US Open 2015

2015-US-OPEN_LOGO

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.

http://www.theweathernetwork.com/forecasts/golf-report/7-day-weather-forecast/united-states/washington/chambers-bay

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…

https://twitter.com/bubbawatson/status/609418048106139648/video/1

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

Jimbo
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

Red-hot

Red-hot

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
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The Open 2014 Preview One

Coral Sports

the open

Date: 17th – 20th July

Venue: Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Merseyside.

Course: Par 73, 7,350 yards.

Current Champion: Phil Mickelson

Past 6 winners –

2013: Phil Mickelson

2012: Ernie Els

2011: Darren Clarke

2010: Louis Oosthuizen

2009: Stewart Cink

2008: Padraig Harrington

Past 3 winners at Royal Liverpool –

2006: Tiger Woods

1967: Roberto De Vicenzo

1956: Peter Thomson
Coral Sports

PLEASE DO CHECK OUT OUR 3RD AND FINAL PREVIEW HERE, WITH ALL OUR TIPS, PICKS AND HOPEFUL WINNERS!!!

PLEASE DO CHECK OUT OUR 2ND PREVIEW HERE – ALL ABOUT STATS AND TRENDS OF THE OPEN!!

Well, well, well.  Here we go!  Just two weeks away from the 3rd major of the season as the golfing world awaits for the games very best to master the swirling winds and weather of traditional seaside courses in Britain.  This year we are going to be in for a treat at Hoylake where the Royal Liverpool Golf Club will play host on the west north coast of England.

Tiger Woods won here back in 2006 with a record total of -18 and scoring on the whole was low.  BUT do not expect it to be the same this year because the course has changed slightly and conditions will be completely different.  In 2006 the sun shone and the fairways were rock hard, giving it a completely different feel to what the hosts would have wanted.

The course will play at 7,312 yards and the par 72 is a Harry Colt design that will require the classic tee to green ability we all would expect from a links track.

This photo just sums everything up really.  Sun, cloud, wind, who knows!

This photo just sums everything up really. Sun, cloud, wind, who knows! Photo Courtesy of Royal-Liverpool-golf.com

Tiger finished 1st for driving accuracy and 2nd for GIR, so that tells the whole story.  But it is also important to look at those players who are comfortable on links courses and have the ability to manage their game in conditions that will constantly change throughout the week.

Therefore, in our 1st preview of 3 that we will be producing for The Open, we have taken a look at recent links history and what sort of players have kept performing on these sort of tracks.

Some of the courses are by no means an outright, obvious links track, but they all have that ‘seaside’ feel and bunkers/greens that you often find on a links course.  It does make for some interesting reading and the players who have been highlighted include some you would not expect.

Enjoy for now and our 2nd preview is OUT NOW, so if you are interested in everything you need to know about stats and trends from previous Open tournaments, then this is for you!

European Tour

As you would expect, there are more links-esque courses on the European Tour than Stateside and we have researched tournaments from the past year or so –

2014 Africa Open – East London Golf Club (Links and Parkland)  – Thomas Aiken

2014 Tshwane Open – Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate (Links and Parkland) – Ross Fisher

2014 Trophee Hassan II – Golf du Palais Royal (Links) – Alejandro Cañizares

2014 Madeira Islands Open – Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra (Links-esque in the mountains) – Daniel Brooks

2014 Nordea Masters – PGA National (Links feel) – Thongchai Jaidee

2013 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open – Castle Stuart Golf Links (Classic Links) – Phil Mickelson

2013 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles – The Gleneagles Hotel (Classic Links feel) – Tommy Fleetwood

2013 KLM Open – Kennemer Golf & Country Club (Links feel) – Joost Luiten

2013 ISPS Handa Wales Open – Celtic Manor (Links feel) – Grégory Bourdy

2013 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Old Course at St.Andrews (Classic Links) – David Howell

2013 Portugal Masters – Oceânico Victoria Golf Course (Classic Links) – David Lynn

2013 Irish Open – Carton House Golf Course (links feels) – Paul Casey

2012 Irish Open – Royal Portrush Golf Club (Classic Links) – Jamie Donaldson

2012 ISPS Handa Wales Open – Celtic Manor (Links feel) – Thongchai Jaidee

2012 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open – Castle Stuart Golf Links (Classic Links) – Jeev Milkha Singh

2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Old Course at St.Andrews (Classic Links) – Branden Grace

2013 The Open – Muirfield (Classic Links feel) – Phil Mickelson

2012 The Open – Royal Lytham & St.Annes (Classic Links) – Ernie Els

We have obviously missed out a few of the same tournaments in 2012, but we felt those real links tests were important, so we added them in alongside the last 2 Open Championships.  But what have we read into all of that?

Well, 7 of those 18 winners were British, which is more than any other nation and shows that traditionally, they have a greater liking for those swirling conditions.  But in all of these tournaments, it has been crucial to be consistent tee to green.

Driving accuracy and GIR stats will be vital and usually the better putters for the week find themselves at the top of the leaderboard.

Of the players who have already qualified (there are 4 spots available this week. 3 at the Scottish Open, 1 at the John Deere Classic.) we have looked at those who have a good record at these links venues.

Pablo Larrazabal (150/1 Ladbrokes)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 2 2 3 6

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
DNP T45 T30 DNP MC T70
Pablo jumping into the water to escape the hornets that attacked him at the Malaysian Open this year.  You won't find him in the water at Hoylake though..

Pablo jumping into the water to escape the hornets that attacked him at the Malaysian Open this year. You won’t find him in the water at Hoylake though.. Photo courtesy of Associated Press

The mercurial Spaniard is one of those players that you have to back when he is feeling good, otherwise you have no chance.  He is certainly temperamental, but when his game is on he can be outstanding.  He has the ability to move the ball how he wants and adapt his game in testing conditions, which is why he could be an interesting outsider.  It is no surprise to see his good record on links tracks.

Stephen Gallacher (100/1 Ladbrokes)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
4 1 5 5

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T21 DNP T57 T23 DNP DNP

The Scot has really found his true standing in the past couple of years.  He is widely considered as one of the best iron players in Europe and his ability to shape the ball accurately from tee to green stands him in good stead on links tracks.  He lost in a playoff at the Nordea Masters this year and the Johnnie Walker Championship in 2013, whilst his first European Tour win came at the now Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2004.  He is a links lover at the end of the day.

Joost Luiten (125/1 WillHill)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 3 1 4 1

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
DNP T45 T63

The Dutchman won on his home tournament at Kennemer and it is no surprise to see his record on these links courses.  He is unerringly accurate tee to green and has the perfect game for any sort of conditions. He is regularly one of the top players at European Tour events, so it would not surprise us to see him challenging at majors soon.

Jamie Donaldson (66/1 Coral)Coral Sports

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 2 4 1

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T32 T60 DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jamie kissing the Irish Open trophy.  More kisses please.

Jamie kissing the Irish Open trophy. More kisses please. Photo Courtesy of Paul Faith

The Welshman is one of our favourite regulars on Tour and he has the perfect tee to green game for links tracks.  We remember watching him at the Irish Open in 2012, which was his 1st European Tour win and it was a revelation in iron-play golf.  He is one of these late bloomers, but at 38 he has so much experience and everything really seems to be ticking for him now.  That is represented by how much his odds have been slashed, especially after a T14 at Augusta this year.

 

Thongchai Jaidee (150/1 Ladbrokes)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
2 3 5 2

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T32 T77 MC MC T13 DNP

The Thai magician has entered his twilight years, but he has been playing some truly outstanding golf in recent months.  Anyone with 17 professional wins to their name must be considered something of a stalwart, but this year has been remarkable.  6 top 10s, a win at the Nordea Masters and he won the 2012 Wales Open.  His tee to green game combined with a superb putting strokes, he is an interesting outsider.

Francesco Molinari (80/1 WillHill)

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

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T9 T39 MC MC T13 DNP

Francesco Molinari went into a horrible lull of form but has this year been playing much better.  He could be a danger with his natural ability and he will have no qualms playing alongside the best the game has to offer.

Honourable Mentions – Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Shane Lowry, Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett and Matthew Baldwin.

PGA Tour

Do bare in mind, most of these courses are not actual links tracks, but have many similarities to what you would perceive to be a links course.

2014 Hyundai Tournament Of Champions – Plantation Course at Kapalua – Zach Johnson

2014 Sony Open – Waialae Country Club – Jimmy Walker

2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open – TPC Scottsdale – Kevin Stadler

2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – Pebble Beach – Jimmy Walker

2014 RBC Heritage – Harbour Town Golf Links – Matt Kuchar

2014 The Memorial Tournament – Muirfield Village – Hideki Matsuyama

2013 McGladrey Classic – Seaside Course, Sea Island – Chris Kirk

2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions – Plantation Course at Kapalua – Dustin Johnson

2013 Sony Open – Waialae Country Club – Russell Henley

2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open – TPC Scottsdale – Phil Mickelson

2013 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – Pebble Beach – Brandt Snedeker

2013 RBC Heritage – Harbour Town Golf Links – Graeme McDowell

2013 The Memorial Tournament – Muirfield Village – Matt Kuchar

(And the 2013/2012 Open Championships)Coral Sports

Adam Scott (16/1 Coral)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
3 2 1

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T3 2nd T25 T27 MC T16
Scott was left devastated after that 2012 collapse. Oh how things have changed. Photo courtesy of Harry How/GettyImages

Scott was left devastated after that 2012 collapse. Oh how things have changed. Photo courtesy of Harry How/GettyImages

Adam Scott has an outstanding record on links tracks and it is no surprise.  He has arguably the best all-round game in golf and his current number 1 status is certainly deserved.  Winning The Masters last year will have given him plenty of confidence to push on and it is about time he wins on a links track.  He has come so close in the past 2 Open Championships, so do not be surprised to see him win his 2nd major title this year.

Matt Kuchar (40/1 Ladbrokes)

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

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T15 T9 MC T27 MC MC

Another top quality player with real links pedigree.  Matt Kuchar has not missed a cut for the past 2 years on any links-esque course and picked up 2 titles in the meantime – The RBC Heritage this year and the Memorial Tournament in 2013.  He has genuine class and continues this trend of iron gurus that this list is undoubtedly and unsurprisingly starting to unravel.  He is one of those top players yet to win a major and whilst his form at Augusta is outstanding, it could be in the tough conditions of an Open track that Kuch finally etches his name into history.

Zach Johnson (80/1 Coral)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 1 3 2 3 1

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T6 T9 T16 T76 T47 T51

Zach Johnson has already proven his major pedigree by winning at Augusta and in what was one of the toughest conditions ever seen at the Masters, he proved his ability to manoeuvre the ball in all sorts of wind.  He has the perfect temperament to deal with links courses and proves that by his form on them in the past 2 years, winning at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions this year.  He also has very respectable form at recent Open championships, so if he can rediscover his early-season form, anything could happen.

Dustin Johnson (33/1 Coral)

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

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T32 T9 T2 T14 MC DNP
DJ is used to being beside the seaside...

DJ is used to being beside the seaside…

Dustin Johnson is clearly a supremely talented golfer, but he can be frustrating to watch let alone bet on sometimes.  10 professional titles as he enters his 30s is an impressive return and his huge distances off the tee and attacking game, clearly work on links courses.  When he is straight he can be devastating.  Those low drillers completely take out the wind and give him great chances on what are usually shorter courses.  His win came at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions last year and we all know his main problem is consistency.  If he is consistent, he is a winner.

 

Chris Kirk (125/1 WillHill)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 4 2 4 1



NEVER PLAYED AT THE OPEN

Chris Kirk is having one of those ‘breakthrough’ seasons, where his top quality golf has not come in spurts, but consistently week in, week out.  He has built upon a solid 2013 and this year is yet to miss a cut.  His straight-hitting game is a perfect fit for links golf and he has a superb short game to tackle any type of greens.  His win came at the McGladrey Classic, but a further 4 top 5 finishes on links tracks is an outrageous return.  He will be making his first appearance at The Open, but he could be one of those surprise Americans to attack the leaderboard.  He has 2 top 30 finishes at this year majors already, so he is certainly no mug.  Keep him on your radar.

Hideki Matsuyama (66/1 Ladbrokes)

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

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T6 DNP

It may not be fair to the likes of Brandt Snedeker and Harris English that we include Hideki Matsuyama because they have played in far more links tournaments with a cracking record.  But the reason we have decided to include the Japanese here is because he is just one of those players that has something magical and rare in the game.  To have won 6 professional titles at 22-years old says something in itself, but it’s his highly methodical swing that is so impressive.  It looks like nothing can ever go wrong and it doesn’t change in the heat of battle, as proven by his playoff win this year at the Memorial Tournament.  4 top 35s in his last 5 majors, including 2 top 10s show he is not fazed by superstars and with his incredible tee to green game and ability with the short stick, we can definitely see him up there again this year.

Honourable Mentions – Brandt Snedeker, Harris English, Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth.

So, there you have it.  We have trawled through those leaderboards and found the best we thought could offer something at this years tournaments, but please do have a look for yourselves!  Our second preview will be up on the site later this week, so do come back to check it out before the weekend!

 

How Many Quality Players missed the cut at The Masters?!

header_2014_Masters_sm

What an incredible and emotional start to the years first Major it has been.  2012 champion Bubba Watson leads the pack by 3 after an outrageous back 9 performance and when you look at the leaderboard you do think it is an eclectic mix of bizarreness.

But it is when you see the guys who have missed out on the weekend’s activities that you get dumbfounded.  Take a look at some of the notable absentees from the top 25 in the world who missed the cut this year –

Phil Mickelson +5 (No.5 in the world) – Not gone home before the weekend in 16 years.  That says it all.

Sergio Garcia +5 (No.6) – Many peoples favourite for the jacket (including ours) so an absolute shock to see him miss by 1 shot.  Great season, great record here and yet he churns out a pretty shocking 2 days of golf.  2 bogeys on the final 2 holes ruined it for the Spaniard.

Zach Johnson +6 (No.10) – A former winner here and having an unbelievable season, so in all honesty, a poor performance, after a first day 78.

Dustin Johnson +7 (No.11) – One of our big picks this week.  Simply all over the place.  On the plus side, gets to go home to the misses quicker!

Graeme McDowell +6 (No.14) – Not hugely suited to the course and without a great record here, so understandably struggled.  Still, another world top 20 player though…

Jason Dufner +10 (No.16) – The last major champion in golf started with an 80.  That is pretty much unrecoverable, but got to say showed glimpses of brilliance when he had nothing to lose yesterday.

Charl Schwartzel +5 (No.17) – The 2011 champion has been inconsistent this year, but there is no doubting he will be absolutely gutted to have missed out by one.  Never really got going.

Keegan Bradley +9 (No.18) – Horrendous second day 78.  Not having the greatest season and that shone through this week.

Victor Dubuisson +5 (No.21) – First time here so you cannot say this was a bad effort.  The young Frenchman will be challenging in the future, this would have been an amazing experience.

Patrick Reed +8 (No.23) – Well, well, well.  Should be compared to Tiger Woods? One of the games elite? No, you tosser, you missed the cut at the very first major since your outlandish remarks.  A name many, many, many people will love to have seen packing their bags.

Webb Simpson +5 (No.25) – A former US Open champion missing the Masters is a shock at the end of the day.  Started like a train in round 1, shooting to -3 after 3 but double bogeys on the 5th and 16th, pushed him right back.  Friday saw just 6 holes with a par, which tells the inconsistent story!

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!

US Open 2013 Preview 2

OUR FINAL PREVIEW IS NOW AVAILABLE HERE:

NEW – DownThe18th US Open 2013 Final Preview

Published 29/05/2013US 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

After we published our 1st preview for the US Open a couple of weeks ago, we feel the time is right to release our inital picks. These are guys that if you do fancy an antepost bet you should be seriously looking at.  As there are still a couple of tournaments between now and Merion these golfers are subject to change. So be sure to come back here the weekend before the US Open to see our final selections for the week. Our extensive Merion course guide and statistics breakdown for all the fancied players is on our Preview 1 which can be found on the link below.

DownThe18th US Open Preview 1

We have also produced a very detailed breakdown of all tournaments  held on courses under 7,100 yards as well as the the last 7 majors held on shorter tracks. This has made for very interesting reading and quite a few players do stand out! We will be releasing these statistics and players over the next few days, so watch this space! – available below

DownThe18th US Open Preview 3

Steve Stricker (50/1 Various)

Stricker - the go-to man for putting right now

Stricker – the go-to man for putting right now

Steve is definitely one to look out for at this year’s US Open. It has been well documented his schedule this year is very thin and it is because of his focus on the big tournaments, as well as spending a bit more time with the Stricker family. But we have highlighted how your short game has to be in top shape round Merion and there is not a man in golf right now that you would want over the ball from 100 yards or less than Steve. With age becoming more of a factor for the American and length off the tee perhaps not what it was, he will be doubly focused on gaining his shots around the green. It is also key to mention that his putting is widely regarded as the best in the game with various PGA golfers taking advice from the man himself, including a certain Tiger Woods! Taking into account his statistics and short-course performances, Stricker has a real, real chance.

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

The Open 2012 US Open Sony Open 2012 The Barclays 2011 Sony Open 2011 Sony Open 2010
T23 T15 T38 T24 T9 3rd

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

Stricker US Open stats

Phil Mickelson (28/1 Various)

Will want to bag major number 5 at Merion

Phil will want to bag major number 5 at Merion

Phil needs no introduction, we all know what the man is capable of. Now comfortably in his 40’s, there has been no relenting in his game with his dominant victory at this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open showing the American still has a lot to offer. His long game perhaps is not what it was but we can assure you, put an iron in his hands and expect him to get up and down. Phil has that touch and imagination around the greens to consistently get it inside 6 feet, which will be absolutely vital at Merion. And but for a wayward tee shot in the 3rd round of the Wells Fargo a few weeks back, Phil would have been celebrating victory number 2 of 2013. A tournament in which his short game really came to the fore. But with 3 Masters titles and one PGA, Phil will be itching to add to his major collection with victory at Merion.  And with Tiger being as dominant as he is, Phil’s odds will be very inviting in the run up to the event. You can see from his statistics the kind of form he is in!

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

Pebble Beach 2013 Humana Challenge 2013 The Open 2012 US Open 2012 Pebble Beach 2012 Humana Challenge 2012
T60 T37 MC T65 1st T49

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

Mickelson US Open stats

Brandt Snedeker (28/1 BetVictor)

Only a matter of time before Snedeker bags his 1st major

Only a matter of time before Snedeker bags his 1st major

Well here we are again, talking about one of our favourite golfers to win a major.  We were inconsolable when we decided against backing Sneds for the Masters (and then seeing him challenging against our own Adam Scott) but we felt he hadn’t fully recovered from a wrist injury and we knew that in just over 2 months, a tailor-made course would be awaiting his presence at the US Open.  With the short nature of Merion, there are few better than the American, whose game relies on his pinpoint accuracy and razor-sharp putting.  He has also recorded two top 10s at US Opens and his form is once again on the rise, after another top 10 at The Players.  If Sneds is going to win his first major soon, this will be the perfect one.

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

RBC Heritage 2013* Pebble Beach 2013 Humana Challenge 2013 RBC Canadian Open 2012 The Open 2012 Humana Challenge 2012
T59 1st T23 T34 T3 T8

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

Brandt Snedeker US Open stats

Graeme McDowell (33/1 Coral)

G Mac looks very dangerous for Merion

G Mac looks very dangerous for Merion

McDowell has had a very odd season, recording some impressive performances (T3 WGC Caddilac, 1st RBC Heritage and 1st Volvo World Matchplay) but also showing his inconsistency by missing several cuts. (The Masters, BMW PGA Championship and The Players) Yet when it comes to the US Open, an on fire McDowell could really challenge for the title.  His superb accuracy tee to green and scrambling is the thing of legend and if there was ever a course that will suit the former champion, it is Merion – grinding, difficult and a challenge = McDowell.  Plus, his performances on short courses in recent times is nothing short of outstanding.

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

RBC Heritage 2013* World Challenge 2012 The Open 2012 US Open 2012 The McGladrey Classic 2011 Andalucia Masters 2011
1st 1st T5 T2 MC 54

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

GMAC US Open stats

Matt Kuchar (40/1 WillHill)

Kuchar is another who surely has to win a major

Kuchar is another who surely has to win a major

Kuchar is one of the elite players in world golf who has yet to win a major.  He has won the Players and WGC Match play, but not yet found the formula in one of the big four.  He has recorded 3 top 10s in his last 5 major appearances and is ever edging closer to that elusive win. So, when it comes to the US Open and a short course like Merion, Kuchar will definitely be up there come the Sunday.  He has a technical game to compete on difficult courses and his approach play from the sort of distances that he will have are up there with the best in the game. In and around the greens there are few better and you would always trust Kooch with the short stick.  If he was going to win one this year, this is it

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

RBC Heritage 2013* Humana Challenge 2013 Sony Open 2013 The Open 2012 US Open 2012 RBC Heritage 2012
T35 T16 T5 T9 T27 T44

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

Matt Kuchar US Open stats

Tim Clark (100/1 WillHill)

Can a another belly putter win a major?

Can a another belly putter win a major?

There are not many outsiders in the ante post market this year, with most falling short of the triple figure mark.  However, one of our favourite South Africans is at a stunning price considering his technical attributes that could really suit Merion.  From tee to green Clark is unerringly accurate and precise, never afraid to attack pins, making up for his lack of distance.  Around the greens he has a great touch and is trustworthy with the putter.  He did finish T3 back in 2005 and his last two major appearances have both ended T11.  We can really see an upset happening here.

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

RBC Heritage 2013* Pebble Beach 2013 Humana Challenge 2013 Sony Open 2013 Nelson Mandela Champs 2012 RBC Canadian Open 2012
T24 T46 MC 2nd T4 T15

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

Tim Clark US Open stats

Zach Johnson (100/1 Various)

Zach has one of the best short games on tour

Zach has one of the best short games on tour

Zach has been slowly but surely improving this year and will definitely be peaking at just the right time for the US Open. We all know Zach is not the longest off the tee (Although he has been bombing it relatively this year) and has always relied on his inch perfect short game to get him by. 9 PGA Tour titles including a Masters victory would suggest he does it very well! Zach’s eyes will have lit up when he saw where the US Open was being held as he thrives off short tracks. Just like Mickelson and Stricker, his game from 100 yards or less is outrageous so he will enjoy pretty much all of the holes at Merion. He will be sleeping very closely with that pitching wedge. Perhaps the least inviting short-course form and statistics of our lot, but keep an eye on him over the next couple of weeks and watch his short game! An outright 3rd place last week shows how well he’s striking the ball right now.

Last 6 tournaments with course under 7,100 yards

RBC Heritage 2013* Humana Challenge 2013 Sony Open 2013 The Open 2012 Travellers Champs 2012 U.S Open 2012
T48 T23 MC T9 T64 T41

Crucial statistics needed for Merion

Zach Johnson US Open stats

*RBC Heritage – course is 7,101 yards

US Open 2013 Preview 1

OUR FINAL PREVIEW IS NOW AVAILABLE HERE:

NEW – DownThe18th US Open 2013 Final Preview

 

Published 18/05/2013

US 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

You can check out our 2nd preview + our initial picks here –

DownThe18th Preview 2

Preview 3 is also available here: DownThe18th Preview 3

The second major of 2013 is only 4 weeks away and as we did with The Masters, we have decided to publish the ‘1-month’ preview.

This years US Open will be played at Merion Golf Club (East course) in Philadelphia and for the first time since 2004, the distance will be under 7,000 yards, making it a very different challenge for all the players.

16th at Merion

16th at Merion

The average driving distance on tour this year is 290 yards, therefore we will do a calculation of what yardage could potentially be left from the average drive on the par 4s.

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 ascertain that the key areas will be approach shots inside 100 yards and between 125-150 yards. (approx.)  Basically, the golfer who is solid with a short iron will prosper at Merion.

The course itself has very tight fairways, so accuracy off the tee is arguably the most crucial asset to have.  Accuracy will also be vital when going for the green with hazards surrounding pretty much every hole, bringing into play proximity to the pin. One miscalculation can be the difference between birdie and bogey – not to mention the undulating greens which will play consistently hard throughout the week.  As always the short stick gurus will end up near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday on these tough greens.

It is likely every player will miss several greens throughout the four days, meaning anyone who can scramble will give themselves a chance as well.

After doing more extensive research, we found and calculated several trends that past US winners have had – and here they are.

  • 17 of the last 18 U.S. Open winners had made at least two previous U.S. Open starts.
  • 41 of the last 43 U.S. Open winners had a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour that year.
  • The past 9 U.S. Open winners made the cut in the previous year’s British Open.
  • 16 of the past 19 U.S. Open winners had a previous top-14 U.S. Open finish.
  • 8 of the last 11 US Open champions made the cut at that years Masters

Therefore, we have created a table of the 19 golfers who met the above criteria and have included what we feel will be the key stats for the week.  (Even though Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Ryan Moore and Robert Garrigus did not play in the Open and Geoff Ogilvy did not play in the Masters it seemed rather unfair to exclude them because they have all had a top 10 US Open finish in recent years.)

We have also researched all the tournament stats we could find (7/11) since 2012 that played under 7,100 yards, which gave for some interesting reading. 

  • The winner of these 7 tournaments under 7,100 yards has on average been 14th in driving accuracy. (So we will be looking at the top 30 in this category)
  • The winner of these 7 tournaments under 7,100 yards has on average been 10th in GIR. (So we will be looking at the top 40 in this category).
  • The winner of these 7 tournaments under 7,100 yards has on average been 16th in strokes gained putting. (So we will be looking at the top 40 in this category).

So, with all of this in mind, what are we actually looking for?

  • Top 30 driving accuracy
  • Top 40 GIR
  • Top 40 strokes gained putting
  • Top 50 ball striking (computed by totaling a player’s rank in both total driving and GIR)
  • Top 40 approach 125-150 yards
  • Top 40 approach inside 100 yards
  • Top 30 proximity to the hole
  • Top 30 scoring average
  • Top 30 sand save %
  • Top 30 scrambling
  • Top 30 strokes gained putting
  • Top 30 putts per round

Anyone who meets the above criteria we will highlight their stats in green.

US Open STATS 1US Open STATS 2As you can see, one of our favourite players Brandt Snedeker is the perfect fit as he ticks 10 out of the 11 categories. You can currently get him at 25/1 with various bookmakers if you are interested in a cheeky ante post bet.

Two more golfers that we like and fit over 50% of the categories are:

Steve Stricker (50/1 Various)

Matt Kuchar ( 40/1 William Hill)

Also below we have a table of players who did not meet the original trends however their stats were just too good to ignore! Take a look.

US Open STATS 3We will follow this up with preview number 2 in a couple of weeks, hope you enjoy!