Find Me a 100 Winner: Three outsider picks and five alternatives for the US Open

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A major championship means luxury each-way terms and vastly inflated odds on the exchange. Here's Paul Krishnamurty's best three picks among the outsiders...

"Winner of the English Championship...Sullivan ranked first for strokes gained: tee to green for three straight events...I've always believed he was at his best on a course that rewards good driving."

Back Andy Sullivan 0.5u @ [850.0]

This particular U.S. Open fills me with confidence and that isn't something I say often about majors nowadays. It has become harder and harder to find outsiders who can compete at this level, but I reckon Winged Foot could be different.

Toughest major set-up in many years expected

Of course the market leaders are extremely formidable and the winner will likely come from that group. However their chance is less obvious in brutal, grinding conditions, where multiple mistakes are inevitable for all.

Winged Foot reminds me of the era when the US Open test was always brutal. The 2006 renewal produced one of the great finishes, and in-play betting heats. There is a consensus that the rough is ultra-penal and par will be a cracking score.

The traditional, 'classic' US Open challenge places a big premium on three disciplines. Tee-to-green accuracy, scrambling well and minimising bogeys. In his must-read tournament preview, Steve Rawlings explains how the first two - represented by the greens in regulation and scrambling stats - are particularly pivotal in this major.

Back Kevin Kisner 0.5u @ [180.0]
Back Kevin Kisner for a Top-10 Finish 1.5u @ [11.0]

There are ten places up for grabs in the each-way market this week and the first selection makes plenty of appeal at 80/1, but he qualifies for this column by virtue of trading bigger on the win only exchange. Either strategy makes sense.

Scrapper Kisner set to thrive

I like everything about Kisner this week. A true scrapper with the resilience for this challenge and pedigree. He keeps turning up at big odds on the big stages.

Kisner has finished top-25 in all four majors now, challenging strongly throughout the entire 2017 PGA and 2018 Open, and top-20 in four of the last five PGAs. His best US Open effort was 12th in 2016, on a tough Chambers Bay layout that emphasised good scrambling.

More impressive was his win in the 2019 World Matchplay, following on from runner-up the previous year. That Austin layout is a bombers' paradise and far from ideal for this short-hitter. He's also been runner-up in elite company at the WGC-Champions and Players Championship.

Form is excellent with seven top-25s from his last eight starts, including a trio of top-four finishes. Among these, he ranks seventh for scrambling and 12th for driving accuracy over the past year.

Tough scoring should play to Kokrak strengths

Back Jason Kokrak 0.5u @ [280.0]
Place order to lay 5u @ [14.0]
Back Jason Kokrak for a Top-10 Finish 1u @ [14.0]

The most compelling recent form guide is the BMW Championship which produced a test almost as gruelling as the one expected this week. Jason Kokrak was only beaten four shots in sixth place and this tougher challenge might be just the ticket.

Kokrak is not a player I can recall backing before, primarily due to his failure to win at PGA Tour level. Obviously that doesn't bode well for a major but to be honest, the win part of these bets is highly speculative in such company. Each-way at 125/1 with ten places on offer could however represent value, or alternatively this win and place combo.

His long game is in cracking order and looks a great fit for Winged Foot. Since the resumption he's 12th among these for strokes gained: off the tee and ninth for strokes gained: tee to green. 32nd for scrambling is also respectable and he comes in off three straight top-15 finishes in good company.

Back Andy Sullivan 0.5u @ [850.0]
Place order to lay 5u @ [50.0]
Place order to lay 10u @ [10.0]

Back Andy Sullivan for a Top-20 Finish 1u @ [11.0]

This major often sees big outsiders make the places. For example over the past decade Erik Compton, Greg Havret, John Peterson would all have started out at the maximum odds of [1000.0]. Here's one at similarly dismissive odds who is many times superior.

Granted, the European Tour is an inferior level to the PGA Tour, but the standard is still world class. On his recent form, I cannot justify anything like this odds. Or even half.

Winner of the English Championship among three top-tens on home soil, Sullivan ranked first for strokes gained: tee to green for three straight events. A missed cut at Valderrama is entirely forgivable.

I've always believed Sullivan was at his best on a course that rewards good driving. This one does. He is also top-ranked for scrambling on the Euro Tour among these. He made the top-25 on his second and most recent U.S. Open attempt in 2016 at Oakmont - reckoned by many to be the venue that correlates best with Winged Foot.

Five alternatives to consider

The following alternatives also made the shortlist. Harris English ticks all the right stats boxes and sneaks into our price range at [100.0]. Billy Horschel had a great US Open at Merion and should go well at odds of [210.0].

First reserve is Byeong Hun An [250.0]. He's in solid form, finishing 12th at both the BMW and WGC-St Jude, plus a respectable 22nd in the PGA. His scrambling excellence will be invaluable here and perhaps, given the difficulty of the greens, his putting less of a handicap. Note his best result of 2020 came on a tough set-up when fourth in the Honda Classic.

Chez Reavie [270.0] gave us a fantastic run at huge odds when third last year. That was his second decent US Open and, given his accuracy and scrambling skills, could well build up a consistent record in this toughest of majors.

If Cameron Smith had better recent numbers, especially off the tee, he would have likely made it at [420.0]. I like his grinding qualities and he's twice finished top-five in tough majors including this one at Chambers Bay.


Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

2020: -62.5 units
2019: +70.5 units

Paul Krishnamurty,

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