The 2018 US Open heads to New York, and back to the infamous Shinnecock Hills Golf Course, a links on Long Island that last hosted the Championship in 2004.
The US Open is renowned for being one of the hardest course set-ups of the year. The course has undergone some substantial changes since then. Most notably, the course has been lengthened by 449 yards ( just over 5%, to 7445 yards), which means this year’s leaderboard might not be as peppered with shorter hitters as it was when Retief Goosen held off Phil Mickelson to win his second U.S. Open title, when players like Jeff Maggert and Fred Funk lurked.
However whilst fairways have been widened, critical landing zones have in fact been narrowed, making it difficult to get ball placement correct. Only nine players have finished under par in the last three US Opens at Shinnecock, with the median score a high +5.5 (over par) in 2004. Whilst the course should play differently, expect it to be a real examination.
My search is for value amongst straight hitters. Overall, I expect those who favour a links course to rise with accuracy overpowering length. Those with accurate length.
Scouring the stats and tables for a shortlist one name began to stand out. On the USPGA this year he is 1st in Driving accuracy percentage, 1st in greens in regulation and 15th in birdies scored. Only 183rd of 300 plus in length off the tee but at 285 yards average, long enough.
This player has four top tens this year, and has finished in the top 25 in eight of his last nine tournaments. In those top 10s? 5th in the Masters, 4th in the Arnold Palmer and 2nd in the HSBC Champions. So not only is he straight as a die, his form is decent too
He is 15th in the OWGR. The icing on the potential cake? Four top tens in the Open in the last ten years, including three top threes and a win in the last seven years. Its no surprise with his type of game he’ll go well in all weather on links courses.
I want to be backing Henrik Stenson.
Now of course there is a wide range of terms on offer. From 33/1 one quarter the odds five places to the variety of marketing offers up to ten places one fifth where you give up on the price (down to 25-1) to get the extra places. I am going to suggest a middle ground because I want some places
Henrik Stenson US Open 30/1 (seven places 1/5) Betfred 28/1 (eight places, 1/5) SkyBet, Betfair Sportsbook/Paddy Power
Also available 33/1 Bet365, Ladbrokes (five places, 1/4) 30/1 William Hill (six places,1/5)