Wednesday, 14 June 2017

US Open 2017 - Erin Hills, Wisconsin

The USGA bring their National Open Golf Championship to Wisconsin for the very first time this year and it promises to be an exciting week ahead. Erins GC will be the 7th public course to host the US Open and the 3rd in the last 4 years. It will be the first privately owned course to host the tournament. Having hosted the 2008 US Women's Amateur Public Links and the 2011 US Amateur Championships, former owner and founder, Bob Lang will see his dream realized this week when the US Open is added to its portfolio. Sadly, due to financial reasons, Lang had to sell the course to Andy & Carlene Ziegler in 2009. Due to family commitments this week, its highly probable that 6-time runner up, Phil Mickelson won't make his 14:20 tee time alongside local boy, Steve Stricker and Stewart Cink. A course that boasts a lucky charm as its logo hasn't been kind to significant interests so far (or perhaps the Zieglers see it that way).

Dustin Johnson hopes to defend his title and in doing so become the first to do so since Curtis Strange achieved this way back in 1989. Indeed, Johnson really should be going for a hat-trick this week as his three-putt on 18 at Chambers Bay allowed Jordan Spieth to double up from his Masters victory earlier that year. Johnson's US Open form is powerful; he also finished 4th at Pinehurst in 2014.Not only is his US Open form strong but he arrives here on the back of 7 TOP10s in his last 10 Majors (he did not play Augusta this year). He has also arrived this week having become a Daddy for the 2nd time on Monday.

To emphasize the chances of the world's best in the Majors, and particularly the chances of the current world's best, Jordan Spieth became only the 6th player in history to win the Masters/US Open double in 2015 and their closest rival presently, Jason Day has produced TOP10s in his last 4 US Opens (5/6 TOP10s in total). Rory McIlroy will go looking for his 2nd US Open title here and his 5th Major. The Masters champ will tee it up for the 18th time having only missed the cut twice in the past. He has 5 TOP10s. Justin Rose, winner at Merion in 2013 and the Olympic Gold Medallist, arrives this week looking to go one better than Augusta in April where he was beaten by Sergio Garcia in a play-off. Erin Hills looks to be a course ideal for Rose to add to his Major tally.

There has been a few notable golfers who won their first ever Major at the US Open ; Jack Nicklaus (1962 for his first professional title), Johnny Miller (1973) and Rory McIlroy and now that Sergio has handed the "best golfer never to win a Major" title over, Rickie Fowler looks to be the next in waiting and he can break through at Erins Hill this week. The Californian has missed the cut the last two years but was 2nd to Martin Kaymer at Pinehurst and 10th behind Justin Rose the year before.Rickie is 11/13 this season, with a win at The Honda classic and 6 T-10s , 9 T-20s. The second of those missed cuts came last week following an opening 76 in Memphis  but his runner-up finishing at Jacks Place the week before is evidence enough that his game is in fine form. As good a putter as Jordan Spieth, Fowler is a fine exponent of wind play which looks to be the key factor this week and his win at Gullane GC in Scotland two years ago as well as his win at Abu Dhabi in 2016, look to emphasize his prowess for wind playing. Erins Hill has been commented on as to be a course subject to wind. At 25/1 to do so, I'm backing him to claim his first Major this week in Wisconsin.

If I think Rickie is value @ 25s then former champion, Justin Rose has to be at 28/1. Despite no wins on tour this season ...yet, Rose's form is similar to Rickies as they rank similarly in Driving Distance, SG:TTG and SG:ARG. Rose with probably the slightly better game around the greens than Rickie, whereas Fowlers flatstick seems to be used a lot less than Justin's. The Masters defeat should ignite his confidence to go well here and if Erin's Hill needs a patient approach, then there aren't many better in that department than the Englishman.Justin is 6/11 in US Opens with a win and 3 TOP-10s.

Adam Scott could be a serious contender this week although despite solid Major form, its the US Open where he has yet to really excel.His best result to date was at Chambers Bay but has missed the cut 6 times in his 15 appearances to date. He does however seem better suited to this links type course and his 2017 form is progressive and can take confidence from a TOP10 finish last week in Memphis. 6th at Sawgrass and 9th at Augusta means Scott his bringing his best form into the big events. At 33/1 he is decent value this week.

When I first started to take a look at the course last year, I thought, its a course for Martin Kaymer. The 2014 Pinehurst conqueror hasn't won anywhere since but he's a big event player too and cannot be ignored too easily. That said, the market suggests that he is being ignored and is now available @ 100/1 + in places. That's huge for a two time Major Champion on linksy type courses in the US! The German can win anywhere (well maybe not at Augusta) and he's backed this up by winning The Players as well as 8 other European Tour titles at places such as Abu Dhabi( 3 times), Scotland (twice), Holland and France not to mention a WGC title in China. He's 5/6 on the Europeantour this year and 6/6 on the PGA tour culminating in 4 TOP10s. At 80/1 each way with 6 places on offer (1/4 odds with Bet365) he's worth a punt. At slightly bigger on the exchanges Kaymer can be backed to win @ 110.00

Ross Fisher is having a great season and won't be daunted here having played so well in the WGCs earlier this season already yielding a 6th at the HSBc and 3rd in Mexico.He'll make just his 4th appearance at the US Open this week having not played since 2010 but he was 5th at Bethpage in 2009. 22nd at Muirfield Village two weeks ago was ideal preparation and @ 200.00 outright and 125/1 each way with the 6 & 8 places on offer about, shows plenty of value. Tee to green, Fisher has the ideal game has proven himself in windy courses and conditions and with a perfect threeball out early on Thursday where he plays alongside fellow Horizon stablemate, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood, he may just be in for a good week.

From my shortlist earlier, I have three players that I'm keen to back in the TOP-20 market. Pat Perez,  Jamie Lovemark and in particular, Brendan Steele are also having solid seasons. All three rank ideally in the SG;TTG and DD as well as the crucial SG:ARG category. Only Lovemark has yet to win this season of the three but Perez has 9 TOP20s in his 17 starts with just one missed cut, Steele has 7 from his 14 starts (no MCs) and Lovemark has 4 from 15 (4 MCs) but arrives on the back of a TOP20 at the Byron Nelson and a TOP10 at The Memorial.

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Selections

2.0 pts e/w R.Fowler @ 26.00
1.75 pts e/w J. Rose @ 28.00
1.50 pts e/w A.Scott @ 34.00
0.75 pts e/w M.Kaymer @ 81.00
0.50 pts e/w R.Fisher @ 126.00

2.50 pts TOP20 B.Steele @ 7.00
2.50 pts TOP20 P.Perez @ 7.00
2.00 pts TOP20 J. Lovemark @ 8.50