The Country Club, Brookline, MA
The U.S. Open begins tomorrow amid the LIV Golf controversy. All the prominent Tour defectors are in the field but only Dustin Johnson figures as a top-20 betting favourite (19th at 40/1). The Country Club is an infrequent venue for the U.S. Open, having hosted only three times before this year. It was the site of the notable Open in 1913 when Francis Ouimet famously outduelled Harry Vardon and put golf on the map in the U.S.
U.S. Open set-ups are often criticized for being overly penal but the USGA makes few apologies for the narrow fairways and thick rough. To win, a golfer needs to be accurate off the tee, strong around the greens, and exercise great patience. In reviewing the top-ten results of the last five Opens, a few names appear most regularly: Louie Oosthuizen, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy, and Dustin Johnson. But there are others, some newer to the Tour, who will likely make their presence felt this week: Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, and perhaps Cameron Smith. And no U.S. Open or major for that matter would be the same without the one or two unheralded players who make their way into the weekend conversation.
Who should win? – Rory McIlroy 10/1
Rory is the betting favourite this week after outlasting Tony Finau and Justin Thomas to win and successfully defend last week’s Canadian Open. Rory has also put together an impressive run over the past five tournaments with the following results: 2, 5, 8, T18, 1. Only seven golfers since 1934, have won a major after winning a tournament the previous week. The last golfer to have accomplished this feat was none other than McIlroy in 2014.
Who could win? – Scottie Scheffler 14/1, Justin Thomas 12/1, Xander Schauffele 22/1, Will Zalatoris 28/1
Scheffler has cooled off “just a bit” since his incredible run of success in and around the Masters but he had a top-ten in the Open last year and he is a big-game player with no fear. Thomas is playing some of his best golf of late and he would love nothing more than to add a U.S. Open to his impressive record. Xander Schauffele is the only player to have placed in the top ten of the last five Opens. He is due to close out a major or two at some point in his career – this could be his year. Zalatoris plays tough courses very well and is not intimidated by anyone in the field. If he can coax in the majority of those testy four-footers, he could contend on the weekend.
Longer shots to consider – Cameron Young 40/1, Brooks Koepka 50/1, Justin Rose 60/1
Young has been a force in his rookie season. He was right there at the PGA and could threaten again this week. Koepka has shown little consistency after getting over his most recent injury, but as we all know, he gets up for the majors. Rose is also a former Open champ who had a great week in Canada and that may propel him to regain his former status.
Who will win? – Xander Schauffele
Before players like Morikawa and Scheffler emerged, major champions often had to endure a few battle scars before finally breaking through. Schauffele might be that old-school type of player who, after many close calls, may have learned what it takes to win the big one.
Odds courtesy of bet365.com