When: June 17th through June 20th, 2010
Where: Pebble Beach Golf Links – Pebble Beach, CA
by Evergreen, Professional Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
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With Playoff Finals in the NBA and NHL along with the World Cup all on the sports radar, the U.S. Open has snuck up more than a few of us. The players are ready for the year’s second Major and it just happens to be at one of the most storied courses in the PGA rotation. Pebble Beach is hosting it’s fifth U.S.Open and many players chose to play in February’s AT&T Pro-Am earlier in the season for some prep, but everyone knows she will play drastically different than the February scorefest. ESPN will carry the early rounds, with NBC finishing off the weekend.
Courses have often been renovated in recent years to keep the scores in check, but your not likely to see a bigger difference in course appearance than what Pebble has undergone in preparation for this week. Like all USGA Championships, the greens will be hard and fast, the pin placements will be nearly criminal and the roughs will be thick and penalizing. A regular Tour event at Pebble Beach would find many players in the 60’s with wide fairways and receptive greens but that will all change this time out as the par-71, 7000+ yard course will sport ribbon thin fairways and a challenge with every approach. The course superintendants will not mind if the winner is over par and expect more than a few rounds above 80 by very good players.
Each week, we takea look at the golf sportsbooks and highlight a few players that we like to contend for the victory. We’ll make a short, middle and long odds pick and breakdowna few head to head matches as well. Here are our picks for the 2010 U.S. Open.
Short Favorite: Phil Mickelson (7 to 1 odds to win)
Lefty is either tied with Tiger for the consensus favorite at most boards with some tabbing him as the outright fav for the first timesince the late 90’s. Phil already has the Masters under his belt and has had success at previous Opens with runner-up finishes in 2006 and 2009. Mickelson has the length with his 300 yard average off the tee to challenge the course but contention lies in hitting the short grass. He hasn’t hit many fairways in his season so far, but has managed to rank 38th in greens hit despite playing from the rough and makes the fourth most birdies on average as well. There’s no doubt that everyone will have to be solid around the greens to score and Phil is still the best with the short game imagination which has helped him notch the 4th best scoring average. The par-5’s will be the most attackable holes on the course and Lefty comes in ranked 1st in birdie or better conversions on those holes.
Middle of the Road: Jim Furyk (28 to 1 odds to win)
The 2003 U.S. Open brings a world of Major experience into the week and also brings a swing that has logged two wins in 2010. Furyk knows how important fairways are to winning and he comes in 6th in fairways hit. He also knows how to save those crucial pars, which he does with a6th best scrambling percentage. Look for a lot of conservative play in order to stay in touch with some potential birdies coming at the par-3’s where Furyk ranks 22nd in scoring average. The accuracy first style has produced T2 finishes in 2006 and 2007 and Furyk will land a strangle hold on the player of the year race with a win this week.
Longshot: Dustin Johnson (33 to 1 odds to win)
D.J. will actually be looking to make it three Pebble wins in a row as the two time defending AT&T champ, so there’s bound to be some good mojo for him this week. Johnson is top-5 in driving distance but his key to contention will be hitting fairways. Dustin has struggled to find the middle but like Mickelson, has done well playing from the spinach, ranking 34th in GIR% and averaging the 9th most birdies per round. Johnson has an above average putter both in average and putts per round and has scored well regardless of the individual circumstance, ranking 3rd in birdie or better percentage on all holes. This will be Dustin’s third U.S. Open so he should be getting comfortable with style of play and he has managed to make both his previous cuts.
Head to Head Matches (our pick)
*all matches are for entire event. Check with your online bookie for single round matches and prop bets.
Rory McIlroy (-115) v. Ernie Els (-115) (Els)
While it’s been over a decade since his two Open wins, the Big Easy is the pick against this very talented youngster. Els is hitting more greens and making more birdies so far this year and the putting advantage is with Ernie as well. McIlroy will have multiple Majors in the coming years, but Ernie has too much over him this week.
Camilo Villegas (-115) v. Geoff Ogilvy (-115) (Villegas)
Both players are having quiet runs after getting off to good starts in the early season but it looks like Villegas has a few more positives coming in. The pair are very even tee to green and have similiar success with the putter, but despite Ogilvy averaging more birdies, Villegas is the one with the better scoring average. Geoff is struggling with too many mistakes at this point and that is not something you want coming into golf’s toughest test.