US Open 2020: Five tips for the opening round three-balls

Golfer Martin Kaymer
Pinehurst champion Martin Kaymer looks a contender around Winged Foot

Paul Krishnamurty identifies his best five bets from the three-ball coupon for the opening round at Winged Foot...

"Schwab played college golf in the States, has made a promising start on the PGA Tour and showed he's not afraid of elite company when fourth on his WGC debut."

Back Matthias Schwab 3u @ 2.8815/8

Kaymer a solid banker to start the day

Back Martin Kaymer 5u @ 2.111/10 (vs Augunstein, Walker) (Starts 12.23)

Given the widely reported brutality of the rough, this U.S. Open may well prove to be the toughest event of 2020. Grinding, par, rescue golf is a specialism and clues towards it may be found in two recent events. The BMW Championship and Andalucia Masters.

The latter at Valderrama was won on two over par by John Catlin with the selection only beaten by a shot. Kaymer - a dual major winner including this one at Pinehurst - was previously third in the UK Championship.

That sets a formidable standard against two opponents of whom nothing much is expected. Jimmy Walker has been typically inaccurate in failing to make a top-60 since the resumption. Amateur John Augunstein may very well turn out to be a fine player but a course of this nature is a real baptism of fire.

Thomas a rock-solid contender on this course

Back Justin Thomas 3u @ 2.466/4 (vs Woods, Moriwaka) (Starts 13.07)

The quality of this group is demonstrated by Tiger Woods definitely starting outsider of three, and hard to make a case for. Both Thomas and Moriwaka will be hard to keep out of the places.

They're hard to split but JT's enthusiastic comments about Winged Foot earn him the nod. His power advantage over Moriwaka might also make an important difference.

Rose good value as outsider of three

Back Justin Rose 2u @ 3.711/4 (vs McIlroy, Scott) (Starts 13.07)

More often than not, Rory McIlroy is underpriced and that particularly applies around tough courses. In contrast the outsider of three has the best tournament record. Rose won a US Open with penal rough at Merion and has the perfect game and temperament for this major.

Whilst not in peak form since resumption, he made the top-ten at the PGA and closed well at the Northern Trust for a top-25. That is superior to Scott, who hasn't made any top-20s since winning at Riviera in February.

Kim looks reliable in weak group

Back Si Woo Kim 4u @ 2.47/5 (vs Cabrera-Bello, Palmer) (Starts 17.43)

This group may not take much winning. RCB's game is totally uncompetitive at the moment and whilst Palmer is playing well enough, he's only ever made two from seven US Open cuts.

Former Sawgrass winner Kim looks the most solid. He comes in off ten straight cuts, with good stats for tee to green and scrambling - just the ticket for Winged Foot.

Schwab set for strong debut

Back Matthias Schwab 3u @ 2.8815/8 (vs Noren, Hammer) (Starts 19.00)

Finally this is a good way to get onside a player I like a lot, fancy to perform well on debut without contending. Again, Schwab's strengths are ball-striking and scrambling. He played college golf in the States, has made a promising start on the PGA Tour and showed he's not afraid of elite company when fourth on his WGC debut.

Alex Noren is respected and the better recent numbers, driven by excellence on and around the greens. However his long game hasn't been great - only once ranking top-30 for strokes gained: tee to green since lockdown. Cole Hammer has a big amateur reputation but his recent record doesn't convince at this level.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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