Welcome to our 2018 US Open coverage. Firstly congratulations to our European Tour pundit Paul Williams who last week landed Shot Clock Masters winner Mikko Korhonen at 28/1 and a rather juicy full each-way payout on Steve Webster at 150/1. That’s 3 wins from 4 weeks here at Golf Betting System, so we’re looking forward to this week’s Shinnecock Hills hosted US Open where hopefully we can snare another winner.
A much-loved course on Long Island close to New York, Shinnecock Hills should be a magnificent host course for the 118th United States Open Championship. Naturally after his win in Memphis last week, World Number 1 Dustin Johnson heads the betting at 8/1. But as is the norm these days at the highest level of golf, the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods are all 20/1 or shorter in what looks to be a very open affair.
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It has to be said that for golf punter value, when it comes to each-way betting we’ve never seen such excellent terms. The US Open has always been traditionally the worst of the 4 Major Championships for the number of each-way places offered. But the bookmaker industry is so competitive these days that bookmakers are offering record amount of places to try and win new customers and to retain those they already have.
So the 2018 US Open sees a massive opportunity for you to extend the amount of each-way places available. Golf industry standard is set at 5 places each-way with the places paid at 1/4 odds for full field events. However for the first time in US Open history we see 10 places each-way at 1/5 odds openly available this week. Those looking for bigger odds should also check out a number of bookmakers who have gone 7 or 8 places each-way at 1/5 odds.
Course Guide: Where Erin Hills 12 months ago was a new course for virtually all in the 2017 US Open field, Shinnecock Hills is one of the most traditional golf courses in North America. Built in 1892, the golf club, located close to Southampton on Long Island, New York State, is one of the oldest in the United States. An inland links-style golf course, it’s famous for being the first links golf course in the United States. Whether it is a genuine links is up for debate, but assume that those with a liking for coastal golf will feel right at home here.
The course has been significantly changed since the last US Open held here in 2004 which was won by Retief Goosen. A Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore (think Pinehurst Number 2 when it comes to recent US Open venues) inspired renovation in 2012 saw hundreds of trees removed, green sizes increased and over 400 yards added in length. With ever changing routing, the real challenge of Shinnecock for the players is thinking about the wind and understanding how to hit relatively small and well-defended green complexes. A commonly held view is that Shinnecock Hills feels more like Scotland than almost any other golf course in the United States. At 7,440 yards playing as a Par 70, this will be one of the longest ever Major set-ups featuring only a pair of par-5s. Typically USGA though, the yardage for each round of the championship will vary due to course setup and conditions.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Course, Southampton, New York: Designer: William S Flynn, 1937, with Crenshaw & Coore renovation, 2012; Course Type: Technical, Inland Links; Par: 70; Length: 7,440 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 0; Fairways: Bentgrass and Poa Annua; Rough: Bluegrass, Rye and Fescue; Greens: 6,000 sq.ft average Poa Annua.
Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Shinnecock Hills and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:
Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw designs /re-designs include:
Course Overview: Shinnecock Hills is undoubtedly a United States classic. The club has hosted US Opens across the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries and golf history is absolutely everywhere in the clubhouse. A links-style golf course, the set-up has a Scottish feel to it and across the 1995 US Open won by Corey Pavin and the 2004 renewal won by Retief Goosen it yielded winning scores of Even/280 and -4/276. Going back to 2004, the tournament highlights the well-known fact that links golf is inextricably linked to weather conditions. With a softer than desired golf course and light winds on the opening day, Angel Cabrera, Jay Haas and Shigeki Maruyama shot -4/66s to lead. Jeff Maggert on Friday led at one point at -7, with Maruyama and Mickelson eventually leaving the course with the joint lead at -6/134. But with the course becoming increasingly firm and fast, allied to stronger, gusting winds, scoring stalled. At tournament’s close, Goosen and Mickelson were the only players under par.
Things move on though and there are a couple of interesting points which we need to bear in mind with the revised Shinnecock track. The Coore and Crenshaw restoration in 2012 now plays some 450 yards longer after championship tees were added on 10 holes. 7,440 yards for a Par 70 is stretching. With extra length also comes extra width off the tee. Whereas the sub-7,000 yard layout featured fairways which ranged in width from 26 to 28 yards, the Coore and Crenshaw renovation, in their quest to take the course back to its 1930’s William Flynn roots, widened the fairways to over 40 yards in lots of circumstances. Now the USGA with their desire to make the course more of a challenge, in the autumn last year replaced some significant chunks of fairway with rough. But they readily admit that Shinnecock’s fairways will be the widest that we’ve seen in Championship play at 28-34 yards in the typical landing areas. That’s very generous in modern day golf terms when compared to the likes of very long Torrey Pines South where fairway widths are 26 yards at 300 yards from the tee. To add a little detail, the 13th hole features the thinnest fairway at 19 yards at 275 yards from the tee. But apart from that, all holes feature fairways that are a minimum of 30 yards wide, whilst the 8th is gigantic at 64 yards wide. No matter how you look at this set-up, power is sure to be a huge advantage and even inaccurate drivers will find plenty of short grass.
The renovation also saw green sizes grow a little, so green complexes at 6,000 sq.ft average are more generous than those we saw in 2004. Putting surfaces are Poa Annua, which we know aren’t to every player’s taste. So undoubtedly Shinnecock Hills, as per all links venues, will play as hard as the conditions allow. A firm course, with target 12.5ft stimp greens and plenty of wind, would be an absolute beast.
Winners: 2017: Brooks Koepka (-16); 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).
Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Hideki Matsuyama and Branden Grace.
Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on a 10-tournament window that stretches back to The Masters and includes both PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:
Winners & Prices: 2017: Koepka 45/1; : 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: 40/1.
Weather Forecast: Latest PGA Tour weather forecast for Southampton, New York is here. In terms of a weather forecast, I don’t think the USGA can have asked for a better one than what we see this week on Long Island. The immediate build-up to the tournament has been dry, but there’s a 50% chance of showers / thunderstorms on Wednesday. From Thursday onwards there will be no precipitation, so effectively Mike Davis can have nice fast conditions if he chooses to do. As we know, wind is Shinnecock’s friend when it comes to defending scores and the amount of it on offer across the tournament is sure to keep the players honest. A 15-20 mph westerly on Thursday looks consistent throughout. Early starters may well get some benefit on Friday with the wind freshening in the afternoon. From there the leaders will see gusting 15-20 mph winds on Saturday before the situation calms on Sunday.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the last 8 winners of the US Open since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:
Tournament Skill Averages:
Here’s some recent comments on the Shinnecock Hills course and how it sets up:
Rory McIlroy: “Yeah, I think they would love to get it fast and firm and that would play more like an Open Championship than it does a US Open, but Shinnecock doesn’t give you the opportunity too much to run balls into greens. You still have to fly it on to the greens. Where an Open Championship on a links course over there you can run it in. So you still have flight your irons, you still have to be able to stop it pretty quickly, especially if they do get the greens as firm as they want them.“
Rickie Fowler: “I think we’ve done a great job this year of showing that I’m ready to go win a major. The week we had at Augusta, obviously Patrick played well, but to be there to push him to 72 holes, it was a lot of fun. I’m ready to go out there and be the last man standing. I think this is a year we have some great chances. I haven’t played Carnoustie or Bellerive, but Shinnecock being one of my favourite courses, I’m looking forward to it.
JT and I had a good time playing Shinnecock. We had a little fun match together just playing head-to-head. I had him 2-down and then he made a couple birdies coming in. We had a good time. It’s probably the easiest we’re going to see the golf course ever play just because it was in perfect condition. The greens were soft, and you could throw darts with 5-irons, which won’t be the case next year at the US Open. It’s one of my favourite places to play. It’s the best out here on the island and like I said, one of my favourites in the U.S. by far.“
Phil Mickelson: “I think that to make a golf course where even par is a great score with the players today and the talent level, the skill level, the equipment, and so forth, you would have to cross over that line of fair, 5- or 6-under is kind of like that line of where a very fair and hard golf course is. I think we’re going to see that at Shinnecock.
Shinnecock, when I was there last week, I think it’s the greatest setup I’ve seen in a US Open. I think that the fairways are a very fair width, the rough is brutal, it will be as penalizing as a hazard, trying to just get it back to the fairway. But the fairways are so wide that a well-struck shot ends up in the fairway. I think that this year’s US Open is the greatest setup going in that I have seen in my 25-whatever years of playing the US Open. I think that it will reward the best player as opposed to having luck be a big element on some of the bounces in the fairway, bounces around the green, how it comes out of the rough, so forth. Skill is going to be the primary factor this week. It’s just a, it’s a tremendous setup that I’ve seen.“
Tiger Woods: “Do I think it will be a traditional US Open? Depends if it’s dry. If it’s wet, then not really, no. It will be long, yeah, it will be very long. But around the greens are very, it’s very different. They have taken out that over 500 trees since last time I played it and added about 500 yards to it, so it’s a very different golf course. It’s very open, wind blows a little bit more. I understand they’re trying to give us an opportunity to run the ball up, have a lot of fall-offs, a lot of pitch and runs and 4-irons and spinners and all different shots around the greens. But if it’s soft, it’s a moot point. But if it’s hard, then it becomes quite a test.“
Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 8 US Open winners:
Incoming form of winners since 2010:
First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010.
For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Poa Annua and Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix 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 Shinnecock Hills from the 2004 US Open. Phil Mickelson (2nd), Ernie Els (9th), Tiger Woods (17th), Sergio Garcia (20th), Charles Howell III (36th), Bill Haas (40th), Pat Perez (40th), Jim Furyk (48th), Zach Johnson (48th) and Chez Reavie (62nd) all played the weekend. Eric Axley, Aaron Baddeley, Paul Casey, Brian Gay, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Steve Stricker and Bubba Watson all missed the cut.
With Patrick Reed in mind, 5 players have done the Masters/US 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 US Open at a best price of 8/1. The huge trend going against Dustin this week is that only a single World Number 1 ranked player has won the title in the last 14 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.
From a Brooks Koepka perspective it’s well worth noting that only 2 players, namely Ben Hogan in 1950/51 and Curtis Strange in 1988/89, have defended the US Open title. Since 1991, five champions have finished better than 15th in trying to defend their US Open crowns. Tiger Woods was 12th in 2001 and 6th in 2009. Retief Goosen was 11th in 2005 following his second US Open championship victory here at Shinnecock Hills. Graeme McDowell was 14th in 2011. Justin Rose was 12th in 2014. As you can see only Tiger Woods troubled the each-way places, so Koepka faces an almighty challenge this week at a rightfully short price.
A fascinating tournament awaits this week on Long Island. Shinnecock Hills should provide a sterner test than Erin Hills, where the bombers had their way. Yes I think length will be a significant advantage this week on a course which features wide-fairways, plenty of elevation changes and 7 par-4s of over 450 yards, but Shinnecock appears to be the kind of course where strategy and patience will be key. This is undoubtedly a links-like test, despite the course being 2 miles from the coast. And in all likelihood coastal positive players will be very much at the fore, with long driving and Greens in Regulation likely to be the key constituents. Naturally scrambling will also be at a premium with the course featuring Augusta-like closely mown collection areas around green complexes, many of which are elevated.
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 Poa Annua set-ups and those who tend to come alive on links tests. The fact that 8 of the last 11 winners of the US Open ranked in the top 10 for All-Round in their last appearance has also influenced my team to a degree. Another trend I like this week is that in recent winners Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose, they all arrived at the top of their considerable ball-striking powers. This +7,400 yard Par 70 is unlikely to change that trend in my opinion.
My final US Open tips for 2018 are as follows:
Rickie Fowler 2.5pts EW 20/1 with bet365. *For the latest bet365 Opening Account Offer details see below, 8 places EW 1/5 odds.
Naturally you can make cases for everybody at the top of the market. World Number 1 Dustin Johnson could undoubtedly win this and it’s fascinating to see that since his Oakmont victory in 2016 he has an amazing 22% win rate. He is the rightful favourite for this but at 8/1 he has a few things going against him from a trend perspective and I still don’t like to side with players grouped with Tiger Woods across Thursday & Friday. McIlroy will tempt many as a win here would most likely propel him to World Number 1 and if he brings his Wentworth form to Long Island he has to be a factor. There seems to be too many highs and lows though with Rory for my liking. In total, 5 players could dethrone Dustin Johnson of his OWGR spot this week with a top 5 (Thomas), solo 2nd (Rose) and wins (Spieth, McIlroy and Rahm) being minimum requirements. This is a whole new dynamic in modern day golf and does it have any bearing? I’m not too sure, but I’m not a fan of Thomas or Spieth this week and for me Rose is a better bet on tree-lined classical courses featuring pure Bentgrass greens. Jason Day loves poa annua greens, is a US Open expert and will have his supporters, but unless Shinnecock gets out of control speed-wise as it did in 2004, I can’t see him hitting the number of greens required to win this.
So that takes me down to Rickie Fowler who should really like the test he faces this week on Long Island. 5th at the Sandwich-hosted Open Championship as long ago as 2011, 5th at the 2014 Masters, 2nd at the 2014 US Open, 2nd at the Hoylake-hosted Open, 3rd at the 2014 PGA Championship, 5th at the 2017 US Open and 2nd at this season’s Masters – Rickie has undoubtedly paid his dues when it comes to Major Championships. That last performance though at Augusta really showed progress to me. Yes 7 shots behind runaway leader Patrick Reed after Friday placed Rickie in a position he feels far more comfortable in, but rounds of 65-67 over the weekend were both the best in the tournament and mightily impressive at the same time. Even when Spieth finished like a train, Rickie kept calm and assured and birdied the last to put Reed under the most intense pressure. For me that showed progress and despite many questioning Fowler’s ability to win a Major, I remain very much in the yes he can camp.
Of the American contingent when it comes to links golf, DJ, Spieth, Mickelson and Fowler stand out as the 4 players who have the experience, the power and the patience to play these kind of tests. Of the 4 mentioned, I like the way in which Fowler under the tutelage of Butch Harmon can peak for Major Championships and at the Memorial Tournament 2 weeks ago he played ever-improving golf. You very much need to peak for the US Open from a ball striking perspective and 12th for Greens in Regulation, 9th for Total Driving, 16th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, 6th for Ball Striking and 8th for All-Round are numbers I really liked. He found 29 of 36 greens across the weekend and his closing -4/68 was tied-8th best in field as he finished 8th overall. We know that Fowler loves Shinnecock and talks about it being one of his most liked course in the United States and a little firmness and wind will only enhance his chances. An opening 3-some with Leishman and Matsuyama will be stress-free, so I’m expecting a strong week from the 29 year-old who got engaged at the end of last week.
Jon Rahm 2.5pts EW 20/1 with bet365. *For the latest bet365 Opening Account Offer details see below, 8 places EW 1/5 odds
I’ve read some very revealing comments from Phil Mickelson who played Shinnecock Hills last week, “I think that this year’s US Open is the greatest setup going in that I have seen in my 25-whatever years of playing the US Open. I think that it will reward the best player as opposed to having luck be a big element on some of the bounces in the fairway, bounces around the green, how it comes out of the rough, so forth. Skill is going to be the primary factor this week. It’s just a, it’s a tremendous setup that I’ve seen.” He also describes Shinnecock as a very fair test for a US Open. A player who could be overlooked for this is Jon Rahm, but the fact that power from the tee plus accuracy and consistency of approach will eventually win the day plays into the Spaniard’s hands. Mickelson’s comments suggest that he doesn’t expect this to be a level-par US Open and if something approaching -10, -11 or -12 is the winning score this week, make no bones about it, the massively talented Rahm can get right in the mix. 23rd in his last appearance as an amateur at Oakmont 2 years ago hinted ever so slightly at the talent that Rahm has. Indeed the 23 year-old now sits at Number 4 on the OWGR after winning 5 main Tour titles in his last 36 tournaments – that’s a 14% win rate – and he’s also paid out fully each-way an additional 11 times over the same period. Make that a 44% win or each-way payout rate. So 20/1 about Jon this week smacks of a very fair price to me for a player who can hit the ball a long way, hits the ball very high, and who at the moment sits 2nd across my 10-week Greens in Regulation tracker.
It’s probably also worth reviewing Rahm’s last 24 months a little bit in detail. 3rd at US Open venue Congressional and 2nd at Glen Abbey in his first and fourth starts as a professional back in 2016 were soon backed-up by his maiden PGA Tour victory at Torrey Pines in January 2017. Torrey Pines is coastal US Open venue (it will host the event again in 2021) of repute which always plays firm and fast and features pure Poa Annua greens. Rahm won his first ever professional title there with a winning score of -13/275 and has never looked back since. From there 5th at Pebble Beach, again on pure Poa Annua greens, featured rounds of -5/67 and -4/68 on the US Open host course. 3rd at Club de Golf Chapultepec, 2nd at Colonial, 3rd at Glen Oaks (in New York State again featuring pure Poa Annua greens) and 7th at East Lake followed. And we must not forget Rahm’s Irish Open triumph on the Strand Course links at Portstewart GC in last July, where he beat a field containing Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama and Tommy Fleetwood into submission by a mere 6 shots. Make no bones about it, this guy can play coastal or links-style golf. Add on his first Major top 5 finish at Augusta in April when he finished 4th and I can see Jon, who learns incredibly quickly, being very confident this week as he arrives on Long Island.
After his final round at Augusta Rahm said, “I didn’t panic, which is the one thing I really want to learn about myself. It’s one thing to win a PGA TOUR event but a Major is very different. I didn’t panic at all. I felt really comfortable. I loved the situation, I loved that hunt. Hopefully, next time I go into the back nine on a Major I’m the one in the lead and get to experience that and I have a another chance to win a Major this year.” 5th last time out at Colonial behind Justin Rose featured 2nd for Greens in Regulation, 9th for Total Driving, 2nd for Strokes Gained Off the Tee and 12th in All-Round. An all-Spanish group across Thursday and Friday with Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera-Bello can only aid his chances and if there’s a nice gap in the weather early on Friday morning, Rahm could be in the perfect spot to capitalise.
Jimmy Walker 1pt EW 100/1 with bet365. *For the latest bet365 Opening Account Offer details see below, 8 places EW 1/5 odds
A look at the playing CV of Corey Pavin, who won here in 1995, reveals a couple of wins at Waialae (1987 & 1995) and at Riviera Country Club (1994 & 1995). Pavin also finished in the top 10 4-times at Pebble Beach and was in the top 8 3-times at Augusta (1992, 1994 & 1996). 2004 Champion Retief Goosen has finished 4th at Waialae (2010), 3rd at Pebble Beach (2009), 2nd (2002 & 2007) and 3rd (2005 & 2006) at Augusta and you can throw in a 2nd (2008) and 3rd (2004) at Doral. Naturally both had strong records across the US Open with 2 top 10s for Pavin and Goosen was already a U.S. Open champion (2001). Experience can pay in spades at stretching Major Championships and at 100/1 I really like the chances of Jimmy Walkerwhose CV can be related to much written previously. A Waialae winner in 2014 and 2015, the Texan has also finished 4th twice at Riviera in 2011 and 2012. A winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach title in 2014, Walker has also finished 9th (2011), 9th (2012), 3rd (2013) and 8th there this season. 6th at Doral in 2016, Walker also amassed 3 top 10s across the Masters (8th 2014), U.S. Open (9th 2014) and PGA Championship (9th Valhalla) before winning the 2016 PGA Championship played at Baltusrol. From a Coore and Crenshaw design perspective, the 9th at Pinehurst Number 2 in the U.S. Open was clearly the last time a Major Championship was played on one of their renovations. 2nd at Kapalua (2015) and 6th at Trinity Forest 4 weeks ago also highlights that the 39 tear-old Texan loves their wide set-ups.
So Walker has undoubted pedigree and his form in 2018 has been excellent as his recovery from Lyme disease has allowed him to practice fully. 8th at Pebble Beach, 20th at Augusta National, 4th at TPC San Antonio, 2nd at TPC Sawgrass, 6th at Trinity Forest and 20th last time out at Colonial see Walker back in the reckoning for a Ryder Cup spot. He hit 28 of 36 greens across the weekend at a Colonial set-up which is a little too tight for him, and he was 10th for All-Round at the AT&T Byron Nelson. This statement at the Byron Nelson also made me take notice, “I’ve not played a Coore/Crenshaw I didn’t like.” Ranks 5th in my poa annua result ranking, 16th in my 10-week rolling Greens in Regulation analysis and 4th in my 10-week Putting Average analysis.
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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 15:25BST 11.6.18 but naturally subject to fluctuation.