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Time after time the Major Championships produce some long-priced contenders and the odd winner - the US Open is possibly being the most likely of all 4 to produce a 3-figure winner. The last few years have produced the following outsiders, each of whom finished in the top 6 at least:
The list goes on: Geoff Ogilvy won at 100/1 in 2006; Michael Campbell was 200/1 in 2005 - all in all, this is the Major where it can often pay to look a little further down the field in terms of the betting! Most of the mainstream bookmakers have extended their EW places this week to give us an extra chance of grabbing that long-priced payout, at the time of writing only William Hill and Coral remained at 5 places EW - however do check carefully before placing your bet, plus the EW terms will inevitably change once the tournament is in-play. The other option with outsiders is to trade them on Betfair - for more details on how Betfair works on golf read our Golf Trading article. Here's my 3 of the best outsiders:
No shocks here if you're a regular reader of my column, however this is no sentimental selection as I really think that the resurgent Dane has a chance of making the frame here after delighting us with a 200/1 each way return when he secured 4th place at last year's Open Championship. Ryder Cup qualification brings the best out of many players and I'm convinced that Thomas will be doing his utmost to secure a 3rd appearance in the ultimate team event, having last qualified in 2002 when the Europeans were victorious at The Belfry. A strong performance here would put Bjorn onto the fringes of automatic qualification with a number of strong events (for him) yet to come in 2012 - for me this week could really be the catalyst for his final push to make Olazabal's team.
Desire alone won't see Bjorn in contention here though, particularly with such a large number of contenders to consider. It's a good job then that his tee-to green game is ideal for this test. Thomas has the experience and capability to play the careful, methodical game required to plot his way around the Lake Course and forecast wind early in the tournament plays right into his hands, as does playing on his favoured bentgrass greens. Admittedly the US Open has been his weakest Major, however a shorter venue here with the seaside within throwing distance means this will be far more to his liking and plays to his strengths for more than recent US Open courses.
4 wins in the last 2 years have catapulted Thomas to well inside the World's top 50 and after a brief dip in form having surrendered a winning position in Dubai, he's now starting to find form again as a battling 2nd place finish at Celtic Manor on his last start shows. Bjorn has the temperament to handle this type of test and could well be in the mix for a belated first Major on Sunday evening in my opinion. Thomas Bjorn was trading at 139/1 on Betfair at the time of writing - for more details on how trading works on golf read our Golf Trading article.
Na may be the butt of many a joke recently, however if you can put his slow play and tee-shot antics to one side then you'll find a player who's actually in great form and who excels on classical golf courses. It's true to say that Kevin gets twitchier the deeper he goes in a tournament, however with so many big names on show here he's only really likely to be in the limelight if he's in serious contention on Sunday - the rest of the week he'll likely be left to get on with compiling a score without the distraction of a cameraman watching his every move.
The 28 year-old American, originally from South Korea, grabbed his first PGA Tour victory back in October at TPC Summerlin in his home town of Las Vegas - a belated win as he'd been in decent form and had been knocking on the door for some time. 3rd at Riviera and 5th at Quail hollow, plus an excellent top 10 at the Atlanta Athletic Club, before his victory suggested a player capable of performing at a higher level and so it was proved. 5 top 8 finishes from 16 starts in 2012 is an excellent return and with those results coming at the likes of TPC Sawgrass, Bay Hill and Pebble Beach - plus 12th at Augusta - I think he'll be a player who could easily pop up this week as his accurate driving (14th on Tour) when he finally does hit the ball will set him in good stead here. As to what happens should he find himself in the lead on Sunday we'll have to wait and see! Kevin Na was trading at 249/1 on Betfair at the time of writing - for more details on how trading works on golf read our Golf Trading article.
Another Dane Soren Kjeldsen could be the real surprise package here this week at a seriously long price. As I pointed out at the top of this commentary, there's usually a player in the multiple hundreds-to-one bracket who contends and there are a number of reasons to suggest it might be Soren Kjeldsen - a repeat of his top 6 at Hazeltine (US PGA Championship) back in 2009 would do us just fine here.
Kjeldsen's game is based upon quality ball-striking - at over 70% of greens hit in regulation, and nearly as many fairways found, when Soren plays well you won't find many ahead of him on those statistics over the course of a week. That's exactly how he ground out a fine 2nd place at the tough Spanish Open last month where the rough was brutal, following on from further top 5s in Sicily and Dubai earlier this term - granted this is much, much tougher in terms of competition however there aren't many who will be able to keep the ball in play like the Dane and that could prove to be crucial on what could end up being a war of attrition.
3 times a winner on the European Tour, what really encourages me here is his excellent form on the ultimate test of European golf at Valderrama where he has a victory and 2 further runners-up finishes. On top of that, 3 top-10s at Wentworth, including 3rd back in 2009, also bode well for me here and I've just got to have a few quid on Kjeldsen here at what could prove to be a silly price. Soren Kjeldsen was trading at 419/1 on Betfair at the time of writing - for more details on how trading works on golf read our Golf Trading article.
As with all the Majors, there's a massive array of alternative betting options available this week. Here's my pick of the bunch:
Swede Peter Hanson is steadily proving to the world that he's a quality player and a force to be reckoned with at any level of professional golf and I'm sure we'll see him popping up increasingly regularly at the right end of the leaderboard on these top-class events. His 4 European Tour victories have all come at between -6 and -10 suggesting he's more of a grinder than an all-out birdie machine; that's the perfect make-up for Major golf and, in particular, the US Open. Long off the tee and capable of finding a high number of greens in regulation, Hanson is a strong contender who very nearly found his way onto Steve's main tips - however a top 20 bet is the preferred option here this week as he's been prone to the occasional push off the tee which won't go unpunished around these parts. Hanson's 5 attempts at the US Open have shown steady improvement with a form line of MC/30/18/16/7 and a 3rd place finish at Augusta earlier this season gives us further encouragement. His last 9 strokeplay events on the European Tour boasts a form line of 2/51/5/4/3/14/17/MC/3 - so 7 of his last 9 events have seen a top 20 finish. My last top 20 tip in this column was Matt Kuchar at TPC Sawgrass, perhaps a small punt on him outright is also a prudent play just in case!
Vijay may well be just months from qualifying for the Champions Tour, however there's plenty of life in the old dog yet and he'll still feel he can compete at this level given his fitness and desire to succeed. Vijay found something on the range a few weeks back which has helped him drive the ball straighter than he has for some time - he put that into practice at Memorial where a winding-down top 20 featured a driving accuracy stat of over 80% on the week and 4th in the field. Now I'm not saying that Vijay is going to win this - despite 3 Major victories, it has been 6 years since he recorded a top-10 at one of the top 4 events - however with an excellent first round tee-time in the morning off of the first tee (he'll be able to get the hardest holes out of the way before the breeze is at its strongest and while the greens are at their best) I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him be on the first page of the leaderboard after day 1 in an event where he's historically come out of the traps well in the past.
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 20:10BST 12.6.12 but naturally subject to fluctuation.