US Open 2015


Prize Fund – $9,000,00

Winner’s Share – $1,620,000

Course – Chambers Bay (7,585 yards Par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Jordan Spieth – T17, Luke Donald – MC, Charl Schwartzel – MC, Hideki Matsuyama – T35, Keegan Bradley – T4, Brooks Koepka – T4

The US Open is just a week away now and the excitement is gathering momentum. It’s been a truly remarkable year in golf with big names doing big things and you can only really think that the majors will produce outstanding drama in 2015.

And we can expect drama befitting of the West End or Broadway for this years US Open. The USGA are taking a completely different approach by selecting Chambers Bay and in our eyes, all stats, history and trends can pretty much be flung out the window – in some respects.

Of course, it’s still good to have a look at US Open form however unique the course is, because the correlation of tough, grinding track will certainly cross over.

So, our major preview this year is going to rely on incredibly different aspects to usual and an in-depth look at the track that is causing various degrees of mayhem, controversy and excitement.

#14 Pano

Chambers Bay

Primarily, what do we actually know about the place?

Well it is in Washington, which is a first in itself and has been built and moulded on top of what was an old quarry site. Whilst we’ve seen coastal type golf at Pebble Beach before, never have we witnessed anything like this. It’s a bonafide links track, never really seen in the States, but very common in the UK.

Designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Jnr, he pretty much had next-to-no restrictions on how he was able to construct the layout because of it’s history. That’s why there are intriguing holes, tough contours and uneven ground.

We’ve been lucky enough to spend some extended time with one of the guys who helped in the construction, agronomist John Clarkin. He, like many others, was drafted in from a British and Irish background knowledge of Links tracks to help grow and design this unprecedented place.

Clarkin stated how Links-like it is and that you can draw pretty much no comparisons with any US courses – it’s simply like extracting a British seaside course and plonking it on a Washington coastline.

The rough is full of fescue and overgrown, natural grass that will pretty much mean a drop shot if you’re hacking out of there. However, the fairways are slightly wider than we could expect, which brings to the argument that big hitters will fare well. However, if you are spraying it all over then you are going to have absolutely no chance.

The second cut will not be particularly long either and alongside the fact there are no real fringes around the greens, the whole course just manoeuvres and meanders around itself, flowing into one mammoth challenge.

Iron play is going to be absolutely vital as well – the best player from tee to green will without doubt be in the mix. But obviously we have to factor in the sloping and rapid greens (potentially around 12 on the stimpmetre) that will cause havoc and 3-putts galore.

Just to throw even more of a spanner in the works, there’s a bunker being ingeniously coined ‘Chambers Basement.’  It’s a 10-foot deep pot bunker, slap bang in the middle of the 18th.  Expect to see a few hacking out of there and it could be like Adam Scott at The Open when Ernie Els sneaked in to grab victory…

That looks like a fun bunker doesn't it?

That looks like a fun bunker doesn’t it?

But the main thing to really look out for, as with any Links course we’ve ever bet on, is the weather. Wind being the main source of potential destruction. At the time of writing, the wind will not be particularly horrendous, but simply due to the exposed nature of some of the holes, a slight breeze can still be tough to deal with.

The last big thing to think about is the fact that whilst the par 72 stands at 7,585 yards – we’ve already been told that the USGA are going to play around with several holes on various days, making each one completely unique.

We could have anything playing rom 7,350 right up to 7,800. That is simply madness for players and caddies, but amazing for us as spectators.

So, all in all, what sort of player should you be looking for?

  • Someone who has Links form is an absolute must for us. If you’ve never performed on a coastal track, you will find it difficult to suddenly come to a US Open and win against the very best
  • A tee to green proficiency and understanding of when to attack and when to defend
  • Ability to manoeuvre the ball and play different when the conditions change and when the USGA alters the layout
  • Obviously putting is ultimately the difference at the majors…
  • Some sort of recent form. We feel you can discount pretty much anyone who has not been playing well in recent outings, because you need to be in good knick before a US Open (even Lucas Glover had a T2 a few weeks before his victory in 09’)
  • When the US Amateur was held here in 2010 (Peter Uihlein won the event) the scoring average was 79.25.  That shows you need a grinding nature when the going gets particularly tough…

Chambers Bay from everyone else’s perspective:

Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director:

“Virtually every hole out there we will be playing from different teeing grounds on different days. In some cases we may end up putting tee markers on slight slopes as opposed to you think, well, you’re always going to have teeing markers on very flat areas. But there may be some where we give the players a little downhill slope, a little uphill slope, a side slope. So that’s interesting.”

Ian Poulter, social media maverick:

“Well several players have played Chambers Bay in prep for US Open. The reports back are its a complete farce. I guess someone has to win.”

Phil Mickelson, Mr.America (and hopeful contender for inclusion in the new Rory McIlroy PGA Tour game):

“I really like it. The first time you play it, it’s like St. Andrews. You don’t know where to go. You don’t know what mounds do what to do the ball.”

Jordan Spieth, everyone’s hopeful successor as Mr.America (speaking after the US Amateur):

“The course was ridiculously difficult”

Tiger Woods, a fan of Miss.America’s:

“We don’t see this even at the British Open because the greens aren’t banked like this.”

Jason Day, husband to a very attractive wife:

“It’s a little funky.  More Links kind of style golf course, I’m excited to see how it shows it’s teeth”

Henrik Stenson, Swedish Meat-ball-playing, tee-to-green guru:

“It’s a tricked-up links course. It’s got some high elevations, some five, six holes that we normally don’t see on a regular links course, and then we’ve got some more severeness, I’d say. It’s going to be different and it’s quite tricky in places. It’s going to be so much down to the weather as well. If the wind blows and if you were to add a bit of rain, you don’t want to stand there on a 240-yard par-three down to a postage stamp. You need to be sharp with your short game there, it’s going to be tested.”

Brooks Koepka, the lady-lover (according to his Instagram):

“If you just hit a bad golf shot, you’re going to be screwed”

And Finally,

Bubba Watson sinking a ridiculous putt during a practice round…

So if you’re able to work any of that out and have a few players in mind, we’d say go with your hunches.

We have a few lads that we are quietly confident can be up there challenging, but before we showcase the might six, we must stress that Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose all have (obviously!) ridiculous appeal, but are slightly too short for us…

Our Picks

Phil Mickelson (22/1 BetFred)

World Number 19

Phil getting those fists pumping.  Come on! Phot Courtesy of USA Sports Today

Phil getting those fists pumping. Come on!
Phot Courtesy of USA Sports Today

Sometimes you’ve just got to believe things will happen for a reason. 2015 could finally see Phil’s tumultuous affair with the US Open finally come to an end. The guy has 10 top 10’s and 6 runner-ups with Chambers Bay being his 25th start at this major!

After visiting the course for the first time a few weeks back Mickelson said it “resembled a course you would find in Britain” and that he’s “excited” about Chambers Bay. Looking at his Scottish double back in 2013, we know he has exactly what it takes on these sort of tracks.

The fairways being slightly more generous than usual will only go to help him and if the wind picks up we know he’s got a few low stingers in his locker.

As we’ve mentioned, winning a US Open needs recent form. He’s only missed one cut (The Players) in his last 8 events and has a T4 at the Wells Fargo and T2 at the Masters amongst them. Has posted some solid rounds in recent weeks but just hasn’t put 4 rounds together – Chambers Bay and the electric atmosphere of the US Open is where he finally could. Phil produces on the biggest stage.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
2 4 4 10 13 2

Plus a T9, T60 and WIN at Pebble Beach since 2012

Last 6 Results:

FedEx St.Jude Classic Memorial Tournament Wells Fargo Champs The PLAYERS The Masters Shell Houston
 T3 T65 T4 MC T2 T17

Rickie Fowler (22/1 Stan James)

World Number 8

Focused - courtesy of golfweek

Focused – courtesy of golfweek

Rickie Fowler showed everyone last year that he has the game to really contend at the Majors.  Followers of DownThe18th will know that we’re big fans of him and have often spoken about his exciting brand of golf.

Winning the Players Championship a few weeks ago (and saving our pretty poor betting season) really cemented his place amongst the big boys, dispelling the ridiculous myth that he’s an overrated player.

He was absolutely superb on the back nine stretch which included 4 birdies and an eagle, then keeping his bottle to win in a playoff.

So, whilst he missed the cut last time out at the Memorial, his form this season is still more than good enough to warrant huge Major appeal.  But one of the biggest reasons we really fancy him for his maiden victory is because of the perfect fit with the track.

He has proven his ability on Links courses and actually has a decent track record.  He’s not been scared to come over to the UK for European Tour events in the past – a T8 at the Scottish Open last year and T30 in Ireland in 2015.  That T30 was pretty much ruined in one hole though, when he was very much contending going into the last day.

He is one of the best drivers of a ball – T23 total driving and his irons can be devastating.  But his scrambling and never-say-die attitude is simply perfect for a course like this, when there will be times you’re hacking out of rough and struggling for a tough up and down from a bunker.

This could be the ultimate message to everyone in golf that we are going to have a 4-pronged future with McIlroy, Spieth, Rose and Fowler.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 2 3 4 6 1

Plus a T6 at the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Last 6 Results:

Memorial Tournament Irish Open The PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play Zurich Classic The Masters
MC T30 WON T9 MC T12

Jim Furyk (40/1 Paddy Power)

World Number 3


Jimbo Courtesy of Daily Mail

Courtesy of Daily Mail

We all know about how many near-misses Jimbo had before he won the RBC Heritage back in April. But that win could give him the extra confidence in his mid-forties to find himself another major win.

In 2003, Furyk won the the US Open at Olympia Fields making light work of the field winning by 3 shots. 10 top 10’s since and he still hasn’t won another major. But 2014 was arguably one of his most consistent ever years in the majors (T14 Masters, T12 US Open, 4th Open, T5 PGA). And it’s that sort of form that has seen him rise to 3rd in the world golf rankings. In any sport, 40/1 for the guy ranked 3rd in the world is value.

So what’s going to endear the American to Chambers Bay? Well not only is he brimming with confidence after his RBC win, combined with a 4th in the WGC Match Play and T5 at the Memorial, but his style of play is perfect for this course. Jim finds fairways. He puts the ball where he wants and hits plenty of greens. And when he doesn’t find the dance floor, he’s one of the best at getting up and down (23rd in scrambling on Tour).

It’s hard to see Jim not contending with the way he’s striking the ball at the moment – he’ll know the majors are running out where he can compete with the likes of McIlroy and Spieth so he’s going to be giving 110% this week to win US Open #2.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 3 3 4 7 5

PGA Tour ‘Coastal’ tracks:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
1 1 3 3 6 0

Last 6 Results:

Memorial Tournament Wells Fargo Champs The PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play RBC Heritage The Masters
T5 MC T56 4th WON MC

Ian Poulter (80/1 Paddy Power)

World Number 25

Sir Ian.

Sir Ian.

Okay, so we might not be getting the best feeling out of the Poulter camp regarding his views on Chambers Bay having claimed he will let everyone know his thoughts on the course after “holing his last putt”. If his Wentworth views are anything to go by, Chambers Bay isn’t likely to be making his bucket list.

But quite frankly this is a major, the ultimate in golf and Poults will be buzzing for it. Time and time again we talk about his Ryder Cup exploits but they really do show that the Englishman has it in his locker when needed.

2015 has seen him play arguably as good as he ever has in America, T6 HSBC WGC, T3 Honda Classic, T6 Masters (his best performance at Augusta) and T5 in his last appearance at the Crowne Plaza. The swing is looking immaculate and there can’t be any complaints about the way he’s playing.

Chambers Bay will have a British Open feel to it and Poults is more than capable on these sort of tracks. He’s finished T3 and T9 in 2 of his last 3 Opens and has his best ever major finish at the Open, 2nd to Padraig Harrington in 2008.

A few concerns have surrounded his bottle of late (as much as he won’t like us saying it) given the disastrous 4th round at the Honda but he’s confident in his own ability and we think this week is as good a chance as he will ever get at a major.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 2 3 5 8 5

Last 6 Results:

Crowne Plaza Invitational The PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play RBC Heritage The Masters Arnold Palmer Invitational
T5 T30 T34 T18 T6 T21

Danny Willett (150/1 BetVictor)

World Number 36

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

The Englishman was spoken about in the same breath as fellow lads from the UK Donaldson and Lowry but we’ve plumped for Danny and we’ll tell you why.

Firstly, 2015 has seen the birth of Willett on the world stage. Not many American’s will have cared about who he was 6th months ago but they do now. He finished T12 in only his 4th WGC event at the Cadillac back in March which for us, was such a big result for him. But then came the WGC Match-Play. He looked unbelievable winning 6 out of his 7 matches, only losing to Gary Woodland in the semis. He defeated the likes of Reed, Moore, Westwood and Furyk on the way to his 3rd place and 2nd biggest pay cheque of his career. It also catapulted him into the top 40 in the world. All of that means Willett, now with temporary status on the PGA Tour, has to be taken very seriously for this event.

Tee-to-green is where the Englishman earns his bread and his game will be a perfect fit for the British feel of Chambers Bay. His career best major finish was a T15 at the 2013 Open, in what was only his 3rd major start.

The US Open more than any other major seems allow players with no previous major form to come in and contend and Danny is the perfect mould for that.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 1 2 4 5 4

Last 6 Results:

Irish Open BMW PGA Champs THE PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play The Masters Shell Houston Open
T6 T38 MC 3rd T38 MC

Alex Noren (250/1 Coral)

World Number 70



There are certainly a lot worse bets out there than this one! Last week the Swede won his 4th European Tour title and his first in 4 years. After injury woes put pay to any sort of form in 2014 it seems Noren has come back fitter and better than ever before.

His standout attribute is his ability with irons from the fairway and this week at Chambers Bay, that will help him out tremendously. The putter too in recent weeks has got hot, so no surprises that when he ranked 3rd putts per GIR at the Nordea Masters, he won by 4 shots.

His best major finish to date was a T9 at the Open and has only played in the US Open (2012) twice before. But Noren is a confident character and you have to envisage these players in a potential final pairing with the likes of McIlroy and Spieth – how would they cope? For many of the European Tour stalwarts you’d say not very well, take Wiesberger at the PGA last year for example. But Noren seems like the kind of guy who won’t be phased at all.

At 250/1 and a recent winner, we’re looking for his confidence to continue and put him in contention this week.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 1 2 4 4 3

Last 6 Results:

Nordea Masters Irish Open BMW PGA Champs Open de España Volvo China Open Shenzhen International
WON T21 T8 T56 T26 T44

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters 2015


Prize Fund – €2, 500, 000

Winner’s Share – €353, 257

Course – Doha Golf Club (7,400 yards par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Rafael Cabrera-Bello (T3), Thomas Aiken (T5), Stephen Gallacher (T28), Hennie Otto (T37), Andy Sullivan (MC)

A pretty poor start from us on both sides of the Atlantic last week, so we’re itching to get things back on track – admittedly bottles from Martin Kaymer and Tim Clark at a combined final day total of +7 don’t help anyone…

Moving swiftly on and we’re into the second of this Persian Gulf tri-series of events, now in Qatar.  The Doha Golf Club hosts the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters for the 17th time, which certainly helps all of us from a betting sense.

Since 2006, the lowest winning score has been -14 by Thomas Bjørn in 2011 and we’ve seen the likes of Adam Scott reach -20 (08′), so there is plenty of scoring to be had here.

The par 72 course plays at a deceivingly long 7,400 yards, which on paper makes it look like a bombers track.  Now, you cannot deny you will need distance here, but you won’t need to be prodigiously long that’s for sure.  If you look at recent winners, there is length yes, but it is not bombing galore –

Sergio Garcia – 295.225

Chris Wood – 295.2

Paul Lawrie – 299

Thomas Bjørn – 281.85

Whilst if you have a look at the GIR stats from those same years, you can see it’ll be important to get the irons working.  This is the average position they were for GIR amongst the field –

Sergio Garcia – 33.25

Chris Wood – 15

Paul Lawrie – 11

Thomas Bjørn – 8.75

All this shows that it will be key to hit the ball a fair distance, but be a players whose irons are fluid and consistent, you can even just tell that by those 4 names above.  There is plenty of water along the fairways and around the greens, hence why that accuracy is important – especially on 3 out of the 4 par 3’s where there’s daunting water to contend with.

The exposed fairways are eye-catching but were tightened a couple of years back with the rough coming in, hence why players like Alvaro Quiros who won in 2009 haven’t fared so well since.

We are in for an interesting tournament, with the likes of Garcia, Stenson, Justin Rose and Charl Schwartzel making the trip over, so after plenty of deliberation, this is where our money is going…

DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.

TwitterYou can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!

Charl Schwartzel (22/1 Coral)

Hopefully Charl can finally produce for us!

Hopefully Charl can finally produce for us!

If you’ve followed us over the past 18 months or so, you will know how we feel about Charl Schwartzel.  He has rarely made it into our plans simply because we are unable to trust him with the putter (mainly in recent times) and when we have gone there, he’s been sublime tee to green but once again failed with the short stick.  Now that is highly frustrating.

However, our heads were swayed for a couple of putting reasons.  Firstly, in his last 3 outings here he bounced around the 7th-25th positions for putting average on all 4 days of each tournament.  That shows he had an eye for the contours and green structures.

Secondly and more importantly, he has been putting very, very well in the past couple of weeks.  He finished T9 last week, averaging 3rd for putting stats at the weekend, whilst his playoff defeat the week before he didn’t leave the top 15 in putting for the final 3 days.

That encourages us so much to think he could be getting some sort of rhythm going.  Yes, there was a 5-shot bottle from him in that defeat to Andy Sullivan in South Africa and you can’t help but be worried about that, however it doesn’t take away from how well he played on the whole.  It also didn’t effect him the week after when he made another top 10, so hopefully it’s out his system because this is a track that should suit him down the ground with his length, iron play and apparent increase in putting ability.

Not a bet for the feint-hearted, but a solid 22/1 nonetheless.

Alexander Levy (35/1 Coral)

What a player this lad is turning out to be

What a player this lad is turning out to be

What a year Alexander Levy has had.  We’ve followed him with great intrigue since he won us some healthy returns when he finished 2nd at the BMW Masters.  Then we went to the French and got to witness him first hand.  He may have gone on to have a shocking Sunday, completely dropping out of the running, but so did most players that day and we were in awe of his charisma, unflappability and all-round game.

Tee to green, on his day, he is a monster.  Throughout 2014, he was 14th for driving distance and 28th for GIR.  Combining that brute force is deadly for a course like this.  Admittedly he’s only played here once and that was when he missed the cut last year, but we are taking that with a pinch of salt.  He is a different animal now and confidence/form are two attributes you cannot underestimate.

Just look at Victor Dubuisson – he missed the cut horrifically 2 years in a row for the Abu Dhabi, but went on to finish T4 last week.  When you build up that rhythm, style and arrogance, you can attack courses completely differently.  And that is what we feel Levy will do here.

He gave in a solid performance last week to finish T20.  He had a pretty poor final day 74, but the previous 3 days there was some top quality golf.  He looked like he’d be in the hunt at one point.

Basically, the Frenchman has everything to go far and we will not be surprised if this is another defining year for him.

George Coetzee (55/1 StanJames)

An interesting mid-range bet comes in the form of George Coetzee.  He has all the tools to play some fantastic tee-to-green golf, all be it he can at times not show it.

He has seemed to of lost some of his length over the past couple of years, but he still averages over 290 yards, which will suit the track.  His iron game hasn’t been as great as we would expect in recent weeks, but he will be coming onto a course where he has played magnificently in the past couple of years.

He shot a gorgeous 64 in the 1st round last year to take an early lead, but a 73 on the Saturday cost him a probable win.  The other 3 rounds were of top quality and when you think he only finished 2 behind playoff winner Garcia, you can’t help but wonder what could’ve been.

Then, as we remember so well, he almost pushed Wood over the line to force a playoff in 2013.  We had him that year and the 65 he shot on the Sunday meant he was so close.  He propelled up the leaderboard into 2nd and if he can replicate that sort of form, he will have a chance again.

We do have a good record with the South African as well – he won for us at the Joburg Open last year to go alongside that 2nd place.

Thomas Aiken (80/1 various)

Don't forget the club...

Don’t forget the club…

Weirdly enough, to follow on from Coetzee, we had Thomas Aiken at both the same Qatar Masters and Joburg Open and he got us returns finishing T5 in both.  Weird, weird, weird omens to start off there…

The second South African on our list has the perfect game for this track.  He averages the ball at 295 yards, is straight and has an unbelievable iron game.  He was 1st for GIR throughout 2014, 68th driving distance and 8th driving accuracy.  That is one meaty combination.

We know he missed the cut last week, but he showed his true game in South Africa the event before, where he finished T5.  He was consistently inside the top 30 for all the key stats for the final 3 days and because he’s coming onto a course where he’s had a couple of top 10s in the past, he should be full of confidence.

A solid player for the odds he’s at.

Oliver Fisher (150/1 Coral)

Our final pick and big outsider is the highly talented Oliver Fisher.  The young Englishman has a similar game to Aiken, in that he is consistent across the board tee to green.

He has never found a top 10 here admittedly, although he came close with a T11 in 2007, but we are intrigued by his recent under the radar form and type of game that should theoretically suit the track that’s had it’s changes since he last played here.

Last week he finished T12 and he was playing some very decent golf.  He found himself inside the top 8 on the final 3 days for driving distance and barring an indifferent opening round, was solidly inside the top 20 for GIR.  His putter worked here and there, but the idea of him putting more of it together over the 4 days here excites us and is certainly worth a punt at 150s.


Golf Monthly £10 ChallengeGM_masthead-630x176

We will be running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly.  It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters!  We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so do keep an eye out.

It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets.  Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.

So, for this Commercial Bank Qatar Masters our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –

£3 win on Charl Schwartzel at 16/1

£1.60 e/w on Alexander Levy at 33/1

£1 e/w on George Coetzee at 50/1

£0.45 e/w on Thomas Aiken at 80/1

£0.45 e/w on Oliver Fisher at 150/1

Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power

Find the Golf Monthly Preview and their £10 picks here – (

Current Standings after 1 weeks

DownThe18th                                 Golf Monthly

European Tour: £-3                       European Tour:  £0

PGA Tour: £-7.88                             PGA Tour: £-10

Total: £-10.88                                   Total: £-10