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Oakmont and Open Will Be a Challenge

Posted by Webster Washington on 6/15/2016 4:49:55 AM

The church-pew sand traps and slanting greens and fairways of Oakmont Country Club await to challenge the top players in the world in this week's U.S. Open. "Courses are either fun, great or hard," Phil Mickelson said. "There's nothing fun about Oakmont. There's nothing great about Oakmont. But it's extremely hard. It's probably the hardest course I've ever played." Who will conquer the course and the field? The number of first-time winners in tournaments this year makes that a tough question. And in the first major this year, Danny Willett came from nowhere to win the Masters when Jordan Spieth faltered.

The Favorites

But the US PGA latest betting has these guys as favorites to win the U.S. Open:

JASON DAY is clearly the man to beat. After a fourth place in last year's Open and a win in the PGA, he has come back this year to win two tournaments and a match play to assume the No. 1 position in the world rankings. His last tourney victory was just a month ago in The Players Championship. Consider this: Day has won three of his last 11 starts, and stretching back to last year, has won seven of his last 18. A battler who knows how to scramble and make key putts, Day gets the nod as the favorite.

JORDAN SPIETH seems to have finally shrugged off his troublesome finish in the Masters. He got over that nightmare by winning the Dean & Deluca Invitational a couple of weeks ago at Colonial Country Club in Texas. His record in majors has been unquestioned, having finished fourth or better in his last five. Spieth will be itching to redeem himself from the Masters collapse, and if he is up to his game, he'll be in the hunt on Sunday.

RORY McILROY has had a bit of trouble bouncing back and forth from the European tour to the States. But he got the win he needed in the Irish Open a month ago, then came back to America and placed fourth in the Memorial at Muirfield. No. 1 for 95 weeks once upon a time, McIlroy really wants to be back on top. If he masters his putting game, he will.

The Overvalued

DUSTIN JOHNSON was in the top 10 in three majors last year, and he was fourth in this year's Masters. Two top fives in the last two weeks also make him a perennial contender. That's all well and good when it comes to making a good living for the family. But he just seems to have trouble closing. He hasn't won since 2014, and he's never won a major. A three putt on the last green took him out of the Open last year. You get the idea that if Dustin can accomplish a breakthrough major, he'll be among the best.

PHIL MICKELSON just keeps hanging around. Once the only player who could be considered a rival to Tiger Woods, Phil is 45 now, and waning. But he closed nicely last week to tie for second in the St. Jude. That gave a lot of his fans hope and make him fourth in the US PGA latest betting. But he's missed four cuts this year, including the Masters. The fact that Lefty has come so close without winning this tournament is far in the past. He simply doesn't have the consistency and stamina to put together four great rounds anymore.

The Course

The challenging layout at Oakmont will lead to frustration for most players. That means that the tournament favors a player who has the mental stuff to grind it out. Day is at +650 in the US PGA latest betting to win the U.S. Open. That's a fair price, because he is the best player out there right now. But looking at the U.S. Open futures odds, Jordan Spieth, at 9-1, offers even more value. He's young, but I don't see him as a player to cough up a hairball in another major championship. In head-to-head matchups, Spieth with a plus figure against McIlroy looks good, too. Always look for a breakthrough player; I'll cover those possibles later. And be sure to take advantage of live betting. With plenty of TV coverage and a comfortable pace, golf can be a fun sport to follow along and move money among players.

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