Oakmont Country Club might be the most difficult of U.S. Open courses. Located outside of Pittsburgh, this year Oakmont is hosting the tournament for a record ninth time. When Angel Cabrera won at Oakmont in 2007, the last time the course hosted the tournament, his final score was +5. Since then, no Open has been won by a score worse than +1.
What factors should you consider when picking golfers for this year’s US Open? I take a look, below, and then find some value for the tournament.
US Open Betting Factors
Hitting it Straight
Between narrow fairways, ridiculous rough, and 210 bunkers, avoiding danger is paramount this year. Colt Knost and Thomas Aiken lead the PGA Tour in driving accuracy. Bigger names that hit it straight include Russell Knox, Henrik Stenson, Graeme McDowell, and Matt Kuchar. Sergio Garcia is number one hitting greens in regulation but Knox, Stenson, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, and Bubba Watson also get to the putting surface efficiently.
Limit the Damage
With so many trouble spots on the course, players can afford an occasional bogey, but must avoid doubles and triples. If you get in a bad situation, keeping damage to a minimum is vital. Bryce Molder, Patrick Reed, and Jerry Kelly are the top-three scramblers on the tour this year. Jason Day, Justin Rose, and K.J. Choi are among the best in sand saves. Steve Stricker and Kelly are the top guys in scrambling from the rough. Chris Kirk and Charl Schwartzel lead all golfers (by a fairly significant margin) when getting in trouble before approaching the green.
Oakmont is not just another course. It is unique and can play in an unorthodox manner. Guys who have spent time on the course have an advantage. Champs in Pittsburgh have included experienced players like Cabrera, Ernie Els, Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus, and Ben Hogan. It shocked the golf world when relative no name Sam Parks Jr. won at Oakmont in 1935. However, a Steel City native, Parks played nine holes at Oakmont every morning for months before going to work as a club pro at South Hills Country Club in preparation for the Open.
Rickie Fowler, Smylie Kaufman, and Justin Thomas have been at Oakmont for two weeks. Jason Day and Adam Scott arrived last week. Jordan Spieth played 27 holes on the course in May and, like last year when he won at Chambers Bay, plans to get in 72 holes before the tournament begins on Thursday. When Cabrera won in 2007, Jim Furyk was second, Bubba Watson finished fifth, and Paul Casey and Justin Rose were in the top-ten.
It is hard to suggest betting on Day at 6/1, but he is the number one player in the world right now for good reason: he’s solid at all parts of the game and the top putter on tour by a significant margin. Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are also deserving of short prices, but probably not worth betting on at 13/2 and 17/2, respectively.
Justin Rose hits it straight and has experience at Oakmont. He is good value at 25/1.
While Rickie Fowler has never won a major, he profiles well for this course and 29/1 is a square price.
(Photo credit: Tour Pro Golf Clubs (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)