For instance, the odds on Manny Pacquiao against Floyd Mayweather were enticing, but Pac-Man isn’t nearly the fighter he used to be at this stage in his career – and the odds won out.
However, at this week’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, there is good reason to shoot for a big price.
The makings of an upset can come in many different ways. In baseball, it is more likely a .180 batter will get a hit off a veteran pitcher in his first try than his sixth. In the first opportunity, the veteran isn’t able to rely on his experience and adapt using his understanding of the best way to get the hitter out. But the sixth time around, the vet will be able to reach deep into his bag of tricks.
What does that have to do with the U.S. Open?
Chambers Bay is a complete unknown. It’s fewer than ten years old, tricked up, and has never been used for a PGA Tour event. A links-style course, it will put many golfers in uncomfortable positions. Because players don’t have a history and familiarity with the course, it opens the door for guys outside of the normal group of contenders to emerge and prosper.
Excuse the terrible pun but, to some extent, this dynamic is par for the course for the U.S. Open.
Unlike the Masters, which is played on the same course every year, or the British Open, which rotates among a small group of locations, the U.S. Open goes to myriad venues; that means golfers have less experience on the courses and results in surprise winners like Martin Kaymer, Webb Simpson, Lucas Glover, Geoff Ogilvy, and Michael Campbell in recent years.
While it’s one thing to identify Chambers Bay as a good course for longshots, the $64,000 question remains: Who should you bet on? Here are four reasonable options at a big number.
Jason Day (45/1) – The U.S. Open has gotten longer and longer over the years. Day is one of the top drivers on tour and provides a better price than fellow bombers Dustin Johnson (18/1) and Bubba Watson (35/1). He is 13th on the money list, and has finished among the top-five at the U.S. Open in three of the last four years.
Patrick Reed (60/1) – On a links-style course, players are going to need some creativity. Reed lost in a playoff to Jordan Spieth (8/1) at the Valspar Championship in March, a tournament known for rewarding shot makers. He also won in January (at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions), and has made the cut in five straight tournaments.
Ryan Moore (85/1) – Nobody in the field has more experience at Chambers Bay than Moore. He is from the area and plays the course frequently. He has four PGA Tour wins and is ranked among the top-20 in money earned this season. Moore also played well two weeks ago in his last tuneup at The Memorial.
Kevin Na (110/1) – Tiger Woods (45/1) dislikes Na because he plays slowly, but his results have steadily gotten better and better. Na has made ten straight cuts and finished in the top-15 in three straight and seven of his last nine tournaments. And, for what it’s worth (which isn’t much), he finished 12th at last year’s U.S. Open.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (Flickr: Jason Day) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)