US Open odds 2015: the intelligent punter's guide
Golf's second Major is taking place on the untested Chambers Bay course in Washington - who should you back?
The US Open, the second golfing Major of the year, takes a leap into the unknown when it tees off today at the controversial Chambers Bay course in Washington state.
It's never easy finding the winner, but this year it could be particularly tricky as the tournament is being played on a course that has never before hosted a professional tournament. However, we can make some educated guesses as to who the course is likely to suit.
Chambers Bay is a links-style course, which as been described as "very Scottish looking" - so golfers with good links form should be at an advantage.
The greens are undulating, so putting prowess will also be important. Players who have done well in the British Open in the past, will probably do well at Chambers Bay, as it'll be a similar test. There are other factors too to bear in mind before placing our bets.
Europe or America?
European golfers went 40 years - from 1970 to 2010 - without winning the event, yet they've now won it in four of the past five years. The fact that the tournament is being played on a links course is likely to be a further advantage to Europeans, and in particular to British golfers who are used to links golf. It is imperative to include at least one European on your short-list, but an American-free betting portfolio makes no sense as there has only been one year since 1997 (2011) when an American has failed to finish in the top two.
Don't be put off by golfers who have never won a Major. Nine of the past 12 winners of the US Open, including the 2013 winner Justin Rose, were winning a Major for the first time.
Bad for lefties
Since its establishment in 1895, no left-handed golfer has ever won the US Open. But southpaws can be backed each-way. Phil Mickelson, after all, has finished runner-up in the tournament six times.
Longer-priced golfers do well
The average SP of the last five winners was 52.4-1, so don't just focus on the market leaders. Rank outsiders have a habit of making the frame: a golfer priced 200-1 or bigger has made the top five in eight of the past ten US Opens, including last year when Erik Compton finished tied for second at 250-1 and Brooks Koepka tied for fourth at 225-1. In 2010 the runner-up Gregory Havret was priced up at an enormous 750-1. So aside from the better known names, consider having a small stakes each-way interest on at least one rank outsider as the bet could well come off.
Now let's take a closer look at the main contenders, plus some possible outsiders.
RORY MCILROY. Best odds: 8-1.
Won in 2011 (his first Major) but has fared poorly in England and Ireland recently, where he missed two cuts. The world number one is very dangerous to dismiss, as if he gets it together he could destroy the field, but at current odds others represent better value.
JORDAN SPIETH. Best odds: 9-1.
The 21-year-old (pictured, above) was a hugely impressive winner of the first Major of the year, the Masters, and although he once shot an 83 at Chambers Bay when an amateur, he will be aided by the inside knowledge of his caddie, who used to work at the course. While it would be no surprise to see him do well, he's very short in the betting considering the competitive field and the fact that market leaders don't have a great recent record in this.
PHIL MICKELSON. Best odds 18-1.
A six- times US Open runner-up, 'Leftie' has the game and the experience to do well at what looks like a very tricky venue. He has to go on the each-way shortlist.
JUSTIN ROSE. Best odds 18-1.
The 2013 winner comes here in good form (he finished tied second at the Masters) and the course should suit him. When he won at Merion, the scoring was high, and it could be the same again here. If there is to be another European winner, the Englishman looks the likeliest candidate.
DUSTIN JOHNSON. Best odds 22-1.
Fourth last year, he would look to have solid credentials, as he's been in good form; however the fact that he withdrew from a tournament last week, with an 'illness' having recorded three bogies is a bit off-putting.
RICKIE FOWLER. Best odds 22-1.
He finished in the top five in all four Majors in 2014 (he was a tied second in this behind Martin Kaymer) and although he didn't do so well in the Masters, he did win the Players Championship last month. Definite each-way possibilities.
HENRIK STENSON. Best odds 33-1.
The Swede was fourth last year and has done well on links courses in the past. The negative is that he hasn't been in good form of late and will need to putt much better than he has been doing to take a hand in this.
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA Best odds 35-1.
The 23-year-old Japanese has finished in the top ten in three of the last eight Majors and should find the course to his liking going on his previous links form. Could give each-way supporters a decent run for their money.
ADAM SCOTT. Best odds 40-1.
The 2013 Masters Champion is the longest odds he's been for quite a while for a Major, due to some poor 2015 form, with his putting being a particular concern. While he's obviously got the quality to turn things round, and getting back together with his old caddie Steve Williams might help, it's probably best to watch for signs of a revival before backing him.
JASON DAY. Best odds: 40-1.
Runner up in 2011 and 2013, the sequence would suggest that he'll go close again in 2015. He is yet to win a Major - but that is not usually a disadvantage in this event. The negatives are that he struggled in the Masters and has had health/injury issues to contend with.
SERGIO GARCIA. Best odds 40-1.
The perennial nearly-man of golf, El Nino is unlikely to win, but he does enjoy links golf, and has been in good form of late, and so it would be no surprise to see him on the leaderboard at some stage of the contest.
JIM FURYK. Best odds 40-1.
The veteran American's one Major win came in this event in 2003, he was runner-up in 2006 and 2007 and came fourth in in 2012 so he has some pedigree. He's been in fair form this year and won a tournament in April. Could well get into contention once again.
JIMMY WALKER. Best odds 40-1.
The late-blooming 36-year-old tied for ninth last year and made the top ten in three of the four Majors. He's already registered two US tour wins this year, and while this course is obviously a lot tougher, the US Open was won by a 40-1 shot last year.
BRANDT SNEDEKER. Best odds 50-1.
Has posted three top-11 finishes in the last four US Opens he has contested and comes into this in some fine form. He's usually a very good putter, he likes links golf, and at current odds it's tempting to take an each-way interest.
MATT KUCHAR. Best odds 55-1.
He's got a fair record in this with two top-12 finishes to his name and he's made the cut every year since 2009. However, he's not been in the best of form of late and others have more appeal.
BILLY HORSCHEL. Best odds 55-1.
He finished fourth at odds of 110-1 in 2013, and didn't do badly last year either, finishing 23rd. The man Tom Watson should have picked in the Ryder Cup is an interesting contender, who could go well again, but without winning.
PATRICK REED. Best odds 55-1
The case for backing him each-way is that he played really well at Chambers Bay in the 2010 US Amateur Championship. That positive course experience gives him an edge and he could be a value bet.
BROOKS KOEPKA. Best odds 60-1.
Fourth at odds of 250-1 last year, the 25-year-old from Florida won his first USPGA event earlier this year. He missed the Masters with injury, but warmed up for this with a tie for third in the St Jude Classic. While he can't be ruled out, the fact that he missed the cut at the 2013 British Open held on a links course at Muirfield does not bode well.
MARTIN KAYMER. Best odds: 66-1.
The German was a really impressive winner last year- but no golfer has won back-to-back US Opens since Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989, so the stats, at least from a 'win bet' point of view, are against him.
PAUL CASEY. Best odds 80-1.
Not been in great form but worth a mention as a European who likes links golf and he could well fare better than expected this week.
RYAN MOORE. Best odds 80-1.
His namesake, the British jockey, has been in cracking form at Royal Ascot this week, but what about the chances of the bearded American golfer? He did finished tied for tenth in 2009, but although he could only tie for 48th last year, he does have one thing in his favour this week: local knowledge. Moore is from Washington and grew up close to Chambers Bay and has played on the course.
WEBB SIMPSON. Best odds 90-1.
Long odds, but he was 90-1 when he won this in 2012. Not done too much since then, but a sign of a return to form when he tied for second in a tournament last month.
LEE WESTWOOD. Best odds 90-1.
Has a fine record in this, he came third in 2008 and 2001, but he did miss the cut last year and hasn't been in very good form in 2015. All things considered a first Major win looks unlikely.
MARC LEISHMAN. Best odds 100-1.
A tie for 51st is the best the Australian has achieved in this, but the course should suit his game, and he's been in pretty good form of late.
KEVIN KISNER. Best odds 100-1.
Not very well known outside of the US, he did miss the cut last year; however he has been in great form on the US tour this year, and could be one of the livelier outsiders.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN. Best odds 125-1.
He posted a top ten finish in the Masters and the course should play to his strengths. Hard to see the 38-year-old Californian winning, but he could outperform his long odds.
GRAEME MCDOWELL. Best odds 125-1.
The Northern Irishman hasn't been in good form this year, but the last time the US Open was held on a course similar to Chambers Bay, in 2010, he won and he does have a fine record in this event (he was also runner-up in 2013).
ALEXANDER NOREN. Best odds 150-1.
Big priced Europeans have gone well in this in the past and the Swede has been in good form of late and does have links experience. He tied for ninth in the 2012 British Open at Royal Lytham.
ERNIE ELS. Best odds 200-1.
'The Big Easy' is now 45, and while he'd be an unlikely winner, there are reasons for believing he could roll back the years and outperform his long odds. His record at the US Open is excellent (two wins and eight top ten finishes) and he should enjoy the course, his last Major win was on a links course in 2012.