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US Open Preview & Picks
Posted by: Darren Ramowski on Tue 12 Jun 2012
Weekly feature from David Jenkins looking at the top players and picks for this week's PGA Tour event the US Open Championship.
112th US Open Championship
If the famous Frisco fog lifts, and if you can see us, we are safely stationed on the West Coast US in the Bay Area. I say ‘safely’ as there is actually a fault, the San Andreas earthquake fault, lying (currently!) dormant right beneath our spikes on this patch of links; a links like no other. Here there are no water hazards, no out-of-bounds and only one fairway bunker. It’s a place of too many trees – around 30,000 – too little sunshine and holes where the ball may or not roll because of the heavy conditions but the score certainly can roll up. So, roll up, roll up - the greatest show on grass visit San Fran’s legendary no nonsense ‘sleeping lady’ for the 112th US Open Championship!
Date: 14th – 17th June 2012
Venue: The Olympic Club, San Francisco, California
This is the 5th time here and, like the course, cutting straight to the chase, she is wicked! She opens with the hardest six-hole stretch in golf and no more so that the 520-yard par-4 first! It is not a long track by today’s standards, but it boasts an abundance of elevation changes that will test the best players. And don’t expect players to go low: in the four previous Opens here, only four individuals have finished in red numbers. AND if conditions this week seem unreasonably challenging, top golfers know exactly who to blame; McIlroy’s (88/5 with BetFair) ‘cracking’ performance at last year’s Open not only left Congressional Country Club in shambles, but it gave the USGA a considerably bruised ego as well!
Yards: 7,170 yards
Par: Par 70
Of the 156 strong field, what counts is the simple fact that to win someone will need to string together four strong rounds – you would pay for that tip elsewhere!! Just as well that we have then assembled one of the best fields of 2012 including the last ten winners of the US Open from Lucas Glover (343/1) to Michael Campbell (969/1) and 5 years of winners of the other big three including Bubba (55/1), Harrington (79/1) and Kaymer (59/1). Let’s not overlook the top 60 in the world rankings including Lee Westwood (121/10), last year’s Tour Championship field with Bill Haas (135/1) and last year’s 10th place and ties to involve Sergio Garcia (53/1) and with a few other places then there’s the qualifiers from the regional heats including the story of the year about Casey Martin (969/1 – all BetDaq) – the man who sued the PGA Tour and now is permitted to drive a cart!!
With its small, firm greens and narrow, tree-lined fairways, Olympic Club generally favors finesse over power and so once again, it’s down to short game wizardry – so Phil Mickelson (24/1 with BetDaq) you think? But, the one who wins is likely to be someone who is not as renowned as the person he beats into second! In support, consider that in every US Open at the Olympic Club, the 54-hole leader has gone on to lose the tournament. Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart all threw away Sunday leads en route to runner-up spot against journeymen or unknown types.
Ones to watch:
Geoff Ogilvy (98/1 with BetDaq), 34, won the Open six years ago at Winged Foot. He’s ranked 50th in the world and has chugged along as a very decent pro without gathering much attention outside his native Australia. In 2012 he’s already had 6 top ten finishes but more relevantly ranks in the top 20 in scrambling, putting from inside 10 feet and top 5 for long range approaches. Similarly, 98 Olympic winner Lee Janzen claimed his first U.S Open title in 1993, five years before he showed up at Olympic to repeat the feat at age 33 with similar Tour stats. Ogilvy is practically a 1998 Janzen clone!
This year, perhaps more than any other, Luke Donald (14/1 with Ladbrokes) is as poised as he will be to win a major. The current world number 1 secured his second worldwide victory this year with a successful defence of his BMW PGA Championship title and ranks eighth on the PGA Tour in fairways hit, fifth in avoiding bogeys but most importantly carries top ten ranks on the European Tour in all putting disciplines with a #1 rank for one putts and extends that to scrambling too.
Ones to win:
Matt Kuchar (31/1 with BetDaq) is a good man, and more importantly a good bet. And, while not outspoken about his religion - as a regular member of the PGA Tour’s Bible study group - by Christ he is a strong bet given his record this season! With top-15s in the last two U.S. Open’s and top-10s in four of his last eight stroke-play starts this season including a win at the 5th Major, The Players. He's clearly a man on form and lies second in bogey avoidance, 10th in greens in regulation and has a string of GIR and putting top ten stats to support the string of leader board threatening results including scoring average.
This man is becoming a silent robot again! With seven top 25s in his last eight starts Jim Furyk (40/1 with Totesport) leads the PGA Tour in bogey avoidance and ranks second in fairways hit, 25th in greens in regulation and 24th in Strokes Gained-Putting. He’s spent much of the past decade ranked in the World Golf Top 10 and has secured five top five's in 17 starts in this event alone including his only major win in the 2003 U.S. Open.
After his win at the Memorial and a lengthy absence, we welcome back Tiger Woods as the bookies favourite (at 7/1) but not being that predictable and more than that, we welcome his odds for missing the cut (9/2 – both SkyBet!) – he’s missed three in the past 18 months! Does that make us more crooked than Lombard Street?
With his last US Open here in 1998 he obtained a rather shock result in ending up in a tie for 23rd, its local qualifying hero and cart bound PGA Tour nemesis Casey Martin, who delivers a remarkable 66/1 (SkyBet) return for merely achieving a top twenty finish! If successful, he’ll be going straight to Alcatraz for that one!
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