We're off to California this week for the 121st edition of the US Open and Steve Rawlings has picked out three outsiders he likes to challenge at Torrey Pines...
“As many as 13 of the last 17 US Open winners have ranked inside the top-ten for Driving Distance and Vegas is almost guaranteed to be in the top-ten for DD.”
Webb Simpson, in 2012, and Gary Woodland, two years ago, are the only US Open winners in the last decade to go off at a triple-figure price but this major has produced plenty of shock winners this century and we very nearly witnessed a huge outsider winning on the last occasion the US Open was staged at this week's venue - the South Course at Torrey Pines.
Following Retief Goosen's success at 50.049/1 in 2004, Michael Campbell, a qualifier at Walton Heath, caused one of the biggest shocks in the tournament's history in 2005 by holding Tiger Woods and co at bay at Pinehurst. Geoff Ogilvy and Angel Cabrera won the next two editions at triple-figure prices, as did the 2009 winner, Lucas Glover, and had 650.0649/1 chance, Rocco Mediate, got the better of Tiger Woods here in extra time at Torrey Pines in 2008, we'd have witnessed four huge outsiders in-a-row winning.
The 2010 winner, Graeme McDowell, was far from strongly-fancied so this has been a decent event for outsiders over the last 20 years and this has also been a major that produces more than it's fair share of championship specialists.
Brooks Koepka won the US Open back-to-back in 2017 and 2018 (also runner-up in 2019) and in-between 1997 and 2004, Ernie Els, Lee Janzen, Payne Stewart, Tiger Woods, and Retief Goosen all won the US Open for a second time so I'm going to kick things off with the 2019 champ, Gary Woodland...
Woodland worthy of support to double-up
Gary Woodland's been in the wilderness a bit since he won this event two years ago at another Californian Coastal track - Pebble Beach - but he's been showing some very encouraging signs of late and it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see everything click this week at a venue that really suits him.
As highlighted in the preview, form at the Farmers Insurance Open wasn't a big pointer to the 2008 result here but form at the venue can hardly be construed as a negative and Woodland has shown a real likely for the track with five top-20 finishes in his last eight visits. He won't mind the tougher set-up this week and after a couple of top-six finishes in his last seven starts, at the Texas Open and the Wells Fargo Championship, I was more than happy to back him at 120.0119/1.
Solid Streelman can contend again
If there's to be another journeyman pro like Mediate challenging this week it could well be the in-form 42-year-old, Kevin Streelman, who was matched in-running at a low of 6.86/1 at last month's USPGA Championship.
Streelman eventually finished eighth at Kiawah Island but the two-time PGA Tour winner has followed that excellent performance with a 20th in the Charles Schwab Challenge and a very-decent 13th in The Memorial Tournament last time out, where he signed off with four-under-par 68 on Sunday. A round bettered only by Jimmy Walker on the day, who shot a remarkable 65.
Streelman's third place finish at Torrey Pines in the 2016 Farmers Insurance was his best effort that year so he has some course form to boast too.
Roll the dice with Vegas
Nailing down a third and final selection was tricky. I still like ante-post pick, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who hasn't missed a cut in 17 starts, and his fellow South African, Branden Grace, looks a very fair price too. Both men contended at the USPGA Championship last month and I'd have happily put up either.
At even longer odds, Bernd Wiesberger is being overlooked given how prolific he is and given he defended the Made In Himmerland title in fine style just a couple of weeks ago and after back-to-back seconds on the European Tour, the constantly underrated Italian, Guido Migliozzi, is a bonkers price at 1000.0 but for my third and final pick I'm going to go for another big-hitter - Jhonattan Vegas.
Like Woodland, Vegas gets it out there off the tee and as detailed in the preview, length has been far more important than accuracy in this major of late with only four winners in the last 17 years have ranked higher for accuracy off the tee than they have for length. As many as 13 of the last 17 winners have ranked inside the top-ten for Driving Distance and Vegas is almost guaranteed to be in the top-ten for DD.
It's now ten years since he impressed at Torrey Pines with a third place finish in the Farmers Insurance on his first visit to the track and he arrives in form after a fast finishing tied-second on Sunday in the Palmetto Championship.
I'll be back later today or tomorrow with a look at the side markets.
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STEVE'S 2021 FIND ME A 100 WINNER P/L
Staked: 126.5 units
Returned: 32.5 units
P/L: -93 units