The US Open preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
Oakmont hosts this year’s event for the ninth and record time. Ben and Jack won here so it’s steeped in history and unlike Chambers Bay, a known entity.
Allegedly with the sloppiest greens in America this only serves to arm the USGA with even more weapons to make it play silly.
To be fair does it matter a jot? So what if 20 over par wins. We get sub par scores all year round and just because it’s a battle and not easy doesn’t diminish from the contest because let’s face it its not the course that is the feature, its just another tricked up track of land, it’s the players and competition between them. You put the entire field at your local course and its still a top rated contest.
The course is a classic US Open venue – Par 70 of 7,250 ish yards.
The ball will fly because its hot and the fairways will run. The rough will be stupidly penal. The abiding thoughts of the founders – and you’ll hear this again – was that a poor shot should be penalized. The cries will really come from the good shots that get less than their due reward. If any player bemoans this fact they are gone from the start. You simply have to accept that the rub of the green will sometimes not go your way. Of course sometimes it will.
The classic moaners we can rule out. Goodbye Henrik and Sergio (leads the tour in greens hit and won last time – yet his attitude will scupper any chance he has).
Last played here in 2007 and won by Angel Cabrera the course had some 7,000 trees removed prior to the 2007 event and has had a similar amount removed for this years event. The aim is to restore the original look of its creator. Who’d have thought you could remove 14,000 trees and not have a paddock left?
Despite this we can be fairly sure par will win it, or near enough. The rough and greens that will border on unplayable will ensure that.
On this basis you’ll need to be coming into the greens from on high and ideally with a short iron. Clearly we are talking of the longest, straightest and highest combination hitter of the ball – Rory.
The big three all come here with form but purely on last start Rory heads the trio. His 4th at the Memorial was significant for not only his tee to green game but also his putting. He made the (surprise) switch back to right hand below left and commented that he had ‘taken control’ of his putting. He posted a season’s best 1.826 strokes gained putting. Throw in 2 out of every three greens and 75% of fairways hit at a monster average and it all adds up to a man steaming with form. Of course Rory broke through for his maiden Major in this event and his career is so laden with great performances it’s hard to make a case against the man.
Jordan on the other hand finished 57th at the Memorial and seemed to underline the feeling that he won a Grade 2 event at the Colonial with his super freaky putting. He seems all over the place with alignment issues and its testimony to his competitive spirit that he can win when not at his best. Here though he looks a lay when you consider the pressure his short game will be under. As good as he is and even with top 5 finishes in his last 5 majors we simply have to death ride Jordan.
Jason Day is flying and may well have won this last year until he suffered that vertigo attack. World number one with wins here, there and everywhere – where are the weaknesses? A last time out 27th his worst of the season? The admission that he played on the Friday with no idea where the ball would go as he just couldn’t get comfortable, strange as it seemed at the time, and honest as it was, might just be a hint that the golden vein of form is tailing off. The one stat that suggests he may struggle is his 56% stat for fairways. Hit it off the tee at Oakmont and miss nearly one in two fairways and even with his short game and putting you’ll struggle.
Dustbin once again flattered to deceive last week and despite 5 top 10’s in his last 7 starts and finishing runner up last year I can’t have him. The left swipe of the blade over short putts seems to be his issue and you better putt well this week with a predicted 14 on the stimp.
We would never rule out the big 3 but you get the feeling one poor stretch of golf early and they are backable at twice the price.
Milky Phil, the Jimmy White of golf, could break his US Open hoodoo and join an elite Grand Slam club. I have a feeling he’ll win one of these at 55 – 60 such is his suppleness. Will he win it this year? Some great performances – he leads the tours scoring average – are mixed in with missed cuts so it’s anyone’s guess. What is undeniable is his long-term performances, his killer desire and improved putting (he lead the field in strokes gained putting last week and is number one from inside 10ft this year and is 3rd at 0.926 strokes gained putting). The one area of concern is his accuracy off the tee. At 56% he will need to drive it well this week and I suspect that his poor driving at St Jude may tempt him to use his mini driver this week – may. No one comes to this event more comfortable than Milky Phil.
1pt win at $34 on
Brooks Koepka. Brooks is our K man this week. Runner up on his last two starts allied to a T4th in 2014 and T18th last year, he’s bang in form. A winner in Europe and the US he screams class and were it not for the freak shows higher up the pecking order would be lauded for his achievements. He – like any contender – will have to have a top class week off the tee and if he does he has the game and the temperament to see this out.
1pt win at $55 on
Patrick Reed. Back on the top ten train last time out with a T35th and T14th to show for his last two US Opens Reed has the game to win these attritional contests. He opened with a 66, 69 at Chambers Bay before a poor third round 76. So he knows the rarefied air at the top of a Major and his confidence is well documented. Battle hardened from a busy schedule he comes in here relatively fresh with his scrambling and putting on song. Good accuracy stats off the tee on his last two starts suggest he’s driving it well. A neutral strokes gained putting for the season indicate his putting has not been what it was but this has improved in recent starts. What seals the deal is his number one strokes gained around the green which will be tested to the limit at Oakmont.
1pt win at $55 on
Bryson DeChambeau: Why? Because his name sounds like Champagne and we have staked our claim to this boy’s mast and because he wears a hat like Hogan. Not rational sure since his form has suffered after a brilliant pro debut 4th. We did however see signs of him being comfortable out there last time out at the Memorial when he got within a few of the lead. I’m convinced DeChambeau is only really interested in his Major tally as a benchmark of his career. It may not be here but if it is we want to be on.
0.5 units win at $300 on
1 unit top 10 at $13 with