Wednesday, June 16, 2010

U.S. Open Tips

As you may or may not know, the U.S. Open is tomorrow at Pebble Beach.  I usually do a preview of some sort for the golf majors, but that sounds boring.  Instead, I took a look at the odds to win as offered by a website that caters to people who are interested in that sort of thing.  Much like I picked the winner of the Kentucky Derby and nearly picked the winner of the Belmont (my pick finished second), I'm going to give you a few good value bets here, and odds are one of these guys will be the winner.

Hunter Mahan, 30-1.  My favorite bet on the board because I think he's going to win the whole thing.  He's a stud at the majors, and particularly the U.S. Open where he has finished 13th, 18th, and 6th the last three years.  He's also had a pretty good year, with a win already at the Phoenix Open and a 6th place finish at the Masters.  The fact that he's missed the last two cuts concerns me, particularly the Memorial, but he's one of the best ball-strikers on tour and is going to win a U.S. Open some year - why not now?

Jim Furyk, 18-1.  There are a handful of true favorites (as much as I believe he'll win, even I don't think Mahan is a real favorite) who all have a shot at this the one I think with the best shot also has the best odds in Furyk.  He's already won twice this year, he's an absolute US Open monster (including one win), and you're telling me his odds should be four times worse than Tiger (who is 9/2)?  Or twice as bad as Mickelson and Lee Westwood (9/1)?  And equal to Dustin Johnson (who I do like, but not at just 18/1)?  If he hadn't burned me hard by missing the cut at the Masters I'd say this was the best bet on the board.

Robert Karlsson, 66-1.  This is probably the best bet on the board.  Because of Karlsson's eye injury in 2009, causing him to either play poorly or not play at all for most of the year.  Don't forget but before that he was one of the best golfers in the world, and was actually ranked #6 in 2008 after winning the European Order of Merit and finishing in the top 10 in three of the four majors (and finishing 20th in the fourth).  He's showing that he's back lately, with a win on the European Tour earlier this year and a 2nd place finish last week at the St. Jude.  Frankly, at 66-1 you're almost stupid not to bet on him.

Retief Goosen, 30-1.  Goosen's combination of a solid year with some top finishes plus a solid US Open track record make him an intriguing pick.  The good news is that he's made 7 of 8 cuts, he's grabbed five top tens in those 8 tournaments, he's hot, finishing 15th last week, and he has two career US Open wins and has finished top 16 the last two years.  The bad news?  The cut he missed this year was at Pebble Beach.  Ouch.

Nick Watney, 35-1.  I love Watney to win a major at some point in his career.  He hits greens, he putts well, he drives well, and he's just a solid all-around player, who has the kind of demeanor that seems to never get to high and never get too low.  Just a steady, steady player, who is capable of brillance at times.  He hasn't fared well at the U.S. Open in his young career (CUT - T60 - CUT), but he generally plays well at Pebble.  This is probably the weakest of the bets I'm listing, but I'm convinced he's going to win a major at some point, and if he does it here and I don't list him I'll never be able to live with myself.

Heath Slocum, 80-1.  Out of all the big underdogs, this guy actually has a chance to win.  He doesn't have much of a track record in the majors, although his best ever finish is a T9 at the 2008 US Open, but he's got a lot working in his favor.  He's having a great year, making the cut in 14 of 15 tournaments entered with three top 10s and nine top 30s.  He played in the Masters this year for just the second time ever and finished 18th (this would be essentially just his third U.S. Open).  Maybe most interestingly, the two biggest keys to this course for the Open this year are Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation; Slocum ranks 4th and 7th in those metrics.  If he can find a hot putter, he could breakthrough for a win.  Hey, Lucas Glover last year had only been in two other US Opens and had missed the cut both times.  It could happen.

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