Time after time the Major Championships produce long-priced contenders - and the odd winner - with the US Open possibly being the most likely of all 4 to produce a 3-figure shock. 2016 produced three players in the top 7 who started at 3-figure prices in the shape of Shane Lowry, Scott Piercy and Kevin Na, however they were just the latest in a long list of outsiders to feature on the final leaderboard of this event:
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. For more background on winners' prices over the years visit our stats section.
Most of the mainstream bookmakers have extended their EW places to 6 this week to give us an extra chance of grabbing that long-priced payout, however do check carefully before placing your bet, plus the EW terms will inevitably change once the tournament is in-play.
To give you an extra chance, Sky Bet, Coral and Paddy Power have extended their terms to 8 places at 1/5 odds this week - you can check their latest prices on your fancied players and their respective new account offers below:
Steve Bamford has given us his view of the outright market in his preview here, however here's a trio of 3-figure chances who I think have a sporting chance of making the paying places or better once the 72 holes are completed at Erin Hills:
My team of 3 longshots is headed by Billy Horschel who I feel has the game to win a Major at some point in his career and given what we've seen from the 30 year-old then the US Open looks the most likely candidate. Top-30 finishes achieved in all 4 of the sport's most important events is impressive enough, however a US Open form line of 4/23/25/32 is amongst the best on show outside of the more obvious candidates and Billy has a live chance here this week in my opinion.
2014 was the defining year for Horschel having backed up the promise of his Zurich Classic win the year before with victory at the BMW Championship and Tour Championship in consecutive weeks to win the FedEx Cup and bank a cool $10m into the bargain; although he hasn't hit the same heights since, there are distinct signs of a return to top form of late and the potential for more top-class results. A fourth PGA Tour victory came at the AT&T Byron Nelson less than a month ago after 3 consecutive missed cuts and with it came the story of his wife's battle with alcoholism which went some way to explaining his loss of form over the previous year or so. With those issues behind him now, perhaps we'll see more titles from this supreme ball-striker who has excellent results on tougher tracks where wind can be a factor, plus his most recent victory which was achieved on bentgrass greens in Texas. 4th last week at the St Jude Classic was fuelled by a blistering 4 consecutive birdies to finish his final round - which resulted in the Florida native finishing 3rd in the All-Round category for the week - and with confidence high he can approach this week's task at Erin Hills with a spring in his step.
I've backed Marc Leishman in this longshots column for a few different Majors now and nothing has changed my view that the talented Australian has the game to win a Major Championship. Despite showing his potential at the 2012 Travelers Championship when he grabbed his maiden PGA Tour victory, it took a full 5 years before he backed that up with a second PGA Tour trophy, this time achieved at the challenging Bay Hill course in March where a closing round of 69 was enough for a 1-stroke victory. Although not quite as strong a ball-striker as Horschel, the 33 year-old more than makes up for it on the putting surfaces when on his game and bentgrass greens are far and away his best surface. Having said that, Marc's last 3 outings have seen GIR rankings of 5th (Byron Nelson Championship), 6th (Dean & Deluca Invitational) as well as a Driving Accuracy ranking of 5th on his last start at the Memorial Tournament where he ranked 7th for his All-Round game. All in all his game's in a pretty good space right now.
President's Cup year tends to bring the best out of those players who have a live chance of reaching the US or International team and at 8th position in the rankings as it stands, Leishman knows that this week presents a massive opportunity to cement his position with a lofty finish. 4th at the Masters in 2013 is encouraging in terms of a Major Championship performance, however on this linksy layout it's his Open Championship efforts including 5th at Hoylake in 2014 and a play-off defeat to Zach Johnson in 2015 at St Andrews that really excite this week. Leishman ticks an awful lot of boxes for me this week for a 100/1 shot.
The final player in my trio of longshots who I reckon can make the frame this week is the uber-talented youngster Matthew Fitzpatrick. Now it would be very easy to take one look at the Erin Hills card and dismiss the 22 year-old as being too short off the tee to compete here - after all his slender frame and relative lack of power puts him a good 30 yards or more behind many of the longer players on the circuit, however a cursory glance at his European Tour wins tells a different story in terms of how he fares on lengthy layouts. Having shed his maiden tag at a wholly suitable classical, tree-lined affair at Woburn in 2015, he's since added victories at the Nordea Masters at Bro Hof Slott, which measures 7,511 yards, as well as at the Earth Course in Dubai for the season's finale on the 7,675 yard desert track. So that's 3 wins on 3 different styles of track and a mix of bentgrass and Bermuda putting surfaces - all of which spells massive potential to me and future Major Championship winner.
Despite these efforts on longer tracks, the Sheffield lad's strength is undoubtedly his tee-to-green excellence and anything that can help avoid the deepest of the fescue here this week can only be a good thing. He was 3rd for Driving Accuracy and 1st for GIR when winnings that aforementioned Nordea Masters title and hit over 80% of fairways at the Earth Course which ultimately steered him to victory. 1st for accuracy and 5th for GIR at the WGC Mexico Championship earlier this year shows he can apply the same strategy at the highest of levels and a welcome return to form at Wentworth (12th) and Sweden (2nd) on his last start before heading to the US is encouraging for this week. 7th at the 2016 Masters is Matt's best Major finish to date and a repeat or improvement on that effort here this week would provide us with a tidy profit overall.
First Round Leader Market
The First Round Leader (FRL) market is fascinating given there are many ways to review the data to hand. How does the weather forecast impact conditions? Will it be softer earlier, firmer later, windier for some, warmer for others? What tee times have the recent FRL winners had? Have the recent FRL winners started well at Majors in the past? Have the recent FRL winners started well in their recent events, have the even been playing well in recent events? Lots of questions and the odd red herring along the way I'm sure, however I think there are a few factors to consider which might help point us in the right direction.
First up, some recent history of FRL winners here:
Landry would have been an inspired pick for first round leader given his form and Michael Thompson would have been difficult to pluck out, however both enjoyed early tee times as did DJ, Stenson and Mickelson. Only Kaymer and McIlroy had afternoon tee times, however both were backable in the first round leader market given their recent efforts. DJ has also led the Open Championship and US PGA Championship after round 1 over the years; Lefty has twice led the US PGA after day 1; Rory has twice led The Open after the first round and also led at Augusta in 2010 after day 1 before his infamous final round capitulation. So either off-the-charts outsider or a fairly obvious choice seems the order of the day.
In April, Charley Hoffman defied a relatively late tee time to lead by 4 strokes after day 1 at The Masters. 2nd after 18 holes the previous year and another player who regularly appears around the top of leaderboards after day 1, Hoffman was backable at 100/1 having opened up with rounds of 68/68 at the Genesis Open and 68/66 at Bay Hill in his previous 4 starts.
The latest weather forecast for Erin Hills is here. With the chance of overnight rain on Wednesday and the breeze picking up towards lunchtime, those players out early could get a distinct advantage with temperatures soon picking up to the low 80s Fahrenheit. With hardly a cloud in sight and a breeze of 10-15 mph expected as the afternoon progresses, the course should become firmer and faster for the later starters which may well make it play a shot or two harder for those with a later tee time. The full draw is here.
All things considered, my first round leader selections are as follows:
My 3 selections are all out early on Thursday and each have their merits given the prices on offer in my view. Jordan Niebrugge is a local who already has Major Championship experience having taken the Silver Medal at the 2015 Open Championship and finishing 6th overall as an amateur. He opened with a round of 67 that week and from a 6.45am tee time he's going to have first look at these greens when they're at their purest and most receptive as well as before the wind starts to pick up. The 23 year-old finished 4th at the Erin Hills Invitational as a member of the Oklahoma State golf team and produced a 2nd round 63 on the Canadian Tour on his penultimate start.
Next up Charley Hoffman who's out at 7.07am and is never a player to disregard in the first round leader market. Although certainly not as prolific in terms of round 1 efforts in recent times as he has been in the past, the notable effort from 2017 so far was at The Masters where he produced an incredible first round of 65 from a tricky late tee time to lead the field by 4 strokes after day 1. Form since has been solid if unspectacular, however he's worth a punt at the price to produce another blistering first round effort here this week.
Finally I'm going for another perennial fast starter in the shape of Rafael Cabrera Bello who's out at 7.51am alongside Thomas Pieters and Brooks Koepka. Many a time have we seen Rafa sprint out of the blocks at European Tour level to put himself in a strong position before typically fading away on a Saturday or Sunday, however that's perfect for this bet and despite failing to convert a strong position last week at the St Jude Classic, he nevertheless showed some strong form with rounds of 66 and 65 on Friday and Saturday to eventually finish 4th overall. The Spaniard also finished 4th at TPC Sawgrass and is clearly becoming more comfortable on US soil in general.
Top 20 Market
A couple of top-20 picks to finish. With 8 points staked in total on this page, if either of these players can produce a top-20 finish here this week then we'll make a profit overall, assuming no ties:
Swede David Lingmerth may be one of the less mentioned or fashionable golfers on the PGA Tour, however that below-the-radar status is perfect for this week where he has a live chance of making the top-20 in my view. Quotes of around 200/1 overall are probably about right for the 29 year-old who won The Memorial Tournament back in 2015, however with 2 top-20 finishes in his last 5 Majors played and 4 top-20 finishes in his last 5 PGA Tour events played, he looks ripe for another similar finish this week. In fact both of David's US Open attempts (2013 & 2016) have ended in a top-20 result and his all-round solid game is generally suited to more challenging tests such as this.
Finally I'll take a chance on Daniel Summerhays who's shown significant aptitude for the Major Championships in recent times with finishes of 8th at this event 12 months ago and 3rd at the US PGA Championship last July. Form since that effort at Baltusrol has been patchy to say the least, however a 10th place finish on his penultimate start at The Memorial was encouraging as he found his long game and ranked 2nd for Driving Accuracy and 5th for GIR to produce his best effort of the season to date. There are worse bets than taking the 250/1 outright about Daniel here this week, however the 10/1 on offer for a top-20 finish seems worth taking on.
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