It’s only June, yet here we are with the third for four majors for this year. We’ve had some final day drama for the Masters and the USPGA, and around Pebble Beach – with an extremely combative approach from the organisers as the USGA loves for this course – we’ll be sure to see some combination of thrills or spills.
There’s lots of material out there, and with a late tee off time, it’ll probably be of use to put some of the best bits down here, but a special shoutout for Blue Horseshoe’s preview for my employer Star Sports. He had the 1-2 in the Masters and also backed Patrick Cantlay for the Memorial, and is a man in form worth reading
Course Guide: Pebble Beach is a 7,040-yard Par 71 which is used for half the four rounds of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am played there. Mind, the US Open par is set to less and the distance lengthened. We saw how tough it was when the US Open came here in 2010, and Graeme McDowell took the glory with level par after four rounds. Only two holes played under par during the whole tournament. The course is set for accurate scramblers, with lighting fast greens damning perfect approach and tight narrow fairways – backed up by thick rough – punishing any particularly errant shots.
Oh, and yes, the US Open came in2000, when the winner was one checks notes Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods, by fifteen shots.
Best Place Terms: Betfair and SkyBet are 10 places, 1/5 the odds, and Bet365 are eight places for the same terms.
- 5 pts each/way Brooks Koepka (9/1 general)
Where else to start? A winner of this event for the last two years, taking victory by four shots at Erin Hills with a high scoring display before then grinding out victory at Shinnecock with a +1 winning total; He comes here having taken the USPGA, taking apart Bethpage Black for three days and having enough in hand to shoot 74 before holding off Dustin Johnson, making it four majors in his last eight starts, and he’s also got some Pebble Beach form, having finished eighth there three years ago – and he’s a far superior player now.
- 5 pts each/way Patrick Cantlay (18/1 general)
A one-time dominant amateur, he is now fulfilling all that promise and more at the top level, and this season has finished ninth at the Masters and third at the USPGA; He built on that when taking his first PGA title, shooting 64 with no bogeys to take the Memorial Tournament. He has the fewest bogeys of anyone on tour, and is also ranking highly within the leading categories that matter – he’s 30th or higher in driving distance, accuracy, greens in regulation and, putting. Cantlay’s form figures at the Pebble Pro-Am of 9-48-35 are excellent back numbers and now he’s fully fit – he used to suffer with injury issues – he can make another bold bid for a first major title.
- 1 pt each/way Hideki Matsuyama (30/1 SkyBet, 35/1 Bet365)
One of the many young players who has long looked set to win a major, Matsuyama was 16th at Bethpage Black but had played the course very well before a horror closing round of +7 – before that he’d been -4 under after three rounds. He bounced back with a good sixth at the Memorial tournament and it bodes well for his chances here that he was an entirely decent 16th at Shinnecock last year (having previously been second at Erin Hills) and he’s certainly in the right form to make a bold bid. One of the best at hitting the greens in regulation, this is a first start at Pebble Beach but a very strong US Open record provides hope he’ll adapt to the task.
- 1 pt each/way Jordan Spieth (22/1 Bet365)
A previous winner of the US Open, when he overcame Dustin Johnson by just a shot, Spieth was almost as red hot as Koepka was during 2015-2017 in majors, looking almost unbeatable on the greens. However, the next year and a half brought some struggles, especially with his tee to green game beginning to fail him.
However, this year has seen a revival. He was sinking monster putts at Bethpage Black, when he was third in the USPGA, and he has since followed that with two solid outings, finishing eighth at Colonial and seventh at Memorial, which confirmed something crucial; He’s putting like he used to.
He has Pebble Beach form in the book, and what’s more it’s winning form, winning the 2017 Pro-Am by no less than four shots, and whilst the setup of this course is a lot tougher, a Chambers Bay winner and perennial US Open contender should find a way to adapt and Spieth has never been a one trick pony.
- 1 pt each/way Branden Grace (150/1 general)
Long time readers of this website will know that Grace has long been a favorite player of mine, and he has always been at his best when on tough links courses.
A proper grinder who thrives in the heat of battle, Grace has an excellent US Open record, with two top five finishes in this event coming at Chambers Bay and Oakmont. Chambers Bay was seen as one of the toughest challenges the PGA Tour had faced, even at a US Open, and Oakmont Oakmont remains perhaps the most difficult course in North America, with 210 deep bunkers, hard and slick greens that slope away from the player, and tight fairways requiring the utmost precision, was ranked #5 in Golf Digest’s most recent version of America’s Top 100 courses.
Grace is having a quiet time of things but his links record is excellent and his win at Harbour Town links showed all the qualities that the US Open does reward.
- 1 pt each/way Xander Schauffele (28/1 Bet365, 25/1 general)
The second last selection – leave me alone, it’s a Major – is another young gun who looks set to win a major sooner rather than later. The majors record of Xander Schauffele is an extremely impressive one given that he’s just 25 years old and in only three years playing at the very top table he’s made eight cuts, with four top-six finishes and two runners up spots.
His two US Open starts have yielded finishes of fifth and sixth, one coming at Erin Hills before he adapted well to the far tougher Shinnecock, and he has since finished second in the Open and the Masters. Links appear to be ideal for him and he’s a far better player than the one who was 66th in the 2017 Pro-Am.
- 1 pt each/way Kevin Kisner (125/1 Bet365, general)
It’s the US Open, so having more than one three figure contender looks wise. Kevin Kisner’s recent major record is one of improvement – he was actually runner up at the Open last year, and he has finished in the top 20 of the last three USPGA Championships. He won the World Golf Championships this year and will be suited to the course given his short, and accurate game, and whilst he may not love poa annua greens or California, he’s big enough for that not to be the issue.