US Open

US Open 2024: Two picks from Dave Tindall in his early look at Pinehurst

South African golfer Louis Oosthuizen
Louis Oosthuizen has a stellar US Open record golf tipster Dave Tindall completes his series of antepost tipping previews for 2024's four Majors with a look at the US Open at Pinehurst...

Tournament: The 2024 US Open
When: June 13-16
Where: Pinehurst No. 2
How to watch: All four days live on Sky Sports

Followers of golf since the late 1990s will be familiar with Pinehurst No. 2 and should relish the return to one of the US Open's most distinguised and lauded destinations.

One of nine courses on the property, No. 2 was designed by Donald Ross and is considered one of his real masterpieces.

Payne Stewart provided one of the US Open's iconic moments with his celebration in 1999. A statue of Stewart punching the air after his winning putt to defeat Phil Mickelson stands beside the 18th green.

Michael Campbell edged out Tiger Woods to triumph there in 2005 while, nine years later in 2014, Germany's Martin Kaymer went wire-to-wire, crushing the field by eight shots.

Some stats form that event are below.

2014 US Open

1. Martin Kaymer (DD 7th, DA 9th, GIR 18th, Scr 1st, PA 1st, AA 1st)
2. Erik Compton (DD 40th, DA 45th, GIR 8th, Scr 17th, PA 13th, AA 11th)
2. Rickie Fowler (DD 14th, DA 61st, GIR 10th, Scr 13th, PA 2nd, AA 3rd)
4. Keegan Bradley (DD 3rd, DA 40th, GIR 5th, Scr 50th, PA 26th, AA 12th)
4. Jason Day (DD 12th, DA 21st, GIR 10th, Scr 6th, PA 41st, AA 2nd
4. Dustin Johnson (DD 4th, DA 65th, GIR 31st, Scr 5th, PA 14th, AA 7th)
4. Brooks Koepka (DD 15th, DA 40th, GIR 31st, Scr 22nd, PA 14th, AA 10th)
4. Henrik Stenson (DD 24th, DA 8th, GIR 1st, Scr 53rd, PA 26th, AA 4th)

Like Kaymer, 2005 winner Campbell was also ranked 1st for All-Around when lifting the trophy. The Kiwi was 3rd for Putting Average while runner-up Tiger was 1st for GIR.

In 1999, three of the top four finishers ranked in the top three for All-Around with champion Payne Stewart was 8th for GIR and 3rd for both Putting Average and Scrambling.

In 2014, the world rankings of those top eight finishers were: 28, 187 (Erik Compton!), 39, 25, 7, 15, 96 (Koepka), 2.

Michael Campbell was world-ranked 80th when winning in 2005 while Payne Stewart was 13th ahead of his 1999 victory so no top-10 player has won there yet.

That said, Kaymer and Stewart had already won majors before taking glory at Pinehurst.

Keys to Pinehurst in 2024

Kaymer ranked 1st for Scrambling when lapping the field in 2014.

That's significant as it highlights a key difference between Pinehurst No. 2 and a typical US Open course which has thick around the greens.

With its shaved surrounds, Kaymer was able to putt from off the turtleback greens and did so with aplomb, getting up and down 19 times out of 27.

The course held the US Women's Open a week later and the winner, Michelle Wie, also ranked 1st for Scrambling.

Wider fairways than usual and native areas which can prove easier to score from than dense, long rough are another feature and missing greens in the right spot was a huge key to Kaymer's win.

Scott Langley, a former Tour pro and now the USGA's Senior Director of Player Relations, said on Golfweek a couple of months ago: "The thing that's difficult about Pinehurst No. 2 is the putting greens and surrounds. The greens are very difficult to hit, so you're often faced with a variety of shots around the greens to recover."

That's music to the ears for creative types.

One final - and very important - point is that the greens were Bentgrass in 2014. For 2024 they'll be Bermuda (Ultradwarf).

Back Louis Oosthuizen @ 150/1151.00

The angle of past major winners leaning on that proven class to take victory at Pinehurst No. 2 leads me to Louis Oosthuizen at a monster price.

Oosthuizen had definitely fallen into the category of out of sight, out of mind after some pretty average results on the LIV Tour.

But he ended 2023 with back-to-back wins in co-sanctioned DP World Tour events when capturing the Alfred Dunhill Championship on home soil and the Mauritius Open a week later.

With his world ranking still way down at 131st due to earning no points through LIV, the catch is that the South African doesn't have a place at Pinehurst yet and will have to go through qualifying.

That said, the Sportsbook are quoting him at 150s (1/5 odds, 6 places) and given his skill-set it's worth a punt. Maybe the rules on exemption will have changed by June but, if not, Oosthuizen has the class and pedigree to both qualify and excel once he gets there.

The 41-year-old was runner-up in the 2015 US Open and that sparked a run of seven straight top 25s in the event, a sequence ending with seventh at Pebble Beach in 2019, third at Winged Foot in 2020 and second again at Torrey Pines in 2021.

That calm temperament takes him a long way in this gruelling event and some big displays in other co-sanctioned tournaments/a few LIV wins will get Oosthuizen in the spotlight and put punters on alert when he attempts qualifying.

Back Louis Oosthuizen each-way @ 150/1151.00

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Back Russell Henley @ 150/1151.00

If a punt on Oosthuizen seems a bit sketchy, how about an American at the same price?

Russell Henley was low amateur on his US Open debut in 2010 when 16th and in three of his last four he's finished 25th (Shinnecock), 13th (Torrey Pines) and 14th (Southern Hills).

He also played at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014 and was 16th after day one before fading over the next three days.

In April 2023, he was tied fourth in the Masters and his solid record at Augusta (also 11th and 15th in two of his previous three visits) hints at being able to flourish around shaved greens.

Well, Henley was 18th in Scrambling on the PGA Tour in 2023 and ranked 1st in that category at Augusta back in April.

We know he likes Bermuda greens: Henley has finished in the top 20 in each of his last seven events on such surfaces.

And there's a real liking for Donald Ross too. Henley was runner-up at the Wyndham Championship in August and that was his fourth straight top 10 in that event (played on Bermuda grass).

He was also 10th on his last start on Ross's Detroit GC (Rocket Mortgage Classic).

Another strong Masters could fuel a price cut and if plays to the levels he reached in 2023, Henley's 150/1 could be much shorter by June.

Back Russell Henley each-way @ 150/1151.00

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Read Dave Tindall's ante-post US Masters preview here

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