As a company who delights in the eponymous power of the Paddy, we’re delighted to see that the US Golf Association have seen fit to stage the 2017 US Open in the wonderfully named – but sadly lacking in potato fields – Erin Hills course. This year’s competitors will need all the Luck of the Irish – and similar clichés – if they are to succeed on this challenging site, with Dustin Johnson aiming to retain his 2016 crown in the face of some tough opposition.
Here’s how our traders see things shaping up…
US Open form figures since 2009: 40-8-23-MC-55-4-2-1
Despite some indifferent form in the buildup to Erin Hills and a seeming lack of interest in the recent Memorial Tournament, Johnson warrants serious consideration as the clear favourite. Recent finishes of 12th and 13th at courses that don’t suit his style indicate that there are no lasting consequences of a back injury that forced him to withdraw from the Masters, and he cuts a well-rested figure.
Johnson will have played the Wisconsin course on a number of occasions as part of his preparation, and its structure is certain to be advantageous to him. Erin Hills can be stretched to almost 7,800 yards, meaning that DJ’s total driving stats (Accuracy & Distance) may well put him head and shoulders above his opponents – he currently leads he Tour in Strokes Gained off the Tee.
With a Par 72 layout waiting for the players for the first time since Pebble Beach in 1992, there are four Par 5s on the property. DJ lies 2nd in Par 5 Scoring Average with a figure of 4.49. With four opportunities here, he can build his score on the Par 5 and then play more patient golf on the tougher stretches of the course. Erin Hills’ wide fairways mean that it can also be classed as a second-shot golf course, with collection areas on most of the fairways). DJ lies 12th on the Tour in Strokes Gained Approach.
The layout suits him, his stats correlate well with the course and he is the World Number 1. He is going to take an awful lot of beating this week.
US Open form figures since 2012: 21-MC-17-1-37
“The Phenom” is once again beginning to show his Phenom-like powers. He is 1st on Tour in Strokes Gained Approach, which links in well with the second-shot golf course theory. There have been concerns his driver was becoming far too erratic, but he drove it beautifully at Colonial where he finished T-2. Spieth was ranked in the Top 20 in Strokes Gained off the Tee at the recent Memorial Tournament en route to a T-13.
He has played down the similarities between Erin Hills and Chambers Bay, where he was champion in 2015. But it’s hard not to see some similarities, namely the two course’s wide generous fairways, as well as the shaved areas around the green and the huge bunker complexes. With a little more room off the tee, Spieth’s chances improve dramatically.
Additonally, he is arguably the best 15-25 feet putter the game has known, and any potential US Open winner will need to hole these length putts for par. As Carly Simon once crooned, Nobody Does it Better.
All of the above, combined with a renowned testicular fortitude for the big occasions, make Spieth a dangerous second favourite.
US Open form figures since 2009: 10-MC-1-MC-41-23-9-MC
We haven’t seen “Rors” since the Players Championship, where his rib injury seemed to flare up again during the first round. As US Open champion in 2011 – where he blitzed the field on a rain-softened course – McIlroy has previous, but there would have been more confidence in his chances had he not arrived here off the back of some iffy preparation (similar to when he arrived at Augusta). McIlroy has been prepping his game in Quinto De Lago in the past week, but a holiday resort course in Portugal is a far cry from Erin Hills.
The length of the course and the forecast rain means his driving becomes more of a potent weapon, but there are concerns about his play around the greens. Given his lack of match sharpness and the fact that this is the toughest tournament of the year on a player’s short game, there must be some doubt about his credentials.
As a result, we expect some competitive pricing all week long.
US Open form figures since 2009: 2-59-2-4-9-8
J-Day has a very strong record when it comes to the US Open, but there are some conflicting views between the traders about his chances. Given the second-shot course theory regarding Erin Hills, Day could well struggle this week in the opinion of some of our experts.
He ranks 163rd on Tour in Strokes Gained Approach, and is losing 0.3 shots per round to the field. This can be seen as a huge negative, as can his current ranking of 52nd in Strokes Gained off the Tee. The fairways are generous but he has been wild off the tee for quite some time, meaning that all it needs is one wayward drive into the fescue rough and we may then see some big numbers coming into play.
One positive, however, is that he is ranked 1st on Tour in Strokes Gained around the Green, which could help negate the somewhat mediocre tee-to-green game. However, it’s not unrealistic to suggest that this will catch up with him as the week goes on.
US Open form figures since 2009: MC-8-39-15-59-1-MC-37
Martin Kaymer is a player that catches the eye when running through prices. He was the USPGA Champion at Whistling Straits in 2010 (T-12 in 2015), a course which correlates very well with Erin Hills. People who have been practicing there over the past 10 days or so have gone so far as to describe it as Whistling Straits’ “Big Brother”.
Similar to Pinehurst No.2, scene of Kaymer’s 8-stroke victory in 2014, the green areas are shaved and there are opportunities to putt from most areas around the greens.
When the wedges can stay in the bag closer to the hole, Kaymer’s chances increase greatly.
On top of that, his 16th-place at Augusta in April can almost be classed as a Top 5 given his struggles with the course, meaning his form is relatively solid.
We are aiming to be under the market on “Das Machine”, and feel he comes here with a big chance.
US Open form figures since 2009: MC-MC-23
This will be only An’s fourth US Open start, but the 2009 US Amateur Champ has a game well suited to the tests of Erin Hills.
He has thus far had a very strong year on the PGA Tour, notching 5th at The Byron Nelson, 6th at the Phoenix Open and 8th at the Wells Fargo, while his Tee-to-Green stats also catch the eye:
- Ranked 15th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green
- Ranked 15th in Strokes Gained Approach
- Ranked 21st in Strokes Gained Approach
These are elite-level ball striking statistics and we are subsequently under the market. An is also worth a mention in the Top Asian market, where Hideki Matsuyama is a vulnerable favourite.