The one to be on: Jason Day
I’ll be amazed if, when Jason Day hangs up his clubs, he doesn’t have at least one US Open title to look back on.
The Australian is ultra consistent in this toughest of major tests, his tied eighth at Oakmont 12 months ago preceded by finishes of ninth, fourth and second in his previous three efforts.
In fact, in all of his US Open appearances, he has failed to find the top 10 only once – at Olympic in 2012.
His season has been interrupted for rather obvious reasons. The illness to his mother hugely affected him, as you would expect, but brighter news on that front has gone hand in hand with a return to top class form.
Second at the Byron Nelson, he might have done better at the Memorial too were it not for a first round 75.
Dustin Johnson’s miles clear at the top of this market – Day is double his price – and his US Open credentials are impeccable, with finishes of fourth, second and first in the last three years. But the hottest player on the planet a couple of months ago hasn’t quite shone in recent weeks since returning after injuring his back the night before the Masters.
There are question marks over most of the leading contenders. Spieth’s form is up in the air and McIlroy’s returning from a niggling injury.
That means I’m looking elsewhere, and to the southern hemisphere, for my winner.
The each-way back: Jason Dufner
Perhaps because he lollops around a course like he doesn’t have a care in the world, and perhaps because his putting can sometimes be his downfall, Dufner is a seriously underrated player.
You need real nerve to overcome what happened to him at Memorial in the third round and then re-gather yourself to win the tournament and I think he came out of that week with huge credit.
And yet, I can easily back him at 80/1 at Erin Hills next week.
I definitely want a piece of that action each-way. That’s because the US Open is right up the Dufman’s street.
Yes, it’s the PGA that’s sitting in his trophy cabinet but the American can look back at some serious form in the national championship.
If you take out a missed cut in 2014, Dufner’s US Open record reads tied-eighth, 18th, fourth, fourth.
US Opens require tight play and that suits Dufner, who is 30th in driving accuracy and 18th in strokes gained approaching the green, down the ground.
Even before his breakthrough at Memorial, he had shown glimpses of decent form, including a top 20 at the Byron Nelson and a top 10 at the Zurich Classic.
I can’t be alone in thinking 80/1 for a player of his pedigree is far too big.
The price that’s too big: Alex Noren
The Swede has won five times in 17 starts but he’s on offer at 66/1. When Jason Day, and Dustin Johnson showed that kind of form, the pundits were purring.
Yes, Noren has got to step it up on the highest of stages. His US Open record is awful – just one cut made – and he failed to make the weekend at the Masters in April.
But he found a top 10 at the Players and the astonishing closing 62 that brought him the European Tour’s flagship tournament – the BMW PGA Championship – has surely given him even further confidence.
Now up to eighth in the world rankings, and the proud owner of nine European Tour titles, 66/1 is just far too big for a player of his class.
The bet I can never resist: Lee Westwood
Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.
If that’s the case, I need locking up in a padded cell because I can’t find any good reason not to fling another quid Westwood’s way at 100/1.
Not out of the top 20 in his last four European Tour starts, Westwood’s accuracy off the tee and his supreme talent with an iron in hand should always make him a factor at a US Open – whatever his form.
He can look back on five top 10s in America’s national championship, and should have added to that tally at Oakmont last time out but for self-destructing in the final round.
That kind of result is always possible when Lee gets right to the top of the leaderboard in these biggest of events.
But if you’re focusing on top 20 and nationality betting, it’s simply crazy not to have a player this good in your portfolio.
The massive outsider: Hideto Tanihara
A big hit at the World Match Play, when he finished fourth, the prolific winner on the Japanese Tour backed that up with a podium finish at Wentworth.
Getting a taste for the big events, isn’t 300/1 an interesting price for a player who has cracked the world’s top 50?
Length might be an issue but having made the cut at Oakmont last year, I’ll definitely be looking for him to do at least the same again.
His price on the outrights should make him a tasty proposition when we delve into the specialist markets.
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