US Open 2018: A quintet of three ball bets for day one

12-time PGA Tour champion Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker remains consistent and reliable in his fifties
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Paul Krishnamurty has scoured the three-ball coupon and recommends the five following bets for the opening round at Shinnecock Hills...

"There's absolutely no indication of an Ernie Els resurgence...and Jim Furyk has fared little better...Stricker's form is in a completely different orbit."

Back Steve Stricker 5u @ [2.1]

Mickelson to re-affirm his love for Shinnecock Hills

Back Phil Mickelson 2u @ [3.5] (vs Spieth, McIlroy) (Starts 13.02)

How's this for a marquee group to kick-start our in-play US Open betting? I've been itching to back Phil Mickelson at Shinnecock Hills for the last 14 years and, as explained in our each-way column, believe the course has changed even more to his favour. As outsider of three against two market leaders that I would be happy to take on anyway, this is a must-bet.

Spieth evidently hasn't been anywhere near his best since the Masters, or mostly earlier in the year either. Sure he's a force of nature and might well bring his A-game to another major but there is no form case. Although Rory is much stronger in that regard, he's never been the best wind player. His last two opening rounds at the US Open were 78/77 and he hasn't bettered 71 since winning the title six years ago.

Fowler has his ideal conditions

Back Rickie Fowler 3u @ [2.5] (vs Matsuyama, Leishman) (Starts 13.13)

Strong winds on an exposed course with plenty of room off the tee are probably Rickie Fowler's ideal conditions and he sounds bullish about Shinnecock Hills. I couldn't agree more with Dave Tindall's recommendation to take 35/1 about him being first round leader for the second year running. This opposition is strong but he is fancied to set a high standard.

Either Leishman or Matsuyama could of course perform their own heroics but neither strikes me as particularly obvious this week. The former has yet to make the top-ten in this major and Hideki has been slightly below his best all year.

Stricker easily the best of these veterans

Back Steve Stricker 5u @ [2.1] (vs Els, Furyk) (Starts 18.36)

This group of veterans, involving two former champions and a most consistent US Open performer, provides the nap. There's absolutely no indication of an Ernie Els resurgence in a season that has yielded only five cuts and a best of 30th. Take out a fast finishing seventh back in March and Jim Furyk has fared little better.

Stricker's form is in a completely different orbit. Prolific and consistent on the Champions Tour, he's only finished worse than 32nd once in seven solo PGA Tour outings. He's also recommended for a sixth straight top-30 finish in this major in my finishing positions piece.

Promising Thornberry well worth an outside punt

Back Braden Thornberry 2u @ [4.0] (vs Dufner, Snedeker) (Starts 19.09)

Top amateurs regularly make a big impact in the opening stages of majors and Braden Thornberry evidently fits that description. Currently second ranked in the world, the 21 year-old hit two cracking middle rounds last week when 26th at the St Jude, where he'd already been fourth in 2017.

The youngster is worth a punt at nice odds against two classy, yet far from reliable, opponents. Snedeker has a great record in this major and finally found some form last week, but his long game has been poor. Take out fifth at the Players and Dufner's best result in eight solo starts was just 42nd.

Big-hitting Aussie to make a name for himself

Back Lucas Herbert 4u @ [2.54] (vs Stuard, Hagestad) (Starts 19.20)

Here's another future star fancied to make an immediate impact on his US Open debut. Herbert is arguably the top Australian prospect and already has plenty of experience of firm, exposed courses with fast greens. A mainstay in contention at home last winter, repeatedly starting tournaments strongly, third on the European Tour last month showed he can travel.

Herbert will enjoy a massive advantage off the tee against his principle opponent here and there's nothing in Brian Stuard's form to particularly recommended. Hagestad was low amateur at the 2017 Masters so is obviously capable but hasn't turned pro and his best amateur achievements came a few years ago.


Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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