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So we've made it to the second Major Championship of the season, the 2015 US Open. Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington plays host to the 115th US Open which USGA Executive Director Mike Davis describes as a 'unique' golf course. For new visitors, Golf Betting System is into its 7th season providing free statistics, predictor models and previews across every Major Championship, PGA and European Tour event. We also have a thriving golf betting community with constant golf betting chat and insight from golf punters 24/7 on our Facebook Group. Welcome and don't hesitate to get involved!
Okay, let's get into the heart of the matter. The 2015 US Open features an international field of 156 players that includes 17 amateurs, the highest number since 1991. Nestled on Puget Sound, this municipal course - designed by Robert Trent Jones II - was only finished in 2007, but to all intents and purposes looks and plays as a genuine links golf course. This week is a definite step into the unknown, so here's my US Open preview which walks you through some interesting angles that have shaped my final selections.
The US Open has an established track record of delivering triple digit each-way punts in the paying places. Erik Compton at 400/1 is a case in point from 12 months ago, so it's well worth reading our dedicated Longshot and First Round Leader preview by Paul Williams.
Course Guide: Chambers Bay, which is the most flexible ever format that a US Open has visited, is set in an old quarry creating a natural amphitheatre. Throw in fescue grasses, towering sand dunes, massive fairways and views of Puget Sound and you get the feeling that the Robert Trent Jones II design is a real homage to Scottish links. The course will play as a stretching Par 70 with the yardage varying by day as tee positions can be moved on a total of 10 holes. It's also been confirmed that the 1st and 18th will alternate between Par 4s and Par 5s each day. The course will play between 7,492 yards and an intimidating 7,804 yards with the USGA pulling the strings each and every day.
Chambers Bay, University Place, Washington: Designer Robert Trent Jones II 2007; Course Type: Technical, Coastal; Par: 70; Length: 7,492 - 7,804 yards; Fairways: Fine Fescue; Rough: Fine Fescue 4"; Greens: 8,700 sq.ft average featuring Fine Fescue; Tournament Stimp: 12-12.5ft; US Open Scoring Average: 2012, Olympic Club: 73.84 (+3.84), Difficulty Rank 11 of 49 courses. 2013: 74.55 (+4.55), Difficulty Rank 1 of 43 courses. 2014: 73.08 (+3.08), Rank 1 of 48 courses.
Course Overview: On any new course it's hard to draw conclusions as to exactly what players will face. However what is clear is that conditions will be firmer and faster than we saw 12 months ago at Pinehurst Number 2. The course is undoubtedly long with 9 Par 4s measuring over 480 yards if the USGA decide to play it at its shortest. From tee-to-green the course features huge elevation changes, uneven fairways, a number of unsighted drives and approach shots plus lots of sandy hazards and bunkers (remember Whistling Straits in 2010). Fairways are undoubtedly wide, but numerous ridges can send drives into rough or hazards. Holes run between sand dunes so errant drives are either collected in graduated rough which can be up to 4" in length, sandy hazards or thick gnarly fescue. What's for sure is that the winner this week will need to excel with their ground game. It's clear that targeting the flag will often need a player to aim at user friendly 'backstops' on 12 of the green complexes which will channel the approaches towards the hole. Naturally links golf always plays to the strengths of creative players who have excellent 'on the ground' skills in terms of both approach shots and scrambling.
Winners: 2014: Martin Kaymer (-9); 2013: Justin Rose (+1); 2012: Webb Simpson (+1); 2011: Rory McIlroy (-16); 2010: Graeme McDowell (E); 2009: Lucas Glover (-4).
Tournament Stats: We've published some key player statistics for this week's event that are well worth a look. Naturally they'll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Top 20 Finishes.
Published Predictor Model: Our published US Open predictor is available here. You can build your own tailor-made model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Key players included in the Top 5 of the Predictor include Brandt Snedeker (Predictor number 1), Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker and Matt Kuchar.
Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on a 10-tournament window that stretches back to the Shell Houston Open and includes both PGA Tour and European Tour. Players must have played in a minimum of 3 main Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:
Winners & Prices: 2014: Kaymer 40/1; 2013: Rose 28/1; 2012: Simpson 80/1; 2011: McIlroy 22/1; 2010: McDowell 80/1; 2009: Glover 225/1. For a summary of winners' odds on the PGA Tour for the past 5 years based on the 2015 schedule click here.
Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Chambers Bay is here. It won't surprise you to read that conditions will be firm and fast across the whole tournament. No precipitation is forecast and the sandy nature of the course means that any impact is short-lived. The breeze picks up on Friday but whether there is any draw advantage is negligible at best at the time of writing.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the last 5 US Open Champions gives a little insight into what the event demands:
You can work statistics to form any kind of argument, but taking the last 5 US Open renewals, Scrambling and Putts per GIR have been the most important skills followed by Greens in Regulation. Chambers Bay is undoubtedly a unique course, but what's clear is that creativity will be required with both approach shots and scrambling.
So let's take a view from officials and players as to just how Chambers Bay will play this week:
Mike Davis: "There are places out on the golf course where you got blind shots, semi-blind shots, which in and of itself is a very interesting thing. Makes you feel like you're across the pond on one of the great links courses. This is a very wide golf course. Easily, easily the widest golf course we have ever played a US Open on. This course will positively play firm and fast; add slopes and undulations, and from a player's standpoint, you really have to think your way around this golf course. We want to reward somebody that can hit the ball a long way. We want to reward somebody that's got accuracy. Who can control their distance, who can control their spin, put spin on it, take spin off the ball, who can hit it high, low, curve it right to left, left to right, who can recover. I would contend that there is no way, no way, a player would have success here at Chambers Bay unless he really studies the golf course and learns it."
Phil Mickelson: "Well, I really like the golf course. I think what Mike Davis said a few weeks ago is really true in that if you're going to be ready for this tournament, it takes a lot more time to learn the golf course than just a couple of days, and if you're having to use Monday through Wednesday to do that, you're not putting that effort into your own game. I really like the golf course, and I think that it's a special course in that there's a lot of different ways to play shots to a lot of different pins, and if you play the highest percentage shot, it's not a hard golf course. But if you don't know what that shot is, you play the wrong one, there's a lot of penalty."
Ryan Moore: "Well, as firm as it is already, I don't think it really matters to have a lofted club into a green, because you're not going to stop it anyways. You can hit a full sand wedge and it's rolling 10 or 15 yards, at least. It's not necessarily an advantage to get it way down there, it's not easy to get it around the hole even if you have a pitching wedge. You have just as good a chance hitting a 7-iron and bouncing it and rolling it in there. It's more about being at the right angle and giving yourself the right approach to the green, so you can use the swales and use the slopes to your advantage."
Jason Day: "You can definitely take advantage of length if you have it and really have shorter clubs into greens that are really rock hard, that are obviously tough to control, especially if you're hitting 7- and 6-irons into them. The imagination comes from that around the greens. The next part is preparation and planning and really understanding where you need to land it. However I'm still sticking to my guns, I think a long player is going to win it this week."
Although this week might be a 'unique' US Open, I'm still expecting a tough test. Undoubtedly this will be a grind rather than a birdie shoot-out and players with real patience and creativity will ultimately triumph. We may see scoring that's slightly lower than previous years, but the USGA have plenty of levers to pull and this course is going to be fiery. Length has to be an advantage, but only players with a well-rounded game will ultimately succeed. Ultimately par-making, scrambling and 3-putt avoidance will prevail in my opinion. I've looked for players with a strong coastal and links track record and previous success on the west coast is a huge positive for obvious reasons. My selections are as follows:
Phil Mickelson 2pts EW 18/1 with £10 free bet: - for a golf betting review of Stan James by GBS readers click here.
Forget about season stats with Phil Mickelson. It's all about momentum and focus with Lefty, who these days uses PGA Tour events as little more than practice for the big Major prizes. This week sees Phil hit Chambers Bay with renewed confidence after an excellent Sunday showing at TPC Southwind backing up 2nd at Augusta and 5th at Quail Hollow. The US Open has always been the Holy Grail for the 44 year-old who has finished runner-up 6 times and in the each-way paying places 8 times from 22 attempts. Chambers Bay sees the Californian make his second attempt at his personal Major Grand Slam. A course that favours longer hitters, creative shot-makers and top-notch scramblers has undoubtedly excited Mickelson who was busy doing his homework at the course with short game coach Dave Pelz in late May. In interviews Phil has made it clear that he has a plan and is working diligently to perfect the shots needed to carry out his on-course strategy. 19 of Mickelson's 42 PGA Tour wins have been on the west coast swing and the opportunity for the 2013 Scottish Open and Open Championship winner this week couldn't be greater. RESULT: T64
Dustin Johnson 2pts EW 22/1 with £200 deposit bonus: - for a golf betting review of bet365 by GBS readers click here.
DJ's WD at Southwind last Thursday was great for 2 reasons. Firstly he arrived at Chambers Bay over the weekend and secondly it added 6 points to an ante-post 16/1 price that hadn't moved for months. The Predictor Model Number 2 selection, who grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and attended Coastal Carolina University, has always played brilliantly by the coast (winner at Pebble Beach 2009/2010, Kapalua 2013) so it's no surprise to see that his best Major performances have been by the coast. Naturally he should have won at either Pebble Beach (US Open) or Whistling Straits (PGA Championship) in 2010 and he had a great chance at Sandwich in 2011. From those defeats some question Johnson's mental strength, but a 2-time World Golf Champion (HSBC 2013, Cadillac Championship 2015) surely has the right credentials to win a Major on the right course. Chambers Bay will play to all of his strengths and it's clear that Butch Harmon's product has the links-positive game to shine this week. RESULT: T2nd
Jimmy Walker 1pt EW 40/1 with £25 Free Bet: - for a golf betting review of BetVictor by GBS readers click here.
When it comes to west coast United States golf in recent seasons, nobody has had more success than Jimmy Walker. So I'm happy to see him out of the spotlight this week (and not grouped with Tiger Woods as he was at Augusta) on a course I'm sure will suit the 36 year-old Texan. Wins on the coast at Waialae (2014 & 2015), Pebble Beach (2014) and in northern California (CordeValle 2014) highlight a player that simply loves golf in these parts as do Top 4 finishes at Kapalua (2015), Riviera CC (2011/12) and Torrey Pines (2013). Jimmy can hit the ball a mile, move it both ways and has top-notch distance scrambling and putting. It's no surprise therefore that the FedEx Cup Number 2 is one of the best All-Round players on the Tour right now and, after a needed post-Colonial Butch Harmon session, topped the same category at TPC Four seasons 2 weeks ago (he finished 2nd). Butch Harmon has a bottle of $1,200 Chateau Margaux in his wine cellar that the instructor is waiting to open when Walker wins his first Major championship. Three top-9 finishes in his past 4 Major appearances suggest it might be sooner rather than later. RESULT: T58
Predictor Number 1 Brandt Snedeker arrived in Washington late last week and has been diligently priming himself for the challenge of Chambers Bay. Snedeker, by his own admission, is playing well and the World Number 30 has always been the sort to play well over prolonged streaks. Snedeker openly admits that he prefers old-style courses plus tougher tests and his coastal form is a real eye-opener. Wins at Torrey Pines (2012), Pebble Beach (2013 & 2015) and Harbour Town (2011) headline coastal results which include excellent showings both here at the US Open, but also at the Open Championship. 9th at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines and 8th at the 2010 edition at Pebble Beach jump from the page and it's worth remembering the Snedeker was the 36-hole leader at the Royal Lytham Open in 2012 before eventually finishing 3rd. 11th twelve months later at the incredibly firm and fast Birkdale should have been so much better after sitting in 4th after the opening round, however a second round 79 scuppered his chances. Brandt was 9th twelve months ago at Pinehurst Number 2 whilst in the midst of a career-low slump in form, so everything points to a big showing this week in a part of the world he thrives in. RESULT: T8
Watch these tips on YouTube with Steve Bamford: Golf Betting System YouTube Channel
Our predictions and final tips for the 2016 US Open will be published here on the Tuesday before the event.