UG Tips: 118th US Open at Shinnecock Hills
Some players would have broken into a cold sweat when it was announced that the US Open would be returning to Shinnecock Hills. After the carnage of 2004 many who played that day would have been dreading a return to course where the greens became totally unplayable – so much so, that they actually had to water them between croups on the final day.
Fourteen years later though, the USGA have learnt their lessons and seem to have softened somewhat. You could say that 7 US Open Champions who were in the world’s top 30 at the time in the last 7 years is proof that they are identifying the best golfers every time.
Though Shinnecock is considerably longer than last time, the fairways have almost doubled in width and the greens will not become as severe. That said, there are some savage run-offs which make the greens play a fair bit smaller than they look. These run offs should certainly make for a more interesting tournament, offering players several options around the greens.
The course has changed a lot in theses last few days, and even the prospect of a bit of rain shouldn’t mean a great change to the fast nature of it. It drains superbly well and while being easier than last time, should still be able to identify the player with the strongest overall game.
There are plenty of players to consider, but with the USGA having recently got things (course set-up wise anyway) so much better, you’d expect a high calibre winner. There could be a few outliers who might be worth a decent each way punt. With 20 amateurs in the field there could be some real excitement and good odds if you go for the high amateur pick – we reckon Braden Thornberry is the pick of these.
Though Tiger has been back on form this season and will be much fancied, there is just something lacking from the big guy and it feels like he’s not got what it takes to close the deal these days – or the rest just don’t cave as easily as they used to!
So to our picks for Shinnecock Hills:
Justin Rose 14/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £195
Over the past 18 months Justin Rose has been an absolute machine. He must have the happiest bank manager on the planet as he picks up a huge cheque every week he tees it up. There are going to be a couple of critical holes at Shinnecock this week, 9th & 17th, requiring laser-like precision with long irons. If you asked me to pick one man to hit those 8 shots this week, I’d be asking JR to step up. On those 8 shots alone I reckon he’ll pick up 2 shots on most of the field.
He’s a big game player these days and it must only be the fact that he doesn’t court the media that his odds are as high as this. If he doesn’t win it would be a huge surprise if he didn’t figure in the top 5. Of the big boys, he is Mr Reliable.
Rickie Fowler 20/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £270
He’s got to be feeling good about life right now. He’s just got engaged, he’s playing great – including 3 top 5’s in his last four majors. He took a fair while to learn how to win on tour, and it may just be the same with winning his first major. With 8 of the last 9 major winners being first timers, you could argue that he is next in line to join the big club. Everyone knows that his game is good enough, and after his performance at Augusta he might just believe it himself now.
Phil Mickelson 33/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £432.50
Oh Phil! Is this just the romantic punt? Maybe, but he has found his best form in years this season. Couple that with his record of 4th here in 1995 and 2nd in 2004 (narrowly missing out to Retief Goosen) and he must have a good feel. With 6 runners up finishes in US Opens he might feel that he deserves one. He’ll certainly get great backing from the New York crowds and I feel that he will enjoy the challenge around the greens more than most.
Tommy Fleetwood 45/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £582.50
The Englishman hasn’t perhaps enjoyed the same level of success as he had last year but he’s been decent. He proved last year at Errin Hills that he has a big game and he’s been steady each week. He showed some of his best stuff at The Players with a top 10 finish and at 12th in the world has to certainly be considered a legitimate threat.
Louis Oosthuizen 60/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £385
Aside from a couple of loose weeks around The Players, Louis has been on a run of good form this year. He’s gently rising the rankings and will have no issue with being patient enough to stick around. He proved when he won his Claret Jug how focussed he can be and having invited Retief Goosen to guide him around the course last week will not be short of local knowledge. Reports from New York are that he is absolutely ripping it and has fallen in love with Shinnecock.
Sam Burns 500/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £3135
Here’s your slightly out of left field pick. Hear of him? Maybe not, but he shot 62 in the sectional qualifier and is reportedly playing some beautiful golf right now. He should have been picked for last years Walker Cup and is destined for great things. There’s always a great story at each major and this 21 year old will certainly be worth following having played the course many a time a as a junior thanks to his grandfather being a member.