US Open Golf Betting Preview
by Trevor Whenham - 06/10/2008
The second jewel in golf's Grand Slam takes place this weekend. It was supposed to be the inevitable second victory for Tiger Woods en route to a Grand Slam and a place in history (not that he doesn't already have one). Things didn't quite work out that way, but this tournament still sets up to be interesting. It is hosted by a municipal course, albeit a spectacular and very famous one. Torrey Pines in San Diego is the host of the Buick Invitational every year, and the South Course will host the Open. As is typical with this tournament, the course is set up at its very nastiest. At 7,643 yards it's also 379 yards longer than the longest ever US Open. Here's a look at six storylines that will have to factor into your US Open golf betting decisions for this tournament.
Tiger's knee - No joint will get more attention over the next week than the one that joins Tiger's left foot to his body. He had surprise surgery on his knee right after the Masters, and he has only started playing full rounds again this week. That makes this tournament a huge challenge. He'll be rusty, and we don't know how his knee will hold up, so if he were any other player we would rule him out without a second thought. He's not any other player, though. He's the favorite, and his potential payout (5/2) is almost a third of the next lowest choice (7/1). How you deal with him depends on your view. On one hand, you could reason that he wouldn't come back if he weren't ready, and he owns the Torrey Pines course - he's won the Buick Invitational in five of the last six years. On the other hand, this course setup is going to be so challenging that a player will have to be sharp to win. His price offers no value, but anyone who bets against will certainly be nervous when the tournament starts.
Phil's homecoming - Mickelson is from San Diego, and he has moved back there. He knows the Torrey Pines course as well as anyone because he played it as a kid. He's never won the US Open, but he has finished second four different times, and he has eight top 10 finishes. He's also playing pretty well this year, and he has a win just a couple of weeks ago at the Colonial. Phil is the second choice in the field at 7/1. He's also seems to be as hungry as we have seen him in a long time (no jokes about his waistline). He missed the cut last year while struggling with a wrist injury. Now he's back, and in my eyes he's considerably more attractive than Tiger.
Length matters - Because this course is so long it would seem likely that long hitters would have an advantage. We can't know for sure until we see how it plays, but recent history can give us a clue or two. Angel Cabrera won last year largely because he could hit it long. Bubba Watson is the biggest hitter on tour, and he finished fifth last year despite lacking valuable experience in the majors. He's a potentially interesting longshot at 150/1 this year. J.B. Holmes is the second longest hitter, and he's also at 150/1. Adam Scott is hitting it just short of 300 yards per drive this year, and he certainly doesn't seem undervalued at 40/1.
Time for an American? - It might sound strange, but Americans haven't been doing too well at their national championships. They haven't won the tournament in the last four years. Before that, though, they had won seven of the previous 10, and 19 of the previous 22. It's not unreasonable to think, then, that an American is about due to win it again. Of course, suggesting that any team or player in sports is "due" is a lazy argument. If you are a patriot, though, you might be okay - five of the 12 players with the lowest odds to win are Americans.
Putting - The greens at Torrey Pines South will be the fastest the players have seen all year. That means that a player not only has to be able to get to the greens in regulation, but also putt like a demon once they get there. That probably rules out guys like Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, or Trevor Immelman who haven't exactly been burning up the greens this year. On the other hand, it could set up well for someone like Padraig Harrington (22/1). He can drive it well, and he's the second best putter on tour this season.
Weather - With a course this tough bad weather would absolutely wreak havoc on scores and tip the scales in favor of the more experienced players. It is too soon to have an accurate weather forecast for the weekend, but the weather forecast is clear and sunny on Thursday. Chances are it will be nice throughout the weekend - it is San Diego, after all. It might not seem relevant to mention a factor that probably won't be a factor. It is, though - ideal weather conditions mean that there is one less reason why one of the logical winners won't win.