GOOD luck to you all this week on picking your US Open winner. It’s a really tough one to call due lack of form on the course but here’s my picks – and I wouldn’t put anyone off waiting to see how the first round pans out before hitting the outrights.
Chambers Bay Golf Club is the problem – beautiful as it looks. The course nestles on the shores of the Puget Sound, near Seattle, in Washington State.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr and completed in 2007 it is based on Scottish links courses and boasts just one tree – that’s tree not tees. It’s got around 90 tees, believe it or not, allowing all different lengths of holes to be played.
Some days holes will be tough par fours and on other days they’ll be easier par fives – so if nothing else it promises to be interesting.
In 2010 the US Amateur Championship became the first big tournament to be held there and in the last round there were more rounds in the 90s than there were under par – that’s usually how it is when I play with Mr Fixit.
Chambers Bay is going to suit players with lots of experience on links courses, someone such as Phil Mickelson. He had a good Masters, finishing T2, and a T4 in the Wells Fargo but missed the cut in between at the Players and then a bad two final rounds at the Memorial.
However, he first a final-round 65 to finish to finish joint third at the St Jude Classic on Sunday so maybe his game is coming together in the Mick of time.
His short game could be the deciding factor on course with rock-hard fairways and undulating greens. With two runner-up spots and a win in The Open he obviously loves links golf and he’s one of my picks this week.
He’s 45 today and this could be his final chance to win the tournament he’s been runner-up in six times to complete a career Grand Slam.
Justin Rose was 12th last year and became just the fourth US Open winner since 1991 to finish higher than 30th when defending his title.
He has been steadily building up his form since his T2 in the Masters and although he missed the cut in the Players Championship he, has won the Zurich and a T2 in the Memorial.
I backed him a couple of weeks ago and there is nothing to suggest to me he won’t be fighting it out on the Sunday afternoon. Forgetting the Players he has an average in his last three tournaments of 77.38% in driving accuracy and 72.22% in GIR and strokes gained:putting of 1.01.
I backed Dustin Johnson at the same time as Rose and although he pulled out through illness last week I still think he’s in with a chance at Chambers Bay. As I said last week Dustin’s going to rip some course apart, maybe not here, but he will be challenging on Sunday as long as he’s fit to play and the weather’s not too bad. If it blows forget it.
When I look at the stats Henrik Stenson stands out. He is T2 in GIR (72.2%), 11th in driving accuracy (70.36%) and 15th in strokes gained:putting. He had a great run from the middle of December with four top-five finishes and two top 20 but at the Wells Fargo finished a disappointing T58. If he can get back to his earlier form he could be in with a chance.
Sergio Garcia finished a good T2nd in the Open last year to Rory McIlroy and has a quite a good links pedigree. He’s not had the greatest of seasons but a T2 at The Players last month hopefully signals a return to some kind of form. His driving accuracy has improved on average over the past two outings and his GIR in the Players was a very good 73%. Worth a small wager.
Last year Rickie Fowler targeted the Majors and it certainly paid off for him with two seconds, a third and a fifth. This season he’s had a T12 in The Masters and following his win in the “fifth Major”, The Players, would love to land his first Major on the west coast just north of his home state.
He’s come close a couple of times in The Open and is getting used to links golf so he is my final pick.
Phil Mickelson 2pts ew (18-1, 888sport, Betfred)
Justin Rose 1.5pts ew (20-1, Paddy Power)
Dustin Johnson 1pt ew (22-1, Betfred, bet365)
Henrik Stenson 1pt ew (25-1, Ladbrokes)
Sergio Garcia 1pt ew (40-1, 888sport)
Rickie Fowler 1pt ew (22-1, William Hill, bet365)