US Open 2018: Outright and two-ball advice for the final round

PGA Tour golfer Brandt Snedeker
Brandt Snedeker loves the weekend US Open challenge
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A brutal Shinnecock Hills has humiliated the stars and has set up one of the most wide-open final day leaderboards in major history. Paul Krishnamurty marks your card with his best bets...

"Snedeker is one of the world's great scramblers and it was no surprise to see him suddenly improve last night as conditions worsened, shooting an outstanding one under for the back-nine."

Back Brandt Snedeker 4u @ [2.0] (Starts 16.28) (vs Vegas)

If ever an illustration between the different mindset between professional sportsmen and spectators were needed, last night's incredible third round provided it. Exactly like when Shinnecock Hills last hosted the US Open in 2004, player after player lined up to condemn the set-up as unfair. Understandable, given that they had to negotiate virtually impossible greens but it's a pretty safe bet that those of us sat in front of a screen found their travails utterly compelling.

Betting carnage as early starters capitalise on conditions

From a betting perspective, last night was as good as it gets - one of the most exciting Moving Days in major history. I wrote before the round that chasers would need to reach +4 to retain any hope of winning - eight shots off the halfway lead. As it turned out, that total is just one off the pace with a round to go. Numerous early starters saw their odds crash, most notably Daniel Berger and Tony Finau. Both were matched at [1000.0] earlier and now share the joint lead, having traded at single figures.

Don't rule out anyone on +10 or better

If conditions are remotely similar, there may be plenty more of that to come. There are 22 players within five of the lead and the number of plausible winners may even extend beyond that. Berger and Finau went out early and shot 66. If somebody currently on +10 were to do the same, +6 would be a very competitive clubhouse total. It is hard to recall a more wide-open scenario going into the final round of a major.

So how to play it? I've felt throughout that Shinnecock is made for turnarounds, hence my lays of Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. Those positions could be cashed out now for around 4.5 units profit but, while that would take the stress out of the Johnson position, it makes no appeal when so many others can win. [3.75] about the favourite here strikes me as very poor value, especially when he's just shot 77 to blow a four shot lead.

Among the big-guns at the top of the leaderboard, Rose would be my pick. His consistency, reliability and experience of winning a US Open is precisely what will be required. Again, though, [6.2] doesn't scream value on such a competitive leaderboard. Ditto Brooks Koepka at [5.4]. Indeed with the combined odds of the top-six equating to around [1.18], there must be some value amongst the rest.

A quartet of back-to-lays from off the pace

Normally in such a scenario, without already holding a position, I'd recommend a few back to lays. At [29.0], Patrick Reed stands out as having both the major winning temperament and short game magic. Widely fancied pre-tournament Branden Grace is still alive from four back and would shorten markedly from [65.0] with just a small move.

Of the numerous rank outsiders in with a squeak, Jim Furyk and Brian Gay make most appeal at [100.0] and [270.0]. These course conditions are absolutely perfect for them - emphasising the short-game skills that have repeatedly enabled them to defy what could be a ruinous lack of power off the tee, and the ageing process. Ryder Cup captain Furyk has performed brilliantly yet again in his favourite major and has a real chance of an eighth top-five finish and even a second victory.

For readers who aren't already following my in-play book, that quartet are recommended as back to lays. Equally, I wouldn't deter anyone from laying the front-six at [1.18]. Regarding our ongoing position, the final day plan is to try and lay as many more players as possible at short odds.

As laid out below, I'm placing two lay orders on every player besides Johnson, and only one for Rose. This could just be one of those crazy nights of betting where four or five players all trade short. The conditions are certainly in place.

Updated In-Play Book and P/L

Place order to lay all players besides Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose 9u @ [3.0]
Place order to lay all players besides Dustin Johnson 12u @ [1.7]

Dustin Johnson: -26 units
Justin Rose: -7 units
All others: +21 units


Two-balls - A quartet of bets

Back Tim Wilkinson 3u @ [2.8] (Starts 13.54) (vs Fisher)

Backing the outsider is always an appealing strategy in final round two-balls and that particularly applies when conditions create something of a lottery. Here, I'm backing a journeyman who has endured an awful year on the Web.com Tour, purely because of the emphasis on short game. Tim Wilkinson owes his PGA Tour career to short game excellence and ranked an impressive 22nd and 10th for scrambling in 2017 and 2016, despite achieving very little. In contrast, while Fisher is vastly superior on the world stage and from tee to green, scrambling remains his core weakness.

Back Brandt Snedeker 4u @ [2.0] (Starts 16.28) (vs Vegas)

Again, short game is the key to this bet. Snedeker is one of the world's great scramblers and it was no surprise to see him suddenly improve last night as conditions worsened, shooting an outstanding one under for the back-nine. That suitability for the weekend test has yielded eight top-25s in his last US Opens and that is well within range again.

Back Rafa Cabrera Bello 4u @ [2.0] (Starts 16.39) (vs Howell)

Next a repeat of one of yesterday's winners at the same odds. Cabrera-Bello won this by a single shot with 76, as both players struggled in the late conditions. I'm adamant that he is better suited to this challenge than Howell, who has never brought his A-game to a major weekend.

Back Branden Grace 4u @ [1.9] (Starts 18.18) (vs Poulter)

Finally, all the momentum here is with Grace. An obvious title contender, he's stayed the course pretty well after an opening 75 and could yet win from four back. Poulter has largely been outstanding but it seemed like his race was already run towards the end of last night's round.


Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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