US Open Golf preview update
By all accounts there are two US Open golf venues at Merion: a fast, bumpy track to suit the shot-makers and a soft, inviting, short course begging to be taken apart by the big hitters.
And following torrential rain earlier in the week, it seems that we have the latter. Ernie Els is expecting a birdie-fest with scores much lower than is deemed acceptable at a US Open, which, since the early 1950s has traditionally been set up to as tough as can be got away with.
Other players still reckon it will be tough enough and certainly not a course to be taken liberties with. Either way, it has made identifying a potential winner even more interesting than usual.
And either way, Tiger Woods, now back in something like the form he was in when winning majors for fun, is the man to beat. Coral go 6/1 Woods, 20/1 bar, but good cases can be made for many others in the field in a tournament that often produces shock results.
Matt Kuchar, 25/1 outright and 12/1 to be top American, is due a major victory following a few near misses, while Steve Stricker (50/1 outright and 22/1 to be top US) is overdue. Both can go on a shortlist, while the unheralded Ryan Palmer (125/1 and 40/1) has been in excellent form in recent weeks and is also worth considering.
Other Coral specials worth a second look include those involving recent BMW PGA winner, Matteo Manassero, and Michael Thompson, who did so well in this event last year.
Manassero demonstrated both his current good form and his fighting qualities when beating a top class field at Wentworth and his (relatively) short hitting off the tee won’t be such a disadvantage on a course measuring less than 7,000 yards. This brilliant young Italian is 70/1 to win outright with Coral as well as 12/1 to finish top five, 11/2 top ten and 5/2 top 20.
Thompson, winner of the Honda Classic in February and a top ten finisher at the Memorial Tournament recently, is a serious contender again and 5/1 that he finishes inside the top 20 this weekend makes particular appeal.
Coral have a US Open Golf market on just about everything you can think of and one of the safer bets might be Graeme McDowell, the winner in 2010 and runner-up last year, at 4/5 to fare better over the 72 holes than Sergio Garcia, surely distracted by the ongoing fall-out from his spat with Tiger Woods.
A new name from these shores is Eddie Pepperell, playing in his first major after finishing sixth in the BMW PGA. Coral rate him a 400/1 shot and although a win is surely too much to ask, this 22-year-old’s growing army of fans might be tempted by 22/1 to be top Englishman
Written by Jon Freeman