2015 US OPEN
18 June 2015
Chambers Bay Golf Course
This is a big event in every sense of the word! The course is huge, and unique among Championship courses in several ways, while the stakes are equally huge for the players with the rewards and character test that a Major victory delivers.
After Jordan Spieth's dominant victory at Augusta a lot of people, myself included, wondered whether we were entering a new era of dominant 20-somethings, especially after Rory McIlroy's two Major wins in 2014 and Rickie Fowler's Top5's in all four 2014 Majors. Add to that Patrick Reed's emergence at the top level, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama & Billy Horschel and the 20-something stable looks historically strong.
This US Open will further inform us in this regard but I expect youth to be overcome this time around by a 35-y-o but to prevail in the final two Majors of the year!
Chambers Bay is a fairly anonymous manufactured links an hour's drive south of Seattle, beside Puget Sound. It was built on an old sand quarry and opened in 2007.
It possesses all the usual links traits: fast & bouncy fairways, very quick (fescue) greens, many bunkers, testing run-off areas, incessant undulation and nuance, unlucky bounces and rolls and, of course, more or less incessant wind, though it's not expected to be an especially windy week.
The course is very long, with only one of the par3's under 200yds, and it favours longer drivers, especially given the width of the fairways – some up to 100yds! At 7780yds it's impossible to make a case for backing short drivers as they'll consistently be giving up 3-4 clubs to the bombers on their 2nd shots; over 72 holes that simply won't work!
The course has hosted just one significant tournament, the 2010 US Amateur, won by Peter Uihlein. Brooks Koepka is one prominent current pro who progressed from the two qualifying rounds of strokeplay in that Amateur, along with Patrick Reed, Morgan Hoffman, Patrick Rodgers, Patrick Cantlay, Byeong-Hun An, Justin Thomas, Harris English & Cheng Tsung Pan. It was a vintage crop, for sure, and I have a sneaking regard for one of them; read on.
What are the key skills required to succeed here? Long driving, excellent scrambling, ability to putt on fast greens and endurance; par may again be a good score this week, even in benign wind conditions.
A lot of analysts claim that Whistling Straits, where Rory McIlroy missed the Martin Kaymer – Bubba Watson playoff by a shot in the 2010 PGA Championship, has a strong correlation with Chambers Bay and I subscribe to that theory. It would be no surprise to see these three multiple Major winners in the mix on Sunday afternoon.
Top of The Market (prices from Skybet, Monday am)
Rory McIlroy 8.00
Jordan Spieth 9.00
Phil Mickelson 17.00
Justin Rose 19.00
Dustin Johnson 19.00
Rickie Fowler 19.00
Henrik Stenson 29.00
Adam Scott 34.00
Hideki Matsuyama 34.00
Bubba Watson 34.00
Jason Day 34.00
Rory McIlroy arrives off the back of consecutive missed cuts but he merits favouritism given his length off the tee and Major pedigree, especially if the weather is as mild as forecast.
Spieth is simply a phenomenon and a win wouldn't surprise in the least; he continues to escalate his game and it's hard to believe he's still just 21. However, the kid's price is a bit short for my liking.
Phil Mickelson has found great form in recent times and finished off very nicely in Memphis last week. Most readers will be aware that he has finished runner-up six times in his home Open and no golfer on the planet would be a more popular winner here. Can he win a Major at age 45? I hope so but think not.
Justin Rose created some doubts about his temperament after allowing David Lingmerth to beat him recently at The Memorial. His links record is patchy at best and he's hard to like here at 18/1.
The top of the market is rounded out by two Major nearly-men in Rickie Fowler & Dustin Johnson. Will a long-anticipated first Major victory for either occur this week? I don't believe so.
A bit of a surprise to see the top Aussies rated as long as 33/1 but the fragile Jason Day has been out of form and even the return of Steve Williams to the bag may not compensate for Adam Scott's putting woes!
The Top Contenders to Win
My Top5, in no particular order, are: Bubba, Kaymer, Matsuyama, Snedeker & Reed.
Based on recent form, Bubba, Kaymer & Reed may be a notch below their best, so my top two selections automatically become: Snedeker & Matsuyama and in a direct comparison of the two Snedeker gets my vote owing to his superior maturity and links record.
Twice a winner of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, owning Top3's in The Open Championship & The Masters, Snedeker has been in hot form of late, is a superb scrambler & putter and looks real value at 45/1 – 50/1 around the bookies.
Also, the US Open has a bit of a habit of delivering a sole Major victory to quality US pro's: eg Furyk, Glover & Simpson in recent times.
Best Each-Way Bets
My top value each-way selection is Chris Kirk who I rate 60/1 and who's paying 80/1 – 100/1 with the books. A late developer, Kirk has won in each of the past three years on the PGA Tour, most recently at Colonial in late May.
He has never been a factor in Majors but keeps on improving and, though he's not that long off the tee, his game has no serious deficiencies and I believe he has the skill-set and temperament to be able to cope with Chambers Bay.
My other value each-way or Top5 selection is Brendon Todd who I rate 80/1 to win it but who is widely available at 125/1. He's been solid if unspectacular all year, ranks #12 on tour in scrambling and is also highly ranked in strokes gained putting.
He was a nice 17th last time out (Memorial) and also finished 17th in last year's US Open at Pinehurst.
For a Top10 or Top20 bet it's difficult for me to go past Morgan Hoffman at 250/1 – 300/1 with the bookies.
As mentioned above, he has played the course well in competition. Also, he hits it long and is a superb putter, both desirable performance stats for this course.
My first ever Major preview with no mention of Tiger Woods. Well, until now, that is. Can Tiger win? That's impossible to contemplate given the recent state of his game and a long Major drought dating back to 2008. Realistically, perhaps a 100/1 chance?
The key stat for me this week among those who can drive ok is scrambling. This season on the PGA Tour, Snedeker ranks #3, Matsuyama #7, Spieth #8 & Bubba Watson #13 and I expect the winner to be one of these four players.
Cheers and Good Luck with your golf punting!
Written by: @SmartGolfBets