US Open Golf odds: Can Spieth, Day or McIlroy tame Oakmont?
With the world's best golfers facing their 'toughest test' yet, it may be time to back an outsider
The US Open begins today and with golf's big three – Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth – all in excellent form it should be thrilling four days of golf.
Although they head to Oakmont as golf's biggest draws, there are plenty of contenders breathing down their necks, including Dustin Johnson and serial runner-up Phil Mickelson, who is hoping for the win that would give him a career grand slam.
This year the tournament is taking place at Oakmont, Pennsylvania, "one of the most maddening tracks in the world", according to USA Today.
"On its own, Oakmont, distinctively divided by the Pennsylvania Turnpike, would provide an exacting exam for the world's best players," says the paper. "Add the hand of the US Golf Association, however, and it could be the toughest test the players will ever face... There's not a single hole that can be labeled as easy. There's a 300-yard par-3. Bogey, at times, will be a good score."
So who is best placed to conquer Oakmont?
Rory McIlroy: Odds 15-2 (2-1 top five)
A straw poll at Golf.com found almost half of the experts there backed McIlroy to win his second US Open. "[The] best driver in the game will thrive on a course that demands exemplary driving," says the website's executive editor Alan Bastable. Other backers point to his revived putting and a soggy weather forecast that should work in his favour.
The winner could be the player who comes closest to taming Oakmont says CBS golf editor Adam Silverstein. "He's waded through some rough showings and is currently in a hot patch, and he's never been better with his driver."
Jordan Spieth: 10-1 (9-4 top five)
"One of the toughest courses in the world... should play into the hands of Redemption Man," says Ewan Murray of The Guardian.
Two months after his Masters meltdown some believe that the Texan, who travels to Oakmont as the defending champion, must prove himself all over again. But he has the tools to do it.
"Spieth is a terrific strategist. He has an ability to decode golf courses like no other. Moreover, and this is clearly pertinent where Oakmont is concerned, he is a wonderful putter," says Murray. "The potential parallel? Rory McIlroy's US Open triumph of 2011, two months after his own late Masters horror show."
There would be "zero surprises" if Spieth defended his title, says Kyle Porter of CBS.
Jason Day: 13-2 (7-4 top five)
The world number one "not only bombs it long and straight, but he also has the short game to survive on Oakmont's diabolical greens", Mark Godich of Sports Illustrated tells Golf.com. "That's the perfect formula for winning golf's toughest test on America's hardest track."
And while Kyle Porter of CBS has kind words for other competitors it is Day who is his number one pick. "I trust his game more than I trust anyone else's game," he says. "He's been a top five machine at US Opens gone by and ticks all the boxes for Oakmont winners. Superior ball-striker. Mentally dogged. Possible all-time great."
Phil Mickelson: Odds 30-1 (11-2 top five)
'Lefty' divides opinion with some backing him to push for a historic win and others dismissing his chances. Ben Coley of Sporting Life is one of the believers. "Almost everything I look at brings me back to Phil Mickelson," he says.
Oakmont offers "just the sort of layout he could really take to, one he considers to be a fair, difficult test and will certainly allow for his trademark flair around the greens to be showcased", he says. "He's playing golf which really isn't far away from his absolute best, particularly with the putter. It therefore comes down to limiting mistakes from the tee, scrambling well when he has to and, of course, a little bit of luck along the way."
Others are dismissive of his chances, predicting that he will blow up on the testing course. But "Phil is the non-Big Three name to watch this week," says Peter Bukowski of Golf.com.
Patrick Reed: 50-1 (10-1 top five)
Looking beyond the big names? Ricky Doyle of NESN recommends young American Reed. "The treacherous nature of this course lends itself to an underdog emerging from the pack," he says. "As such, I'm going with Reed, who leads the tour with nine top-ten finishes this season, despite him never finishing in the top ten of a major tournament."
He is also tipped as one to watch by Kyle Porter of CBS, who points out that he has led major tournaments in the past and has an "outrageous ability to drown out the noise and lock in on the task at hand".
Matthew Fitzpatrick: 70-1 (12-1 top five)
"The 21-year-old is Europe's rising star, and thus far, he's living up to the hype," says Golf Digest and Joel Beall declares himself "stunned" at his long odds.
Other tipsters have picked him as a dark horse and although he is not the finished article he "has a strong short game and an ability to keep it around the fairway," says Beall.