With the 2019 PGA Championship underway at Bethpage Black on Long Island, it's hard not to think about next month's US Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California.
After all, Bethpage Black is a two-time US Open host, including to one of Tiger Woods' greatest major triumphs back in 2002 and perhaps the muddiest major championship ever played in the 2009 Open that went to Lucas Glover in a Monday finale.
Bethpage is long, nasty and unforgiving. Pebble Beach looks, to the average eye, to be shorter, easier and obviously much more of a looker. However, Pebble Beach is no joke, particularly when the USGA gets its hands on it for the national championship. The course will celebrate its centennial by asking the best in the world to take on its challenge at perhaps its most difficult -- outside of playing in a cyclone.
So, as the play unfolds on Long Island at The People's Country Club, it's time to start thinking about wagers for the West Coast paradise that is Pebble. With so many of the world's best golfers on form, there are plenty of names to like in what will now be the third major of the year.
Of course, any kind of list of US Open contenders starts with Brooks Koepka. Last year, Koepka became the first golfer in nearly 30 years -- since Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989 -- to go back-to-back in the US Open. He won his two Opens on completely different challenges, with a wet and dormant Erin Hills giving up great scores in 2017 and an on-the-edge Shinnecock Hills in 2018 proving too much of a challenge for almost everyone in the field.
Koepka finished tied for second in the Masters in April, and he says he finds the majors easiest to win in large part because so many players in the field psyche themselves out before it begins. He has a point, and the results speak for themselves. While Pebble Beach isn't one of his regular stops on his PGA Tour schedule, Koepka's game plays on pretty much any golf course on the planet. What's to stop a machine from tee to green, especially when the poa annua putting surfaces will pose a problem for almost every player in the field?
Tiger Woods has to be the next name on the list. The Masters winner, Woods won his first US Open title at Pebble Beach in 2000 by an astounding 15 shots in a performance that is probably the best in golf history.
Unlike his lead-up to the PGA Championship which included no PGA Tour starts, Woods will get in a tune-up before the Open to make sure his competitive game is in shape for a run at another major title. Woods can think his way around the golf better than anyone, including Koepka, so his mental edge should serve him well.
Of course, other contenders come to mind like Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Tommy Fleetwood. But some names to avoid may include Rory McIlroy, who has been not only disappointing in the majors in 2019 but has habitually struggled at the US Open since winnning with a record score at a soaked and defenseless Congressional Country Club in 2011.
No matter who you settle on in the market, make sure to take advantage of enhanced odds offers when getting to the ticket window. With lots of extra juice on offer for new players, there's no reason to not get the best odds possible for a major championship.