VINCE BLISSETT (@Vince_RFC) shares his expert opinion on the 2017 US Open from Erin Hills.
US Open | 15th-18th June 2017 | Sky Sports
The US Open takes centre stage in the golf world this week and it could be a cracker.
Erin Hills is the host course and it looks fantastic. It’s not been used for a professional tournament before so course knowledge is thin on the ground for everyone, players included.
The 2011 US Amateur Championship was held here and a few of this week’s entrants included in that play here – Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Russell Henley amongst others. Whether that is an advantage is debatable but something to keep in mind.
There was a video doing the rounds a few weeks ago of Wesley Bryan showing off very thick foot-deep rough, which caused some alarm. I’m sure some will see that and think accurate drivers are the way to go this week but I’m taking the opposite stance and ignoring it and looking more towards the bigger hitters.
It’s a long course, officially listed as 7,741 yards in length but that will vary each day as almost every hole has multiple tee boxes. The fairways are extremely wide which will aide those not too accurate. There are also four par-5’s to attack, which in theory, should be an advantage to the bigger hitters.
There’s plenty more to be said about the course but I won’t go into it all here. For anyone interested. the PGA have a number of good articles on their site and every other preview will delve into the course in detail.
I expect the winner will rank pretty high in the putting rankings and as always giving yourself birdie chances is vital. Greens in regulation is normally the go-to stat but in Majors and high quality fields like this, you need to go that little bit further and take as many of those chances as possible.
Unless the putter is on fire, the best way to do that is to get approach shots as close to the flag as possible.
Fortunately, within the myriad of statistics the PGA keeps there’s the perfect one for that in ‘proximity to hole’. Proximity to the hole from the rough could also be of interest for those that like to go really stat heavy. The European Tour don’t keep anything for those, which will surprise no one – you’re lucky to get scores let alone any statistics from them.
The winner of the US Open, and Majors in general tend to come from the big names and those with some decent form in the recent past. Tie that in with someone who hits it miles off the tee, hits plenty of GIR, puts it near the flag and can putt and I’ve just described the market leader Dustin Johnson (8/1 Ladbrokes).
I’m not backing him though. Since his withdrawal on the first tee and The Masters he’s played in four tournaments with results of 2-12-13-MC. Pretty good form for almost anyone else but he’s not quite looked himself in that period.
His wife was also due to give birth last weekend and as of Tuesday morning doesn’t appear to have arrived yet. DJ won’t be travelling until it has so will have limited time on the course prior to Thursday. At 8/1 he’s too short for me.
Jordan Spieth (14/1 Ladbrokes)
He’s not one of the massive hitters but he does find the greens on a regular basis, ranking fourth in GIR on the PGA Tour and first in proximity to hole. His last two tournaments have seen a second at Dean and Deluca followed by a 13th at Memorial.
Nothing really stands out stats wise from those two except his putting average, ranking first and seventh respectively. If Jordan can carry that on this week coupled with finding the right part of the greens he may well be contending come Sunday evening.
Adam Scott (33/1 Ladbrokes)
My second pick is Adam Scott at a nice looking 33/1. The Aussie is someone I look to often as he’s a solid all rounder, ranking highly in almost every statistic but without excelling in any specific area.
He maybe should have won a few more tournaments in the last couple of years than he has done but he’ll be around for the weekend and lurking towards the top of the leaderboard more often than not.
Since the 2012 US Open Scott has teed off in 107 tournaments and missing the cut just six times, an impressive stat. This year he had a top-10 at the Masters and another at the Players – the unofficial fifth Major – and has had numerous top-10’s and top-5’s at all the Majors previously.
Scott has one Major win to his name – The Masters in 2013 – and looks to have a good chance of adding another this week.
Kevin Chappell (66/1 Ladbrokes)
Kevin Chappell is someone I spent a long time backing last year to pick up his first win to no avail. He picked up that first win at the Texas Open this year a few weeks after a seventh at the Masters.
Following that he took a slight dip which is to be expected but bounced back last week with a fourth-place.
Prior to the Masters he wasn’t playing too well so his season stats aren’t great but in those three tournaments mentioned he’s ranked very highly in all the good stats; driving distance, GIR and putting. I wouldn’t be surprised if he carries that on this week and at 66/1. he’s the pick of the mid-range guys, for me.
David Lingmerth (200/1 Ladbrokes)
My last pick is a big-priced outsider in the form of the Swede David Lingmerth at 200/1 (Ladbrokes). He’s been on my radar for a few weeks now due to his form that keeps continuing.
Four of his last five starts have resulted in a top-20 finish. He can also boast top-20 finishes in both of his previous US Opens, back in 2013 and also 2016.
Nothing stands out too much stats-wise on first glance but he ranks 32nd on the PGA tour this season in proximity to hole and sixth in putting average so there are positives.
A small stake at 250/1 is worth chancing in my eyes and 8/1 (888) for the Swede to finish in the Top-20 looks a good bet also.
As always bookies are all offering different amounts of places ranging from five to eight with different each-way terms. It’s a personal choice but I always take the best price available combined with the most places and where possible ¼ odds.