US Open Preview

Golfer putts

Our golf writer previews the 188th edition of the US Open which is set to take place between 14 June and 17 June at Shinnecock Hills. 

The 118th edition of the US Open takes us to New York and the iconic Shinnecock Hills Golf Course. Shinnecock was opened in 1891 and just five years after that played host to the second ever edition of the US Open. Since then it has played host to three subsequent US Opens, including that infamous 2004 edition.

Phil Mickelson was left reeling by absurdly fast greens that seriously dented his chances of now being the owner of a coveted career Grand Slam. Retief Goosen won with a score of -4 in what is seen as an archetype of the worse instincts of the USGA in preparing this event. In wanting to severely test the limits of golfing ability they have occasionally strayed into the realms of farcical- see Chamber’s Bay and Shinnecock. So just what lies in wait for players at the revamped Shinnecock?

The US Open | 14 June - 17 June | Shinnecock Hills, New York

The course was originally revamped in 1931 by William Flynn who would also work on Merion- the sight of Rose’s recent success. But more recently it was the pair of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw who have looked to rectify some of the issues that plagued the 2004 edition. They have lengthened the course by almost 450 yards, making it a fairly monstrous Par 70 at 7,445 yards. But they have also widened the fairways considerably, suggesting that Driving Distance may be more important than accuracy this year. However, the knee-high fescue grass that awaits in the deeper rough means any errant drive will be extremely penal. The exposed, sand-based, links-style course has small, heavily bunkered poa annua greens. They will look to measure 13 to 14 on the stimp, so expect some nerve jangling four footers once again this week.

Clearly decent ball striking will be imperative this year while scrambling has proved quite important in recent US Open Championships. Dustin Johnson leads the markets after a surging win at the ST Jude Classic, and his chances of winning a second US Open crown can only be increased by the lengthening of the course. Brooks Koepka has been impressive upon returning from injury and will be confident in defence of his title. Jason Day and Justin Rose have won recently and both will be looking to add to their Major tally this week. Tiger Woods is always a narrative unto himself while Rory McIlroy looks to bounce back from a disappointing final round at Augusta. I haven’t even mentioned the American quintet of Spieth, Thomas, Fowler and Reed.

Furthermore you have what will surely be one of the last realistic chances that Phil Mickelson has of winning the career Grand Slam. European hopes will rest on the likes of Tommy Fleetwood and Jon Rahm in what is set to be yet another exhilarating Major event.

Past Winners
2017: Brooks Koepka (-16)
2016: Dustin Johnson (-4)
2015: Jordan Spieth (-5)
2014: Martin Kaymer (-9)
2013: Justin Rose (+1)

To Win Outright:
Dustin Johnson 10/1 | Rory McIlroy 14/1 | Justin Thomas 16/1 | Jason Day 16/1 | Justin Rose 16/1

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Value Bets

Branden Grace- To Win 40/1, To Place 8/1
Grace is a player who has recently excelled at US Open events that have been staged at links-style courses, finishing T4th and T5th at Chamber’s Bay and Oakmont respectively. He also seems to be in a promising vein of form, with six top 25's in his last 11 starts. This includes an excellent T3rd at the recent Byron Nelson. He completed four sub 70 rounds at Trinity National, including a final round 62. This at a course that was co-designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who have made serious alterations to Shinnecock. Grace should love the links layout and could be something of a dark horse this week.

Louis Oosthuizen- To Win 50/1, To Place 10/1
This is not a declaration of patriotic fervour, but my second pick is yet another South African with a penchant for peaking on the big stage. In finishing runner-up at last year’s PGA Championship, Oosthuizen completed the career Grand Slam of runner-up finishes. That means we are dealing with a player who has been one shot here or there away from being a five-time Major Champion. The former Chamber’s Bay runner-up will no doubt embrace the links-style of this course, which Jim Furyk has noted has a distinctly British Open feel to it. He had a top 15 finish at Augusta and has recently seemingly turned the corner in his form. He had a fifth at Fort Worth before a creditable 13th at the Memorial. His approach play seems to have improved and he could be a contender once again this week.

Webb Simpson- To Win 80/1, To Place 16/1
I’m quite surprised to see Simpson at 80/1, despite that missed at Fort Worth. Simpson romped home to victory in a dominant display at the Players that in my mind should negate the false start last time out. The 2012 US Open Champion at Oakmont has enjoyed a renaissance following a period of dormancy on tour. He has five top 5’s this season, including that rabble-rousing victory at Sawgrass. He also finished in the top 20 at Augusta, underlining the potential he has to succeed once again on the Major stage. To my mind that cut at Fort Worth came at just the right time to dramatically lengthen his odds and make him all the more appealing this week.

The Man to Beat- Justin Rose- To Win 16/1, To Place 32/10
2013 US Open Champion and current Olympic Champion Justin Rose is actually one of the few players out there to feature in the 2004 debacle at Shinnecock. He missed the cut that year and publicly berated the course, but his opinion has been changed by the numerous alterations made since. Rose will relish the links aspect and has always been one of the cleanest ball strikers on the tour. But it’s his immediate form that makes him the most appealing. Since missing the cut at last year’s PGA Championship he has played in 20 events. He has tasted victory on four occasions and has 11 top 10’s in that period. He has also yet to be cut in 20 events. His recent win at the Fort Worth Invitational came at just the right time to suggest he could be due another tilt at this crown.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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