The 2022 United States Open Championship will be played at The Country Club in Brookline, MA this week. This venue has seen the site of several historic moments in golf history. Weirdly, it’s going to be another host to another huge moment in professional golf history: This will be the first major championship in the LIV Golf era.
LIV is the worst thing to happen to professional golf in its history. It’s worse than anything Tiger Woods ever did, which is really saying something. It’s worse than anything Phil Mickelson ever did before he signed on with the Saudis, which, again, is really saying something. It’s also, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, worse than Patrick Reed doing this in a tournament with real money on the line:
Did Patrick Reed just cheat in the Hero pic.twitter.com/qMmRCTE2st
— MJB (@MJBKLB11) December 6, 2019
Multiple outlets, including this one, have touched on the disastrous political and moral implications of the likes of Mickelson, Reed, Dustin Johnson and other elite American golfers abandoning the PGA Tour this way. It’s sad, it’s unjustifiable, and it’s crass. The problem, ultimately, is that it’s definitely not going away.
James Piot finished his senior year at Michigan State this summer. Piot played at the Masters in April after receiving an invite for winning the U.S. Amateur in 2021. Hopefully, Piot took a lot of pictures of Augusta National while he was there, because after eschewing the traditional route to the PGA Tour (mini-tours, qualifying school, sponsors’ exemptions) and taking the LIV Tour’s money, Piot probably isn’t getting back to Augusta for a competitive tournament for a really long time, if ever.
In a related story, Piot, who isn’t even close to a quality professional golfer at this stage of his life, finished tied for 25th in the inaugural LIV Golf Event in London last week, out of 48 players. That finish would ordinarily be a cut in a normal PGA Tour event. Instead, Piot made $166,000.00. And that, dear reader, is the problem.
LIV Golf has unlimited sums to dole out to even merely decent amateur players right now in hopes that, over time, a handful or more of them will develop into major contenders. The upstart league can also afford to jettison anyone who doesn’t play well enough to satisfy their arbitrary standards (looking at you, James Piot) along the way. So, on a purely statistical basis, the odds are definitely on the next Woods, Mickelson, or Rory McIlroy coming out of LIV Golf before the PGA Tour develops another mega-star.
And that’s really discouraging. On to the picks:
VALUE PICK: LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN TOP 20 (+150)
Oosthuizen is another of the guilty and the damned, having jumped to LIV Golf for the guaranteed money. In his case, it really was easy pickings. Oosthuizen finished in the top 12 in the individual draw of the first tournament, pocketing a cool $560,000.00. Separately, Oosthuizen left London with another $750,000.00 as part of the four-man team that won $3 million for winning the team event.
This is all filthy, tainted cash, but Oosthuizen seems like one of those people you meet in life who doesn’t think too much about what anyone thinks of him. So he’s the breakout star of the LIV guys in terms of betting this week. He hasn’t had a great 2022 by his lofty standards, which probably informed his decision to jump to the LIV Tour. But before 2022, Oosthuizen had finished in the top ten in each of these events: U.S. Open 2019 through 2021; PGA Championship 2021; Open Championship 2021. Jump on this while you can.
US Open line movement at @BetMGM
Open (July 2021), current
Rory McIlroy +1400 to +1100
Scottie Scheffler +4000 to +1200
Cameron Smith +5000 to +2200
Will Zalatoris +4000 to +2500
— John Ewing 🦁 (@johnewing) June 13, 2022
LONG SHOT PICK: CAMERON SMITH TOP 5 (+450)
If you have read my work before, you know how much I love me some Cameron Smith. He makes a ton of birdies despite sometimes driving it in places you’re not supposed to go because his short game is beyond elite and he may be the best putter in the world.
This golf course, only playing at around 7,250 yards, may test his accuracy. If he hits it out of bounds more than once this week, this bet is in real trouble. But assuming that he can manage the misses well enough, the relatively short golf course with its undulating and tricky greens will actually play to his advantage.
PICK TO WIN THE 2022 U.S. OPEN: SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER (+1400)
Scheffler won the Masters this year and, from that point, he’s been solid. He bounced back from a missed cut at the PGA Championship to finish second (he lost a playoff) at the Charles Schwab Challenge the following week at Colonial Country Club. Scheffler tuned up for the U.S. Open with last week’s tie for 18th place at the RBC Canadian Open.
There are two really good reasons to pick Scheffler this week. The first is that he is the reigning number one player in the world. The second, more compelling reason is that while so many of his contemporaries at the top of the sport (McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm et al) have been vocal and seemingly consumed with the LIV Golf controversy and its threat to the PGA Tour in recent days, Scheffler has for the most part kept quiet. With the exception of this essentially perfect quip:
Scottie Scheffler on guys joining LIV Tour:
“I haven’t really noticed anyone missing this week. Maybe outside of DJ.”#RBCCO
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) June 8, 2022
That’s what a United States Open champion sounds like.