Thursday, June 16, 2011

us open

Time for the 2nd major of the season as we move on to Bethesda in Maryland and the Congressional course for the US Open

No doubt there will be plenty of discussion about the course due to the changes made let alone the fact that the US Open is traditionally a tough challenge for all

Congressional Blue Course > has been changed a lot since last time the US Open was played here ('97) and is now a par 71 as they have made the 18th into the 10th hole and made the 6th a par 5 not 4; there are 3 par5s on the course and they are tough - the 9th is a maximum 636 yards! the overall course length is a whopping 7,570 odd yards although they will probably move the tees about a bit each day

The course is tree-lined, fairways aren't that wide at all and many slope away and there are plenty of well-positioned bunkers at driving distance - add to that a lot of bunkers protecting greens, some water and then finally, extremely testing sloped highly-contoured greens and you have a really tough test - bit of a change from the easy courses that have featured recently on the US tour

Looks like the sort of course that you can be playing well on and then easily make a double bogey - players who get frustrated will probably explode so you will need to be accurate off the tee, reasonably long too and then also accurate with your approaches or you will find sand regularly or get a lot of practice with your scrambling.. if you fire at the pins you may score well but if you are slightly out then the greens will punish you as a lot of them have big ridges and run-off areas so expect a lot of 3 putts too

There are some extremely difficult holes - the par3s look like the sort you will happy to 'make par and move on'; the par5s do offer a birdie opp but mainly from those laying up and hitting close with short irons for their 3rd

The 11th is a 490 yard par 4 with a sloping tight fairway and a stream all along the hole... can see some carnage on that hole - the new 18th (old 17th) is a great hole.. over 500 yards, tree-lined and playing into a green mostly surrounded by water, should be fun!

I'm sure there will be plenty of gnashing from the players about being a yard out and suffering too much (ie just missing the right spot on the green etc) but this is a truly tough test and it should be too as in recent years players have been mangling some courses due to the distances they hit - the winner will be the most consistent, calm and accurate player this week and it's unlikely to benefit anyone who sprays it about - very good scramblers may save themselves a few shots but expect some high scores

I guess the winner will be the one who hits the ball well, straight and fairly long, probably isn't the best in GIR as hard to keep the ball on the greens here (maybe has a higher ball flight), manages to sink a few outrageous putts or chip in a few times as well as being a good lag putter and gets some luck - this usually brings the best players to the fore although there may be the odd unknown name up there early on

Westwood, Donald and Kaymer are playing together for the opening two rounds which should be interesting - the bookies generally have about 11 players under 33/1 so it looks open from that point of view - there are some very inform players (with recent wins) alongside the usual suspects bar Tiger and a bunch of seeming no-hopers but recent major winners have been decent prices remember! 

steve STRICKER > class act, recent winner, great stats.. can't really find a reason not to back him this week - hasn't got much of a record in majors but has won consistently on tour in the past few yrs and has new found confidence in recent yrs; will give you a good run for your money for sure as he nails so many birdies and has such a good all-round game - the one low stat is driving distance but that wont be too much fo a problem here for him

a few stats >

has made 33 consecutive cuts (best on tour)
10 events this year and 8 top 25s, 4 top 10s, 1 win
this yr, ranked 1 in putting from 5-15'
ranked top 5 in GIR %age for all of under 125,100,75 yds
ranked 1 in approaches from 50-125 yds
ranked 1 in par 4 performance
ranked 3 in scrambling
ranked 10 in total putting
ranked 5 in putting (strokes gained)
ranked 4 in birdie average
ranked 1 in actual scoring avg
ranked 2 in birdie conversion
ranked 4 in allround ranking
ranked 3 in scrambling from the rough

ok..boring I know but impressive to say the least and ideal for here, has made the top 10 in 24 of last 51 events which is incredibly consistent (last 3yrs) and is only player to make the playoffs on tour each of the 4 yrs and make every cut - should be a good shout for top 10 minimum and a very good call for winning here - stats dont mean much in majors for sure but he was 11th at Augusta and is coming off a win at the Memorial last time out

currently 25/1 which looks value to me (26 Betfair) for SS who is accurate, scrambles well, putts great and can make birdies; cool and calm and looks a decent bet

dustin JOHNSON > due some luck in this I guess after his exploits previously, shooting an 82 last yr in the final round and still finished 8th - followed that with 14th in the Open and 5th at the US PGA where he suffered again on the final day with a 2 shot penalty

stats wise in contrast to Stricker he is long off the tee of course but not great at scrambling or putting this yr - was 20th then 4th last 2 events which is a good form line for me and he seems to be focused on the bigger events now - hard to believe he has only been on tour for 3 yrs plus as he has won 4 times already and seems to have been about a while.. beat kaymer handsomely in the ryder cup which impressed me.. backed him a fair bit and think he could go well again here as he has ability galore and should have learned a lot from previous events

available at 30/1 currently (27 Betfair)

> hits it miles and has generally good all-round game although could sink a few more short putts perhaps - has improved leaps and bounds this yr and has posted his first tour win too - has debuted well and seems to have a bit of bottle as well.. has cracked the world top 50 now and is a rising star it seems... might be big ask to do well here although made top 25 at the masters - has notched 5 top10s in 10 made cuts this yr..

100/1 isnt over generous but he skipped last wk in order to prepare for this wk as he had already qualified so hope he is duly focused

> young superstar in the making... already picked up two euro tour wins since turning pro last yr at 17! has 4 top 10s in last 5 events... finished in top 15 at the Open in 2009 at 16 yrs of age! made cut at the masters last yr too and has already got a good looking golf CV; not too worried about his lack of length as he is so good at hittin ggreens and can putt - may well defy logic and do well here as this kid is the real deal - only 70/1 (80 Betfair) which is testament to his ability

> nice longshot for me having backed him a bit recently - currently 299 with Unibet which makes the 80/1 with Stan James a bit stingy eh... has made last 6 cuts and finished 19th 10th 7th so form line is very promising.. outsider for sure but could go well as he can putt well... couple of decent top 5s at the barclays in last two yrs and also played well at the tour championship last yr..

stats are ok but I've always thought he could go on and do better and maybe there is a big performance waiting to happen.. hopefully so at these odds!

> still striving to find the form of 2008 when he was so good cuminating in a terrific performance thru the playoffs - has been all over the show this yr but was showing good signs at the heritage when he opened up 66 68; was 3rd last wk which was his best result in ages and a good nudge towards this week - such a good long iron game and could well find some nice spots on these greens and give himself a chance

maybe a bit of a lottery but he could either be top 5 or miss the cut by a mile.. 125/1 is worth a punt for me (113 Betfair

1 comment:

  1. did well with them making the cut but no joy otherwise as mcilroy walked this event