Heading into the US Open the big question was could Shinnecock Hills reign supreme over the most talented generation of golfers to cross its path. On Thursday the answer was an emphatic yes and that is expected to remain the case when the second round takes place on Friday.
It was an extremely high scoring day to get the second major of the year underway and already a host of big names have a battle on just to make the cut let alone harbour hopes of winning the tournament. Everything is set up for a cracking day two as the players look to fight back.
Round 1 Recap
At the end of the opening stanza there are just four players under par and nobody is better than one under so already we are staring at an over par winning total which is synonymous with this tournament. Dustin Johnson, Russell Henley, Scott Piercy and Ian Poulter are the four men on one under.
They lead by a shot from Jason Dufner and then comes a large group on one over which includes the Olympic champion Justin Rose, our pre-tournament pick Henrik Stenson and Byeong Hun An among others. If you are looking on the leaderboard for some huge names you need to turn it upside down. Phil Mickelson carded a seven over 77 but he still beat Tiger Woods and Jon Rahm (78 each), Jason Day (79) and Rory McIlroy (80). All five have a devils own job on to make the cut.
It was an up and down opening day for our bets with a place in the first round leader market for Charley Hoffman and a three ball winner in Ted Potter Jr while we picked up a dead heat in another when Jim Furyk kindly missed a four foot putt on the final hole to beat Steve Stricker.
There is a second round leader market which has been priced up which I must admit I am tempted to have a little dabble in but I am going to leave it for two reasons. The first one is the leaderboard remains fairly tightly bunched and you don’t need to do a lot wrong around here to run up crazy scores and also because the official weather apps can’t seem to decide just when the wind is going to be up and down and that will have a massive impact on who does what and when so I’ll leave that market and head to the three balls for a couple of bets.
Friday 3 Balls
The groups that went out onto the course on Thursday are out again on Friday so the featured group in the morning will be the Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas group leaving the afternoon clear for Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy to get most of the coverage even though they shot a cumulative +25 on Thursday. There are some really good groups elsewhere for the crowds to follow and more importantly for us to bet on and that’s exactly what I’ll do here.
Adam Scott/Henrik Stenson/Martin Kaymer
Match tees off at 13.02 BST
I might have Henrik Stenson as an outright bet but I’m going to take him in the second round three ball too when he goes up against Adam Scott and Martin Kaymer in one of the more attractive groupings in the morning session.
Stenson started slowly on Thursday but powered back to shoot one over which was comfortably too good for his playing partners. What I like about Stenson here is nobody hit more greens in regulation than him and if there is one thing we saw on Thursday it was that there is no future for regularly missing these greens. He hit 14 of the 18 in the right number compared to 10 for Scott and a paltry 5 for Kaymer.
When you factor in Stenson probably has the better of the group in the short game and putting department the fact he was dialled in firing into the greens should give him a significant advantage long-term, one he can convert into a win over his playing partners for a second successive day.
Tyrrell Hatton/Danny Willett/Ian Poulter
Match tees off at 18.36 BST
The other group which gets my attention on Friday comes in the later waves of players out onto the course when the English trio of Ian Poulter, Tyrrell Hatton and Danny Willett go out for their second round of the tournament.
To be fair to Willett and Hatton they hung in there well in tough conditions on Thursday to card rounds of 75 but they only hit 10 and seven greens in the right number respectively which might be why Poulter, who was fourth best in the field into the greens on Thursday, finished six shots clear of his English counterparts. I like Poulter in these conditions and with Hatton and Willett potentially having to force things a little more they could come unstuck. Poulter can just potter his way around and land another win in this three ball.
WON – Back H.Stenson to beat A.Scott & M.Kaymer for a 3/10 stake at 2.25 with Coral
Back I.Poulter to beat T.Hatton & D.Willett for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with BetBright
Back him here: