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

U.S. Open – Betting Preview

It was yet another week with no returns last week as both Colt Knost and Gary Boyd’s fast starts didn’t materialise. Knost was still in 7th place entering the final round but he had a poor round to finish down the field. I’m not going to dwell on that too much as its US Open week and we look set for a very interesting Tournament.

As the blog approaches its 1 year mark it is still showing profit but only just.

Total pts advised – 655.80pts

Total pts returned – 722.80pts

ROI – 10.2%


U.S. Open

The 2nd Major of the season is finally upon us and things couldn’t be poised any better in the world game. All the world’s top 3 have won tournaments in recent weeks so they arrive in great form and there are numerous young, exciting players from both sides of the pond who will be relishing the challenge after seeing relative outsider Danny Willet don the green jacket earlier in the year.

We head to Pennsylvania this week and to Oakmont near Pittsburgh for the 116th US Open and by all accounts we are in for a grind at a course that is hosting a record 12th Major Championship having already been the venue for 8 US Opens and 3 US PGAs. Of those 11 Championships, 9 have been won by multiple major winners so I won’t be expecting a Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem or Todd Hamilton to be winning this week from nowhere.

In 1903 Henry Fownes set about designing a course where “par is an indisputable standard of excellence” and after this week’s US Open there won’t be a single player in the field questioning his success. US Opens are usually tough but it’s about as tough as it gets at Oakmont Country Club. Phil Mickelson, who has played a few tough courses in his time, declared after two practice days that Oakmont was “probably the hardest golf course we have ever played”.

From when the course opened, together with his son W.C. Fownes, Henry Fownes tweaked the course over the next 30 years, being the first designers to really take into account the equipment changes that were occurring at the time. They designed a course that was some 30% longer than all its other peers and from the word go it was a considered a brute of a course. They also began to add more slopes to the greens and added bunkers into the landing areas for the elite players.

Some of the biggest changes occurred after Gene Sarazen’s US PGA win in 1922 when W.C. Fownes was annoyed at how easily Sarazen played the course after the greens were watered due to a sun baked summer. The course was lengthened, trees were added to further narrow the fairways and I’d be surprised if the greens were ever watered again during a Championship week.

Indeed so notorious are the greens at Oakmont that it was actually the scene of the invention of the stimpmeter, the instrument used to measure the speed of the greens. In 1935 the greens were perceived to be so fast that a way of quantifying the speed was required in order to keep them fair. Over the next 70 years there would be many more tweaks to the course but for this week’s purposes it will pay to look at the most recent. They occurred prior to the 2007 US Open as Tom Fazio was tasked with bringing the course back to its original design which had been lost a little over time. Many trees were removed, undulations added to the fairways, bunkers were reshaped and deepened and an extra 250 yards was added.

oakmont061107.jpg

The course now stands at 7255 yards with narrow, undulating fairways. There is a secondary level of rough which looks quite lenient but if it is cleared then there is a mix of thick green rough and longer fescue grasses for the properly errant. Should the rough be avoided then there are still plenty hazards with some 210 bunkers on the course and the fall of the fairway usually ushers the ball in their direction. These are classic links pot bunkers and many of them will only allow a sand wedge back into play. The course has a number of blind tee-shots and approach shots so distance control will be paramount at Oakmont. Additionally either spin or height will be required on approach shots in order to hold the slick, undulating greens. Therefore if you aren’t long off the tee you had better be accurate because hitting 200 yard plus approaches from the rough will soon take its toll on even the best short games. When the greens are missed then some of the thickest green side rough we have ever seen awaits them and they better hope someone was watching their ball as they will be hard to find in many spots. The slick greens are poa annua and while they are as pure as the players will see all year, they are also as fast as they will see all year with the greens likely to be towards 15” on the stimpmeter by Sunday. For those that haven’t seen the videos then they are worth finding just to see the full extent.

The most recent tournaments held at Oakmont and indeed the only ones that anyone in this field has played were the 1994 and 2007 US Opens and the 2003 US Amateur Championship. They were won respectively by Ernie Els, Angel Cabrera and Nick Flanagan (who incidentally is on the bag for fellow Aussie Aron Price at Oakmont).

The most pertinent form would be to look at Cabrera’s win in 2007 when the greens were firm and +5 was the winning score. It is expected to be more of the same this week. I looked in-depth to see what aspects of Els and Cabrera’s game make them suited to the unique Oakmont test and considered the 2007 leaderboard as a whole to find any strong common attributes.

I picked out the following stats to try to gauge whose game might be suited to the test. Driving distance, greens in regulation (GIR), GIR from fairway bunkers, 3-putt avoidance, scrambling, proximity to hole from 200 yards +, bogey avoidance, scoring relative to par from 175-200 yards in the rough, putting inside 10ft and strokes gained:putting. When a test is this tough then there is an argument that stats go out the window especially as Cabrera has never been one to shine in that department. But they are still a valuable indicator of who is performing in certain areas and for me these give a good all round picture of what will be required to grind out a score at Oakmont.

Additionally I looked at courses where Els, Cabrera or others in the Top 10 in 2007 had won. There were obviously a few that cropped up but by far the two most interesting were Golf Club Eichenried in Germany, which has hosted the BMW International Open, and Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Illinois host of the BMW Championship in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and prior to that the Western Open. Amazingly 6 of the Top 13 from 2007’s Oakmont leaderboard have all won around Cog Hill GCC. While Ernie Els has won at Eichenried so too has Niclas Fasth and Nick Dougherty who finished 4th and 7th at Oakmont in 2007 respectively. That could seem a little tenuous but Dougherty and Fasth didn’t exactly make a habit of contending at Majors. That was Dougherty’s only Top 10 in 14 Majors and Fasth only managed 3 from 24 attempts. It was certainly enough to get me to look closer at the course and Eichenried actually has poa annua greens that play quite fast at 12” on the stimp if weather conditions allow. Unfortunately being a European Tour course most of this field have never played it but it might still be of interest to help throw up some place bets at decent prices.

A case could be made for many of the top players in the field this week. Jordan Spieth is the reigning US Open Champion and arrives having beaten a decent field two starts ago in the Dean and Deluca Invitational when much of the media had written him off after his Masters disaster. Obviously the young Texan is one of the toughest players mentally that we have seen since Tiger and I don’t expect it will have much bearing on him this week. I’m more worried by the fact his long game hasn’t quite been firing in 2016 like it did in 2015 and he ranks a rather lowly 112th in GIR for the last 3 months. While he will probably contend he isn’t quite for me this week at a course that will demand every aspect of the game to be razor-sharp.

Rory McIlroy’s tee to green excellence will no doubt have him on the leaderboard this week but backing him to win tournaments on fast greens is an absolute no-no for me. His scrambling and putting just aren’t good enough and I’d expect to see him cut the now familiar agitated figure on the greens over the weekend as he fails to combine line and pace on the glass-like poa annua surfaces.

Adam Scott won the WGC at Doral in March on fast greens but it is a bombers paradise these days where it is very hard to compete unless you drive it 300 yards plus. He is another I couldn’t consider this week when the short game will be so important.

Dustin Johnson looks to have a great chance and he was probably the last one-off my shortlist this week. He has been in excellent form so far in 2016 but has just failed to get the win. His form figures of 5-3-12-28-4-3-5-14-4 stand up against anyone in the field and that 5th place finish last week was about the most Dustin Johnson performance you will ever see. Some of his golf was unbelievably good and he hit 19 birdies and 3 eagles across the 4 days but still managed to only finish on -9 due to some terrible shots which all seemed to fall on precisely the wrong hole and he found water 4 or 5 times I think. The most interesting thing about DJ this week is how much better he is putting this year, ranking 47th in strokes gained:putting. But I couldn’t quite pull the trigger given his major woes last year. As usual he could be one to follow in the 1st round leader market having shot a 63 on Sunday but I’m happy to leave him out until he gets his first Major under his belt.

Phil Mickelson’s game looks in good order and his putter has been on fire in 2016, ranking 5th in Strokes gained:putting. I’m expecting a huge week from Lefty but he puts so much pressure on himself to win his national Open that unfortunately it is easy to be against him this week. Being a huge Mickelson fan I will be pleased enough if he does get it done.

I have had one player in mind for this for a while and unfortunately it is rather boring, but the same player came out on top of my stats model so if picking one player to win this week it simply has to be the best player in the world and US Open favourite, Jason Day. His 2016 has been absolutely brilliant and while Mcilroy and Spieth have been good in spells, Day is playing to a higher level and he has 3 wins to his name already, with two of those coming at the high-class Players Championship and WGC Matchplay. If he hadn’t hit a triple bogey on the 15th at Augusta on the opening day then who knows what might have happened at The Masters. Crucially he ranks 1st for strokes gained:putting, 15th for GIR from fairway bunkers, 25th in bogey avoidance and 32nd in scrambling.

I was very keen on him for the US PGA last year and he won convincingly at a course that was set up perfectly for his mix of towering irons and brilliant touch on and around the green. I don’t think this is quite as perfect for the sometimes erratic driver but he has proven already in his short career that he can adapt when faced with US Open conditions. He finished 2nd on his US Open debut and while he followed that with a poor 59th place finish at Olympic Club, he has since gone 2nd, 4th, 9th with his 9th having come while suffering from vertigo during his 3rd round last year at Chambers Bay. There isn’t a player teeing it up with a better recent US Open record and for those concerned about him off the tee, he has hit 75% and 73% of fairways on his last two US Open appearances.

Day has won 7 of his last 17 starts and while comparisons to Tiger Woods are completely pointless, the facts alone tell us that he is the first person since Woods to start putting up the same sort of numbers in terms of wins. If he is to start racking up the Majors then he will have to continue winning them when arriving in form. His Masters week while disappointing was yet another Major Top 10 and I was already more than keen on his chances before I heard this little snippet on a European Tour magazine programme a few weeks ago on Sky Sports. Day’s agent Bud Martin is a member at Oakmont and Day played there as a young man when he first moved over from Australia. That is another key factor this week for me and given how meticulous he is in his preparation for all tournaments, I’m sure he will have gathered as much member’s knowledge as possible leading into this and with a week off he will arrive 100% ready and probably with more practice rounds under his belt than most of the field.

Patrick Reed showed how he thrives on quick greens when winning the WGC Cadillac in 2014 when they were as quick as we have seen them and only 3 players finished under Par. For me Reed is in the top 3 or 4 scramblers in world golf and he will relish the testing conditions this week. He hasn’t quite been at his best since chasing Spieth home in Hawaii in January and that has largely been down to a cold putter. However when I have seen him play this year he hasn’t appeared to be putting poorly, more often than not just struggling to get anything to drop. Reed himself has been on record several times stating how enjoys a tough test of golf. Ranks 14th for scrambling and 4th in bogey avoidance for 2016.

Brandt Snedeker has a solid US Open record not least due to his brilliant putting ability. He is one of the best putters around on poa annua greens and finished 8th at pebble Beach in 2010, 9th at Torrey pines in 2008 and he was 23rd at Oakmont back in 2007. His record tailed off a little but at Chambers bay last year when there was some poa present in the greens he grabbed another 8th place finish. As well as his US Open exploits on the surface he has 4 wins on poa annua and it seems to suit his short, stabbing putting stroke. Snedeker is also usually a good scrambler and I think he looks over priced for a player with 8 Top 10s in his last 30 Major starts.

JB Holmes has a similar liking for slick greens and showed everyone just that when shooting an opening 62 at Doral in 2015 on a day when only six others broke 70. He also led the stroke play section of the US Amateur Championship in 2003 shooting a 71 on his round at Oakmont and he then gained further experience of the course as he played two rounds of the Match Play section of the competition. He arrives in decent form with a 4th place finish last month at Memorial where the scrambling was tough with similar lush grass around the greens. He drives it longer than pretty much everyone and he can clear a lot of these fairway bunkers to leave himself shorter approaches in. As another player with towering irons he should be able to hold the slick greens.

Marc Leishman likes tricky conditions and he is another excellent scrambler who goes well on fast greens. He has a 2nd place finish at Cog Hill and he ranked 2nd in my stats model for this. I backed him a few times earlier in 2016 with no rewards but I still feel he has a huge performance in a Major in him and if that is to happen it will surely be on a tough track. He ranks 9th in 3-putt avoidance and 6th in bogey avoidance so he will surely keep mistakes to a minimum.

Paul Casey shot the lowest round of the week at Oakmont in 2007 on his way to a 7th place finish. With his recent upturn in form the last two years he will be looking forward to his return. He arrives with some impressive results so far in 2016 as he finished 4th at the Masters, 7th at the WGC Cadillac and 9th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. All 3 of those were on fast greens and while I think a Major is probably beyond him now he has a great chance of a Top 10 here.

Matt Kuchar rewarded his Top 10 backers on numerous ocassions from 2010 to 2014 such was his consistency. After a poor 2015 he appears to be back to his best with current form figures of 4-6-3-3. He ranks 19th in strokes gained:putting, 31st in scrambling and has seven Major top 10s since 2010. He should be backed for another here where he won’t be phased by the testing conditions. He also won his U.S. Amateur at Cog Hill back in 1997.

Retief Goosen used to be the main man on fast greens 10-15 years ago and both his U.S. Open wins came on lightning quick  surfaces. While it is a long time since he has won he has cropped up a few times over the last couple of years where conditions suit. He finished 4th last year at Eichenried and he actually arrives in sneaky form having finished 12th, 12th and 14th on his last three outings. When others will be tearing their hair out the laid back South African will be right at home on the greens and can surely crack the Top 20 again.

Chris Wood won the prestigious BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and it is usually played on some of the faster greens we see  in Europe. It is also a course that both Els and Cabrera have won on and it can be a tough test that is normally won by a classy player. Wood has clearly had a touch of class about him ever since he finished 5th at Royal Birkdale as an amateur. It took him a little while to fully get to grips with life on the European Tour but he is a 3 time winner now and he followed up his win at Wentworth with a solid 6th place last week in Austria where he ranked 2nd in scrambling. At Wentworth he ranked 4th for GIR so if he can bring both those aspects this week a Top 20 looks well within his reach.

Dustin Johnson was a cash machine last year on day one of the Majors, leading after 3 of them. Arriving in brilliant form after a 63 on Sunday I would expect him to come flying out of the blocks on Thursday again and looks a decent play in the 1st round leader market.

Aron Price has the 2003 US Amateur Champion, Nick Flanagan on his bag this week and that could help him save a few shots. I quite like silly links like this for 1st round leader bets so I’m going to try him at a big price. He qualified last week so his game must be in ok shape and hailing from Sydney he is used to slick greens. He actually finished 8th at the Australian Open in November at The Australian Golf Club and those greens are extremely fast and the whole course is very testing. He might just take to Oakmont.

 

Summary of bets

Jason Day – 5pts win @ 8.2

Patrick Reed – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Brandt Snedeker – 1pt ew @ 70/1

Marc Leishman -0.5pt ew @ 90/1

JB Holmes – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Matt Kuchar – 2.5pts Top 10 @ 7/2

Paul Casey – 1pt Top 10 @ 7/1

Retief Goosen – 2pts Top 20 @ 6/1

Chris Wood – 1pt Top 20 – 9/2 

Dustin Johnson – 1pt ew 1st round leader @ 20/1

Aron Price – 0.25pts ew 1st round leader @500/1 

Weekly outlay – 20pts

Total outlay – 673.50pts

@theGreek82