Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: US PGA Championship: US Open

US PGA Championship: US Open

The so-called FedEx Cup ‘Super-Season’ began in earnest last week with a subdued Safeway Open.  But the first of six Majors in this newly revamped season certainly ups the ante for all players concerned. 

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2020/2021 US PGA Tour
The West Course, Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York
17th-20th September

The so-called FedEx Cup ‘Super-Season’ began in earnest last week with a subdued Safeway Open.  But the first of six Majors in this newly revamped season certainly ups the ante for all players concerned. The 120th US Open Championship will be like no other before.  Firstly, the lack of fans will give the occasion a sense of solemnity that could be unnerving.  But it will also be the first US Open to be staged outside of June since 1931. The field of 144 is by exemption only, making it the smallest field for the event since 1932. Both Scottie Scheffler and Sam Horsfield have had to withdraw from the event at the last moment due to positive Coronavirus tests (a pity, as both players have been in great form on their respective tours). It’s yet another timely reminder that there are still bigger macro-concerns than who lifts this year’s US Open Trophy. 

It seems like a lifetime ago when Gary Woodland denied Brooks Koepka his triumphant US Open three-peat last year. Woodland’s 13-under par winning score was testament to the fact that Pebble Beach’s famed cross-winds never really materialized.  If history teaches us anything about the United States Golf Association, it is this: they are sadistic. After Rory romped home to victory at Congressional in 2011, we had two consecutive US Open winning totals over par.  Koepka’s runaway victory at Erin Hills was followed by another super-slick outing at the fearsome Shinnecock Hills: the USGA is famed for lightning putting surfaces and ultra-firm conditions. Using that as a reference point, you can fully expect this to be yet another slyly sadistic USGA layout. That is only enhanced by the reputation of this week’s venue: The West Course at Winged Foot. 

This will be the 6th US Open staged at Winged Foot, an A.W Tillinghast masterwork that will stretch the golfers to their absolute limit.  Gill Hanse renovated the course between 2016-2018, a full decade after Geoff Ogilvy won the last US Open staged here in 2006. This course is an utter brute, with narrow fairways and potentially luscious rough to contend with. Tillinghast’s infamously contoured greens will test the scrambling ability of every player. Last time around, Ogilvy won in a total of five-over par. Just a little anecdote to reveal the dangers of the West Course: Billy Casper laid up on the par 3 3rd every single day in his 1959 triumph. He got up-and-down on every day. Clearly, in the age of DeChambeau, this won’t be an issue. But I wouldn’t imagine us getting anywhere near Woodland’s winning score from last year. This is going to be a grind in the finest US Open tradition, with those able to find greens in regulation and scramble effectively likely to succeed. 

2016 champion Dustin Johnson enters this event in the form of his life, romping home to victory to secure his maiden FedEx Cup title. With every facet of his game in tip-top shape, it would appear that he is most definitely the man to beat this week. Jon Rahm’s victory over Johnson at Olympia Fields may prove to be something of a harbinger for this week’s event: Rahm won in a brutal event that prevented low-scoring. Brooks Koepka misses out this week due to a recurrence of his knee issues.  Rory McIlroy found a semblance of something at his beloved East Lake last time out. Tiger Woods will be looking for some magic this week while Colin Morikawa aims to show that TPC Harding Park was no fluke. 13 of the last 18 Major Champions have been first time winners, meaning that we can really expect anything this week. 

Past Winners 
2019: Gary Woodland (-13)
2018: Brooks Koepka (+1)
2017: Brooks Koepka (-16)
2016: Dustin Johnson (-4)
2015: Jordan Spieth (-5)

Betting Favourites (To Win)
Dustin Johnson (8/1)
Jon Rahm (9/1)
Justin Thomas (14/1)
Xander Schauffele (14/1)
Rory McIlroy (16/1)

Value Bets

Louis Oosthuizen
To Win (66/1), To Place (13/1)

I’m opting for a Major specialist who tends to love these masochistic tests. The former Open Champion famously owns the career Grand Slam in runner-up finishes at Major Championships. His runner-up finish in this event came at Chambers Bay in 2015 (where Spieth won in a fairly high score of -5). He hasn’t finished outside the top 25 in four US Open’s since then.  That includes a tie for 7th at Pebble Beach last year. He also had a top 10 at Congressional in 2011. He has made his last seven cuts, including a tie for 6th at the WGC St Jude- once again showing his acumen in stellar fields.  Last time out at the BMW Championship he finished 1st in scrambling.  He looks a solid bet in the place markets. 

Martin Kaymer
To Win (110/1), To Place (22/1)

2014 US Open Champion Martin Kaymer has experienced something of a renaissance of late, leading some to believe that he could be a dark horse contender this week. The two-time Major Championship won at Pinehurst by eight strokes, with no other player finishing better that minus 1.  He has four top 10’s in nine European Tour events this year. That includes back-to-back top 10 finishes in his last two events. Kaymer plays well on challenging layouts but will need to hole a few more putts this week should he wish to compete. 

The Man to Beat

Jason Day
To Win (30/1), To Place (6/1)

Day’s recent resurgence in form is all the more amazing considering he only sits 65th in strokes gained putting. I still feel a little sceptical when I see him over a testy 8-footer.  But prior to two disappointing events to end the season, Day had recorded four consecutive top 7 finishes. True, it has been over two years since his last victory.  But the former World Number One and Major winner has shown a proficiency on these testing US Open layouts: he has finished inside the top 10 in five of his last nine appearances. He finished in 4th place at the US PGA Championship and could be the man to tame this monstrous course.   

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