CHAMBERS BAY was a controversial choice to host the US Open – and the event looks wide open.
Golf chiefs have plumped for a young course that will play more like The Open than a traditional US Open.
Some top players are expecting a Chamber of Horrors but other are looking foward to four days of inventive golf where keeping the ball in play, being patient and handling anything the weather throws up will be key.
So while world No.1 Rory McIlroy tees off as 7-1 favourite across the board I’m looking further down the field – and it would be fantastic to see Phil Mickelson finally be crowned his national champion after being second six times.
Lefty was 25-1 at 888sport and enters the event in good shape after a final-round 65 in the St Jude Classic earned him a third-place finish. That was the price I quoted in today’s Record but with some respected golf tipsters also backing him his price is down to 16-1 with most firms.
He was second in The Masters and while no player over 40 has won since Payne Stewart in 1999 this type of course where accuracy is more important than power favours older stars.
Three of the last four Open champs – Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Darren Clarke – were in their 40s – and Tom Watson and Greg Norman both contended past their 50th birthdays.
So Mickelson, 45, can’t be ruled out on age grounds and having won The Open and Scottish Open in 2013 there’s no doubt he can play links golf.
Rickie Fowler is another lover of links and outshone McIlroy in the Irish Open at County Down last month. While McIlroy, who favours target golf, was blown away by bad weather Fowler would have been top five barring an eight, eight finish to his third round.
Fowler is a rare breed of young American golfer who loves the traditional game and he’s willing to travel to the likes of Ireland and also the Scottish Open to experience links at their best.
He won the “fifth Major” at the Players Championship earlier in the year and having finished top five in all of the Majors last season is overdue a win. He’s a best 22-1 with the likes of Betfred, William Hill and bet365.
My third choice is England’s Justin Rose who pushed Jordan Spieth as hard as he could to finish second in The Masters.
Rose has a decent Open record and is in super form so can’t be ruled out at 18-1 with bet365 and BetVictor, cut from 20-1.
For a long shot I thought about Brooks Koepka, a winner two weeks and someone who played when the US Amateur Championship was held at Chambers Bay in 2010. He is 60-1 at 888sport but not sure if he’s ready to be a Major winner.
However, having read an interview with Ryan Moore I’m taking him at a massive 100-1 at BetVictor and Paddy Power. Unlike most of the field Moore knows the course well. He’s a local lad who’s played it many times and more importantly says he loves it.
The scoring was high at the US Amateur five years ago 2010 and it will be the same here if the wind gets up so inplay betting fans must keep an eye on the weather forecasts before hitting the markets. Most firms are playing six places but some just five.
Phil Mickelson 2pts ew (16-1, various)
Rickie Fowler 2pts ew (22-1, bet365, Betfred, William Hill)
Justin Rose 1pt ew (18-1, bet365, BetVictor)
Ryan Moore 0.5pts ew (80-1, 888sport)