U.S. Open Betting Odds and Preview
by Trevor Whenham - 06/12/2007
I am not at all happy with Adam Scott right now. He had the chance to make this U.S. Open preview incredibly simple to write. He looked like he was on his way to an easy win at the St. Jude, so I was poised to write about how he was dangerous and in form, throw in the standard Tiger and Phil references, pick an obscure name or two for good measure, and bingo - preview written. But then Scott came out on Sunday and had a monumental collapse to fall completely out of contention and give Woody Austin an unbelievably easy win. Now my job is much harder because I have to figure out whether Scott, a guy I was ready to like a lot in the major, just had a bad day (really, really bad), or if this is a sign that he has slipped into the kind of hole that it often takes players weeks, months or even years to climb out of.
That's just the first hurdle I face in handicapping the field for this second major of the year. The second is a far bigger one - the U.S. Open is the most ridiculous excuse for a golf tournament on the planet. I'm all for giving the best golfers in the world a challenge, but this tournament has turned into a painful, ego-driven attempt by the USGA to prove how superior to us mere mortals they truly are. If I want to see players score an eight on a par three all I need to do is videotape a round or two of my own games. I certainly don't need to spend the weekend watching the best players try to overcome comically impossible conditions. Early reviews are that Oakmont is every bit as ridiculous as Pinehurst No. 2 and Winged Foot have been the last two years. That means that you not only have to predict who is in the best form, but who will best handle the unique and totally unpredictable conditions. It's like handicapping the World Series if it were played on ice.
Now that I'm done complaining, here's a look at three players worth considering (two of which are painfully obvious) and their U.S. Open betting odds:
Tiger Woods (+300) - I won't waste your time or mine writing much about him. He's good but he's not in great form right now, but that never seems to matter. He's a threat because he's Tiger Woods. The price may be a bit low, but you can never count him out.
Phil Mickelson (+900) - The reborn Phil, complete with Tiger's discarded coach Butch Harmon, makes for a very juicy story. I personally don't yet feel, though, that this truly marks a new era. I need Phil to show me that things have changed, instead of just telling me, before I really buy in. Until he does, I don't have faith in him keeping it together. He fell apart on the 72nd hole last year, and it would take a good deal of luck on his part for him to get that good a look at it two years in a row. All that being said, I will quite possibly come to regret those words.
Thomas Bjorn (+15000) - This is a slightly random pick, but he stands as good a chance as anyone. He's never won a major, but he's come as close as any non-winner ever has - he has three seconds and a third since 2000, and two more top 10 results. He hasn't had a great year this year, but he hasn't been terrible, and he has the kind of game that could work well for this challenge. Michael Campbell came from out of the obscure pack to win it two years ago, so this Dane could certainly do it this year. My bigger point here is that any one of 100 or so players could reasonably pull it off, so if you are so inclined, find a couple that you can make a case for and hope you get lucky.
To stop this from being a completely dull and predictable article, here are three players that I don't like in this spot at all:
Retief Goosen (+2750) - It's hard to discard a player that has two U.S. Open wins since 2001. The difference this year, though, is the form he comes in with. In 2001, the two tournaments before the Open were a win and a sixth. In 2004 he won his last prep. This year, his two most recent results are 128th and 111th. He'd have to find something that has recently completely escaped him in order to win here.
Zach Johnson (+4000) - In part, I'm a bit worried because he had to pull out of the Memorial, his last tournament, with strep throat. Who know how that has affected his preparation. My bigger problem with Johnson, though, is that his Masters win, and subsequent win at the AT&T Classic, has made the public fond of him, and has driven this price down much lower than it probably should be. I'd give him much more thought at the +6000 of David Toms or Paul Casey, or the +7000 of Robert Allenby than I would at his much less generous price.
Henrik Stenson (+4000) - Like Johnson, hype over this popular pick has driven his price way too low for consideration in my eyes. Stenson was a trendy pick going into the Masters on the strength of back-to-back wins in the World Match Play and the Dubai Desert Classic. His torrid pace has slowed since then, and he just doesn't have the depth of experience, the recent form or the record in the majors to warrant a price this low.