The 115th playing of the United States Open Championship begins Thursday at Washington's Chambers Bay golf course. The staff at theScore put on their prognosticator hats and offer up three packs of picks with an eye on favorites, longshots, and those in the middle of the pack.
Favorite: Rickie Fowler +2000
Throw his performance at the Memorial out the window - Muirfield Village has had his number in recent years. Fowler won The Players last month, and his performances at recent major tournaments have been spot on, finishing inside the top-5 at each last season (T5, T2, T2, T3) and T12 at the Masters this year. The former Oklahoma State Sooner will be making his seventh start at the U.S. Open. Maybe he'll have luck on his side.
Middle of the pack: Patrick Reed +4000
Few players on Tour are as good around the greens as Reed, and that's going to be an important skill this weekend. Reed is one of the few players to have some familiarity with the course, carding a 68 in his U.S. Amateur stroke play round in 2010.
Longshot: Charley Hoffman +8000
Hoffman is having himself a career year. He has eight top-15 finishes this season, including a T2 in his last start. The 38-year-old went 67-68 through 36 holes at the Masters to enter the hunt, then hung around for a ninth-place tie. A strong player tee-to-green, Hoffman has the skillset to tame Chambers Bay.
Favorite: Phil Mickelson +1500
Consider the things that have defined Phil Mickelson's career: creativity and risk-taking. He's finished runner-up at the U.S. Open time after time after time - six times, all told. A player doesn't get that close without being pretty damn good, and Phil is still pretty damn that. He's running out of chances, and the ever-unique Chambers Bay sets up perfectly for him to finally get over the hump. Even at 45 (today!), he's got the distance, he's got the mitts around the greens, and he's got the perfect amount of quirk to his game for a quirky course.
Middle of the pack: Hideki Matsuyama +3000
The 23-year-old Matsuyama is ninth in the FedexCup standings, and currently sits at 14th in the world, so he's not exactly a high-risk pick. He's also finished in the top 10 in half his 16 events this season, including a top-five finish last week, and sits in the top 10 in scrambling, something that's going to be particularly crucial this week - more specifically, playing from the short grass around the greens, which is basically cut to the same length as the actual green. From off the fringe this year, he's gotten up-and-down a perfect 28-of-28 times. That bodes well for his chances at Chambers.
Longshot: J.B. Holmes +8000
If you're seeing a trend in my picks, it's that I'm basically betting against putting (Holmes is ranked 154th, Matsuyama 122nd, Mickelson 47th). But fast or not, this course could play to 7,700 yards, and could be tricky around the greens. Being able to smash the ball into short-iron range could go a long way to leaving yourself some makeable birdies, something that'll be necessary given the potential for bogies at U.S. Opens. Holmes is in the top 10 in driving distance, eagles, and birdie percentage. He may make some less-than-desirable numbers, but should make enough birdies to negate them.
Favorite: Dustin Johnson +1500
Coming into the season, it appeared all four major venues set up well for Johnson. And on a course most of the players are seeing for the first time competitively, rolling with the guy who hits it as far as he does, and also has an underrated short game, sounds like a wise bet.
Middle of the pack: Henrik Stenson +3000
Stenson has been unusually quiet in 2015, with only three top-10 finishes and none since being runner-up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational back in March. But his game is a perfect fit for Chambers, where he won't even need the driver because his 3-wood will run forever down the dry fairways. As usual, he's under the radar.
Longshot: Ian Poulter +8000
Historically, his best performances in majors have happened at the Open Championship and, by all accounts, this week is going to play more like one of those than a U.S. Open. We know he loves the stage and the moment, plus his short game is sublime. The only thing that worries me is that his patience is going to be tested on this layout where bad bounces are more likely than at most courses.
|Miguel Angel Jimenez||+20000|
(Odds courtesy: Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)