The 117th US Open takes place at Erin Hills in Wisconsin this week, the first time this lengthy course has been used as an Open venue.
This prestigious tournament is usually a par 70, but a pair of extra par 5s have seen the par score raised to 72 for the first time in 25 years.
Power will be the key to conquering this 7,741-yard monster and, with wide greens, driving accuracy is likely to be far less important than is often the case.
Prepare for overuse of the word ‘fescue’ over the weekend, a.k.a the long grass that borders the fairways.
Several players have voiced concerns about the difficulty of playing out of the fescue but with the greens at their widest, they should have no excuse for finding it.
Putting-wise, Erin Hills is likely to be kinder than some previous US Open venues.
The greens are smoother, flatter and larger, and several are likely to be putt-able from off the green. If there’s a tie at the end of 72 holes there will be an 18-hole playoff on Monday, so have those ‘sickie’ excuses ready for the boss.
The stand-out stat among recent US Open winners is that nine of the last ten did not take part in a tournament the previous week.
However, this has not been lost on the main contenders and no less than 17 of the current top 20 in the betting failed to lift a club in anger last week.
Previous US Open form has been a good pointer to recent success.
Current champion DUSTIN JOHNSON, who won by a comfortable three shots at Oakmont last year, understandably heads the betting.
He has a fine recent US Open record, finishing a shot behind Jordan Spieth when runner-up at Chambers Bay in 2015 and tied-fourth at Pinehurst in 2014.
The world number one missed the cut in his latest tournament, but will be in a positive frame of mind after the birth of his second son this week and it would be no surprise to see him emerge victorious on Father’s Day this Sunday.
US Masters champion SERGIO GARCIA is an obvious danger now that he has broken his Majors duck.
The Spaniard warmed up with a respectable tied-12th place at the Dean & Deluca Invitational, only his third outing since his play-off win at Augusta.
Patience and a calm head have been missing from Garcia’s game in the past, but his US Masters win has taken the pressure off and he seems more relaxed these days.
The Erin Hills course should hold no fears, especially as he has finished 5th and 18th in the past two US Opens.
RICKIE FOWLER has yet to win a Major but was joint runner-up in the 2014 US Open (although he did finish a massive eight shots behind Martin Kaymer).
He landed the Honda Classic earlier this year and was just one shot off the lead at the Masters before a final-round 76 blew his chance.
World number two RORY MCILROY has had an injury-interrupted season and has not competed since the Players Championship four weeks ago.
He landed this tournament in 2011 but his best effort from five subsequent outings was a 9th place at Chambers Bay in 2015. He missed the cut last year and in 2012.
JASON DAY has been knocking on the door in recent US Opens, with two second places and a further three top-ten finishes in the past six years.
The Australian, ranked three in the world, has yet to win this year but recent signs have been encouraging.
KEVIN CHAPPELL, winner of this year’s Texas Open, is another who has performed well in the US Open, previously finishing third in 2011 and 10th the following year.
He chose not to rest up last week, opting to take in the St Jude Classic in which he finished in a five-way tie for fourth, just two shots behind winner Daniel Berger after shooting four rounds below par.
He could prove to be the best value among the outsiders.
US Open Golf Betting Odds
US Open Golf Price Boosts
Dustin Johnson to win, was 15/2, now 8/1
Rory McIlroy to win, was 12/1, now 14/1
Justin Rose to win, was 22/1, now 25/1
Sergio Garcia to win, was 25/1, now 28/1
Any of McIlroy, Rose or Garcia to win, was 11/2, now 13/2
For more golf odds, take a look at Grosvenor Sport’s golf betting.
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