Trying to pick the winner of a major golf tournament at a new venue is not one’s idea of a smart approach to punting on this year’s US Open, which will run from Thursday to Sunday at Erin Hills, 35 miles north west of Milwaukee.
Construction on Erin Hills began in 2004 and the course opened in 2006. Erin Hills was the scene of the 2011 US Amateur Championship in which Kelly Kraft beat Patrick Cantlay in the 36-hole final to earn the Havemeyer Trophy. Among the future PGA Tour winners whom finished down the 2011 US Amateur Championship field were Harris English, Russell Henley, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth. So there are some Erin Hills statistics over which to pore but they are relatively few in number compared to most venues.
Erin Hills is described as being windy, having fairways that are wider than the norm, favouring long hitters and boasting similar characteristics to Pinehurst No 2 and Royal St George’s. Of the US Open favourites, the golfer who fit the bill best of all is Rickie Fowler but, rather than back the American at odds around the +2500 mark to break his major duck, snap up Betfred’s odds of +130 about him finishing in the top 20, a generous offer about this proven performer.
According to the PGA Tour number crunchers, Fowler ranks first on its all-round ranking, which is a good start for what sounds like being an all-round test. Also, Fowler ranks first on the PGA Tour’s sand saves list and he is well known for his skill in windy conditions, which is the opposite of most American golfers. Erin Hills features more par fives than most US Open course so the fact that Fowler ranks fourth on the PGA Tour for par-five scoring average is another positive. And last but not least, Fowler made the top five in recent major events staged at Pinehurst No 2 and Royal St George’s. That Fowler has contended for so many big competitions – remember that was not all that long ago that he made the top five in all four 2015 majors – demonstrates that he has the mental toughness to be in the mix when the world is watching. Fowler is yet to break through for his maiden major title but one expects him to be among the US Open contenders two weeks after he finished second in the Memorial Tournament, three shots adrift of Jason Dufner.
If Erin Hills should suit Fowler then another US Open test should play into the talented hands of Jason Day as well. Day is available at odds of -105 with Betfred to make the US Open top 20 and that is an attractive offer about a golfer whose record in the year’s second major event is superb.
Day has taken part in six editions of the US Open and only once finished lower than ninth on the leaderboard. Not even a dose of vertigo could prevent Day from cracking the top 10 of the 2015 US Open and, when he says that he relishes the tough conditions that are part and parcel of the United States Golf Association-organised major tournament, he is not yanking anyone’s chain: he really, really means it.
Finally, it is well worth noting the personal circumstances of the US Open favourite and defending champion, Dustin Johnson. On Monday, Johnson became a father for the second time when his fiancee, Paulina Gretzky, gave birth to the couple’s second son. Erin Hills is made for Johnson and long gone are the days when his ability to turn chances into wins was questioned. But in what shape – both physical and mental – will Johnson tee it up at Erin Hills later this week?
Rickie Fowler to finish in the US Open top 20
Thursday 15th June – Sunday 18th June
Jason Day to finish in the US Open top 20
Thursday 15th June – Sunday 18th June
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