THE best of the best descend on Long Island, NY this week for the 118th US Open Championship.
The man to beat is Dustin Johnson, who reclaimed the world number one ranking with his win in the St Jude Classic.
Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and the in-form Justin Rose are also tipped to contend.
One of the big questions is whether Shinnecock Hills will play as tough as it did back in 2004.
We know it will play longer – about 450 yards longer, in fact – than it did when Retief Goosen outclassed Phil Mickelson down the stretch 14 years ago.
Penal rough and drought-struck greens had players up in arms on that occasion, and more than a few have raised similar concerns about conditions for the 2018 edition.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) June 11, 2018
Another hot topic is how the old guard will fare on one of North America’s most revered layouts.
Tiger Woods has won plenty of support with solid showings at the Players Championship and the Memorial, while Mickelson’s recent win in Mexico has pundits wondering whether he can finally break his US Open duck.
Others are focusing on Shinnecock’s distinctive poa greens.
The likes of Phil, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker have all found success on that type of putting surface, as have outsiders such as Aaron Baddeley, Kevin Kisner and Charlie Hoffman.
2018 US Open golf odds
+800 – Dustin Johnson
+1400 – Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas
+1600 – Jordan Spieth
+1800 – Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Tiger Woods
+2000 – Brooks Koepka
+2200 – Jon Rahm
+2800 – Hideki Matsuyama
+3000 – Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson
+3300 – Branden Grace
+4000 – Bryson DeChambeau, Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed
+5000 – Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson
More quoted at 5Dimes
Best bets for US Open winner
Dustin Johnson – It is impossible to ignore the world’s top player in any scenario, let alone fresh off a win. Johnson’s penetrating long game is perfectly suited to the linksy nature of Shinnecock, especially when the wind gets up. A couple of good days with the shorter clubs and the flat stick will make DJ very hard to beat.
Justin Rose – Anyone who saw this guy at the Colonial a few weeks ago will know exactly why his name is in this section. Rose is striking the ball as well as ever and has priors on the big stage, having won this event five years ago in soggy conditions at Merion.
Jason Day – The concerns over Day’s accuracy from tee to green are well founded, and yet the Australian star’s US Open scoring average of 71.2 is the best of the last decade. If the dual runner-up can hit some greens and sink some putts, he will be a factor come Sunday.
Outside chances and top 20 betting
Rickie Fowler – With multiple top-five finishes at all four majors, Fowler might just be the best player never to win a major. His ability to hit under the wind will serve him well at Shinnecock, but does he have the killer instinct required to finish the job? Top five (+400 at 5Dimes) looks a very good bet.
Marc Leishman – On his day, the big man from Warrnambool is as good a ballstriker as anybody on tour. Leishman is also no stranger to the pointy end of major tournaments, with multiple top 10s at both the US Masters and the British Open. The odds for top 20 (+200) and top Aussie (+300) are well worth a look.
Tiger Woods – We are still waiting for Tiger to break his five-year win drought on the PGA Tour. The 14-time major champion has shown glimpses of his former greatness this year, especially around the greens, but can he hit enough fairways to mount a serious challenge? The +165 quote for a top-10 finish is attracting plenty of interest.
US Open bets to avoid at all costs
Brooks Koepka – But for an impressive final round at the Players Championship, the reigning US Open champ has shown little of the form that saw him card a record-equalling 16 under par at Erin Hills last year. There are far better options among the top few lines of betting.
Phil Mickelson – There is a lot of talk about the over-35 brigade making a charge, and ‘Lefty’ is a big part of that conversation. Mickelson has recorded six runner-up finishes at the US Open, including one at Shinnecock, but those numbers mean little when he is hitting only 64 per cent of greens in regulation this year.
Jordan Spieth – This guy’s US Open record makes for an interesting read. Apart from a W in the golden summer of 2015, his best finish is a tie for 17th. Spieth is making big noises about how well he is hitting the ball, but the recent decline of his short game is alarming.
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