US Open 2013

Final PreviewUS Open 2013

Tournament: US Open 2013

Location: Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Course: Merion Golf Club (East Course)

Distance: 6,996 yards

Current Champion: Webb Simpson

Dates: June 13 – 16

Before you read, one half of DownThe18th has been working at Golf Monthly Magazine the past few weeks, so please check out some of the stories by Lewis Pacelli, here is one of them – http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/us-open-2013/blog/531387/us-open-blog-potential-winners.html

Well here we are, the week of the second major of the year and one we have personally been waiting for, for quite sometime.  We obviously love every major but this year’s US Open at Merion seems just that extra bit special, because it will be different to any of the big 4 in the next few years.

Not only is the course going to set up an intriguing battle, there are several sub plots to the drama that will unfold.

Webb Simpson will be arriving as current champion attempting to defend his title and that has not been achieved since Curtis Strange in 1989. Since then only 3 people have finished better than 40th in their defence (Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, Retief Goosen)

Tiger Woods is yet to win a major since 2008 at Torrey Pines, but is in scintillating form and he will be paired with Rory McIlroy for Thursday and Friday who is still searching for any sort of form.  Making up this 3-ball is Masters champion Adam Scott who will be trying to become only the 6th golfer ever to win both trophies in the same year.

The famous US Open trophy

The famous US Open trophy and the iconic Merion pinflags

As for the course itself, we started all this research by looking at the yardage in our 1st Preview (See Below). The track is going to be playing at under 7,000 yards and not since 2004 has that ever happened.  This will make the challenge a unique and difficult one for the field of 156 players.

DownThe18th US Open Preview 1

We calculated that the average driving distance on tour this year is 290 yards, therefore the simple maths (yes even simple for us!) leaves us with what yardage the majority of the field will face

Here is a run through of the 18 holes –

No. 1 – Par 4 – 350 yards – 60 yards left
No. 2 – Par 5 – 556 yards
No. 3 – Par 3 – 256 yards
No. 4 – Par 5 – 628 yards
No. 5 – Par 4 – 504 yards – 214 yards left
No. 6 – Par 4 – 487 yards – 197 yards left
No. 7 – Par 4 – 360 yards – 70 yards left
No. 8 – Par 4 – 359 yards – 69 yards left
No. 9 – Par 3 – 236 yards
Out – Par 36 – 3,736 yards
No. 10 – Par 4 – 303 yards – 13 yards left
No. 11 – Par 4 – 367 yards – 77 yards left
No. 12 – Par 4 – 403 yards – 113 yards left
No. 13 – Par 3 – 115 yards
No. 14 – Par 4 – 464 yards – 174 yards left
No. 15 – Par 4 – 411 yards – 121 yards left
No. 16 – Par 4 – 430 yards – 140 yards left
No. 17 – Par 3 – 246 yards
No. 18 – Par 4 – 521 yards – 231 yards left
In – Par 34 – 3,260 yards
Total – Par 70 – 6,996 yards

From this you can see that approaches from 50-125 and 125-150 yards will be key stats in finding the champion.

There have been responses from readers since we published our first preview, asking about the fact that 3 par 3s are very long and 1 par 5 is over 600 yards.  We have noted this and took it into consideration, but at the end of the day we feel more scoring can be done on the EIGHT par 4s where the course is begging to be attacked.

Our 2nd preview looks through why we feel short course gurus may be key to finding the winner and the recent short course history of certain players who kept cropping up near the top of leaderboards.

DownThe18th US Open Preview 2

You will be looking for only the most accurate players tee to green, because the rough has not been cut and will cause havoc to everyone who is wayward off the tee.

“The rough is longer than we’ve seen, You can’t make the grass grow in four days, but you can cut.  Although I don’t think they will.  Off the tee it’s quite awkward, someone who drives it the best this week will fare quite well – not the straightest, but the best” – Geoff Ogilvy (Washington Post)

Basically, the strategists and plotters will find their way to the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.  Scramblers are always going to be proficient with the small greens that define Merion.  GIR and of course putting will be crucial in finding the winner.

Tiger, Mcilroy and Scott in a 3-ball will be incredible to watch

Tiger, Mcilroy and Scott in a 3-ball will be incredible to watch

We originally whittled down names using previous US Open trends in our 1st preview and we will admit that 4, who were not part of the final group have made our selections, only because they were just too good to ignore.

Our 3rd preview was an ‘initial’ picks and yes some things have changed because of the lack of form from some and brilliant form of others.

DownThe18th US Open Preview 3

In what has been a 32 day marathon of data collecting, golf-viewing, ale drinking and ball sweating research, we have finally delivered the ‘6’ we believe could win the 2013 US Open.  Enough of our rambling, here they are.

N.B. Tad more rambling – if you download the PaddyPower app, you can get 7 places paid out at ¼ the odds!

Graeme McDowell (25/1 PaddyPower)

G Mac is in the form of his life

G Mac is in the form of his life

The 2010 champion is arriving at Merion in what he has called the ‘form of his life’.  We personally feel he has been his usual inconsistent self, but you cannot ignore the fact he has already won twice in 2013 (Volvo World Match Play and The RBC Heritage) and had a further 3 top 10s.  He really does look his usual gritty self, able to work the ball in challenging situations and who better than the Northern Irishman to defeat the challenge of Merion?  His renowned scrambling could get him through the horrendous rough and sloping greens when others will falter and his short game has been particularly impressive this year.  The fact he is 13th in strokes gained putting is the mark of a much improved McDowell, especially considering he was 160th last year!

When he did win this title back in 2010, the conditions were tough at times and he plotted his way round a very difficult course (Pebble Beach) with aplomb and poise.  So when you think how much his game has improved since, it is a fascinating prospect of what he could actually achieve this week.  He will be teeing off at 1:03 p.m (local Pennsylvanian time) from the 1st hole with Jimbo Furyk and Zach Johnson and lets be honest that sort of 3-ball are so strategic they could club together and destroy civilizations within the time Ben Crane finished a round.

In an interview this week McDowell showed his confidence and self-belief and that only adds to the spice of what he could do at Merion

“You could say I’m in the form of my life going into an event in which certainly my record kind of speaks for itself.  I feel like I’m a substantially better player than I was three years ago” Graeme McDowell (Belfast Telegraph)

Statistics Vital for Merion –

Graeme McDowell stats

Short Course Form –

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
2 4 4 4 7 1

US Open Form –

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 2 2 4 7 0

Best Finish – Won at Pebble Beach 2010

Tee Time: 18:03 – Graeme McDowell (NI), Jim Furyk (US), Zach Johnson (US)

Phil Mickelson (22/1 Various)

Will want to bag major number 5 at Merion

Will want to bag major number 5 at Merion

If Phil wasn’t in our plans already, his performance over the last few days at the St Jude Classic certainly confirmed his place in them. Now 42, Mickelson is not letting age get the better of him and with one win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and three top 3 finishes already in 2013, it’s hard not to look at him this week.

Phil himself will tell you his preparation was not right going into the Masters a few weeks back, which resulted in a T54 finish, stating lack of mental sharpness as his downfall. Prior to Augusta, he had a 2 week break and his form was not what we had come to expect from the American. So things have changed this time around. All the practise on the greens and range came prior to last week, and the St Jude Classic was all about getting that mental toughness he so craves. Going down the 18th on Sunday, Phil knew he needed a birdie to potentially put himself in a play-off, and he subsequently put it 2 feet away from 150 yards and was unlucky not to hole out. We’d say that is all you need to know about Phil’s mental state right now! Phil said the small greens and focus on iron play will give him just the practise he needs for Merion. And if that wasn’t enough, for each of Mickelson’s 4 major wins, he has played the week before…

“My short game got better as the week wore on” – Mickelson on the St Jude Classic

We have stated how crucial accuracy from the shorter yardage will be and Phil is one of, if not the best in the game with a pitching wedge. His accuracy off the tee is one worry, but he’ll be using the 3 wood a lot this week, don’t expect the cover to come off that driver too many times! One short yardage stat that really took our eye was that Phil is one of only 11 players on the PGA Tour this year to be overall under par on all par 3’s played. That is not only promising for the tough par 3’s at Merion, but it also highlights how good his iron play has been in 2013.

Phil has recorded FIVE 2nd places at the US Open over the years, so it is about time he put this title well and truly in his trophy cabinet! It’s his 43rd birthday on the Sunday too, what a present that would be…

Statistics Vital for Merion –

Phil Mickelson stats

Short Course Form –

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 2 2 2 6 1

US Open Form –

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
0 7 9 11 20 2

Best Finish(es) – T2 in 2009 at Bethpage State Park, Winged Foot Golf Club in 2006 and 2nd at Shinnecock Hills in 2004, Bethpage State Park in 2002 and in 1999 at Pinehurst Resort.

Tee Time: 17:41 – Phil Mickelson (US), Steve Stricker (US), Keegan Bradley (US)

Matt Kuchar (22/1 Various)

The form man in golf

The form man in golf

Our first 2 players really picked themselves but slot number 3 ended up being a shootout between Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker. And we didn’t think it would be fair to leave Kuchar out, so we are sorry Brandt. Kuchar is one of the hottest players in golf right now and Snedeker’s injury this year and major track-record has just put us off him. Interestingly, they are paired together for the 1st two days!

Now we could talk all day long about “KOOOOCH” (Expect to hear a lot of that off the tee this week), we’ve been on him for both of his victories on the PGA Tour this year which included his first WGC title, a big step to having the confidence to take his maiden major title. It is well documented that Kuchar has matured into a world class golfer once he hit his 30’s, and will be looking to emulate Phil Mickelson, who won his 1st major at 33. Kuchar, now 34, said his game was near perfect at the moment

“it’s taken a long time, but now I don’t feel like there are any weaknesses in my game.” – Kuchar

Kuchar needs to change nothing this week, he just needs to keep doing what he has been throughout 2013. The US Open is one not to enjoy, but to grind, and Kuchar will be perfect at doing just that.

Kuchar’s last 2 performances have been a 2nd place 2 weeks ago, followed by a 1st place at the Memorial tournament just a week back. So on paper, he is the form man in golf right now. After his win, Kuchar made his way to Merion on the Tuesday and said he wouldn’t leave “until I get used to it”. Kuchar has a great record on the shorter courses as well, his lack of length off the tee will almost be an advantage this week. His statistics are quite something and have led him to 2nd place in the FedEx rankings. Just to point out a few, Matt ranks 4th in scoring average, 13th in all-round rankings, 10th in scrambling, 13th in strokes gained-putting and 9th on par 4 performance. If he is ever going to grab his 1st major, it will be this week!

Statistics Vital for Merion –

Matt Kuchar stats

Short Course Form –

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
0 4 6 9 12 1

US Open Form–

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
0 0 1 3 5 5

Best Finish – T6 in 2010 at Pebble Beach

Tee Time: 17:52 – Matt Kuchar (US), Justin Rose (ENG), Brandt Snedeker (US)

Steve Stricker (50/1 Various)

Can he finally capture his 1st major?

Can he finally capture his 1st major?

I think it tells you something that Stricker is our 2nd pick in his 40’s. To win at Merion it will take a certain maturity and level-head to grind out scores on all 4 days, something Stricker will be more than capable of doing. Steve has probably been in our minds the most since we first started previewing the US Open, in every avenue we looked down for research, his name would crop up. So much so, he was our number 1 pick in our 2nd Preview. Regardless of his age (46), Stricker has a good a chance as any this week.

It’s no coincidence that 8 of his 12 PGA Tour wins have come in his 40’s, and like Mickelson and Kuchar, is thriving in his later years. And age is but a number for Steve, he would not be travelling to Merion if he didn’t think he could win this thing. But it is his chipping and putting that really makes us confident in the American. He has made a living out of playing superb golf around and on the greens. And it is at Merion where these 2 attributes in particular will be tested to the max. Stricker’s putting has been so good, the likes of Tiger Woods have been asking for advice! And since Stricker’s words of wisdom, we all know what Tiger has been like on the greens.

Stricker has reduced his schedule hugely this year, to focus more on tournaments he enjoys and spend more time with the family. Knowing that, you can certainly assume he will be in a great frame of mind. He has two 2nd places in stroke play events in 2013, at the WGC Cadillac and the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, two real top events. And his T20 at Augusta was certainly not a bad performance. Statistically below, you can see how well he is playing. His driving, iron play, scrambling and putting are all unbelievable this year. At 50/1 Stricker is a really solid choice this week, expect him to contend at least.

Statistics Vital for Merion –

Steve Sticker stats

Short Course Form –

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
0 0 1 2 4 0

US Open Form –

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
0 2 3 12 15 2

Best Finish(es) – T5 in 1998 at Olympic Club and 5th in 1999 at Pinehurst Resort

Tee Time: 17:41 – Phil Mickelson (US), Steve Stricker (US), Keegan Bradley (US)

Tim Clark (90/1 Various)

One of the best ball strikers in the game

One of the best ball strikers in the game

We managed to back Tim Clark at 100s earlier this morning, so it is both gutting and satisfying to see his shift in the market.  The 37-year old South African has been at the forefront of many DownThe18th journeys this year, simply because he is just a fine, fine player.  Tee to green you will find few better as his stats show and he is someone who is never afraid to attack even the most difficult pin positions.  With the notoriously small greens, his iron-play will suit, if his game is on.  What is even more encouraging is how he is putting this year.  He looks efficient and comfortable with the short stick and when it comes to those nerve-wrangling putts, you can definitely trust Clark.  He also won The Players back in 2010, so he has the bottle to mix it with the best and his 8-footer on the last posted the score that eventually finished best.  Trust us, he knew how crucial that particular putt was and sinking it proves the nerve he has.

As for his US Open history, he did finish T3 in 2005 at Pinehurst, which has 4 very short par 4s, 1 very long par 5 and 1 long par 3 just like at Merion this week.  Both courses are notoriously tight and Clark could once again take advantage of his lack in distance to challenge the leaders, plus at such high odds for a major, surely it is worth a punt?  As for form this year, he has recorded 3 top 10s and a T11 at The Masters, which will give him confidence going into this years tournament.

Statistics Vital for Merion –

Tim Clark Stats

Short Course Form –

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
0 4 4 5 5 0

US Open Form –

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
0 1 1 4 6 1

Best Finish – T3 in 2005 at Pinehurst Resort

Tee Time: 18:03 – Louis Oosthuizen (SA), Charl Schwartzel (SA), Tim Clark (SA)

Kevin Chappell (100/1 Coral)

Our much fancied outside bet for this week

Our much fancied outside bet for this week

Once again we do apologise that we could not get our information out to you all straight away but Chappell was at 150s only this morning (Monday) and Coral have clearly realised the discrepancy and slashed his odds.

Chappell has sneaked into our final 6, nudging out the likes of Furyk and Zach Johnson, simply because he was too good to ignore.  We know he is only 26 and has never won on the PGA Tour, but we just have a gut feeling about the Californian.

His record at US Opens speak for itself.  T10 last year and T3 the year before.  That is very impressive for your only 2 starts and for us it seems obvious why.  He is an aggressive, long-hitting, accurate ball striker whose ability with a short iron is unbelievable.  He can scramble and save himself from a certain bogey after wayward shots and when you think of what Maid Merion will be asking for, Chappell seems perfect.  From what we saw on his last outing, at the Memorial, he looked outstanding at the weekend.  He finished 2nd in a very difficult tournament and he will be teeing off at Merion off the back of 2 68s.

“It’s a tour event on Steriods” – Chappell on this year’s US Open course, Merion

He has only had 2 other top 10s this season, but when a young, fearless Tour player is buzzing, they generally play out of their skin for an extended period of time and we hope Chappell can continue his showing from Muirfield.  The most over-riding factor of choosing him, came with his stats in the short approach shots which will be so crucial on the 8 short par 4s.  Added to the fact that he is more than capable of hitting as far as the rest, a devastating mix is on the horizon.  Not necessarily to win, but a place for absolute sure.

Statistics Vital for Merion –

Kevin Chappell stats

Short Course Form –

Win

Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
0 1 2 2 10

3

US Open Form –

Win Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
0 1 2 2 2 0

Best Finish – T3 2011 at Congressional Country Club

Tee Time: 18:51 – Scott Piercy (US), Kevin Chappell (US), Jamie Donaldson (WAL)

Quick Mention: Once again, like most weeks, we will throw in a player at ridiculous odds who could go well.  Hideki Matsuyama (300/1 Paddy Power) is our choice this week. The 21 year old has been setting the Japanese Golf Tour alight, winning 2 out of the first 5 events on the tour in 2013. And he only turned professional in April! Interestingly, the course he won his last title on was 7,190 yards, so he is more than capable on the shorter tracks. His only 2 major appearances have been at the Masters, where he was T54 in 2012 and in 2011 as a 19 year old, finished T27 and was the only amateur to make the weekend!

Lets have a good week!

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5 thoughts on “US Open 2013

    • The problem with Sergio is his head. Ultimately his putting looks much better, his irons are in their usual fantastic way, but after the Master and Players, there is no way it would be sensible to back him at 28s (as he is with most, PaddyPower do have him at 40s). His short course history is not too impressive, he has only played a few in the past few years and has no top 10 to his name. And yes he has had a good year, but for the big tournaments, he will have to prove his bottle before we can even think about him. At the end of the day thats just our opinion – we do understand the Sergio backers!

  1. I have to pick one guy between Phil and Brandt. I still think Brandt is the better golfer, and far more consistent when HEALTHY. I am having trouble finding an update on the health status of Brandt. Plus, Phil skipping the practice rounds makes me worry. What do you all suggest?

    • With Snedeker he is taking this medication every day to get strength back in his bone and that does worry us. Coupled with his recent(ish) form it doesnt bode well for Sneds, but also his actual ‘bottle’ at Major Championships would put a lot of people off. He WILL win a few majors but we just feel there is too much against him for Merion – It does pain us to say that because we do love him! As for Phil, he was always scheduled to miss practice for his daughters graduation, so he had a couple of days at Merion last week before the FedEx. He has been practicing on ‘specific’ shots at his own range so will be feeling confident I am sure. Obviously we dropped Snedeker from our betting because of all the factors, so for us, it would always be Phil!

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