The second major of the year has arrived as many of the best golfers in the world tee it up in the US Open. Usually this is a brutal event where over par can often win but the vibes are that won’t be the case this year.
The tournament goes to Wisconsin for the first time in its history this week where Dustin Johnson will defend the title having landed his first major at Oakmont 12 months ago.
2016 – Dustin Johnson
2015 – Jordan Spieth
2014 – Martin Kaymer
2013 – Justin Rose
2012 – Webb Simpson
2011 – Rory McIlroy
2010 – Graeme McDowell
2009 – Lucas Glover
2008 – Tiger Woods
2007 – Angel Cabrera
Erin Hills in Wisconsin will stage the tournament for the first time this week. The track is a par 72 which is rare by US Open standards as they usually cut their par to 70. The course can stretch to around 7,700 yards but the USGA suggest it will never play to its full yardage. It is a right slog though so you don’t want to be on anyone who could be jaded for any reason.
The talk in the lead up to the tournament was how this would be a links course because it is so exposed but it is more a heartland course. The rough is very much like the links and you don’t want to be in it but the fairways are so wide it will take a good effort to find the rough. The greens are large with tightly mown run off areas so there is a lot of Pinehurst No2 or even Augusta National about this place.
Mike Davis, USGA course set up man, suggests that course management will be important. I’m not so sure about that but getting it out there off the tee and being able to play in the wind are both imperative.
As you would expect the field this week is stellar. At the time of writing Phil Mickelson isn’t going to play because the event clashes with his daughter’s graduation but everyone else who is eligible joins up with a bunch of qualifiers from around the world for what is usually the toughest test in golf.
Tiger Woods isn’t here but him aside the winners from the last 10 years are all in action this week and looking to follow on from Sergio Garcia to win a major and take the title from Dustin Johnson.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson leads the betting market for this tournament. He is 8/1 to defend the title. He was in fantastic form earlier in the year but failed to land a blow at The Memorial recently. That said there are few better drivers of the ball than him so you would think he has to be in contention.
Rory McIlroy and Jason Day share second favouritism this week at 14/1. McIlroy’s fitness has to be in doubt especially over this brute of a track and I guess there are always concerns in that area with regards to Jason Day. Neither have shown terrific form this year so I can’t really be having either.
Jordan Spieth is slightly bigger at 16/1 and while a lack of length could be a reason to oppose him the same doubt hung over him at Chambers Bay two years ago and he won around there albeit in fortunate fashion. He has a good record at Augusta so shouldn’t be written off.
Jon Rahm heads into the tournament as a 22/1 shot and while there is little doubt this guy is going to be a superstar whether he has the temperament and mentality for a US Open at this stage in his career remains to be seen. It is 25/1 bar that quintet this week.
Clearly a case can be made for many this week with the best of the best here so I’m focusing on men who have gone well in four tournaments which I believe have a comparison with this event. They are the 2010 and 2015 USPGAs at Whistling Straits, 2013 US Open at Merion and 2014 US Open at Pinehurst No2. I’m ignoring Chambers Bay purely on the state of their greens.
I’m going with two main bets in the US Open. One has a really good record at the above events while the other ticks every box I’m looking for this week.
Justin Rose won at Merion and followed that up with a T12 when he defended the title at Pinehurst. He was also fourth at Whistling Straits in 2015 and while he missed the cut there in 2010 I can forgive him that as he wasn’t the player he is now back then. Rose comes alive on fast greens as we saw at Augusta recently and he’ll certainly get quick surfaces here. We know he is competent in the wind and on a course not too dissimilar to the one he won on Rose has to be a major player here.
Thomas Pieters contended strongly at The Masters and I expect him to be a player here too with his length off the tee and his wonderful driving ability. He isn’t just a bomber though. He has a dream of a short game and I’m convinced the Belgian will win majors. Pieters also ran well at Riviera where the greens are swift and being used to the wind he’s another I’m expecting a big week from.
I’ve got four outsiders at bigger prices this week. Usually I’d take three but this is a major and after a good week heading in I’ll have another one. The first of those is a former Masters champion in Charl Schwartzel. Schwartzel’s record at Augusta is very encouraging as are his top 20 finishes in the 2013 and 2014 US Opens and the 2010 PGA. The South African showed his form last week and at 66/1 he’s almost a no brainer pick here.
I was on Matt Kuchar at Muirfield Village a couple of weeks ago and I’m happy to be on him here too. He was in the top 10 in both events at Whistling Straits and was tied for 12th at Pinehurst so he plays the big events well as we saw when he challenged at Augusta earlier in the year. Kuchar is one of the best scramblers on the tour this season and with the tee to green game that he’s got he shouldn’t be far away given his comfort in the wind.
Brandt Snedeker finished in the top 20 of each of those latter three events I mentioned above and he was in the top 10 at Augusta last year. He has won around Torrey Pines too so we know he can handle tough tracks. That Torrey Pines win showed he can play in the wind too and while he might lack a bit of length his accuracy and his putting more than make up for that so I’m expecting him to go close here too.
My final bet is more of a shot in the dark in Emiliano Grillo but I like what we get from him. He is very solid in the wind. He was second at Puerto Rico in 2015 and was in the top 10 in both Mexico and Pebble Beach this year so the wind is no issue for him. He is a brilliant driver of the golf ball and if his putter catches fire on these fast greens he could surprise them all and emulate Angel Cabrera as an Argentine winner of this thing.
Back J.Rose to win US Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 26.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-8)
Back him here:
Back T.Pieters to win US Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 51.00 with Bet365 (1/4 1-6)
Back B.Snedeker to win US Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 111.00 with Bet365 (1/4 1-6)
Back C.Schwartzel to win US Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Coral (1/5 1-8)
Back M.Kuchar to win US Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Coral (1/5 1-8)
Back E.Grillo to win US Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with Coral (1/5 1-8)