The US Open starts on Thursday with Brooks Koepka seeking a hat-trick after winning the tournament for the last two years.
Koepka also comes into this year’s event after successfully defending the USPGA title last month and he is the only golfer in history to hold back-to-back titles in two majors simultaneously. Koepka’s rise to being world number one has been stratospheric and a win at Pebble Beach this week would be his fifth major in three years. Unsurprisingly, Koepka is 8/1 co-favourite with Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy to continue his remarkable run in the major championships but there is still plenty of value to be found among golf’s top names.
Unlike in other majors, the cream rises regularly to the top in the US Open, with only four of the last 16 winners of the tournament entering the week lower than 30th in golf’s world rankings.
Age also appears to play a major factor, with no golfer older than 32 lifting this trophy in the last ten years. In fact, seven of the champions were still in their twenties.
So let’s assess the chances of the top ten players in the bookmakers’ markets.
Rory McIlroy 8/1
Price has shortened after he shot a final round of 61 to win the Canada Open last weekend. Has missed just one cut this year and has finished outside the top ten in just two of his 12 tournaments on the US tour this year. McIlroy’s name is likely to feature high on the leaderboard this week but it’s now getting on for five years since he won a major and he has failed to distinguish himself when playing this course. There’s no real value in his price now and it might be better to look elsewhere.
Brooks Koepka 8/1
Did us another favour when winning the USPGA and is one player almost guaranteed to bring his A-game to a major. However, this course will be a tougher proposition for him to negotiate and Pebble Beach may not play to his strengths as much as the four courses on which he has won majors. Undoubtedly the best player on the planet right now and would force most of the golfing world to reassess his ability and raise his status among golf’s greats if he continues his remarkable run of form at the majors.
Dustin Johnson 8/1
Given he’s won 20 tournaments on the PGA tour and was ranked the world’s number-one golfer for 64 consecutive weeks in 2017/18, Johnson will be disappointed to have just one major win on his record. That came three years ago in this tournament and there have been some who have unfairly questioned his temperament and killer instinct given he’s recorded 14 top-ten finishes in majors but won just once. Johnson acts well around Pebble Beach, he’s finished in the top eight on nine of his 13 course visits, and this could be the perfect track for him to get another major on the board.
Tiger Woods 12/1
A return to major success for the greatest golfer who has ever lived has generated excitement that the sport hasn’t seen since . . . well since the last time Tiger contended for major championships. Okay, so he failed to make the cut in the USPGA in his first tournament since that emotional Masters success but he subsequently recorded a top-ten finish at the Memorial and heads to Pebble Beach, arguably the scene of his greatest triumph, in decent nick. Woods won this tournament at this course by a record 15 shots at the turn of the century and finished fourth behind Graeme McDowell at the course in 2010. Woods was the first golfer to arrive at the course last weekend for a few practice rounds and he can be expected to strike fear into opposing players when his surname appears on the leaderboard on Sunday.
Jordan Spieth 20/1
I’m going to suggest backing Jordan Spieth at 20/1 to win his fourth major. The American star is still only 25, has three major victories on his CV and is bouncing back to form after a disappointing 18 months. Spieth finished just outside the top 20 at the Masters but has since placed third in the USPGA and recorded top-ten finishes in his last two tournaments. His putting has returned to the level of two years ago while his driving accuracy has improved of late. Spieth was able to contend for majors even when he was struggling with his game, so his recent performances suggest he will go close here.
Patrick Cantlay 20/1
Has made his way into the world’s top ten after a stunning victory at The Memorial and has finished inside the top ten in the first two majors of the season. High on confidence after a stellar 2019, he has made a remarkable comeback from a fractured back and personal tragedy - his best friend and caddy Chris Roth was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2016 while out walking with Cantlay. Still only 27, Cantlay clearly possesses the mental strength to contend in majors and eighth in the world may not be the ceiling of his abilities.
Justin Rose 25/1
The Englishman’s trademark consistency has deserted him this year and the reasons for that are obvious. Rose has switched club suppliers and his regular caddy was forced away from the game for three months after undergoing heart surgery. The two have now been reunited and Rose has put up put two of his better performances since his caddy returned to the fold. A return to form is not out of the question.
Jon Rahm 28/1
After finishing ninth at this year’s Masters, Rahm won the Zurich Classic pairs event in New Orleans alongside Ryan Palmer. However, since then it’s worrying that Rahm has missed the cut in both the USPGA and Memorial tournaments. Rahm has an all-or-nothing record at the majors with three top-ten finishes and three missed cuts in his six starts. Has a good record when teeing off in California and his supporters will be hoping he bounces back to his best.
Xander Schauffele 28/1
Another player knocking on the door in majors is 25-year-old Schauffele. He has finished second in the Masters and 16th in the USPGA this season and knows how to win having captured four titles on the PGA tour. A fine driver, he has the game to go well around Pebble Beach and makes plenty of appeal at the prices.
Rickie Fowler 28/1
Has made ten straight cuts in majors and has top-ten finishes in each of the majors inside the last two years. Remarkably consistent but has a tendency to throw it away when in contention. Can be expected to put in another good show but it takes a braver man than me to be confident of him finally breaking his major duck here.