The two biggest stars in American golf since the early 1990s are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Neither will play in this week’s 117th U.S. Open, as Woods is sidelined following another back surgery and Lefty has chosen to attend his daughter’s graduation from high school on Thursday.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
Thus the biggest storyline this week is likely the unknown factor of the golf course as Erin Hills, located about 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, hosts a PGA Tour event for the first time. Typical U.S. Open courses have narrow fairways and incredibly penal rough. Erin Hills is more like a British Open track as it’s a links-type course with massive fairways.
The rough isn’t the thick spinach that you see on most American courses but fescue. This public course’s main defenses are a length of nearly 7,700 yards, the second-longest ever for a U.S. Open course, tough greens and potential wind. No one is quite sure what to expect just like in 2015 when another links course, Chambers Bay outside Seattle, hosted the U.S. Open for the first time.
It’s difficult to pick a winner of a PGA Tour event against a field that’s usually 156 players. One great thing about the majors like the U.S. Open is the abundance of props as alternatives to simply choosing a winner. For example, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson is the +750 overall favorite. He won last year at Oakmont – a course completely different from Erin Hills – for the first major title of his career and has taken off since. No player has repeated at the U.S. Open since Curtis Strange in the late 1980s.
You can also get Johnson, who missed the Masters in April due to injury, and 2015 champion Jordan Spieth at +450 vs. the field (-750). Those two, along with Germany’s Martin Kaymer, the 2014 winner, will play in the same threesome the first two days. There’s a prop on best finish among former winners, 11 of them in the field, with DJ at +200, and McIlroy at +330 and Spieth at +350. The long shot there is Angel Cabrera (+4000).
There is also group betting, with the marquee one being Group A of Johnson (+180), McIlroy (+375), Spieth (+375), Jason Day (+375) and Jon Rahm (+650). Will there be a playoff? That’s yes-only at +300. The U.S. Open is the only one of the four majors to feature an 18-hole Monday playoff. That hasn’t happened since Woods, playing on a broken leg, won that 2008 title in 19 holes over Rocco Mediate. That remains Tiger’s last major title.
How about a wire-to-wire winner? That’s +1400. Kaymer was the last to accomplish that. A wire-to-wire winner has happened only seven times.