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US Open 2018

The world’s top players descend on New York to Long Island to test their game around the notorious Shinnecock Hills in the second major of the season.

It last hosted the US Open back in 2004 when South African Retief Goosen put in an inspired final round to take top honours, winning by two shots from Phil Mickelson and that pair were the only two players to finish under par.

Since that Championship, the course has been lengthened and now plays 7,445 yards for a par-70 round.

It is the closest course in America to a Links style, so it might be worth looking towards the Open Championship for some pointers while the conditions, which are likely to be testing with the wind mean accuracy but also distance could be key.


Picks

Obviously, Dustin Johnson arrives here on the back of winning the St Jude Classic and his driving is a huge asset to him, plus he’s won a US Open. However, I couldn’t back anyone that short in a major.

Rory McIlroy looks to have had the ideal preparation heading into the event, so could perform well, while Jordan Spieth could well shoot low with this course likely to give him an ideal test, so last year’s Open winner could prove a little too big at a best price of 20/1.

The first of my bets is Tommy Fleetwood, who acquitted himself very nicely at last year’s US Open when finishing fourth at Erin Hills.

This will be a different test for the 27-year-old but he recovered well from a disappointing first round at last year’s Open at Royal Birkdale and this course could play in a similar fashion.

He started that with a 76, which wasn’t ideal, before ending T27 at +1 but showed in his third round that he had the game for a major tournament.

The pressure of that being on home soil with him being a Merseyside lad may have had a part to play given there was plenty of media coverage around his chances.

With six of the last ten winners being in their 20s and in the world’s top 20, then he the player ranked 12th in the world ticks a few of the trend boxes.

At Augusta, he played solid golf finishing T17 and more recently finished T7 in the Players Championship, which could prove to be a similar test.

67% driving accuracy on the PGA Tour this season with an average distance of over 300 yards, so the distance is there and the accuracy may need to be more in the 70s for a major; he’s also nearly 67% for greens in regulation and doesn’t come out too badly on the scrambling stats.

There seems plenty going for the steady Liverpudlian and he can go well in search of his first major.

Usually I end up going for the likes of Marc Leishman and Rafa Cabrera-Bello, while the former could go well around here I’m going to swerve both (we know this ends badly).

Tony Finau has the potential off the tee and around the greens to put in a winning performance but he arrives here on the back of a missed cut in the St Jude Classic, which isn’t ideal.

A triple bogey at the 18th in his first round and going out in 39 (+4) in his second round made the difference to him missing the cut.

That said, he has a good Open Championship record, so this test could be more to his liking however his driving accuracy does put me off despite his distance off the tee.

The evergreen Phil Mickelson was second here when the course last hosted the US Open and his touch with the irons could give him an edge, so I can understand why plenty are talking up his chances.

Masters winner Patrick Reed could be a player that relishes this test with his driving a key asset and after getting that major win under his belt, he will hold no fear heading to New York.

I can’t turn down Alex Noren this week given he’s been playing some really solid golf with a T3 in the BMW PGA Championship around Wentworth, a title he won last year with a superb final round.

Wentworth is a course where the wind can blow strongly, so he’s got form in wind, which should aid him around here.

The Swede was T2 in the Famers Insurance Open to start his season and a few weeks later went close in the Honda Classic when missing out by just one shot – Tommy Fleetwood was one shot behind Noren that tournament too.

He was T6 at the Open last year, which is steady enough and after making the cut at Evens, his third round just kept him ticking over with 17 pars and a birdie in a round of 69. That was also his best round for fairways hit and greens in regulation, so he did give himself opportunities that day.

His driving and short game is fairly sound, it’s the putting that has the slight question mark but like a few in the field, if he can get his putter warm then there is a chance he will score at least one low round to give himself a chance.

His temperament is one that should suit this test with the cool and calm approach likely to be required.

For the final pick, I had two names that came out quite nicely in a few statistical areas and they are both 100/1+ in the betting.

They were Gary Woodland and Kyle Stanley but preference is for the latter on recent performances.

Stanley lost in a three-man play-off at the Memorial shooting a five on the first hole and Bryson DeChambeau then went on to defeat Byeong Hun An, so he does arrive here in good form.

Boosting the fact he went close in that tournament is the fact that seven of the last ten US Open winners had posted a top 12 in their previous start.

Prior to that, he was fifth in the WGC Dell Match Play and was T10 in Hawaii, which can be windy.

There are bits and pieces in his form to suggest this track could suit him. Average driving distance of 292 yards with an accuracy of 70% is what you need and he offers exactly that.

Only three players on the PGA Tour this season have been more accurate than Stanley off the tee, so that is something very positive to go alongside the distance.

Throw in a near 72% Greens in Regulation then you’re getting close to a perfect blend with only Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott bettering that stat with Woodland just below.

A scoring average this season of 70 is par around here and if you’re hitting something close to par this week, then you stand a good chance of being in contention.

The 30-year-old from Washington ticks plenty of boxes for his all-round game and recent performances, so at a three figure price is worth having on side.

If you want to have a small punt on a huge price then look towards Matthew Southgate, who has excelled in the last two Open Championships.

The 29-year-old finished T6 at Royal Birkdale on -4 after making the cut at +4, so rounds of 67 and 65 to complete the tournament show he has got that dig-in attitude.

He drives at just shy of 300 yards however he would need to be a bit more accurate than his average of 60% of fairways found.

He’s 600/1 with eight places available with Bet365 and given that performance on a similar style course with some loose driving suggests his iron play and putting could stand up to this test, so he could be worth a bit of loose change.

 

NOTE: Paddy Power and Coral are going TEN places, while a few others go EIGHT places.

Once again, it’s about whether you want PRICE or PLACES in deciding who to back with, so I’ve gone with best price – eight places and then ten places in the advice section.

 

Advice:

Tommy Fleetwood – 50/1 Betbright (6) or 45/1 (8) or 33/1 (10)

Alex Noren – 66/1 Ladbrokes (5) or 55/1 (8) or 40/1 (10)

Kyle Stanley – 125/1 William Hill (6) or 100/1 (8) or 80/1 (10)

 

 

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