US Open 2017 Preview


Our golf scribe runs the rule over the second Major of the year, the US Open.

The USGA has come under intense scrutiny in recent years for the manner in which it has been organised. As far back as Shinnecock Hills, the organisers have been abused for making the course overly punitive, eliminating potential low-scoring and essentially rendering it a battle of survival. Spieth’s victory at Chamber’s Bay in 2015 came amidst consternation as the greens seemed to be made out of concrete. Then there was the rules fiasco that could have prevented Dustin Johnson from winning his maiden Major at Oakmont last year. So it’s fair to say that the USGA would have welcomed a controversy-free edition this year.
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The early signs don’t seem so promising. Just ask Kevin Na. The telling - yet hilarious - video of him attempting to agriculturally hack his ball out of some unruly fescue sent a bit of a shockwave through the golfing world. Erin Hills - only 11 years old - is littered with pockets of truly uninhabitable fescue. Additionally, at around 7,441 yards, the course is set to be the longest in Major Championship history. So not only are there pockets of terrain that offer almost no relief, but players are almost certainly going to be driving more often than not. Fears have been tempered by others, however. McIlroy has pointed out - quite correctly - that the fairways are unusually wide for a US Open. Spieth has also stated that the US Open champion should at least be able to drive accurately.

Dustin Johnson is the nominal favourite at present to defend his crown - giving his distance and record this year. But in the wake of Augusta, the tour has proved almost entirely unpredictable. Johnson even missed his last cut. Spieth has remained relatively consistent, as have the likes of Jon Rahm and Kevin Kisner. Sergio hasn’t managed a top 10 in any of the four events since his long-awaited triumph at Augusta. And Rory McIlroy has hardly hit a ball in earnest following injury. On top of all that, Phil Mickelson - six-time runner-up at the US Open - looks set to forego the opportunity to win the career Grand Slam in favour of attending his daughter’s graduation in California.

So there are a host of sub-plots and potential narratives that look set to dominate during the first major ever to be played in Wisconsin. As will be seen in my predictions, I have steered away from outsiders as I really feel that Erin Hills looks set to reward the more fancied players this week.

US Open | Thursday 15 - Sunday 18 June | Erin Hills, Wisconsin

Past Winners
2016: Dustin Johnson (-4) | 2015: Jordan Spieth (-5) | 2014: Martin Kaymer (-9) | 2013: Justin Rose (+1) | 2012: Webb Simpson (+1)

To Win Outright

Dustin Johnson 15/2 | Jordan Spieth 12/1 | Rory McIlroy 14/1 | Jason Day 14/1 | Justin Rose 22/1

Value Bets

Thomas Pieters - To Win 50/1 & To Place 11/1
Thomas Pieters is clearly going to stand a chance given his huge driving game. The powerful Belgian is one of the cleanest young ball strikers that I have ever seen. He perhaps has not been as consistent as he would have wanted this season, but he has still managed to pick up three top 10 finishes. Of more importance: he has finished inside the top 5 at Augusta and a WGC event. His first Ryder Cup displayed his big stage credentials and I expect that Pieters could surge up the leaderboard this week.

Alex Noren - To Win 55/1 & To Place 12/1
Given that the States have always had more than a healthy dose of self-absorption, it’s no wonder that Alex Noren is being so wildly undervalued this week. The man has five wins in his last twenty events. That’s unbelievable form, regardless of what tour you are playing on. He recently shot one of the most amazing rounds in European Tour History by carding a 62 on Sunday to win the flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. His ball striking is incredible and one would imagine that the ice-cold Swede will be able to avoid catastrophe and challenge for his first major title.

Kevin Kisner - To Win 66/1 & To Place 14/1
Ever consistent, Kisner looks ridiculously overpriced considering recent form and all relevant portents. Kisner is one of the most accurate players on tour and should be able to navigate the potential disaster that lurks around every corner like a USGA rules official. Firstly, form at the Memorial has been a good indicator for success in the US Open. Four of the last six winners finished inside the top 10 in the Memorial. Kisner finished sixth at Memorial, following an excellent victory at the Dean&Deluca Invitational. He has six top 10 finishes already this season and could be well worth a punt this weekend.

The Man to Beat

Jon Rahm - To Win 22/1 & To Place 48/10
Jon Rahm burst onto the scene at last season’s US Open, finishing 23rd and winning the award for the best finishing amateur. And he has made an even more indelible impression since turning pro. He has had five top five finishes this season, including that all important breakthrough win at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open. His huge hitting will prove vital this week and he could become the sixth consecutive first-time winner of a Major. He will feel emboldened by the success of Sergio Garcia and he looks decent value in the upper echelons of the market.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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