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Expert Picks for major championship at Pinehurst

Sporting Life’s team of experts and some special guests provide their insight and best bets from the US Open side-markets.

Scottie Scheffler to be third-round leader

By Dave Tindall

Former Sky Sports Golf editor Dave Tindall is a regular contributor to betting.betfair.com and various other publications.

There will be plenty of punters hoping to back SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER who will have looked at his best price of 10/3 and had doubts over whether they could pull the trigger at that price.

Others will see anything around 3/1 as an auto-bet. And, on the numbers, it’s justified. The world number has won five of his last eight starts so on that basis should be an odds-on shot!

However, alternative pro-Scheffler bets are still worth searching for. First-round leader could be an option at 12/1 but the instinctive feeling is that it doesn’t give him enough time to separate himself. Instinct would be right as, almost remarkably, Scheffler hasn’t held an 18-hole lead in over two years (Charles Schwab Challenge 2022).

But how about leading after 36 holes when hopefully any draw bias has gone? Scheffler has been the halfway leader in five of his 13 starts this year so his price of 13/2 to make it six from 14 has to be worth a look.

Scheffler was three clear at the midpoint in last week’s Memorial Tournament while he’s slept on the halfway lead in two of the last three Masters. In the first of those he was five clear of the field on Friday evening. Ties could come into play though and in three of his last four halfway leads, Scheffler had company at the top.

So the other option is third-round leader at 5/1. In truth that could be the better play as he’s held the solo 54-hole lead in each of his last three wins: Memorial, the RBC Heritage and the Masters. They came in three of his last five starts and 5/1 looks good.

Dustin Johnson top USA player

By Martin Mathews

Martin Mathews is a golf tipster who provides weekly betting previews for the PGA Tour via his own website, and major previews for Paddy Power

With the thought that conditions could lead to a heavy ‘non-American’ presence at the top end of the leaderboard, despite the overwhelming presence of Scottie Scheffler, I am keen to take my chances each-way in the top USA market.

On that basis then the man I will risk is DUSTIN JOHNSON.

2024 has been pretty sluggish for DJ to date, particularly at Augusta where he had a shocker. That said after starting poorly at Valhalla he knuckled down to make the weekend and finished strongly on Sunday.

Always known as a strong exponent of ‘links-type’ firm, fast courses, Johnson was fourth here back in 2014 and he also boasts some strong form at Donald Ross’s East Lake.

A native of the Carolinas, Johnson should be engaged and determined to produce this week, which might not always be the case with him these days.

Does he have another major in him? Possibly, and after warming up with a solid performance at LIV Houston I can certainly see him bagging a top-10 finish here, which would more than likely be enough to land a nice each-way winner.

Harry Higgs top debutant

By Tom Jacobs

Tom Jacobs is the host of the Lost Fore Words podcast and also provides tips and previews for Oddschecker.

HARRY HIGGS is not your typical debutant, and doesn’t fit in the same bracket as young guns like Ludvig Aberg and Nicolai Hojgaard who shape this market – but that might not be a bad thing.

Higgs has played three majors in his career, and while he missed the cut in his most recent start, the 2022 PGA Championship, Higgs impressed before that in his first couple of major appearances.

His first major start came at the 2021 PGA Championship, and he finished T4 that week at Kiawah Island. Not only is this a great sign, given how good he was on debut, but it was also in South Carolina, which is a bonus. He followed that up with a T14 finish at Augusta, in his first Masters start and I think we should keep these two major finishes in mind this week.

What they show is that when he’s found himself on the biggest stage, he’s been able to step up, and on both of those occasions he was in poor form leading into event, whereas this time around it’s very different.

After a season of struggles on the PGA Tour last year, Higgs has rediscovered his form, winning in back-to-back starts on the Korn Ferry Tour in recent weeks, and while he missed the cut last week, he must be coming into this event full of confidence.

The second of those Korn Ferry Tour wins came on a Donald Ross course, Holston Hills, and he had already impressed at the Wyndham Championship in the past so he likes this week’s designer.

I don’t want to get too carried away, so I was tempted to just stick to a top-40 finish, but finishing in the top three of the debutant market pays slightly more and comes with the added upside that he could nail the 16/1 win as well.

Harris English top-20 finish

By Matt Cooper

Matt Cooper is a golf journalist and long-time Sporting Life contributor who previews the women’s majors for the website and provides tips for multiple tours for betting.betfair.com and others.

I’ve had HARRIS ENGLISH in mind for the major championships since March, but have held fire until now. He was easy to ignore at Augusta but it was still good to see him record a second-best effort there (T22) and I also swerved him at Valhalla. Again I felt vindicated at the end of the week while pleased that he produced his career-best PGA Championship finish (T18).

This week’s US Open is much more his style. He’s never missed a cut in eight starts and in the last four years has registered a fourth, a third, and a tied eighth. Now he returns to the scene of his championship debut where he opened with a 69 to sit tied sixth on the first round leaderboard ahead of ending the week T48.

It’s not only obvious that he likes a USGA test, he also said as much out loud after last year’s top 10. But it is his words at TPC Sawgrass, when discussing his friend Brian Harman’s victory in the Open, that prompted me to pencil his name in the notebook.

“I feel like I’ve pushed him a little bit and he’s definitely pushed me to be better,” he said. “Up at Sea Island we all really love seeing each other’s successes and I know I can compete with Brian Harman so I can win a major. I can win one of these tournaments.”

At Valhalla, he remained chipper. “I feel like my game sets up well for majors,” he said. “If I keep putting myself in these positions and keep getting closer and closer, hopefully I’ll knock the door down pretty soon.” The win might be beyond him but another good week is undoubtedly not.

Tiger Woods to make the cut

By Ben Coley

Ben Coley is Sporting Life’s golf columnist and tipster.

I know what you’re thinking: TIGER WOODS to make the cut is just a little bit silly. You might be right, and I certainly won’t seek to justify it by pointing out that if you backed him at upwards of 2/1 to make cuts down the years, you’d be extremely well-off. That’s not how this works and we are dealing with a different proposition to the one who used to make cuts as if it’s the easiest thing in the world.

Whatever version of Woods we’re on, clearly he needs to improve quite a bit following last month’s lifeless display in the PGA Championship. But remember he did make the cut comfortably at Augusta, despite it being one of golf’s toughest walks. As for Valhalla, a long, soft, driver-all-the-way course was always going to prove very difficult for him.

Pinehurst will be about imagination, golf-smarts, toughness – things that Woods still has. The warm forecast will help his aching bones and you know you’re getting total commitment to the cause.

I’ve really warmed to the idea that he can make the weekend and, most of all, feel that prices north of 7/4 are value about him doing so. Woods can score on courses that play shorter and require shot-making. This is one of those.

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