chambers Bay boasts the most with six in 2015.) Schmid qualified this week as a co-medalist at the Dallas sectional on May 24. The following week, he closed out his collegiate career at the University of Louisville with a T29 in the NCAA Men’s Championship. Then, while riding the wave of opportunities but undoubtedly running on fumes, the 22-year-old returned to his native Germany and missed the cut by a significant portion at the Porsche European Open. He’s the two-time reigning champion of the European Amateur Championship, an annual competition at which, notably, Viktor Hovland was a recent two-time runner-up (2016, 2018).
Odds were sourced on Tuesday, June 15 at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
NOTE: Sleeper is a relative term, so Rob uses unofficial criteria to determine who qualifies. Each of the following usually is determined to be ineligible for this weekly staple: Winners of the tournament on the current host course; winners in the same season; recent major champions; top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking; recent participants of team competitions.