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US Open Tips 2019

June in the golfing world means only one thing – it must be time for the US Open.  There’s no doubt that the United States Open Championship is the hardest of the 4 Major Championships to win from a course difficulty perspective.  The US Open has a history of visiting the most challenging classical golf courses across the country and 2019 is no exception with the United States Golf Association’s (USGA) selecting Pebble Beach Golf Links, in California, as the host course.

This will be the 6th U.S. Open held at the course which is located on Carmel Bay, 2 and a half hours drive south of San Francisco, from Thursday 13th June to Sunday 16th June 2019. Now into our 10th season, Golf Betting System will as ever be hunting for profit with our US Open tips from Paul Williams and Steve Bamford. Golf Betting System has full 2019 coverage with US Open tips, long-shot and alternative market selections, a full range of free course and player statistics, plus of course our famous statistical Predictor Model. You can also listen to our weekly Golf Betting System podcast which is also available on iTunes and on our YouTube channel.

Recent US Open history features a new breed of Major winners. Brooks Koepka has become the U.S. Open king, triumphing at both the 2018 and 2019 renewals held at the contrived Erin Hills and the classical faux-links at Shinnecock Hills. He hits the ball a mile, but has the patience, approach play and short game to tame tough golf courses. Before Brooks, 2017 saw the buccaneering Dustin Johnson show huge mental resolve to capture his first Major despite being told on the 12th tee of the final round that he was being assessed for a one shot penalty sustained for his ball moving on the 5th green as he was addressing his putt. 2016 saw 21 year-old, Jordan Spieth win back-to-back Majors at a versatile Chambers Bay course which split the opinions of both players and the wider golfing public. 2014 saw Martin Kaymer in a class of his own as he made playing Pinehurst Number 2 look unnaturally easy on his way to winning his 2nd Major title. 2013 saw Justin Rose capture his first Major Championship with an emotional victory at Merion Golf Club. These victories followed on from first Major wins for Webb Simpson (Olympic Club 2012), Rory McIlroy (Congressional 2011), Graeme McDowell (Pebble Beach 2010) and Lucas Glover (Bethpage Black 2009).

So just who will be the 2019 U.S. Open champion at the classical, coastal test which is Pebble Beach?

US Open Insight and Tips Research

Golf betting at the Major Championships is a complex subject. Mistakes can be costly; however select the right player or player portfolio and the rewards can be excellent. Golf Betting System’s goal is to provide you with informed US Open tips, free tournament research guides and insight and information that will help you make educated decisions about what players to back at the 2019 US Open.

Course Information:

Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California: Designer: Neville and Grant 1919 with Connor and Palmer re-design 2007; Course Type: Coastal, Classical; Par: 71; Length: 7,040 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 1; Fairways: Perennial Rye; Rough: Perennial Rye 2″; Greens: 3,500 sq.ft average Poa Annua; Tournament Stimp: 10.5ft; Course Scoring Average 2010 U.S. Open: 74.98 (+3.98), Rank 1 of 52 PGA Tour courses.

Pebble Beach Golf Links is undoubtedly the United States most well-known coastal golf course. Naturally the PGA Tour visits these parts every season, playing the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, so we know the course far more intimately than most U.S. Open venues. But holes like the Postage Stamp par-3 7th are famous, or should I say infamous, around the globe, and the par-4 8th at Pebble, hugging the Carmel Bay cliffs, with an approach over the cliffs has been described as the best par-4 in golf by none other than Jack Nicklaus. At just a smidge over 7,000 yards off the back tees, Pebble Beach Golf Links doesn’t intimidate by yardage numbers, instead this amazingly contoured golf course, which for stretches is played on cliff edges, taxes the best in the world by its sheer difficulty and total openness to the elements.

The scale of the task at Pebble Beach cannot be underestimated. Yes Tiger Woods shot an incredible -12/ 272 total to win the 2000 U.S. Open here in 2000 by a record 15 shots, but that’s certainly not the norm. In fact across both 2000 and 2010 renewals, only Woods has shot under par. Graeme McDowell’s win came at E/284 when he won by a single shot from Frenchman Gregory Havret. With G-Mac and Havret taking the top 2 spots, that in itself highlights that the Pebble test is somewhat specialised.

Naturally the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is hosted here at Pebble with players who make the cut playing 36 holes here on the classical, coastal course. Now the National Pro-Am is played in February and you’ll see some fundamental changes for the U.S. Open. A 6,800 yard Par 72 is the course format for the National, but when the USGA gain control of the course it becomes a 7,000+ yard Par 71, with the 500+ yard 2nd playing as a stretching par-4 rather than an easy par-5 for the National.

The June date also means that Pebble can really show its teeth. If the USGA have their way, the course will be firm and fast. Firm conditions means that the ball can run out up to 40 yards on the fairways, and across holes such as the par-5 6th and the par-4s on 9 and 10, anything leaking right off the tee will run off over the cliffs. Naturally firm and unreceptive Poa Annua greens also cause mayhem here. Firstly at an average of 3,500 sq.ft. Pebble features the smallest green complexes in professional golf. When those greens reject approach shots, expect very low Greens in Regulation numbers. On top of that scrambling becomes very difficult, as do any downhill putts, which become treacherous. As you’ll read in the player comments below, only those who use course management, missing greens on the correct side, in tandem with strategising approaches to leave uphill putts, will contend. Of course as this is a U.S. Open also expect thinner fairways and thicker but graduated rough which will penalise the wayward to an almost automatic bogey degree. To add insult to injury, Pebble is also renowned for having some of the hardest bunkering in professional golf.

There’s an undoubted link between Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines South Course. Yes, Pebble may be over 600 yards shorter than Torrey, but the courses share coastal locations and Poa Annua seeded greens. Green complexes also vary in size with the 5,800 sq.ft. average greens at Torrey replaced by postage stamp-sized 3,500 sq.ft. average greens at Pebble which are the smallest on the PGA Tour every year. Going back to Tiger Woods though who won here in 2000, he also has 8 victories at Torrey Pines including the 2008 U.S. Open to his name. Phil Mickelson also has 2 victories at Torrey Pines and his win here back in February at the National Pro-Am was his 5th at Pebble.

Below are some revealing comments from the 2010 U.S. Open hosted here:

Graeme McDowell: This is one of the special places in world golf. There’s a lot of golf courses in the world that kind of give you the goose bumps when you’re playing them. Sort of first tee at St. Andrews, maybe the 17th at St. Andrews, here, Augusta, obviously.

But when you’re walking down 7, 8, 9, 10, here it just is a beautiful place to play golf. And obviously to have your name at the top of the leaderboard of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach is a special feeling. But you’re out there and the golf course has got some teeth, so you’re really trying to keep your wits about you.

It’s like heaven and hell for sure. How do you keep hell out of the equation? You don’t get above the hole. That’s, that’s the number one key to this golf course. Obviously finding the fairways is a big key here; and from there, like I say, you’ve really got to be smart coming into the greens. They’re very putt able until you start getting above the hole, like I say.

And like on 9 today, I mean I just have no putt there. I raised my first putt off the green and you’re in big trouble. I mean it’s, like I say, the golf course is playable from below the hole. You start missing the greens in or around the rough, the rough’s very wiry, very thick around the greens. So you got to be smart, you got to leave the ball in the correct position to give yourself a chance to make par or perhaps better, hopefully.

The putter’s been pretty kind to me. I’ve made some nice putts. But I felt like I played the golf course properly. I feel like I’ve been disciplined with my game plan. I hit 2-iron off 18 yesterday and I hit driver off 18 today. So I’m really adapting to what the golf course is throwing me. I think Mike Davis sets a golf course up really, really well. He moved some tee boxes around today, really gave us something to think about.

Like 18 was moved forward. And I decided that, back into the wind, that I wasn’t going to hit driver, but today there wasn’t as much wind and like I say the tee box was up and all of a sudden my game plan’s got to change. So I made a few nice putts, but generally gave myself a ton of looks at birdie just by playing smart golf.”

Phil Mickelson: I think guys who cherish the U.S. Open feel that way about Pebble Beach, and I think guys who love the British Open feel that way about St. Andrews. No. I think this is the greatest place for a golfer to hold an Open to be able to play one of the most beautiful golf courses and have it be in U.S. Open conditions. No, this is so much fun and I don’t want the weekend to end. I want to keep playing.

In terms of the greens, They’re not Augusta smooth, no. But the big thing for me was leaving the ball underneath the hole. The putts I made they were all uphill. They were all putts I could be aggressive on and get them on, get them rolling on line. The one that I couldn’t was the 4-footer on 9. And the ball kind of waffled off at the hole. It looked like it was going to go in and it just went off. And that’s going to happen out here. But if you have uphill putts you can hit them firm enough to hold their line.”

Padraig Harrington: “You know, I think the setup of the golf course, I don’t think the players could ask for anything better. It’s as fair as can be. The rough, if you miss the fairway, the rough is reasonable, that you have some sort of chance of moving it forward. Obviously on the very longer holes you’re in a lot of trouble. But the rough is playable. If you hit it wide you get heavier rough, that’s fine, everybody accepts that.

I think the real crux of a U.S. Open is the firm greens. And nowhere suits that more than the small greens at Pebble Beach, once they get firm and fast, you know, if you get it in the rough or out of position it’s hard to keep your ball in position on the greens. And several of the greens, maybe all of the greens you can – there’s definitely a point where you can short side yourself and your next shot is not getting within 20, 25 feet of the hole.

So I think that’s the key to a U.S. Open is they try and set it up around the greens that if you get in the wrong place, if you get out of position, you know, it’s not so easy to get up and down. I think with this golf course, it is very, very fair. I think maybe you’re going to go to – 14 is probably, the approach shot on 14 is incredibly tricky up the hill, with such a small landing area, but that’s the golf hole itself. And it certainly – you would be happy to get through every day without too much drama. But everywhere else out there is a good solid test. And I don’t think I’d be surprised if anybody has anything but praise for the setup.”

Tiger Woods: Keys to putting on poa, you have to hit the ball solidly. You can’t mishit putts on poa and expect it to go in. You have to hit pure putts because you know it’s going to bounce. A lot of the guys who grew up playing poa feel very comfortable with that. It’s like guys who play on Bermuda grass. If you grew up playing on Bermuda grass you’ll have no problem playing on Bermuda. Look at most of the guys who have won here at AT&T are west coast guys. But it’s one of those things where you got to get up there and hit it and hit it flush. And you know it’s going to bounce. You’re going to hit good putts and it’s going to bounce outside the hole. That’s just the way it goes. Well generally it’s the highest rough we play all year, it’s the narrowest fairways, the hardest greens, the trickiest pins. As far as the setup you just have to be so patient. You just have to understand that it’s a long haul. It’s a long grind. It’s different than most Major Championships. You’re not going to make a lot of birdies and the whole idea is to not make any big numbers because it’s hard to get them back.

I think how it’s been set up this year is much more different than what we played in 2000. How Mike sets it up is very different than how Tom set it up. And it’s just, it’s, you know, with the graduated rough system that they have implemented now, fairways are much wider, but then again they’re a lot faster. And the holes are much longer. Where they could put length. And even though it’s the shortest U.S. Open we play, but it’s still — it’s getting awfully quick out there. Just in the last couple days. And if they don’t put any water on these things come Sunday it’s going to be very interesting.”

Ian Poulter: Green light holes. There’s a number of holes providing you get a good tee shot away, which you should be going in with kind of 8, 9 and pitching wedge, if  those are the holes I really feel that you should be taking advantage of. You really do need to keep it below the pin. The greens are tiny, as we know. And it is key to put it – it’s key to put it in the fairway. Not just in play, but it needs to be giving yourself a good look at trying to keep it below the hole so you’ve got  a 20 foot birdie putt uphill is better than a six foot birdie putt downhill. So you’ll see a lot of guys trying to be very careful where they position the ball on the green.”

Ernie Els: “Really, they’ve changed the course a bit since 2000. As I say, I came here on Sunday, played 18 holes on Sunday and the greens were a little bit greener. You know, obviously the rough is very thick. It doesn’t look very long maybe on television or from a spectator point of view, but when you get in it it’s very thick. So it’s very difficult to move the ball around when you get in the rough. They’ve given us good width to hit the ball into, a lot of the fairways. Some of them are really narrow, like No. 16 and No. 1. But, I mean, those are holes are pretty short. The longer holes they’ve given us more room to hit the ball into. But the greens are going to be very tricky. And I went out late yesterday evening and hit some chip shots and putts on the greens. There’s a huge difference from the morning to late afternoon, when, as you said, when the Poa Annua really dries up. When you hit the brown patches, the ball really doesn’t stop on the green. So it could get a little bit tricky. But it’s a great golf course.

I think, as I said, the fairways are running really firm this year, they’re running quick. And if you get a breeze that’s quite stiff it’s going to affect the golf ball a lot.

And I think, you know, the real issues will be on No. 9 and 10, also No. 6, the par-5. If you leak it anywhere to the right there, with the ball bouncing the way it is on the fairways, the hazard, which is the Pacific Ocean, will come into play quite a bit this week. So it could get quite interesting.”

us open tips

Pebble Beach: One of the most intimidating links test on the planet.

Links Expertise

Lets take the final skill statistics from both Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell who won the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Opens respectively. This gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2000 – Tiger Woods (-12). 299 yards (1st), 73.2% fairways (14th), 70.8% greens in regulation (1st), 66.7 % scrambling (2nd), 1.59 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2010 – Graeme McDowell (E). 303 yards (7th), 64.3% fairways (43rd), 58.3% greens in regulation (13th), 50.0% scrambling (10th), 1.64 putts per GIR (9th).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 4th, Driving Accuracy: 29th, Greens in Regulation: 7th, Scrambling: 6th, Putting Average 7th.

It’s hard to compare Tiger Woods’ 15-shot winning victory here in 2000 and Graeme McDowell’s single shot triumph 10 years later, but in essence the golf course played quite similarly. Tiger Woods shot 12-under with his nearest rivals at 3-over, such was the dominance of his victory. 10 years later G-Mac won at Level par, the only player not to be over par for the week. Despite the score difference though, both did the same things well – most tellingly driving the golf ball a long way. From there Woods topped Greens in Regulation with Graeme 13th. But as you’d expect at a U.S. Open, both of their short games were on point, missing greens on the right side to maximise up and down percentages, allied to a confident putting week on the lightning fast Poa Annua greens.

Correlating Course Form

Linking the last 2 Pebble U.S. Open winners Graeme McDowell (2010) and Tiger Woods (2000) when it comes to correlating results isn’t the easiest task in the world. Woods in his pomp overpowered golf courses with his sheer athleticism and power, whilst McDowell when on form is an accurate sort with a superb short game. But there is some course crossover where both of them have performed well at:

  • Kapalua – Woods 1st, 1st, 2nd 5th; McDowell 3rd.
  • Pebble Beach – Woods 1st, 1st, 2nd; McDowell 1st, 7th, 8th.
  • PGA National – Woods 2nd; McDowell 5th, 6th, 9th (twice).
  • Blue Monster Doral – Woods 4 Wins; McDowell 3rd, 6th.
  • Bay Hill – Woods 8 Wins; McDowell 2nd, 2nd.
  • St Andrews – Woods 1st, 1st; McDowell 2nd, 3rd.
  • Sheshan – Woods 2nd, 2nd, 6th, 6th; McDowell 3rd, 3rd, 3rd.
  • Sherwood Country Club – Woods 5 Wins; McDowell 1st, 1st, 2nd, 6th.

From a Pebble Beach perspective, both Tiger and Graeme had strong results at Pebble Beach prior to capturing the U.S. Open. Tiger had finished 2nd (1997) and 1st (2000) at the National Pro-Am with that win coming 4 months prior to winning the United States Championship. Graeme, on the other hand, had made 3 appearances at the National Pro-Am, missing the cut twice, but finishing 8th there in 2005. Woods finished 3rd behind Graeme at the 2010 U.S. Open and Graeme has gone on to finish 7th (2014) and 18th this year at the National Pro-Am. Pebble, as you might expect, is a very specialised test, especially when the course is fast, the Poa Annua greens unreceptive, and the rough is up.

But we also get some interesting correlations at other tough tracks. Tiger sparingly plays PGA National home of the Honda Classic in March, but he was runner-up to Rory McIlroy in 2012. G-Mac was 9th that same week and has also finish 5th (2016), 6th (2011) and 9th (2012, 2013).

Carrying on the Florida theme, Tiger is a 4-time winner (2005, 2006, 2007, 2013) on the Blue Monster at Doral just outside of Miami, with McDowell also have a strong record on a course which is ultimately too long for him. 6th on the Blue Monster prior to his Pebble win in 2010 must have boosted his confidence at a WGC-level, with the Northern Irishman finishing 3rd at Doral in 2013 behind winner Woods.  You can also throw Bay Hill into the mix where we know Tiger is an 8-time winner. G-Mac of course made his United States ‘splash’ at Bay Hill in 2005, where the University of Alabama man finished 2nd to Kenny Perry. And yes you’ve guessed it, his other runner-up finish in 2012 was behind none other than Tiger Woods. Of course, to summarise, Florida courses tend to be relatively tough and windswept.

You could say the same about the Home of Golf, St Andrews, although the temperatures there tend to be a little lower than Florida. Woods of course is a 2-time winner of the Open Championship on the Old Course across 2000 and 2005. G-Mac finished 11th in that 2005 Open Championship and also finished 2nd (2004) and 3rd (2011) at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Tiger (3rd) and Graeme (5th) also featured at the 2012 Open played at Royal Lytham, which was won by Ernie Els. Now Els finished 2nd at the 2000 Pebble Beach hosted U.S. Open and also finished 3rd behind G-Mac in 2010.

The Poa Annua greened, classical test at Sherwood Country Club in California also works nicely. Tiger made a habit of winning the event in late autumn with 5 victories, but Graeme also made hay at this select event. 2nd in 2009 behind Jim Furyk, 2010 saw McDowell muster one of his greatest victories beating Tiger in a true final round head-to-head. G-Mac also won there 2 years later in 2012, beating Keegan Bradley by 3 shots.

Key Player Statistics To Look Out For

In this day and age of statistics, it’s interesting to look at what inbound player skill strengths, if any, are particularly shared by U.S. Open winners. Naturally this cannot be an exact science as the U.S. Open moves from course to course, with venues changing in terms of key requirements required by the eventual winner. Nothing highlights that more than the difference between Erin Hills, Shinnecock Hills and Pebble Beach over the past 3 U.S. Open renewals. However there are definite patterns which are not exact, but certainly highlight trends.

For instance 9 of the last 12 winners of the U.S. Open ranked in the top 13 in the All-Round skill category in their last appearance. It’s also fact that no U.S. Open winner over the same timescale has been outside the top 18 for Greens in Regulation in the week they won. Naturally hitting your irons and approaches well is a huge benefit.

But if we’re looking for strong skill sets in a winner’s previous appearance, we actually need to look for top-level driving. In Brooks Koepka (twice), Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose we have 5 players who ranked 25th, 1st, 1st, 16th 1st and 8th for Total Driving in their previous appearance. For Martin Kaymer that happened to be at Wentworth, so he has to be excluded from the next angle Strokes Gained stat angle, but that Total Driving number also translates very well to Strokes Gained Off the Tee. Koepka (5th), Koepka (2nd), Johnson (4th), Spieth (5th) and Rose (13th) clearly had real confidence with the driver when they arrived at Shinnecock Hills, Erin Hills, Oakmont, Chambers Bay and Merion respectively. If the European Tour had a consistent Strokes Gained Stat back in 2014, Kaymer would have been very close to the top of it at Wentworth as well.

If we go back to 2010 and look at Graeme McDowell’s lead-in to his U.S. Open victory, he played the Wales Open on the European Tour, which he won. That week he topped Greens in Regulation at 80.6%, was 15th for Total Driving and was 2nd in the All-Round category.

Key US Open Statistics

YearUS Open WinnerGIRPrevious EventAll Round RankTotal DrivingSG Off Tee
2018Brooks Koepka61.1% (33rd)St Jude25th25th5th
2017Brooks Koepka86.1% (1st)St Jude13th1st2nd
2016Dustin Johnson76.4% (1st)St Jude2nd1st4th
2015Jordan Spieth76.4% (6th)Memorial5th16th5th
2014Martin Kaymer62.5% (18th)BMW PGA1st1stN/A
2013Justin Rose69.4% (9th)Memorial8th8th13th
2012Webb Simpson58.8% (16th)MemorialMCMCMC
2011Rory McIlroy86.1% (1st)St Jude18th16th20th
2010Graeme McDowell80.6% (1st)Wales Open2nd15thN/A

 

 

Be Extremely Wary of Backing the World Number 1

Tempted to get on the World Number 1 at the US Open? OWGR No1 Dustin Johnson (at the time of writing) undoubtedly loves Pebble Beach Golf Links. 2 wins in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am across 2009 and 2010, with a further 2 runners-up positions and a further 3 top-5s, highlights a player who thrives on this stretch of Carmel Bay, and naturally he led the 2010 U.S. Open by 3 shots going into Sunday before shooting a disastrous final round 82. Johnson is sure to be the favourite and rightly so.

However, fact is a player going into the US Open as the World Number 1 ranked player has only won the title once in the last 14 attempts and that was Tiger Woods, who had won at Torrey Pines 6 times prior to his 2008 US Open victory.

US Open OWGR Ranking

YearUS Open WinnerOWGR Rank
2018Brooks Koepka9th
2017Brooks Koepka22nd
2016Dustin Johnson6th
2015Jordan Spieth2nd
2014Martin Kaymer28th
2013Justin Rose5th
2012Webb Simpson14th
2011Rory McIlroy7th
2009Lucas Glover71st
2008Tiger Woods1st
2007Angel Cabrera41st
2006Geoff Ogilvy17th
2005Michael Campbell80th
2004Retief Goosen9th
2003Jim Furyk10th

 

This is Steve Bamford’s pre-event preview, his final US Open Tips for 2019 will be published on the Monday before the event.