For his weekly outsiders trading column, Paul Krishnamurty argues the case for two prolific European Tour winners who should love the links set-up at this year's US Open...
"Grace could plausibly go on to emulate Goosen in the fullness of time and has similar pedigree for links golf, having won the Dunhill Links and finishing second in a Scottish Open."
It is always tempting to look down the odds at a major championship and emerge with a huge list of classy players at what appear to be ridiculously big odds. For this year's US Open, however, I would be wary of backing too many outsiders or attempting very ambitious lay targets. In fact, if anything the market leaders look the best value. For my money, a firm, fast links course with wide fairways and little wind will always produce a world-class winner.
Of course many within our triple-figure price range fit that description, but are out of form - think links masters and US Open champions Graeme McDowell and Ernie Els at 180.0179/1 and 250.0249/1 respectively. Equally there are plenty who will in the fullness of time prove themselves to be world-class, but are yet to do the business in the biggest tournaments. While the first pair came in for consideration, my two selections very much fit the latter definition.
During the last three decades, every world-class South African has won a major besides one exception - Tim Clark finished runner-up in a Masters, third in both the US Open and USPGA, and won the 'Fifth Major' at Sawgrass. Of the current crop, Branden Grace is by far the likeliest to break through and well worth following in majors whilst still available around 170.0169/1.
The 27-year-old, prolific already with six European Tour titles, has a similar profile to dual US Open champion Retief Goosen. He was a barely considered 200/1 chance when winning at Southern Hills in 2001, yet was well known in Europe as a class act, and quickly went on to confirm his new status.
Grace could plausibly go on to emulate Goosen in the fullness of time and has similar pedigree for links golf, having won the Dunhill Links and finishing second in a Scottish Open. Moreover Grace is finding his feet in the States, finishing seventh at another links in The Heritage. He's won an elite event this season at the wind-exposed Qatar Masters and warmed up nicely with 11th at Wentworth, before taking what could prove a well-timed three-week break to prepare.
In an attempt to find another historical parallel with a previous US Open champion, check out the parallels between the aforementioned McDowell and Alex Noren. When G-Mac won his US Open at Pebble Beach Links, he did so off the back of a resounding win a fortnight earlier in Europe. Then as now, winning European Tour form was almost disregarded by a market obsessed with the PGA Tour, despite the course differing from the US norm.
Regarded as the equal of reigning US Open champion Martin Kaymer when they broke through around the same time, Noren has always been a streaky player - superb when hot, a serial cut-misser when struggling. He is clearly flying and couldn't have done any more than win easily on another exposed links in the Nordea Masters last time. It certainly wasn't the form of a 210.0209/1 chance and also convinced Dan Geraghty, who makes Noren his standout each-way pick.
The Swede also ticks plenty of boxes beyond recent form. He loves links golf and is a better player than when ninth in the 2012 Open. Critically for this week's test, he's a great scrambler, ranking first over the past 12 months on the Euro stats among players to have played more than 30 rounds. He's had a week off to digest that win and prepare for this complex challenge.
The trading advice is to stake 4.5 units in total, then place lay orders on both players at 16.015/1 and 3.02/1 with a view towards banking a profit in-running. If either hits the first target, we'll be guaranteed to at least quadruple our money, whilst retaining substantial extra positions.
Back Branden Grace 2.5u @ 160.0159/1
Back Alex Noren 2u @ 210.0209/1
Place order to lay both players 18u @ 16.015/1
Place order to lay both players 20u @ 3.02/1
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