US Open Predictions: Top American Players Golf Props
by Alan Matthews - 6/15/2011
Yesterday here at Doc’s we previewed the top European players and their chances of winning the US Open that begins Thursday at Congressional Country Club outside of Washington, D.C. Today we look at the top American threats – and, really, shouldn’t an American almost feel obligated to win our National Championship, especially when held near the nation’s capital?
Before we offer our US Open predictions, let’s look at some history at Congressional. Ernie Els won here back when the US Open was last held at the course in 1997. But with this week’s course up to more than 7,570 yards it will look little like it did in ’97. Most of the pros should have at least some idea about the course, although the USGA always makes it tougher for the Open. From 2007 through 2009, Congressional served as the host site for the AT&T National hosted by Tiger Woods. K.J. Choi, Anthony Kim and Woods won those three events. When the Booz Allen Classic was held at Congressional in 2005, Sergio Garcia won. Obviously Tiger can’t win this week since he’s sidelined with Achilles’/injuries.
Phil Mickelson isn’t the top-ranked American player, as Steve Stricker has recently passed him. However, Lefty is the favored U.S. player to win at 14/1 on Bodog – only behind co-favorites Lee Westwood and Luke Donald at 12/1. By now everyone knows that Lefty has never won the US Open in 20 previous tries. He has the finishing runner-up thing down pat as he has accomplished that a record five times, the last one coming in 2009 at Bethpage Black.
And Mickelson’s age would seem to say he’s a long shot to win. He turns 41 on Thursday and a player 40 or older has only won this tournament three times: Ted Ray at 43 years old in 1920; Raymond Floyd at 43 in 1986; and Hale Irwin at 45 in 1990 — coincidentally Mickelson’s first US Open.
But Mickelson always seems to be in the hunt with his amazing short game. He has nine Top-10 finishes in US Opens – he has finished inside that number in six of the past 10 tournaments. Thus he seems a wise bet to finish so again, which pays +135. Finishing outside the Top 10 is at -175. Lefty is naturally the favorite to finish as top American at 6/1, so you could fare well doubling up on that and the Top 10.
Stricker is looking for his first major championship and is 20/1 to win. After winning the Memorial on June 5, where he had three eagles in a seven-hole stretch at one point, he became the top-ranked American. He leads the PGA Tour in bogey avoidance, which is huge at a US Open. That’s because he’s an accurate player (31st in fairways) and excellent putter (fifth). In 14 previous US Opens, Stricker has three Top-10 finishes. He was fifth twice — in 1998 at the Olympic Club and in 1999 at Pinehurst No. 2 — and was sixth in 2006 at Winged Foot. He finished 36th when the Open was played at Congressional in 1997. Again, though, that 40-plus thing applies here as Stricker is 44.
How about Dustin Johnson at 25/1? It would be sweet revenge for the long-hitting Johnson (fourth in driving distance) to win after blowing up at last year’s US Open. Remember, he took a three-shot lead into Sunday but shot an 80. Then, of course, there was his epic penalty on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship with a chance to win. He seems to be peaking as well, finishing fourth at the Memorial and then taking last week off to focus here.
Finally, you can’t rule out Mr. Consistency Matt Kuchar (22/1). He's 14-for-14 in cuts made this year with eight Top-10s, including a season-best T2 in his last start at the Memorial. US Opens don’t seem to suit his style, however. Yes, he was T6 last year but also has missed five cuts in eight Opens.
A winner from the USA pays out at -110 this week, with Europe next at +160. Since the Open was last at Congressional in ’97, one Euro has won it (Graeme McDowell last year) and an American has done so seven times (Woods being three of those).
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