The US Open is the toughest major of the year due to the nature of the host courses where par is a good score. This year the champion could be several shots above par especially if the wind is a factor. The links style layout at Chambers Bay in Washington has been designed along the lines of coastal courses in Scotland. The key skills will be driving distance, greens in regulation and scrambling. However, temperament as much as skill will determine the contenders as bad bounces can disrupt a player’s focus and rhythm.
The course will favour players with links form and it will be an all-round test. Course management and accurate iron play will be required to avoid bogeys which will be far more important than birdie conversion. The greens are undulating so lag putting will be a vital ingredient of the champion’s profile. The course will be frustrating at times so the players that control their emotions best will get in the mix for the second major of the season and most brutal.
Chambers Bay was designed and opened in 2007 with aim of hosting the 2015 US Open Championship. The sand and grass has made for a course that is similar to the links courses of Ireland and Scotland which in theory should favour the European contingent. The track is more in keeping with British Open than the US version but some traditional features will still apply. The rough has been allowed to grow and the fairways are be fast running. The yardage will be adjusted during the tournament to bring the many bunkers into play at different times.
Links courses are susceptible to wind but the forecast suggests there will only be light breezes though they can still be a factor when the margins are small. Temperature will be in the mid-20s and no extreme weather is likely. Decent shots will be deflected off line so recovery and scrambling will then come into play. The champion will have displayed great skill and mental fortitude but these players can win their 72 hole match-ups:
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Hideki Matsuyama to beat Bubba Watson at 1.71.
Matsuyama is a future major champion in waiting and although it is unlikely to happen this week he has enough in his profile to beat Watson over 72 holes. The latter has won the US Masters twice but his game is not suited to the US Open for which Matsuyama has the better profile.
Brooks Koepka to beat Billy Horschel at 1.87.
Koepka is one of the bright new talents of American golf who finished in the top ten in last year’s tournament. Horschel won the FedEx Cup and ten million dollar bonus last season but might struggle with the unpredictability of the course. Kopeka is much more of a reliable operator and can outscore his opponent over four rounds.
Luke Donald to beat Kevin Na at 1.87.
Donald had to come through qualifying to play this week but his all-round game and temperament can see him prevail against Na. The selection can put a mediocre year behind him on a course that suits his game. Tee-to-green could be a problem for Na who is likely to have too many adventures to stay in contention.
Chris Kirk to beat Keegan Bradley at 1.87.
Kirk has won four regular US tournaments and the excellent putter will not feel uncomfortable playing in a breeze. He has the profile to contend this week while Bradley is struggling with a new putter. He does have US Open form but Kirk looks the more likely to stay calm and maintain form when things inevitably go wrong.
Rory McIlroy to beat Jordan Spieth at 1.80.
Spieth had his week in the sun at the US Masters in April but this event could be McIlroy’s turn to dominate proceedings. The world number one is now proven in links golf having won the British Open last year though the conditions could be a leveller. Spieth’s caddie knows the course well but that may not be enough to see him outscore McIlroy this week.
European odds can be found at British bookmakers William Hill
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