Greatest week in golf
Blasphemy you say? Did I forget The Open Championship or The Masters? Of course not. Both are tournaments of the utmost importance. As an American though, the U.S. Open is the crown jewel. Routinely confounding the world’s best, the 116th edition should prove to be the ultimate test of golf. Plus it’s our national championship. Furthermore, anyone can play. Of course, you have to emerge from grueling qualifiers to get in. But if you’re good enough, you can get in. So I’d like to offer a small preview and what I think are “easy” predictions of the 2016 U.S. Open.
Oakmont Country Club
Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Can the same ring true for difficulty? In what will be the 9th U.S. Open hosted at Oakmont, it’s universally acknowledged to be one of the most challenging golf courses in the world. And absolutely gorgeous. It has stood the test of time, being perennially ranked in the top 10 of Golf Digest’s top 100 courses in America. With the famous church pew bunkers, Oakmont will offer a full frontal assault on the fortitude, skill, and patience of the most gifted golfers in the world. Is that what we enjoy as golf fans? The week in, week out -19 at the “Acme Radial Invitationals” can become boring. Sure, the birdie barrages are fun to watch. But the ass kicking that Oakmont will administer is certainly more compelling. As golfers and fans, we get a ringside seat to watch the world’s best players experience golfing anguish and pain. Maybe Tommy Boy can demonstrate the Oakmont experience better :
- Jason Day 7/1
- Rory Mcilroy 17/2
- Jordan Spieth 17/2
- Dustin Johnson 16/1
- Justin Rose 20/1
- Rickie Fowler 20/1
- Adam Scott 22/1
- Bubba Watson 28/1
- Danny Willet 30/1
- Henrik Stenson 30/1
odds thanks to VegasInsider.com
Will the “big three” represent this week? As the shortest priced contender, Jason Day offers little wagering value. Of course, he can win, but is 7/1 a worthwhile investment? I think he’s rightfully the favorite. With 8 victories in his last 33 tournaments, the Aussie is on a serious roll. But I’m a value shopper, and 7/1 doesn’t get my attention.
Rory switched back to his conventional putting stroke at The Memorial Tournament, garnering a T4 along the way. His ballstriking seems to always be on point. Will reverting back to his old putting technique have him hoisting the U.S. Open trophy? At 17/2, I won’t be taking that chance. Oakmont is the last course in the world you want to be battling with a shaky putter.
Which leads us to Spieth. His putting is otherworldly. If anyone can tame the Oakmont greens, it’s Jordan. But again, at 17/2, there is little value.
When is Dustin Johnson (16/1) going to win a Major? The simple fact is, Johnson can overpower any golf course. Scar tissue has been mentioned surrounding his previous Major gaffes, but I really don’t think it bothers him. He’s as laid back as he is talented. He only needs one week for his putting to cooperate. And he plays tough courses very well. 16/1 can’t be considered a bad price to take on this bomber.
Can you ever consider Phil Mickelson (35/1) an outsider at the U.S. Open? Lefty loves this tournament. 6 times a bridesmaid at our national championship, Phil can’t seem to break through. His 2016 putting statistics have got him in the hunt this year, though. Ranked 5th in strokes gained putting, Lefty will need to draw on this to contend. At 45, the window would seem to be closing. If he can find enough fairways, this might finally be his year. At 35/1, he’s very enticing.
Lo and behold, Sergio Garcia (50/1) found the winner’s circle this year at the Byron Nelson. Thanks to a minor meltdown from Brooks Koepka (50/1), the Spaniard won in Dallas for the 2nd time. But I see no Major glory for him at Oakmont. If he somehow finds himself in contention, he’ll whine his way out.
Attention value shoppers!
Almost every year at the U.S. Open, a contender from out of nowhere seems to emerge. My darkhorse this year is J.B. Holmes. A most attractive 70/1, the powerhouse from Kentucky is certainly flying under the radar. With 11 of 12 cuts made this year, I have to wonder why. Also, a T4 at the Memorial and the Masters has to bolster his confidence. Sure, you can go with Day at 7/1. But why not invest a toothpick to win a lumber yard? 70/1 on Holmes can get you on track to owning that lumber yard.
It’s not even a prediction at all, but you won’t see or hear Greg Norman this year. Curtis Strange and Paul Azinger have been tapped by Fox Sports to add some seasoning to their 2nd year of coverage. The Shark was one of the greatest players of the modern era. But for whatever reason, his star power failed to transfer to the broadcasting booth. I don’t know if Fox muzzled the Shark’s commentary or not, but Azinger is always a welcomed addition.
What else you won’t see or hear? Will Wilcox and Drake. I’m guessing Brendan Steele (150/1) is fine with this, as he and Wilcox had a minor social media brouhaha about loud music on the practice tee. Wilcox apparently was blasting Drake, to the dismay of Steele. Currently 151st in the official world golf rankings, Wilcox didn’t even try to qualify for the U.S. Open. The guy has an incredible swing and is statistically one of the better players on Tour. And he didn’t even try to qualify? Makes no sense to me. I can’t understand why one of the best players in the world doesn’t at least attempt to win his own national championship. But I wasn’t consulted. He did offer an “explanation” via Twitter, though, calling Oakmont a “joke.”
Steele at least had the cajones to qualify. Not a likely winner, but he’ll be out there mixing it up at least. Hats off to you, Brendan.
Will the winner’s final score be under par? The USGA attempts to set up the U.S. Open venue each year to have the players finish on or near par. That shouldn’t be a problem at Oakmont. The last U.S. Open played there in 2007 was won by Angel Cabrera. The winning score? 5 over par, 285. With brutal rough and Gary McCord approved “bikini-waxed” greens at Oakmont, a final tally under par seems downright impossible.
Who will hoist the trophy this week in Pennsylvania? Honestly your guess is as good as mine. I think Jason Day is the most likely winner. His consistency and raw talent make him strictly the man to beat. But as I said before, there is little value offered there. Why not take a chance on Mickelson at 35/1 or better yet, J.B. Holmes at a lucrative 70/1?
Thanks for reading and tune in Thursday for the 1st round of carnage!
featured image created by Lefty McDuff with thanks to imgflip.com