12:05 - June 19, 2022
The world number one, Scottie Scheffler, was matched at a low of just 2.166/5 yesterday when he eagled the par five 8th in round three of the US Open to take a two-stroke lead over the back peddling trio of Collin Morikawa, Aaron Wise and Patrick Rodgers, but in no time at all it was all change again.
Scheffler parred the ninth and 10th holes but played holes 11 through 14 in five-over-par! Will Zalatoris posted the best round of the day - a three-under-par 67 - to post the clubhouse lead at four-under-par but on a topsy-turvy moving day, two players passed him while he sat in the clubhouse.
Matt Fitzpatrick was matched at a low of 3.412/5 as he birdied 14, 15 and 17 to take the lead but a bogey at 18 saw him slip back to -4 and Jon Rahm hit 2.89/5 when he got to -5 after birdies at the same three holes that Fitzpatrick had picked up on.
The defending champ, Rahm, looked like heading into day four with the lead and his drive on 18 looked good in the air but he found sand to the left of the fairway, got too greedy with his second shot and left it in the bunker, and it all led to a double-bogey six.
Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 11:55.
Matthew Fitzpatrick -4 4.3100/30
Will Zalatoris -4 5.04/1
Jon Rahm -3 5.59/2
Scottie Scheffler -2 7.87/1
Keegan Bradley -2 18.5
Adam Hadwin -2 28.027/1
Rory McIlroy -1 13.012/1
Sam Burns -1 23.022/1
Joel Dahmen -1 80.079/1
Level Par and 200.0199/1 bar
The last 23 US Opens have been won by someone within four strokes of the lead with a round to go so the chances are the winner's listed above.
Lee Janzen trailed by five at the Olympic Club in 1998 but he was only tied for fourth and his cause was helped considerably by the poor final round by the late great, Payne Stewart, who had led by three through 54 holes.
Looking back to the 1988 US Open here, the winner, Curtis Strange, was in front with a round to go, leading the man he beat in a playoff, Nick Faldo, by a stroke.
Jon Rahm was trailing by three strokes in a tie for sixth before winning 12 months ago but the seven previous winners sat first or second after 54 holes.
Those stats suggest backing the front two combined might be the way to go but I'm far from convinced.
As highlighted above, the lead changed hands numerous times yesterday and that's without considering the two-time major winner, Collin Morikawa's collapse.
Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris have given themselves a fabulous chance to not only get off the mark on the PGA Tour but to win their first major championships, but they can't be described as value plays this morning.
Fitzpatrick has been quite prolific on the DP World Tour but he's been within three of the lead on the PGA Tour with a round to go five times previously and he's never really looked like winning.
He led the Arnold Palmer Invitational by a stroke in 2019 before finishing second (beaten by two) and that's the best he's fared on a Sunday. Whenever he's been within three strokes of the lead through 54 holes, he's gone backwards on Sunday.
The last occasion Matt was in-contention in the States was at the US PGA Championship last month when he fell from tied second to fifth with a 77 in round four and I'm quite surprised he's the favourite with a round to go.
Will Zalatoris won the TPC Colorado Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour almost two years ago having led by a stroke and it really is only a matter of time before he wins on the PGA Tour.
Zalatoris lost a playoff at the Farmers Insurance Open in January having been tied for the lead after 54 holes and he put up a brave performance at Southern Hills last month when losing in the playoff to Justin Thomas, having sat tied for second alongside Matt with a round to go.
Zalatoris' major record is incredible (also second at the US Masters last year) and if one of the two leaders deserves to be heading the market it's him but the man they all have to beat is the defending champion, Jon Rahm.
His game hasn't been at its absolute best but he was very philosophical about his double-bogey on the 18th yesterday and he's the best equipped to cope with the stresses and strains that await.
Given the front two are yet to win, and that Rahm is vastly more experienced, the 5.59/2 available about the Spaniard on the Betfair Exchange is more than fair and at the time of writing, the Sportsbook are boosting his price to win to 9/2.
Scott Scheffler's wobbly stretch yesterday was a bit disconcerting, and it follows a poor final round performance at the Charles Schwab Challenge last month.
Scheffler led the Charles Schwab by a couple of strokes with a round to go but he never got going on Sunday and it was the first time in his professional career that he failed to make a single birdie or eagle. He eventually lost a playoff to Sam Burns and he's a threat today too.
The stats suggest that Burns has too much on his plate but if he can find a few more fairways, he's a fair price at anything over 20.019/1. We've seen the leaders suffer all week long and someone winning from two or three back is certainly possible.
Rory McIlroy clung on brilliantly yesterday, fighting hard and holing par putts but I'm happy to swerve him given the conditions won't be any easier today and I'm always happy to oppose Keegan Bradley in-contention.
Rory's at his best when conditions aren't too testing, and Bradley is always unconvincing in-the-mix.
The first-round leader, Adam Hadwin, has muscled back into the picture after a poor second round and Joel Dahmen is just about hanging in there after yesterday's four-over-par 74 but the three I like are Rahm, Zalatoris and Burns.
11:35 - June 18, 2022
The weather forecast had suggested the wind would pick up fractionally as day two progressed at Brookline, but it did the opposite and those drawn AM-PM at the 122nd US Open have caught a break.
Those that played on Thursday morning and Friday afternoon averaged 1.6 shots less than their counterparts and most of the notables that are missing out on the weekend, including world number six, Cameron Smith, the number eight, Viktor Hovland, number 15, Tony Finau, the recent Memorial Tournament winner, Billy Horschel, and the fairly well-fancied trio of Shane Lowry, Sungae Im and Tommy Fleetwood, were drawn PM-AM.
Horschel, who's major record is bizarrely horrendous given his unquestioned ability, was the only one listed above to be drawn AM-PM and the likes of Lowry and Fleetwood will feel aggrieved to have been drawn alongside LIV Golf players, who all struggled...
Of the 15 LIV golfers in the field, 12 were drawn on the wrong side, and only four have made it through to the weekend - Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, and Richard Bland. None of them are under-par at halfway.
Those with a suspicious mind may hint at the draw being deliberately weighted and Scotland's Robert MacIntyre, who's not in the field this week, questioned why so much water was being applied to the greens yesterday afternoon during play, when they weren't really in need of it.
The top-seven on the leaderboard were all drawn AM-PM and the world number one, Scottie Scheffler, and pre-event 1000.0 chance, Nick Hardy, are the only two inside the top-12 at halfway to have been drawn PM-AM.
Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 11:30.
Collin Morikawa -5 6.25/1
Joel Dahmen -5 30.029/1
Rory McIlroy -4 5.85/1
Jon Rahm -4 6.411/2
Aaron Wise -4 20.019/1
Hayden Buckley -4 85.084/1
Beau Hossler -4 50.049/1
Scottie Scheffler -3 8.415/2
Brian Harman -3 44.043/1
Patrick Rodgers -3 80.079/1
Matthew NeSmith -3 85.084/1
Nick Hardy -3 140.0139/1
Sam Burns -2 22.021/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick -2 24.023/1
-2 and 36.035/1 bar
Up with the pace is the place to be in a US Open and 25 the last 26 winners sat tied sixth or better at halfway. The odd man out is Webb Simpson who sat tied for 29th and six off the lead ten years ago at the Olympic Club.
We do have to consider that with as many as 23 players within four strokes of the lead, this is an extremely congested leaderboard. That's as crowded as it's been since 1996 when as many as 26 players were within four of Payne Stewart's lead.
A poor weekend saw Stewart finish only 27th and Tom Lehman, who had sat tied for 27th and five back, finished tied for second but the winner, Steve Jones, and Davis Love III, who finished alongside Lehman, had both sat tied fifth and only two off the lead at halfway.
The stats really do suggest we need to be concentrating on the elite group at the very summit but the 1995 result could be an omen for one of my pre-event picks, Sam Burns...
Although he's trailing by a stroke, world number three, Rory McIlroy, is the man the market considers most likely to win and that's not a surprise given his stats at halfway.
Rory ranks third for Greens In Regulation and second for Strokes Gained Putting and if he keeps that up he's sure to figure at the finish.
Yesterday's in-running pick, Collin Morikawa, is tied for the lead with Joel Dahmen and I'm in no rush to abandon the 25-year-old who's already won two majors - the 2020 US PGA Championship and the Open last year.
Morikawa's stats at halfway are solid from tee-to green and his in-contention record is largely very good. He's only ever led through 36 holes once before, at the Workday Charity Open in 2020 and he went on to win and he's gone on to win on three of the last four occasions that he's been within two of the lead at halfway.
He looked completely bombproof when cruising to victory at the Open last July but there is one red flag to be aware of. Morikawa led the Hero World Challenge by five with a round to go in December but after trading at as low as 1.081/12 in-running he shot 76 on Sunday to finish tied for 5th!
The defending champ, Jon Rahm, and Scottie Scheffler are both poised to contend heavily over the weekend and both men look fairly priced but I've gone against the stats and taken a chance on a couple of class acts at big prices to come from off the pace.
The recent US PGA Championship winner, Justin Thomas, and the US Open specialist, Brooks Koepka, trail by six and five respectively on +1 and level par but both have shown they can win from off the pace.
Brooks successfully defended the US Open title in 2018 after shooting 75 in round one. He trailed by six after day one and he was tied fourth and still four adrift at hallway and Thomas won the US PGA Championship last month having trailed by seven with a round to go.
Given the strength of the leaderboard here, Thomas won't be able to win from that far back this week but if he gets his skates on today he can get within touching distance and I thought both were just worth chancing at 65.064/1.
I'll be back tomorrow after the third round.
10:35 - June 17, 2022
Canada's Adam Hadwin leads after round one of the US Open following a four-under-par 66 around the composite Open Course at the Country Club at Brookline but it's the well-supported pre-event favourite, Rory McIlroy, that's firmed up at the head of the market after a superb putting display saw hm post 67.
Here's the 18-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 10:30.
Adam Hadwin -4 32.031/1
Rory McIlroy -3 6.05/1
Joel Dahmen -3 90.089/1
MJ Daffue -3 110.0109/1
David Lingmerth -3 320.0319/1
Callum Tarren -3 240.0239/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick -2 15.5
Dustin Johnson -2 21.020/1
Justin Rose -2 32.031/1
Aaron Wise -2 38.037/1
Brian Harman -2 80.079/1
Matthew NeSmith -2 170.0169/1
Hayden Buckley -2 380.0379/1
Justin Thomas -1 12.011/1
Jon Rahm -1 14.5
Scottie Scheffler Level 19.5
Will Zalatoris -1 26.025/1
Collin Morikawa -1 29.028/1
Max Homa -1 34.033/1
Xander Schauffele Level par 36.035/1
-1 and 50.049/1 bar
It doesn't look like we're going to get much of a draw bias this year. The early wave yesterday averaged 72.51 and the afternoon starters 73.03 but that will probably even out today with the wind predicted to pick up fractionally this afternoon.
As highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, up with the pace is the place to be in a US Open and 21 of the last 23 US Open winners were inside the top-20 after round one.
That's not a great stat for the world number one, Scottie Scheffler, who birdied his last two holes yesterday to post a level par 70 to sit tied for 26th.
As the week wears on and the course dries out, the scoring tends to get tougher. Making up ground becomes increasingly tough and six of the last eight winners were inside the top-eight and within three of the lead after round one.
Rory's very much the man to beat according to the market but he looks short enough to me.
He putted brilliantly yesterday, gaining 4.24 strokes over the field with his flatstick, and he putted nicely last week too when winning in Canada, but can it last?
Add in the fact that he tees off this afternoon and that nobody's won the US Open after winning the week before since 1934, and he starts to look short.
Dustin Johnson putted nicely yesterday too, and he'll need to improve his approach game today, but the former world number one and 2016 US Open winner looks a fair price this morning at in excess of 20.019/1 given he's one of the early starters today.
The two-time major winner is five points bigger than Matthew Fitzpatrick, who's yet to win on the PGA Tour, and that's just wrong.
I backed DJ as he finished up last night at 25.024/1 and I'm also happy to back the reigning Open Champion, Collin Morikawa, this morning at 30.029/1 given his nice start.
The world number seven hasn't been at his best this year but as Justin Ray highlights below, he certainly has a ruthless streak when he gets in contention and although, like Rory, he's an afternoon starter today, from just three back, he looks a big price.
I'll be back in the morning with another look at the halfway stage.
Sam Burns @ 34.033/1
Max Homa @ 70.069/1
Justin Rose @ 100.099/1
Dustin Johnson @ 25.024/1
Collin Morikawa @ 30.029/1
Brooks Koepka @ 65.064/1
Justin Thomas @ 65.064/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
2 pts Louis Oosthuizen @ 130.0129/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
2 pts Louis Oosthuizen - Top 10 finish @ 8.07/1
2 pt Patrick Reed @ 180.0179/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter