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Erin Hills in Hartford, Wisconsin welcomes 156 players this week for the 117th United States Open Championship. For new visitors, Golf Betting System is now into its 9th season and we provide free statistics, predictor models and previews across every Major Championship, PGA and European Tour event. We also have a thriving 3,600+ member golf betting community with constant betting chat and insight from golf punters 7 days a week on our Facebook Group. Welcome and don't hesitate to get involved!
USGA Executive Director Mike Davis takes the U.S. Open to a new venue in 2017. Erin Hills is a first in many respects this week: the course is only 11 years old and has never hosted a professional men's golf tournament, Erin Hills is located in Wisconsin which has never hosted a U.S. Open and, more pertinently for golf punters, this will be the first time that a par-72 setup has been used for a U.S. Open since 1992.
We enter the U.S. Open after a couple of near misses at both The Memorial (Fowler 28/1 - 2nd) and the FedEx St Jude Classic (Horschel 33/1 - 4th) in half decent form. Our predictor models are also in strong form again, highlighting Daniel Berger within the published top 10 last week - let's see if we can go a step further this week and find the US Open winner.
Fancy some longer shots, first round leader or top 20 bets? Read Paul Williams' alternative market selections preview here!
2017 U.S. Open Key Bookmaker Promotions: Bookmakers have traditionally offered the poorest each way terms at the U.S. Open compared to the other 3 Major Championships. But 2017 sees the days of 5 places each way truly condemned to the dustbin as we've never seen as many bookmakers going 8 places each way at 1/5 odds at the U.S. Open. It's a tournament which always throws up triple-digit contenders so it's wise to maximise the places on offer. All of the current new customer sign-up deals for those offering 8 places each way are highlighted below:
Sky Bet have now offered the best or equal best each-way terms across the past 3 Major Championships. They also offer 6 places each way at full 1/4 odds across a whole host of regular PGA Tour tournaments.
Coral offered 8 places each way 1/5 odds at the 2017 Masters and 7 places each way across the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship last year. They've also offered 7 places on the PGA Tour at 1/5 odds most weeks in 2017 as well as a number of times on the European Tour:
Paddy Power have historically been the best bookmaker when it comes to extended places across golf. They offered 8 places each way at the 2017 Masters and offered best or equal best each way terms across ALL 2016 Major Championships. They've also offered 7 places on the PGA Tour at 1/5 odds most weeks in 2017 as well as a number of times on the European Tour:
Course Guide: Erin Hills will be a new experience for virtually all of the players in this week's field. The course designed by Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Ron Whitten has never hosted a professional golf tournament. So, like Chambers Bay back in 2015, Erin Hills will make its professional debut at no less than the United States Open Golf Championship. That's a big call by Mike Davis after mass condemnation of the aforementioned Chambers Bay, in particular the putting surfaces 2 years ago, as well as the much criticised in-play penalty warning of Dustin Johnson at Oakmont 12 months ago. The course itself is described as a heartland course, which certainly uses the Wisconsin Kettle Moraine topography to establish its challenge for the world's best. Waste high-fescue, blind tee shots, uneven sloping fairways, a number of blind and semi blind approach shots, closely mown green surrounds on all 18 holes and pretty severe Bentgrass green complexes will naturally make this a U.S. Open test in terms of scoring. Allied to expected firm and fast conditions, it's guaranteed that this will be a truly testing par-72 setup.
Erin Hills Golf Course, Hartford, Wisconsin: Designer: Hurdzan, Fry and Whitten 2006; Course Type: Technical, Inland Links; Par: 72; Length: 7,692 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 1; Fairways: Fine Fescue; Rough: Fine Fescue 4-5"; Greens: 6,650 sq.ft average A4 Bentgrass; Tournament Stimp: 13ft.
Erin Hills Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Erin Hills and how they compare to recent courses that we've seen on the PGA Tour:
Course Overview: On any new course it's hard to draw conclusions as to exactly what players will face. However we're promised wide, uneven fairways which will offer a huge amount of run. Naturally the course features high rough of the fescue variety, with the first cut at 4" to 5" with anything wider being greeted by waist-high golden fescue. As you'd expect at a U.S. Open, anything wild off the tee will be punished severely. There are a number of blind tee-shots on the property, which players lacking confidence will hate and a number of approach shots are blind or at least semi-blind, which again will need 100% commitment. There's plenty of elevation change on the golf course and with wind in play to varying degrees across all 4 days combined with fast conditions, finding greens consistently will be a huge challenge.
Erin Hills differs from most U.S. Open host courses as green complexes aren't surrounded by thick rough. Instead all 18 holes feature tightly mown green surrounds where balls will be routed into collections areas. No pitch shots out of thick rough, instead players will be able to be creative when they miss greens as they'll be able to putt, bump and run or pitch. Those kind of choices and the potential for indecision must strengthen the chances of players who've shown genuine links ability. Green complexes are average sized for a course of this length and they feature pure A4 Bentgrass. If the prolonged rain stays away then expect speeds of 13+ on the stimpmeter. Justin Rose, after 2 practice rounds on Saturday, described the putting surfaces as perfect and believes that plenty of putts will be made as they are so pure compared to plenty of other U.S. Open venues.
People may get hung up about the course yardage with bombers potentially having a huge advantage this week. But a few angles are worth bearing in mind. Unless we see un-forecasted levels of rainfall, the course will play pretty firm and fast. Fairways are described as 'bouncy' with high levels of roll-out. Mild breezes, mainly from the west and south-west, will be a feature across at least 3 days of the tournament and this may well preclude most players getting to at least 2 of the 4 par-5s in 2 shots. This quote though from Mike Davis sums up what to expect this week, "In terms of the scorecard yardage, it's going to be 7,692 yards. We won't play that yardage on any one of the four days I'm quite certain. It may be slightly more than that, it may be slightly less than that, but we really don't figure out exactly what we're going to do until really the day before or even the day of once we know what the wind conditions and the firmness is going to be. But while that sounds long on a scorecard, remember, we're playing a par-72, and that's the first time since 1992 we've done that at a U.S. Open. If you think taking 300 to 450 yards off that, now all of a sudden you actually get to a point, assuming this is a bouncy golf course, where I actually think that Erin Hills will be a little bit shorter in terms of how it feels to a player than some of the Opens we go to."
Winners: 2016: Dustin Johnson (-4); 2015: Jordan Spieth (-5); 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 the 2017 U.S. Open 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 | Recent Majors Form
Published Predictor Model: Our published U.S. Open predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 5 of the predictor are Dustin Johnson (No.1), Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott.
Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on a 10-tournament window that stretches back to The Masters and includes PGA Tour and European Tour (where possible) events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 main Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:
Winners & Prices: 2016: Dustin Johnson 16/1; 2015: Spieth 9/1; 2014: Kaymer 40/1; 2013: Rose 28/1; 2012: Simpson 80/1; 2011: McIlroy 22/1; 2010: McDowell 80/1; Average: 39/1.
Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Hartford, Wisconsin is here. Only 12mm of rain has fallen in these parts since the beginning of June and if the USGA get their way this will play firm and fast. However in all likelihood there will be rain on Monday and Wednesday night in the build-up to the tournament. That could leave conditions slightly softer than the USGA would like for Thursday morning, with a 10-15 mph breeze in play across the afternoons of Thursday and Friday. They say a little wind proves a real problem on this exposed course, and its south-westerly direction across most of the tournament will mean plenty of cross-winds on the course allied to hurting on 3 of the 4 par-5s.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the last 7 winners of the US Open since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this type of test:
Tournament Skill Averages:
Here's some recent comments on the Erin Hills course and how it sets up:
Jordan Spieth: "I don't think you'll need as much time on course preparation as Chambers Bay. It's not as tricky. I think it's a little bit more in front of you. It's a very different style of golf course even though it's kind of coming off ahead of time as being similar. Chambers Bay, you had big mounds to play off of onto the greens. This is kind of rolling hills. Although neither one has a tree that I remember on the golf course, it was kind of a new style American links type, they both are, I think they'll play tremendously different. But I think course knowledge is necessary, even more so there than a course like Oakmont that you've maybe watched on TV. Even seeing certain holes, if you just watched major championships in the past can help you. And so when you come to a completely new venue, it requires quite a bit of work. And it's usually not the case with majors and it's usually not the case with professional golf in general.
When you tee it up on Thursday of the U.S. Open, you've got to stand there on that tee box and say, I'm hitting it into this area, this is what I'm doing to attack this hole, instead of there's trouble left, as long as you miss it right we can make par. That's where you get into trouble. To win a U.S. Open you need to be a very, very confident player."
Steve Stricker: "They used to have a tournament from the tips, I never played in the tournament, but I wanted to play it all the way from the back. I played nine holes and that was it. This was four or five years ago when I was younger. I hit some sort of utility club or fairway wood into four of the nine holes I played. You have to crash course, pre-event for sure. Guys will figure it out in a relatively short period of time. I don’t think there’s anything tricky about it. You go around a couple of times and you’ll have a pretty good idea what to do."
Graeme McDowell: "There is just so much rough that does not seem to be in play but will be in play, and more so if we get any wind. The course is much like Whistling Straits but a much better course than Whistling Straits. But to me my first impression was looking at this big wide-open field of golf and I thought 350-yard bombers here we come. Also, some of the target areas are just 50-yards wide. So, it is a sleeping tactical giant and the course, as a whole, is a real sleeper as there's a lot of tee boxes where the USGA will be moving the tee boxes around a lot and that will bring so much into play. The bunkers are pretty good but if you hit a bad shot that goes into a bunker, and it is out of play you are going to get something miserable. As for the greens, they are sneaky severe so next week you are going see big numbers and it would not surprise me seeing guys making double digits on some holes whereas I can see guys also shooting 66s as well."
Mike Davis - USGA Chief Executive: "You know, the architects describe this as a heartland golf course, and that really is appropriate. We've seen some people saying, well, it's a links course or it's links like. Folks, it is not a links course - I'll go into it a little bit. It's not really links like. Yes, there are fescues out there, yes, it's windy, yes, there aren't a lot of trees, but that's where it stops. I think we prefer and the architects prefer is it really is a heartland golf course, and it is in so many ways an American original.
The greens themselves architecturally are fascinating because they sit really on land forms that the architects found, so in some cases they're sitting up on like a dune or land form, and other times they're in a saddle between two of these dune-like features. The greens themselves are wonderfully conditioned. I can't remember coming into a U.S. Open where greens were this smooth, and these are almost totally hybrid bentgrass. It's an A4 variety, and we all believe, we've talked about it, that we're going to see a lot of putts made at this U.S. Open. Part of that's because of the design of the green, that these are relatively subtle greens, but part of it is just because they are so well-conditioned. When you hit a putt, if you get it on the right line, the right speed, it will go in here, and we don't expect to see many things hit and moving sideways.
I will tell you that in terms of key holes, we do have four par-5s here that go in different directions by and large, so some of those will be downwind if we get wind, some into the wind, but I do think that all four of the par-5s, depending on where we set tee markers, depending on the player and the firmness, are reachable in two, and all of them, all four of these par-5s do offer up some risk-reward."
Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 7 US Open winners:
Incoming form of winners since 2010:
First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their group and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.
For the record, here's the breakdown of Bentgrass PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:
Let's start with a list of players in the field this week who have experience of Erin Hills from the U.S. Amateur held here in 2011: Byeong-Hun An, Bryson DeChambeau, Harris English, Emiliano Grillo, Russell Henley, Brooks Koepka, Cheng-Tsung Pan, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Peter Uihlein. Naturally Steve Sticker is a local Wisconsin man who's played the course in the past, although not competitively. Talented youngster Jordan Niebrugge, who finished 6th at the Open Championship in 2015 at St Andrews, was brought up within 20 miles of the course and has finished 4th at the Erin Hills Invitational.
With Sergio Garcia in mind, 5 players have done the Masters/U.S. Open same season double since the 2nd World War. Ben Hogan in 1953 (they were his 7th and 8th Major wins); Arnold Palmer 1960 (2nd and 3rd Majors); Jack Nicklaus 1972 (10th and 11th Majors); Tiger Woods 2002 (7th and 8th Majors); Jordan Spieth 2015 (1st and 2nd Majors). Quite an illustrious club I think you'll agree.
It also looks like we can take on the favourite this week. World Number 1 Dustin Johnson stands alone as favourite for the U.S. Open at a best price of 8/1. It's well worth noting that only 2 players, namely Ben Hogan in 1950/51 and Curtis Strange in 1988/89, have defended the U.S. Open title. The other huge trend going against Dustin this week is that only a single World Number 1 ranked player has won the title in the last 13 attempts. Yes of course it was Tiger Woods who'd won at Torrey Pines 6 times prior to his 2008 US Open victory there. He had previous it's safe to say.
A fascinating tournament awaits this week in Wisconsin and most players arrive knowing very little about the course. The USGA are taking a huge leap of faith with Erin Hills which is being described as a heartland course or a modern inland links. However where Chambers Bay was disliked by even more players than a standard U.S. Open course, feedback from Erin Hills has been positive in the main. Where the course seems to excel is on the putting surfaces which players, commentators and Mike Davis describe as unbelievably good. The USGA Executive Director keeps alluding to the point that plenty of putts will be sunk and that despite its yardage the course will play easier than most U.S. Open host courses. It's worth noting that Erin Hills has been built with a prevailing north-westerly in mind, so with breeze verging on 15+ mph at times across Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, some of the par-5s are unlikely to be reachable to most especially if the course gets drenched in the build-up to the tournament.
As standard, the winner of this will need to be an all-round sort, so let's keep it simple. I've gone with players who can play well on tough Bentgrass set-ups and the fact that 8 of the last 10 winners of the US Open ranked in the top 10 for All-Round in their last appearance has influenced my team. A top-10 finish in a player's last 4 appearances seems a pre-requisite and in recent winners Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose, they all arrived at the top of their considerable ball-striking powers. This circa 7,700 yard test is unlikely to change that trend in my opinion. Clearly a strong 200+ yard approach game, allied to top-notch and consistent wedge game, especially if par-5s prove illusive, is key in my opinion.
My selections are as follows:
I would have loved 16/1 or more about Jason Day this week but none of the layers have been that brave. In my opinion that's probably wise as the ex-World number 1 has a fantastic opportunity to lift his 2nd Major Championship this week in the same state where he captured the PGA Championship in 2015. Graeme McDowell stated after his first visit to Erin Hills early last week that he thought that the test here was very similar, but better, than Whistling Straits, which is only an hour and 20 minutes drive away. A return to Wisconsin can only have a positive effect on Jason who after finishing 2nd at TPC Four Seasons and a career-best 15th at Muirfield Village last time out has impressed me with some core constituents of his game. The Australian has ranked 6th and 10th for Total Driving across those recent outings and on a wide track where he can let his driver rip more often than not, that's a key indicator for me. Tie that in with 14th and 21st in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, it must be worrying for his fellow competitors who know that Day is certainly on the up-trend. 2nd and 12th in All-Round allied to a flat stick which is reaching peak putting performance make Jason a must-back for me this week, especially when his wedge game is tight right now, as is his Greens in Regulation from 200+ yards where he ranks 7th on the PGA Tour this season.
2nd (2011 Congressional), 2nd (2013 Merion), 4th (2014 Pinehurst Number 2), 9th (2015 Chambers Bay when suffering with vertigo) and 8th (2016 Oakmont) highlights a player who simply thrives at this tournament and his record at Augusta, which features similar closely mown run-off areas, only adds to my view that Jason Day is the man in the top 4 of the betting market to beat this week.
Justin Thomas has the whole game to go exceptionally close this week and last time out he had a fantastic chance to win The Memorial tournament before finishing 4th. I like him this week for a number of reasons: if this is going to be a lower scoring U.S. Open than we've seen in previous years, Thomas jumps off the page for me. Yes, I don't expect -15 to win this week - that won't happen - but with Kaymer, Spieth and Johnson winning the past 3 renewals at -9/275,-5/275 and -4/276, I can see an under pressure Mike Davis "allowing this" to become a tournament where potentially double-digits under par is attainable. He continues to state that scoring will be lower for those who can tactically find their way around Erin Hills and the Bentgrass greens are so pure that putts will be made. This is all good news for Justin who ranked 4th in All-Round at Muirfield Village and also finished 5th around the tight confines of Club de Golf Chapultepec at the WGC Mexico Championship. He's developing into a player who can definitely mix it at Major level and statistically he ticks every box for me as he's consistently accurate with his wedge play and is consistent with Greens in Regulation over 200 yards. Potentially the perfect marriage especially when he putted so well at Muirfield Village ranking 5th for Strokes Gained Putting and 1st for Total Putts Made.
Another couple of factors I like with the Kentucky-born 24 year-old who has 4 PGA Tour titles to his name already is that he has experience of the course having played here in the 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship and made the 2nd Round of Matchplay. He's been on site at Erin Hills since Friday, which I really like, and in Jimmy Johnson he has one of the most experienced and strategy-motivated caddies on the Tour. Another positive for me is that all of his wins have come after a contending performance (or victory) the outing before.
Backing South Africans on fast Bentgrass putting surfaces is never a bad ploy and Branden Grace is becoming a Major Championship specialist in the United States. Undoubtedly Grace is a lover of tough golf courses and if you take the last 4 Major Championships played in the United States outside of Augusta, Grace has finished 4th (Baltusrol), 5th (Oakmont), 3rd (Whistling Straits) and 4th (Chambers Bay). Those results prove that Grace simply loves Major Championship golf and highlight a player who's versatile enough to play well in soft conditions (Baltusrol and Whistling Straits), firm conditions (Oakmont and Chambers Bay) and by the coast (Chambers Bay and Whistling Straits). He's also adept when the wind comes into play as wins in Qatar (2015 & 2016) plus his maiden PGA Tour victory last year at Harbour Town highlight more than adequately.
Now I've also always had Branden in mind for Erin Hills for a number of reasons. The South African can happily move the ball both ways, he's clearly comfortable with the U.S. Open type of test and I also think that Erin Hills looks very similar to both Fancourt in South Africa and Whistling Straits. Grace uses the inland links course at Fancourt as his training base - indeed he was practicing there until Friday before catching a flight bound for Milwaukee - and won the Volvo Golf Champions tournament held there in 2012. If Whistling Straits, an hour and 20 minute drive from Erin Hills, is a good indicator then we know that he finished 4th there in 2015. Although Erin Hills is not a links course if you listen to Mike Davis, I have no doubt that Grace, who has a strong coastal pedigree, has all of the tools required to go well this week in Hartford. Indeed it was noticeable that Branden came to the fore last time out at Wentworth in firm and windy conditions where he started well (5th after Round 1) and was 2nd after 54 holes. Ultimately finishing a disappointed 9th, Grace was 1st for Ball-Striking, 1st for Greens in Regulation and 6th in the All-Round category in Surrey. In my opinion he's ready for the task at hand this week.
The formula for finding recent winners of this actually appears quite simple in the cold light of day. Tough course experts who are in excellent form and who are finding greens in regulation for fun. Well Kevin Kisner has undoubtedly been one of the talents of the past 2 years and I reckon this U.S. Open could be where he truly gives his first Major challenge a go. 2017 has seen the South Carolinian rise up the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) with ease after 4th at Waialae, 10th at Pebble Beach, 11th at Club de Golf Chapultepec, 2nd at Bay Hill, 2nd at TPC Louisiana (in partnership with Scott Brown), 1st at Colonial and 6th at Muirfield Village last time out. For those wondering, Kisner has jumped from 51st in the OWGR to his current career-high of 20th and he also sits 4th in Presidents Cup US team qualification. The beauty with Kisner though is that he plays the style of golf which will work at the U.S. Open very well. 32nd in All-Round, 12th in Driving Accuracy, 9th in Strokes Gained Approaching the Green, 9th in Proximity to Hole and 42nd in Greens in Regulation from 200+ yards are season-long PGA Tour skill category statistics I really like especially when he's also 28th in Scrambling. A strong wind player and a comfortable 295 yard driver, Kisner's best Major finish of his career was 12th at the Chambers Bay U.S. Open of 2015 and with a number of the bigger names in the field having sizeable question marks against them, there's a huge opportunity for somebody of the ilk of Kisner to grab themselves a career-changing victory.
Kevin Chappell is one who could easily surprise this week - although whether it's a huge surprise is open to debate. A winner for us at TPC San Antonio only 8 weeks ago, Chappell has played some nice stuff of late. 7th at Augusta back in April with that course's characteristics makes a huge amount of sense with Erin Hills and last week he seemingly free-wheeled to 4th spot, expending little effort as he finished 1st for All-Round, 3rd for Greens in Regulation, 3rd for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 9th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green.
Season-long statistic lovers will be turned off by what they see with Chappell, but his performances early season were poor after a career-best 2016 which delivered masses. 2nd at Bay Hill (2016), 2nd at TPC Sawgrass (2016), 3rd at Firestone (2016) and 2nd at East Lake (2016) on course debut were all huge results outside of the Majors. Indeed he was only beaten by Jason Day, Dustin Johnson (x2), Scott Piercy (2nd at the Oakmont-hosted U.S. Open on his previous appearance) and Rory McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Players Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and Tour Championship last term - big events and big performances. Chappell's other CV highlights including 6th at U.S. Open venue Pebble Beach (2009), 3rd at Congressional (2011 US Open), 10th at Olympic Club (2012 U.S. Open) 2nd at Muirfield Village (2013) and 13th at Valhalla (2014 PGA Championship) all suggest a player who thrives on tougher tests. Kevin is far better equipped mentally these days after a huge 2016, a maiden victory plus 2 top-7 finishes in his last 5 outings.
Shane Lowry is my final selection this week at an event where specialists thrive. Everybody will remember Lowry's bid for victory at Oakmont 12 months ago when he entered the final round with a 4-shot lead from Andrew Landry. Being paired with the unknown Landry certainly never helped the Irishman's cause in the final round as Dustin Johnson charged and Lowry fell back to share 2nd with Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy. For the record Lowry was a 125/1 shot coming off of a Missed Cut at Wentworth, although 16th at The Players Championship suggested that good things were happening. 12 months on and that experience of being in the firing line at a Major will only help the World Number 69 who currently seems to be in fine fettle and interestingly he's hitting the ball really well. Our European Tour expert, Paul Williams, has always told me to follow Shane when his driving is accurate so 2nd for Driving Accuracy (full field number) at TPC Sawgrass, 37th at Wentworth and 2nd last time out at Muirfield Village has got me interested. 6th in Surrey (3rd for Greens in Regulation) in what can only be described as blustery, fast and technical conditions was a real eye-opener and a quick flight to Ohio saw Lowry finish 15th at The Memorial on only his 2nd appearance at "Jack's Place". 4th for Total Driving, 1st for Ball Striking, 10th for Greens in Regulation and in the top 15 for Stokes Gained Putting indicate that Lowry could again make a U.S. Open challenge this week. It's also worth remembering that the Irishman finished 9th at Chambers Bay 2 years ago and won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone South in Ohio also in 2015. That tournament featured firm and fast conditions and Lowry's links background will only help around Erin Hills this week.
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