The cream rises to the top at Oakmont, where a certain Jack Nicklaus won his first ever event beating Arnold Palmer in a playoff in 1962. Steve thinks top-class players can dominate again in Pennsylvania and he fancies Jason Day is the best-equipped to finish the week on top. Read his early thoughts on next year's US Open here...
"The cream tends to rise to the top at Oakmont and we probably need to be concentrating on those towards the head of the market."
Oakmont Country Club
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If history is anything to go by, we could be in for something of a treat in June when the US Open returns to Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. No course has staged the event more than Oakmont and there have been some cracking renewals and a few very famous winners.
Ben Hogan, Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus and Ernie Els have all won the US Open at Oakmont and legends of the game, Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead, both won a PGA Championship here. And just for good measure, Bobby Jones won the US Amateur at Oakmont in 1925.
The only course to be designed by Henry Fownes, Oakmont is long with no water and very few trees. Its defence is its length and its severely sloping greens. It's a truly difficult test and the fact that course winners are nearly always straight out of the top drawer is no coincidence.
Angel Cabrera won the last US Open here, in 2007, and he's the least successful winner at Oakmont since Sam Park Jr won his only major championship here in 1935, but Tiger Woods and Jim Fuyrk were tied for second. The cream tends to rise to the top at Oakmont and we probably need to be concentrating on those towards the head of the market.
Rory McIlroy is the current favourite but he's the one I least fancy. He came from off the pace to finish 10th in his first US Open in 2009, he finished fast to claim ninth at Chambers Bay last year and he smashed records when he won the 2011 renewal, but they're by some distance his best event efforts and he's not my idea of a US Open specialist.
Congressional was absolutely soaked in 2011 and the event just wasn't as tough as a standard US Open. Rory's winning total was 16-under-par at rain-softened Congressional. Cabrera won at Oakmont in 2007 with a winning score of five-over-par. Rory is a tremendous driver but as I highlighted in my Early Look at the US Masters, he's not always the greatest putter and I can see these catching him out.
Rocco Mediate described the putting surfaces as "almost impossible". USGA Director, Mike Davis, pronounced them as the "scariest in golf". Johnny Miller said that Oakmont's greens are "the greatest set of greens for testing a player's ability to putt" and Arnold Palmer once remarked that "You can hit 72 greens (in regulation) in the Open at Oakmont and not come close to winning." It just doesn't seem an ideal track for Rory.
Defending champ Jordan Spieth is a tremendous putter (especially from distance) but I do wonder whether his slight lack of length is enough of a hindrance. I know he won at monstrously long Chambers Bay in 2015 and Augusta is a track that usually favours the big hitters but, at the prices available, it's enough of a negative to have me looking elsewhere and the one I like is the USPGA champion, Jason Day.
The Aussie superstar's only weakness is driving accuracy and he certainly doesn't want to be straying from the fairways with any sort of frequency but at an industry-best 12/1 with the Sportsbook, he looks the one to be on right now. His US Open form figures read an impressive 2-59-2-4-9 and if he's in form come June, he'll take some beating on a course that should really suit his game.
Suggested Early Value
I'll be back soon with my early take on the Open Championship.
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