THIS is the US Open’s first visit to Erin Hills with it’s Fescue grass fairways.
Fescue is normally associated with links courses in Britain and Ireland but it is also successful in Wisconson. Fine Fescue delivers quality playing conditions and requires less water and fertiliser.
The USGA has gone to great lengths to make sure this US Open is without any controversial moments.
Two years ago at Chambers Bay the USGA were probably the only people who didn’t criticise the greens which were so bumpy they wouldn’t have been good enough for a monthly medal They were so bad Ian Poulter said “they were the worst surfaces I ever seen on any tour”.
Then last year at Oakmont there was the appalling handling of the Dustin Johnson rules fiasco. Having notified the official on the 5th green his ball had moved he was told to play on.
Then after a few holes he was informed he was being penalised a stroke for causing the ball to move. Then after that he was told the committee would look at it again after the round so no one knew what the score was until the end. Shambles or what?
So this year the USGA is pulling out all the stops. Narrow fairways, unforgiving rough, hard fast greens and long holes are all normal for the US Open and it’s no different here.
Having read Kevin Na’s report on the rough at Erin Hills players are going to have to be accurate off the tee so I think Driving Accuracy is going to be an important stat. Also with the greens being slick Putting Average will also be worth looking at along with form at the moment.
A few of you will be surprised to know I am leaving Dustin Johnson out of my picks but check out my separate post on his record in the tournament.
It’s a hard ask to retain this title as I stated in my piece on DJ and the US Open and also he is too short for me.
Taking stats into consideration the one man I have fancied to win this for a while is Rickie Fowler. He has returned to the form of a couple of years ago and has seven top-10 finishes which includes winning the Honda Classic in February. He has cost me a bit of money the last couple of times I backed him (The Masters and the Memorial) and I am confident he can do the business this week.
When he was beaten a couple a weeks ago by Jason Dufner I didn’t think he did much wrong apart from a few birdies. He was good off the tee and looked really composed and focused on his game.
He has missed the cut in the last two US Opens but also has a T10 and a T2 in 2013 and 2014 and his game is so much better now. I expect him to be up there on Sunday. DA: 67.67% (19), Putting Average: 1.722 (6)
Kevin Kisner did me a good turn at the Dean & Deluca Invitational two weeks ago and has five other top-six finishes this season. The improvement in the 33-year-old’s game has been there for all to see.
He is 13th in driving accuracy and that will stand him in good stead. He played well at Chambers Bay, finishing T12 two years ago and although he finished T46 last year it wasn’t the best of playing conditions. Looks like he can handle US Open courses and looks good for a high finish here. DA: 68.84% (13), Putting Average: 1.775 (T101).
One man you can’t leave out in any Major is Jordan Spieth. Although his accuracy off the tee is not as good as it was he can still put himself into contention. In his first five starts this season he was never out of the top 10, culminating in winning the AT&T at Pebble Beach.
At that time I thought he was just going to dominate the game again this season but it hasn’t turned out that way. He has only had two top-10s since then and got himself into contention at the Masters only to hit a three-over 75, his second of the tournament.
However, you can’t discount Spieth when he gets on a roll and we all know how dangerous he is when his putter is working. A T17, winner and T37 in his last three US Opens should hold him in good stead. DA: 58.38% (127) Putting Average: 1.700 (2).
Louis Oosthuizen is one who is always comes in under the radar. Who can forget his rampaging charge through the field in the last round at Chambers Bay.
Unfortunately Spieth managed to hold on but it was a spectacular showing to finish T2. Last year he was T23 so the US Open holds no worries for the South African. His golf has been steady if not spectacular and a T2 at the Players last month showed he was in top form. Again one I will certainly be looking to be in contention on Sunday. DA: 63.29 (65)Putting Average: 1.783 (121).
I fancy Francesco Molinari to get into the top six this weekend. He has been playing more on the PGA circuit and his game has improved because of it. Although he doesn’t hit it long he is second in Driving Accuracy and that will probably be the telling stat here.
He has eight top 20s on the PGA Tour this season and finished The Players T6. In 2014 he finished T23 and the following year ended T27 in this tournament so has some sort of experience of how the courses are set out. Definitely worth a small bet. DA: 71.71% (2) Putting Average: 1.744 (T30).
2.5pts ew Rickie Fowler (bet365, 25-1)
2.5pts ew Kevin Kisner (bet365, 60-1)
2.5pts ew Jordan Spieth (BetFred, 16-1)
2.5pts ew Louis Oosthuizen (William Hill, 66-1)
1.5pts ew Francesco Molinari (Ladbrokes, 80-1)