All US Open venues claim their share of big-name victims and the gruelling Chambers Bay will be no exception. Paul Krishnamurty predicts the following five stars will struggle and ways to oppose each of them in Betfair's wide array of speciality markets...
"Links golf tends to favour older, experienced players and Spieth's record on such layouts to date in the Open Championship is ordinary at best. Indeed beyond Augusta, he's yet to make a top-ten in any other major."
Lay Jordan Spieth for a top-five finish @ 3.55/2
It is almost sacrilege to question the claims of the new golfing God, and you won't find any attempt to pick holes in his achievement, ability or potential here. Nevertheless, the nature of golf means even the best fail sometimes and the Masters champion arrives carrying a huge weight of expectation, facing a challenge of which he has very limited experience.
As I argue here, links golf tends to favour older, experienced players and Spieth's record on such layouts to date in the Open Championship is ordinary at best. Indeed beyond Augusta, he's yet to make a top-10 in any other major.
On all recent form, Spieth may win and will likely contend but everyone has their price. In a field of 150, where at least 15 players have rock-solid claims, I'm happy to lay what equates to a 28% chance in the top-five market.
Back Rickie Fowler to beat Dustin Johnson in Tournament Matchbet @ 1.9520/21
Likewise, there is a wall of money for Dustin Johnson at 24.023/1 to win his first major and there are some very powerful arguments to support his case. The layout suits bombers, he's got a good links record and at other similar courses like Whistling Bay, and is widely regarded as a major champion-in-waiting. Indeed I backed him for the USPGA back in January.
However I remain unconvinced by his short game, which could well be the key to success this weekend. In the past, Dustin has struggled around the greens on firm and fast courses. There are several other players around the same odds who are better suited to such conditions.
Rickie Fowler is most certainly among them. The most consistent performer in last year's majors has already finished 12th at the Masters and won the Players Championship this term, despite an otherwise poor run. Links specialist Fowler will win at least one Open Championship for sure and will never get a better chance to win this major.
Back Hideki Matsuyama to beat Adam Scott in Tournament Matchbet @ 1.910/11
Historically, Adam Scott was another with issues in these sort of conditions, who generally saved his best for courses with soft, receptive greens, rather than firm and fast. His record on all types of layout improved when he switched to the long putter, but the former Masters champion has really struggled to find his range on the greens since experimenting with a conventional stick. He hasn't made a top-20 since Doral three months ago, and his US Open record is poor, with last year's ninth place his only top-ten.
While Scott may be declining, 23 year-old Matsuyama goes from strength to strength. Considering how quickly the Japanese star has settled in to PGA Tour life, he must be seen as a certain future major winner who could even rival Spieth. He's only finished worse than 23rd once all season, with a handful of top-fives including last time and at the Masters. Indeed three top-tens from his first eight professional majors represents superb progress.
Lay Tiger Woods to make the cut @ 2.186/5
At his peak, Tiger would have been nailed on around this layout but only his most loyal supporters can expect anything this week. There were of course some glimpses of the old magic at Augusta and perhaps a major will inspire something, but the recent evidence is not promising.
Woods has made both cuts since at Sawgrass and the Memorial before enduring miserable weekends, finish near-last in 69th at the former, then stone last, eight shots adrift at the latter. Most worryingly for this test, his scrambling was terrible, recovering less than 50% of the time in both events. If that persists, he'll be in big trouble right from the start at Chambers Bay.
Lay Bubba Watson to make the cut @ 1.331/3
Rather like Dustin, there is a temptation to think Bubba could overpower Chambers Bay but his wider links record leaves much to be desired. He's never made the top-20 in six Opens and I wonder whether he'll have the patience for this test.
The key to betting on Bubba is understanding his inconsistency. On courses that suit him, demonstrated for example by course records at Augusta, Torrey Pines or Scottsdale, he's a rock-solid value bet in the win market. Elsewhere, he can easily implode. He's missed three of his last six US Open cuts, never bettering 18th place, so is worth taking on at short odds-on to make the weekend.