The wait is almost over. The first round of the US Open at Pebble Beach takes place on Thursday as the field get a maiden look at the course in a competitive environment. Everyone teeing it up will be looking to get themselves into a good early position to launch their charge for the third major of the year.
We have players teeing off throughout the afternoon and deep into the evening for us watching on in the UK and with quality everywhere we look we should be in for a cracker of a first round of action.
First Round Leader
As ever with a major the first market that we look at is going to be the first round leader one where the whole field is priced up. As I always say when we get involved in this the first thing is to ascertain the format of the day and we have two waves of players teeing off – morning and afternoon. Then we need to see if there is a split in the weather. There isn’t much of one. The wind is a few mph stronger in the afternoon but nothing that is going to significantly impact on things. I will play a couple in the morning though because these Poa Annua greens do have a tendency to cut up throughout the day.
I’ve already taken Erik van Rooyen to be the leading South African this week and if he is going to do that he’ll need a good start to the tournament. He is three figures to lead after the first round and being out second off the first tee he has a wonderful chance to get a score on the board early doors. The same goes for Bernd Wiesberger who is coming back to form after a horror run with injuries. He won on an exposed track in the Made in Denmark recently and then followed that up with a solid effort in Belgium. He’s out second off the tenth tee and has shown a liking for links golf and exposed tracks in the past. At a three figure price he could be worth a nibble too.
Thursday 3 Balls
The entire field will go out in three balls for the opening two days with those out in the morning on Thursday getting the afternoon tee time on Friday and vice versa. Naturally for a tournament of this kind there are some real tantalising groups and on Thursday the centre of attention in the morning wave will be the Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell trio which tee off at 16.13 BST. At 15.51 the Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Marc Leishman group will go out.
In the afternoon wave there is only one group to focus on. That is the one featuring Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose. They tee off at 22.09 BST with the other appealing group of The Open winner Francesco Molinari, the leading amateur Viktor Hovland and the defending champion Brooks Koepka off at 21.47 BST. I like four bets from the list of three balls.
Scottie Scheffler/Nick Taylor/Matt Parziale
Match tees off at 15.18 BST
The first group which catches my eye is the one with the Web.com Tour star Scottie Scheffler out alongside Canadian player Nick Taylor and the amateur Matt Parziale in what is a bit of a mixture of a group.
Taylor ran well for much of his home Open last week but I’m not convinced his credentials are all that strong and I can’t really be having amateurs around here with the rough up like it is so I think the likely winner of this three ball is the man who has been in excellent form on the second tier of American golf in Scheffler. His last six results read: 2-5-T7-2-1-MC so he’s in decent nick. The missed cut was the week after he won and he still carded -3 so he didn’t play badly. Confidence of winning is the same whatever level it is at and I think he can take that morale into this group and come out on top.
Chez Reavie/David Toms/Michael Thorbjornsen
Match tees off at 21.03 BST
Another group where there is a decent looking bet comes in one of the afternoon waves where Chez Reavie looks to have a group he should really come out on top in when he tees off alongside David Toms and Michael Thorbjornsen.
Thorbjornsen is highly rated in the game but at 17 and yet to graduate into the senior game I can’t be having him round here while the veteran David Toms might be coming towards the end of his limit at this size of a tournament. Reavie isn’t and Pebble Beach should suit his consummate ball striking and underrated short game. I’m not sure this group will take much winning but it is Reavie who I expect to come out on top in it.
Matthew Fitzpatrick/Byeong-Hun An/Devon Bling
Match tees off at 21.58 BST
One of the later groups out onto the golf course is the one featuring the European Tour star Matthew Fitzpatrick, Korean ace Byeong-Hun An and the amateur Devon Bling who made waves when he made the cut at Augusta.
That was a decent effort from Bling but this is a different kettle of fish entirely and I have this between the other two as a result. Fitzpatrick has a recent trend of starting majors terribly and then coming back strong. He hasn’t broken par in any of the last six first rounds in a major but then by and large in the second round he is between 6-10 shots better. That opens the door to An for me. I don’t think he’ll win this week or go amazingly well but in relatively calm conditions he should be able to keep the bogeys off the card enough to land this group should Fitzpatrick’s first round woes continue.
Tiger Woods/Justin Rose/Jordan Spieth
Match tees off at 22.09 BST
My final bet comes in the big three ball to go out on the opening day when the 2000 US Open champion here Tiger Woods goes out alongside the 2013 winner Justin Rose and the man who landed this title in 2015 in Jordan Spieth.
Spieth’s waywardness off the tee is a massive cause for concern for me here so I’m not having him in this group while Rose has never once shown a liking for links golf and has a terrible record in it. This is Woods’ manor. He won by FIFTEEN shots around here in 2000 and has a decent record every other time he has played this course. He is the best iron player on tour and knows the game on and around the greens. I fancy he’ll be tough to beat in this group.
Back E.van Rooyen First Round Leader (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with 888sport (1/5 1-7)
WON – Back S.Scheffler to beat N.Taylor & M.Parziale for a 3/10 stake at 2.30 with 888sport
Back B.Wiesberger First Round Leader (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-8)
Back him here:
WON – Back C.Reavie to beat D.Toms & M.Thorbjornsen for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with BetVictor
Back B-H.An to beat M.Fitzpatrick & D.Bling for a 3/10 stake at 2.50 with Betfair
Back him here:
Back T.Woods to beat J.Rose & J.Spieth for a 3/10 stake at 2.60 with Betfred
Back him here: