These are crazy, unprecedented times. Imagine being transported from 15 years ago to today. You switch on the television: Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are dating…flip the channel, and Phil Mickelson is winning The PGA – nothing has changed!
Jokes aside, Lefty’s victory at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island was one of the most inspirational moments in sporting history. Many, if not most, had relegated Phil to the Senior Tour in their minds -” He’ll cash in there and fade away”. But, the most remarkable sportsmen always have grand plans and the will to accomplish them.
Defying father time and the odds (300-1!)Mickelson became the oldest winner of a major in golf history. Sure, Brooks Koepka was putting like a 5th grader, and sure, the other big guns didn’t mount a serious challenge – but none of this diminishes what is one of sports greatest achievements ever. So, how did Phil manage to pull it off?
Well, first and foremost, his greatest asset was his unwavering self-belief that his time at the top echelons of golf was not over. Nobody’s ever accused Mickelson of being humble, but it was far more than self-confidence this time – it was sheer stubbornness to defy the norm.
Next came the fact that Mickelson is probably in better shape than he was a decade ago – leaner and fitter. While not an exercise junkie, Lefty’s love of the game keeps him playing practice rounds every single day.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there was immense family support. Not only did Phil have his supportive wife Amy and three loving kids spurring him on, but he’s also got his brother Tim caddying for him, plus even his sister Tina and mom Mary inspiring via text.
Combining all these factors created “lightning-in-a-bottle” and gave sports fans joy in what has, for the most part, been a joyless 18 months. Now, as the US Open approaches, plenty of pundits are saying that Mickelson could build on the positive momentum and go back to back with majors. Unsurprisingly, his odds to win at Torrey Pines have plunged – but is it realistic to hope for a second miracle?
Let’s take a look at the major contenders for the 2021 US Open at Torrey Pines.
2021 US Open Odds and Preview
Date: Jun 17th–20th, 2021
Course: Torrey Pines
Torrey Pines in June means glorious weather, stunning views and spectacular golf. The revamped course will play longer, tighter and with deeper rough. Greens, however, will play slightly slower than in previous years.
Few of golf’s heavyweights are punching at full power, and that could very well open the door for another surprise result. Here are the leading candidates for victory, together with a few dark horses:
12-1 Dustin Johnson – After an unprecedented streak of majors, Dustin Johnson has slumped to mediocre form for a world number one. Still, nobody could maintain the surge he was on, and it’s just a matter of time until he bounces back with another big win. While we wouldn’t be surprised to see him win, his odds probably aren’t great value.
12-1 Joe Rahm – Carrying the heavy burden of being one of the best players never to have won a major is something that the Spaniard is looking to shed. One gets the feeling that when that special day comes, it will be the first of many. Can he start the ball rolling at Torrey Pines and pick up his first-ever major? Well, on paper Rahm has the perfect pedigree and would be a worthy winner. But again, the odds seem accurate but not enticing.
12-1 Rory Mcilroy – Frustration would be the best word to sum up the Irishman’s season so far. Rory has battled to find form after tinkering with his swing for more power (he’s currently second on driving distance stats – what was he thinking?). Sure, he’s brimming with supreme talent and would run away with the US Open if he found his footing – but he’s far from his peak, yet is still joint-favourite. Not to sound like a broken record, but again – no value.
14-1 Justin Thomas – There’s a definite trend at the top of the bookmaker’s board, and Justin Thomas fits right in – class players. Justin won the Players Championship this year, holding off an evergreen Lee Westwood for victory. And, while he did miss the cut at The PGA, he is nonetheless one of the more attractive betting opportunities amongst the favourites.
14-1 Bryson Dechambeau – Golf’s powerhouse player will need to up his accuracy if he is to capitalise on his immense distance. A one-shot victory over Lee Westwood (noticing a trend here? We’ll chat about Lee a bit later) March victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational broke his 2021 drought. If he’s on fire, Bryson would be close to unstoppable, but that deep 3-inch Kikuyu rough at Torrey Pines may very well be his undoing.
14-1 Jordan Spieth – At The PGA, Spieth momentarily threatened to complete a career Grand Slam, only to fade away tamely to a 2 two over par finish. Like most of the favourites, Spieth is at restrictive odds purely because of his sheer class. At the tender age of 27, Jordan still has time to carve himself into the list of all-time greats. He will, however, have to build on his consistency to make this happen. Seeing Spieth lift the trophy wouldn’t be a shock, but it’s a tricky thing to put your money on.
16-1 Brooks Koepka – Here’s the complete package as both a golfer and a betting prospect to win the 2021 US Open. Nursing a knee injury and putting abysmally, Keopka still almost managed to derail Mickelson’s incredible PGA victory. With some physical therapy on the knee, a bit of rest, and plenty of putting practice, Brooks Koepka will undoubtedly be the leading contender to emerge victorious at Torrey Pines. We plan on shopping around to get the best price and make Koepka our first choice in an open field.
40-1 Phil Mickelson – OK, some may say that the PGA victory was a glorious finish to an illustrious career. But Phil Mickelson won’t drift gently into the Seniors Tour. He has a sterling record at Torrey Pines, and victory in the 2021 US Open would see him garner the elusive career grand slam. Against him is age. In his favour are greatness, immense self-belief and the support of the crowd. We may have missed the boat on the 300-1 for The PGA, but burning a few dollars on Phil to make history again at 40-1 isn’t the worst bet.
40-1 Louis Oosthuizen – Despite already winning one Major and being runner up in another four, Oosthuizen has somewhat lived in the shadow of other South Africa greats such as Gary Player, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. While Louis can be put in the same bracket as these superb players, a win at Torrey Pines would cement his status forever. Very nice value at 40-1, considering he’s in fine fettle.
66-1 Lee Westwood – Lee Westwood’s name comes up a few times in this preview because the resurgent player has come close to winning a few times in the last year. At 48, he’s proven that he’s still capable of teeing it up with the best of them. And, who knows – maybe Phil’s big win will spur Lee on to a landmark victory of his own? Either way, 66-1 seems like mighty generous odds for a player on the cusp of winning.
By virtue of the nature of golf, it’s entirely possible that the winner hasn’t even been mentioned yet. Still, these should be the primary contenders and best betting options when they tee off at Torrey Pines South course on June 17th for the 2021 US Open. So, find your fancy, have a flutter and sit back to enjoy what should be a phenomenal tournament filled. And, who knows? Maybe we’ll see another historic victory that will be remembered for many years to come.