Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay led the U.S. Open with first-round 65s at Pinehurst on Thursday.

VSiN’s golf experts offered their first-round observations and second-round predictions.


U.S. Open first-round scores

U.S. Open second-round tee times

U.S. Open latest odds

Matt Youmans

If Ludvig Åberg wins this tournament, maybe everyone will learn the proper pronunciation of his name. With so many options, golf bettors always have a regret or two, and leaving Ludvig off my card is a regret. He was my last cut. He’s also my first addition on the adjusted odds board at 7-1. Aberg, who’s got the sweetest swing in the game, hit 14 of 14 fairways in a 4-under first round and should stay on the leaderboard.

Bryson DeChambeau (21-1) is my best pre-tournament bet. DeChambeau blasted bombs off the tee but missed a few putts he should have made and there are reasons to be optimistic.

Wes Reynolds

Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay found themselves on opposite sides of a mild kerfuffle at last year’s Ryder Cup and have also had disagreements when they were both PGA TOUR player-directors. After Round 1 of the U.S. Open, they are together again but this time as co-leaders.

McIlroy, a Wednesday add for me on the outright card at 13/1, shot 65 and gained in every strokes gained category. He also went 4-for-4 in Scrambling and felt comfortable throughout the round as he easily outpaced his playing partners Scottie Scheffler (+1/71, but still second choice at 6/1) and Xander Schauffele (E/70; 14/1). Rory is now the tournament in-play favorite at +240 and came to Pinehurst in a better frame of mind having recently reconciled with his wife.

As for Cantlay (+850), he led the field for Strokes Gained: Around The Green (+3.87) and Fairway Proximity (22’4″). His form has been down most of the season and with his best pal Schauffele winning the previous major at the PGA last month, he is probably at the top of the “best player to never win a major” list.

Another player near the top of the aforementioned list is 24-year-old Ludvig Åberg (7/1), who played in just his first major championship at The Masters in April and finished runner-up to Scheffler. The Swede showed no signs of the partially torn meniscus injury that forced him out of the Wells Fargo Championship and led him to a missed cut at the PGA. He led the field for Strokes Gained: Ball Striking (Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee + Strokes Gained: Approach) gaining +5.17 strokes and is just one stroke (-4) off the lead.

The man just behind him in that SG: Ball Striking category was Bryson DeChambeau (+750), who shot 3-under and is looking to go one place better than his runner-up finish last month at the PGA. DeChambeau led the field for Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee (+2.81) as he usually does as still the biggest bomber in professional touring golf.

Other notables in red figures include a group at 2-under including Tony Finau (28/1), a pre-tournament play for me at 75/1, Tyrrell Hatton (28/1), Valero Texas Open winner Akshay Bhatia (60/1).

Collin Morikawa (20/1) and Brooks Koepka (22/1) both ended their days with rounds of even par 70.

Potential pre-tournament contenders that played their way out of contention included Viktor Hovland, 8-over 78, and Justin Thomas, 7-over 77.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods finished with a 4-over 74 and is currently T-86 and has some work to do in order to make the weekend cut which is limited to the low 60 players and ties as the 10-shot rule was done away with by the USGA in 2012.

The only player I would potentially look to add and the one that scares me the most holding a Rory ticket is Ludvig Åberg at 7/1. The Swede’s ball striking was impeccable in Round 1, and he earned some major championship scar tissue at the Masters back in April, so despite his lack of experience, he is showing why he is priced pre-tournament like a multiple-time major champion.

Kelley Bydlon

So that’s a pretty good trend for Rory as he finishes up the first round with a share of the lead (sorry Cantlay FRL bettors. Hopefully you didn’t spend the money already).

McIlroy and Cantlay are just a couple of the big names near the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the U.S. Open. Within three shots you’ll also find Ludvig Aberg, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, and Tyrrell Hatton. So the major is certainly shaping up to be a good one. Pinehurst No. 2 showed it’s teeth as well today, causing major problems for guys like Viktor Hovland (+8), Justin Thomas (+7), and Sahith Theegala (+7), who will have some work to do tomorrow to make the cut.

No bets for me heading into round two, but Bryson definitely had me shopping odds as he was a guy I was interested in before the tournament, but ultimately stayed away. I was hoping to get 10-1 or better. If you can find that, I’d say go for it.

Matt Brown

Rory, Ludvig, Bryson, Finau, Hatton…any of these guys succeeding at Pinehurst #2 through one round does not shock me at all.

Patrick Cantlay, however, I did not see coming.

Cantlay’s form and recent profile headed into this tournament screamed to stay away, but here we sit with him at co-leader through one round. He gained across the board, but a tournament-high 3.88 strokes around the green might not be sustainable.

One of my favorite placement market plays headed into the tournament was Sepp Straka. Straka finished at even par, but lost 1.62 strokes putting (entered 29th over last 24 rounds) and was even to the field in strokes gained off-the-tee, despite being inside the top 21 players in that stat over the last 24 rounds. If I weren’t already on Straka, he’d be a Top 30 or Top 20 play for me.

I think it’s at least mildly intriguing that Tony Finau is still 28/1 at DraftKings. He was a hot name amongst golf betting circles in the first place, and now he’s one of only 16 players to shoot under par in round 1 and sits only three off the lead. Finau made some putts today, and if the putter can stay hot for three more days, he will almost certainly be in the mix come late Sunday.