U.S. Open at Erin Hills – Betting Preview

Last week was a second week in a row of profit and was very welcome ahead of the second major of the year. It was Chez Reavie who provided it, easily making the top 20 and also hanging on for a share of a place as he finished 4th. Again it could have been a better weekend with Harris English and Zander Lombard also in contention but it is hard to complain too much and hopefully it that might be a corner turned again for the blog.

This week needs no introduction with the U.S. Open taking centre stage. The results are starting to look a little better ahead of an exciting looking week at Erin Hills.

Total 2017 pts advised= 259pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 187.47pts

ROI = -25.7%

I have just pasted my Matchbook review below and added a few extra bets. I also have a couple of 72 hole match-ups that will be on their site at the following link shortly.

To be added


US Open – Erin Hills

The second major of 2017 is upon us as the U.S. Open takes place for the first time ever in Wisconsin. The layout Erin Hills is a new one having only been opened in 2006. It hosted the U.S. Amateur in 2011 but barring the eight players in the field who played, everyone has been reliant on practice rounds. The action kicks off at 12:45pm UK time on Thursday with coverage starting on Sky at 6pm and continuing throughout the weekend.

With Sergio Garcia having won the Masters, there will be many more arriving at Erin Hills in buoyant mood thinking that they too have a chance for a maiden win. But the course can play to some 7800 yards off the back tees so on paper it could be brutally long and favour the bombers, however it is of course a U.S. Open so we would normally expect lots of rough and slick greens to properly test every part of their game.

Everything looks in place for another mouth-watering major this week. But can we find an edge on what appears to be another exciting golf betting event?

What will be required to win?

When the first pictures were shared of the high fescue grass in the rough, many thought this was going to be a brutal US Open set-up akin to the thick green stuff we saw at Merion. However on further reading I don’t believe that to be the case. Brad Faxon played there earlier in May and he tweeted how wide the fairways were and that it will suit the bombers. Kevin Na’s instagram video on Sunday confirmed just how high the rough is but the fairways are so wide that only the truly errant will end up in there and I can’t see it preventing players from hitting driver unless their name is JB Holmes. At some 7800 yards I think we really have to focus on the big hitters this week. Some of the better players who average sub 290 yards will contend but they had better have every other area of their game in perfect shape. Playing four days’ worth of approach shots with a 5 iron when DJ/Rahm etc are going in with wedge will take its toll on all but the steeliest of shorter hitters.

A look at the 2011 US Amateur Championship backs this up perfectly. The two finalists were Kelly Kraft and Patrick Cantlay. Kraft hits it as far as anyone and Cantlay was the best amateur in the game at the time and even now he sits 7th in the all-round ranking on the PGA Tour.  I think it will pay to focus on the longer players this week, perhaps giving some consideration to shorter hitters but only if they are among the very best like Cantlay was.

One of the key quotes from 2011 was from young Englishman Jack Senior. He noted how the course was “very, very similar” to the venue where they were heading for the Walker Cup the following week. The course in question was the classic links layout, Royal Aberdeen, host of the Scottish Open in 2014. What is striking is how similar the two courses are visually, with lots of undulating fairways, blind tee-shots, hidden approaches, lots of winding bunkers and plenty of fescue grass. There will be a lot written about similarities to Whistling Straits and Chambers Bay this week and while that certainly won’t be without merit, I’m very keen on the Royal Aberdeen link too.

Another quote which sounds valuable is from Mike Davis (USGA’s Executive Director) who gave a full description of each aspect of the course in a recent press conference. The most notable was what he said about the run-offs around the greens and how they have a complete lack of immediate rough. He likened this to Pinehurst No. 2 from 2014 and stated how this was the only other US Open in recent times to feature tightly mown aprons. Martin Kaymer used them to great effect in 2014 as he putted his way around the fringes, taking the pressure off his suspect chipping.

As well as needing to be fairly long off the tee, it is paramount to have an excellent iron game to contend at a U.S. Open and with blind approaches and fast greens this week it will be the same at Erin Hills. The last ten winners of the U.S. Open averaged 8th for GIR and if picking one key attribute this week I think that would be it.

Scrambling will also be important but without lush rough around the greens the players will have the chance to use different shots and the standard scrambling statistic on the PGA Tour maybe doesn’t quite tell us everything we need to know. Another key statistic for championship courses is scoring relative to par from approaches outside 200 yards. This is vital for saving par when out of position on a long par 4 or for making tap-in birdies on the par 5s. With Erin Hills having the potential to play as the longest in the history of the event then it might be even more important than normal. If the event does turn into a slog then patience will also be important as anyone who goes chasing a score that isn’t there on Thursday won’t be around come the weekend.

Trends

With the U.S. Open moving courses every year it isn’t as good as The Masters or The Players for trends but there is still some historical data that can help rule players out or in for those who enjoy a trends based approach.

  • All 17 winners this century had at least a top 4 finish already that season.
  • 16/17 of those winners had a previous U.S. Open Top 20 finish.
  • 6/7 of the last winners had made the cut at the Masters that season.
  • 6/7 had a top 12 finish last time out.

 

Main Contenders

 Dustin Johnson 8/1 : Current form – MC-13-12-2-1; US Open form: 1-2-4-55-MC

Both the reigning champion and favourite arrives at Erin Hills after a close to invincible 12 months. The improvement in his all-round game means he is currently the best player in the world and undoubtedly the man to beat. The long course together with the wide landing areas off the tee, make the course look ideal. The only negative is his price and a slight wobble last time out at Memorial when he missed the cut.

Jordan Spieth 14/1 : Current form: 13-2-MC-MC-4 ; US Open form: 37-1-17-MC-21

After a fairly quiet 2017 where some were questioning his long game, Spieth came flying back into the reckoning with a great tee-to-green performance at Memorial. With his solid US Open record he looks the right 2nd favourite although some may use his relative lack of length as a stick to beat him with this week. That didn’t stop him at Chambers Bay however and he will surely be involved in the shake-up come Sunday night.

Rory McIlroy 14/1 : Current form: 35-7-30-7-4; US Open form: MC-9-23-41-MC

Hasn’t been seen since The Masters and with that lack of competitive golf he is hard to fancy. The course sets up well for him but he surely can’t be considered before the off having not played in two months. Those who want to get involved may be better off watching the first round to see how he has recovered from a rib injury that looks likely to significantly impact his swing.

Jason Day 14/1 : Current form: 15-2-60-MC-22; US Open form: 8-9-4-2-59

Seemingly over his personal problems since his Mother was given the cancer all clear. Has shown patches of his 2015/2016 form, but he is surely making too many mistakes to win a US Open. However that is offset somewhat by an excellent record in the event and suitability to a course that looks a lot like Whistling Straits, the scene of his US PGA triumph.

Jon Rahm 22/1 : Current form: MC-2-MC-4-27; US Open form: Debut 23rd last year as amateur

On 2017 form he is the second best golfer in the world and the Spanish powerhouse has a great all-round game already at the age of 22. His temperament has looked a little suspect at times though and it’s far from a given that he will enjoy a patient US Open style test of golf. But he may not quite face that this year with Erin Hills appearing more US PGA than US Open.

Rickie Fowler 22/1 : Current form: 2-60-MC-11-3; US Open form: MC-MC-2-10-41

Seems to be judged to higher standards than most perhaps due to the profile he has built for himself. But ultimately he is a 2017 winner with a 2nd place finishjust two starts ago. Negatives are his poor Masters Sunday performance and missing his last two US Open cuts but that is factored into his price and he shouldn’t be dismissed lightly.

Hideki Matsuyama 30/1 : Current form: 45-22-32-11-51; US Open form: MC-18-35-10

Gone quiet since his all-conquering winter but he is still churning out solid results. Another with an impressive bank of US Open form already at 25 and it would be foolish to ever discount him at a major given his tee-to-green prowess. As ever though, the slick bentgrass greens may be the difference between 1st and 6th.

Justin Thomas 33/1 : Current form: 4-MC-5-22-39; US Open form: MC-DNP-32

Yet another to add to the list of “course suits perfectly”. Thomas also tailed off a little since his four win period through to January. Still playing very good golf however and was 4th at Memorial two weeks ago. Hard to see too many negatives at 33/1 barring maybe a mediocre US Open record to date.

Aside from those many will fancy Sergio Garcia to go back to back now he has got the monkey off his back while the young Belgian powerhouse Thomas Pieters will be looking to build on his 4th place finish at Augusta. But the one that stands out at the odds is sneaking in under the radar a little despite a Masters play-off loss just 2 months ago.

justin-rose-zurich-classic_3295658

I have liked Justin Rose for this most of the year. Firstly, he has an almost unrivalled record in majors for consistency over the last 5 years. Since 2012 he has played in all 21 majors, missing the cut just three times. Those 21 events have yielded 16 top 25s, with 6 of those providing returns for each way backers and of course he also has his 2013 U.S. Open win. To put those in perspective, Rory McIlroy has won three majors since 2012 but he only boasts 13 top 25s in that same period and world number 1 Dustin Johnson only has 11. Stenson has 12, Matsuyama 9 (only played 1 in 2012) and even the poster boy for brilliant non-winning performances at majors, Sergio Garcia, only has 10. Justin Rose’s game is built for majors, there are few who are as solid tee-to-green and as adaptable to any course. Difficult championship courses take the pressure off his short to mid-range putting and allow his ball-striking to rack up the pars.

What makes him perfect for this week’s test is the unknown quantity of the course. With very mixed reports about the layout, ultimately people will guess as to how exactly Erin Hills will play. The great thing about Rose is that he is just as home on a bomber’s layout as he is a fiddly, narrow course like Merion where he won in 2013. The only negative for me is that he has been suffering from a slight back injury but having missed Memorial to rest up I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he is fully fit for Erin Hills. Rose’s 2017 stats aren’t quite as sharp as always but he still sits prominently in many of the key ones for this week. Rose is 25th in driving distance, 14th in GIR, 13th in strokes gained: tee to green and 10th in scoring relative to par for approaches over 200 yards. Not always the best of chippers, Rose should enjoy being able to putt around the fringes as his lag putting is very strong.

But the clincher with Rose this week is how he has played on courses similar to Erin Hills. Rose was 4th at Whistling Straits, 12th at Pinehurst No.2 but the most interesting one is his Scottish Open win. That win was at Royal Aberdeen which I alluded to earlier.  Just how much Erin Hills will actually play like a links course we don’t know but Rose’s confidence in his long game means he will be comfortable committing to a line and yardage despite not being able to see where the ball finishes.

To me there are the least negatives about Rose this week. Given his major record, there is still some value in his price, his consistency means he is almost assured to play well and his adaptability means however Erin Hills plays across the four days he will be fully prepared to handle it.

I am convinced that Jon Rahm will love this course and he is actually a fair price at 22/1 but I can’t ignore just how poor his attitude was when he missed the cut at Memorial. I won’t be in the slightest bit surprised to see him contend here but at the same time I think I can just about leave him out. Again with Dustin Johnson I am happy to let him win at just 8/1 when he missed the cut last time out. At a similar price to Rahm I think Rickie Fowler looks to be the best back up to Rose  at the head of the market. He has already won this year and his stats are absolutely brilliant for this. He has missed his last two U.S. Open cuts but he was back to his major best when leading the Masters after 54 holes. He had a rotten final round alongside Spieth and while on paper it looked a good pairing for them, I think both would be better suited to playing alongside someone who they aren’t quite so friendly with in a final round at a major. Fowler will have learnt from that though and he is driving the ball better than he ever has, currently ranking 1st in total driving. He is also 20th in GIR, 6th for strokes gained: tee to green, 1st in birdie average, 13th in bogey avoidance and 21st in scrambling. I really like his chances for The Open this year at Birkdale but it would be very annoying to see him win this without any money on.  A saver bet is recommended.

Outsiders to go well

While it looks very likely that one of the top 10 or so players in the world will come out on top this week I think there are still some longer prices  around for golfers who are playing well and could at least contend, allowing us to either trade them or back them in the place markets.

Russell Henley, Kevin Chappell and Brendan Steele look like the perfect sort of low-profile, home-grown winner that we have seen over the years in U.S. majors, most recently Lucas Glover in 2009 and Webb Simpson in 2012. These left field winners are more likely to pop up at the U.S. PGA but Erin Hills has a little bit of a PGA type appearance.

Henley is having a great year and has a solid stats profile for the week. He ranks 22nd  in GIR, 18th in total driving, 13th in birdie average, 15th in bogey avoidance, 13th in strokes gained: tee to green and an impressive 4th in scoring relative to par from approaches over 200 yards. He has won already this year in Houston and he is also a fine wind player having won on exposed layouts in Hawaii and Florida. He doesn’t possess the best of U.S. Open records recently but he did finish 16th as an amateur at Pebble Beach. He also finished 12th at Whistling Straits in 2015 and arrives off the back of his best major finish to date at Augusta where he finished 11th. Henley first made his name on Tour as a brilliant putter so if he brings his best long game then he should be suited to the test.

Kevin Chappell will be on a few more radars having won in May and also finishing 4th last week. Chappell has long been my idea of a U.S. Open winner such is the consistency of his long game across 4 days on a tough course. His stats aren’t fantastic but in all honesty that isn’t really his game. He is all about making tough pars while others around him fall away. Despite this maybe not quite being the usual U.S. Open grind I think he is playing too well to leave out this week.

Brendan Steele looked a great top 20 bet at the Masters and only just fell short finishing 27th but he is slowly finding his feet at the majors. He was 15th at Oakmont last year confirming that he enjoys fast greens and his best major finish to date was at Whistling Straits where he also finished in a tie for 12th. The Texan is used to the wind and he is a two-time winner on Tour who I think has a contending major performance in him now as an experienced 34 year old. Given he is usually an unfashionable pick, he looks over priced in all the key markets.

If the links theme does play out then it might pay to have a proper links exponent on the team and for that reason I’m going to back Tyrrell Hatton and George Coetzee. Last year Hatton was 5th at Royal Troon, he won the Alfred Dunhill Links and he also showed he is comfortable on long U.S. championship courses with another top 10 at Baltusrol. He will come into his own around these greens this week and should enjoy the test.

Coetzee is an absolute short game genius but he has been working hard on his long game too and has been reaping the rewards in Europe of late. He was last seen shooting a final round 66 to finish 4th at the Nordea Masters and that was the latest in a run of results which read 4-MC-8-8-11-8. Coetzee finished 7th at Whistling Straits and now that he is feeling fitter and playing well he will fancy his chances of a good showing this week.

Lastly I want to have Thomas Pieters onside in some capacity so will have a Top 10 bet. This is his U.S. Open debut but we saw what he was capable of on his first look at Augusta and this course will suit his combination of power and touch around the greens perfectly. Probably has a better temperament than Jon Rahm so while he may throw in a big number or two I expect him to enjoy the week on the whole.

First Round Leader market

Jason Kokrak is an out and out bomber but he also puts up very good GIR numbers on courses that fit his eye. He will enjoy the wide fairways and he should be able to get close to the flags. Kokrak has a habit of getting a little streaky and with an early tee-time I’m hoping he can go low on day 1.

Stephan Jaeger has won twice already on the Web.com Tour this season and is 1 win away from automatic promotion to the PGA Tour this season. But he is virtually assured of a 2018 PGA card so he will have absolutely nothing to lose, certainly not on day one and he has a history of flying out of the blocks. Jaeger equalled the lowest professional round of 58 last summer in his first round of the Ellie May Classic which he would go on to win by 7 strokes. That tournament is played around TPC Stonebrae which doesn’t look dissimilar to Erin Hills with lots of rolling fairways and fescue grasses. Jaeger’s last four opening rounds were 68-65-64-69 too so he might just be a little over priced at 200/1.

I couldn’t settle on a third 1st round leader pick so I have decided to back them both given how much fun the first round market can be. Jason Day will be only too aware of how poorly he has started his majors since his breakthrough US PGA win. His five opening rounds since have been 74-68-73-76-72 but that hadn’t been the norm up till then in his career. The five before that read 68-66-68-67-69 and I have a feeling he could take to this course early on and give everyone a reminder of his talents.

David Lingmerth was lying 2nd after the first round at Whistling Straits when he opened with a 67 and again he shot that same score to sit 2nd just two weeks ago at Memorial. The Swede enjoys a tough test of golf and he has an early tee-time on Thursday. Worth a go at a general 100/1.


 

Summary of Bets

Justin Rose – 3pts ew @ 25/1 (Betfair Sportsbook – 1/5th odds, 8 places)

Rickie Fowler – 1pt ew @ 22/1 (Skybet – 1/5th odds, 8 places)

Russell Henley – 0.5pt win @ 200 on Exchange and 1.5pts Top 20 @ 5/1

Kevin Chappell – 0.5pt win @ 80 on Exchange and 1pt Top 10 @ 6/1

Brendan Steele – 0.5pt win @ 230 on Exchange and 1.5pts Top 20 @ 5/1

Tyrrell Hatton – 0.5pt win @ 180 on Exchange and 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

George Coetzee – 0.5pt win @ 450 and 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

Thomas Pieters – 2pts Top 10 @ 4/1

 

Jason Kokrak – 0.25pt ew @ 150/1 1st Round Leader

Stephan Jaeger – 0.25pt ew @ 200/1 1st Round Leader

Jason Day – 0.5pt ew @ 25/1 1st Round Leader

David Lingmerth – 0.25 pt ew @ 100/1 1st Round Leader

(All 1st Round Leader bets are with Betfair Sportsbook 7 places at 1/5 odds)

 

Weekly pts advised – 21pts

Total 2017 pts advised – 280pts

 

@theGreek

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Shell Houston Open – Betting Preview

Last week it was a case of another tournament, another Dustin Johnson win and yet another poor betting week. With the Masters next week and confidence a little low I’m not planning on getting too involved this week as I save the stakes for Jordan Spieth (barring any torrential rain over the coming week at Augusta).

Total 2017 pts advised =135pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 77.66pts

ROI = -42.5%


Shell Houston Open

Last year I came to the conclusion that there were four key attributes to playing well at Humble Golf Club and they were par 4 scoring, driving distance, GIR and holing out well. While it didn’t help me find the rather left-field winner Jim Herman, I think the skill-set applied quite well. I’ve looked at the same attributes again as Herman did seem to conform even if he wasn’t an obvious winner.

Justin Rose hasn’t played a lot of golf this year due to injury so unlike some of the others at the top of the market, he will be eager to get the most out of Houston in order to prepare for Augusta. In recent times he has missed this tournament as he prefers a week off to prepare for a major however he was 14th in 2010. But with his relative lack of events I think it is telling that he is teeing it up on a course that doesn’t immediately jump out as one that will suit him.

Since Rose became the world-class force that he is, he has played well the week before his win. On his last 6 wins he has finished 22nd, 6th, 2nd, 1st, 8th and 5th in the tournaments preceding his win. He is good enough and experienced enough now to see no negatives in winning the week before and we have seen plenty of the game’s best players do it over the last 10-15 years.

Rose is no slouch off the tee and he ranked 26th in driving distance in 2016. Few players hit more greens on a consistent basis and over the last 3 months he ranks 15th for Par 4 scoring. While he isn’t the best of putters, it is usually more the 5ft-15ft range that he struggles with rather than holing out. He has always looked more assured on smoother bentgrass greens and 5 of his 7 PGA Tour wins have been on the surface. Ultimately though, Rose just looks a little forgotten about in this field and at 22/1 he looks a very solid each way play.

With Tony Finau just missing out on the match play there was a lot of talk about him last week and that has held over this week heading into Houston. Despite missing the cut last year, the wide open fairways and length of the course suggest that Finau should be suited to the layout. Last year, while he was playing very well at the time, he wasn’t hitting as many greens as he is this year and he was also coming off his first PGA Tour win the week before. That is never quite ideal as you only have three days to celebrate and prepare for the next week. This year he ranks 14th for GIR whereas he finished the 2016 season in 106th place. That improvement will help him on a second shot course like he faces here. Digging a little deeper into the GIR stats shows that Finau is performing even better from 175-200 yards as he is 3rd on Tour. A solid long iron game will always be helpful on a course where past winners include Hunter Mahan, Paul Casey and Adam Scott.

It’s very possible that Finau won’t putt well enough to win this but the switch over to bentgrass should be favourable for him. While he is beginning to look a little skinny at 40/1, he will have the added motivation of trying to qualify for the Masters next week and hopefully that will be enough to see him get competitive and give us a run for our money.

Last year I tipped Lydia Ko to win the first Women’s major of the year at 9/2 (almost the last winner on the blog!) and while she is in fairly poor form by her standards, I can’t resist the 18/1 on offer this time around at the ANA Inspiration. It is more of a suggestion on price alone as the odds make her 10th favourite this week and while the strength in-depth on the LPGA is by far and away the best it has ever been, I feel like her achievements have been dismissed a little too easily here. Ko did miss her last cut but prior to that she recorded 3 top 10s in a row. The New Zealander has changed clubs and coach since her last win in July so a transitional period was to be expected but it is surely just a matter of time before she turns things around. At odds of 18/1 it’s easy to play this week just incase last year’s major win inspires her again. Just 1pt win only though.


Summary of Bets

Houston Open

Justin Rose – 1pt ew @ 22/1

Tony Finau – 1pt ew @ 40/1

ANA Inspiration

Lydia Ko – 1pt win only at 18/1

Weekly points advised – 5pts

Total pts advised – 140pts

@theGreek82