As we enter day two at Chambers Bay, Paul Krishnamurty starts his in-play betting plan and recommends his best three bets in the three-balls...
"Tiger Woods, Louis Oosthuizen and Rickie Fowler managed to serve up arguably the worst collective three-ball performance ever, shooting 28 over par between them, so pride is most definitely at stake. The key difference is that, while Rickie Fowler's 81 seemed like an inexplicably bad round where everything went wrong, the other two have fundamental problems. There's no reason why he shouldn't perform well here, and I expect a bounce back today, albeit too late."
After hearing about plenty of controversy and criticism in the run-up to it's US Open debut, the watching public can form their own conclusions about Chambers Bay, and that judgement will probably depend on what they want from a major championship. Those demanding 'fairness' or bothered about the greens' condition may hate it but, as a trader, I love it!
We in-play punters have been on a frustrating run in recent majors, turned into boring weekend spectacles as one player runs away with it. That was the case in this major last year, Rory McIlroy at the Open Championship and then Jordan Spieth at the Masters. We are overdue a major weekend full of drama, ideally where favouritism changes frequently and the leaderboard is jammed. Chambers Bay looks perfect in that regard.
We have certainly seen the best scoring of the week already. Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson share the lead after 65s, one shot clear of another early starter Patrick Reed. Later, when the greens had dried further and the wind got up, the 68 carded by Jordan Spieth was a superb score and one that suggested he is very much the man to beat as the wonderkid pursues the Grand Slam.
As the weekend develops, Chambers Bay will get firmer and faster, the pins will be placed in cruel positions and if the wind gets above 15mph, scoring will become nigh on impossible, meaning that those opening with an over-par round have a real mountain to climb. My prediction is that the winning score will be -2, with around six players constantly exchanging the lead.
The morning of day two is often the best time to bet in majors, because we can confidently make such predictions about the scoring trends, while the field has already narrowed significantly. I'm restricting calculations to the 41 players on even par or better, and that number reduces sharply once skills criteria are applied. Power off the tee and therefore second shot control is a huge advantage here, and high-class scrambling will be essential. I'm backing the following trio.
Back Jason Day 5u @ 16.015/1
First, a standalone win bet with no plan to lay back, at least yet. Since first studying at the course, Day has struck me as ideal. He's a bomber with magnificent short game skills and, consequently, a superb record in the Masters and US Open. The Aussie's health was a big worry during the run-up but he looked as right as rain yesterday, and 68 in the evening was superb.
An early start is likely to offer an advantage every day and Day's all-star group with Spieth and Justin Rose could well produce the halfway leader. I strongly expect Day to spend all weekend alongside Spieth in contention, trading much shorter than this, so let's get him in the book early.
Back Brandt Snedeker 5u @ 55.054/1
Place order to lay 20u @ 10.09/1
Next a back-to-lay, on one of my main pre-tournament selections. Sneds fought back well yesterday to get under par and is fancied to come into his own as conditions toughen up, bringing his short game mastery to the fore. Granted he has a late start but, trading wise, that could be an advantage, because I reckon he'll be a bit shorter than 55.054/1 when teeing off.
The trading plan here is to place a lay order at 10.09/1, with a view to laying back four times the initial outlay if he shortens to the target, whilst leaving substantial extra profit if he wins.
Back Jason Dufner 5u @ 60.059/1
Place order to lay 20u @ 10.09/1
Another late starter recommended as a back-to-lay is 2013 USPGA champion Dufner, again in expectation that these odds will be long gone by the time he tees off. As with Snedeker, I'm delighted to see our in-play guru Steve Rawlings also rates him one of the best value bets at this stage.
Dufner has thrived in recent majors, finishing fourth in both the 2012 and 2013 US Opens, so clearly has the game and mental equipment to hang around over the weekend. His iron play has also caught the eye in recent weeks and his nerveless touch around the greens is a key asset. Again, the lay target is 10.09/1, with a view to quadrupling our money at least.
Back Rickie Fowler 3u @ 2.56/4 (vs Woods, Oosthuizen) (Starts 16.28)
This elite trio managed to serve up arguably the worst collective three-ball performance ever, shooting 28 over par between them, so pride is most definitely at stake. The key difference is that, while Rickie Fowler's 81 seemed like an inexplicably bad round where everything went wrong, the other two have fundamental problems. There's no reason why he shouldn't perform well here, and I expect a bounce back today, albeit too late.
In contrast, Tiger simply doesn't look like he should be playing while his game is in such a catastrophic state, while Oosthuizen remains plagued by injury, and little incentive from +7 to risk worsening it.
Back John Parry 4u @ 2.26/5 (vs Maguire, Persons) (Starts 21.11)
This is one of the lowest profile groups, but could offer the best bet. John Parry is a proven links performer, who has been on a good streak on the European Tour lately, particularly for the first three rounds. Having won this group yesterday on 72, I fancy he'll fight tooth and nail to make the cut.
His two opponents are limited, to say the least. Amateur Jack Maguire's opening 73 suggests he'll be the biggest threat, rather than Web.com Tour also-ran Josh Persons, who opened with 79.
Back Sergio Garcia 2u @ 3.259/4 (vs Johnson, Scott) (Starts 22.17)
This is probably be the most high-profile group of the latter session, and all three are still in the hunt. Sergio was very nearly recommended at 85.084/1 as an outright trade. His superb Open record shows how much he loves firm and fast links courses and has very few peers in terms of imagination around the greens, which is so important here.
Indeed, that skill makes him a good value outsider in this group. Neither Dustin Johnson or Scott are so impressive in that regard, and conditions will be much harder than when they started out yesterday.