The 114th US Open is one of the highlights of a massive sporting week with an extremely tough track awaiting the world's finest golfers in the form of Pinehurst no.2. Betfair are paying six places on the year's second major giving our team of writers an extra chance of landing a payout, here are their picks...
"Luke Donald will simply never get a more favourable venue than Pinehurst, with its emphasis on accurate iron play and scrambling brilliance."
Paul Krishnamurty: Back Luke Donald @ 34.033/1
*Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 6 places
Dan Geraghty: Back Brooks Koepka @ 201.0200/1
Graeme McDowell has expressed a concern that this week's wide open fairways and (unusual) lack of rough will favour the longer hitters, a sentiment I want to agree with. I'm torn between two Americans, one, Phil Mickelson, who has been focused on this week for a very long time and at 43 - in a field without Tiger - surely won't get many better opportunities to claim the title he desires more than any other. The other is Brooks Koepka, a man that can hit it further than just about anyone in the field and surely has many more US Opens in his future. At the prices, I'm going to side with the latter, who I believe has a genuine chance of causing an upset this week at an enormous price. In the recent past Koepka has claimed both European Tour and PGA Tour (special temporary) membership the hard way and warmed up for this week with an excellent 19th placed finish at the St Jude Classic last week, after getting in the field as a late alternate.
Joe Dyer: Back Paul Casey @ 101.0100/1
The US Open is the toughest major of them all and this year's running looks especially hard. Pinehurst no.2 is a brutal par 70, measuring more than 7,500 yards including three par fours over 500 yards, and a par 5 exceeding 600. Ordinarily we'd favour accuracy over length at this particular event but it looks like you'll need a man with some decent oomph off the tee at this North Carolina track. With native areas (ie sandy scrubland) replacing rough, wayward shots may not be punished as harshly as previous editions of this major. At a very decent price, 100-1 shot Paul Casey fits the bill for me this week. The Englishman possesses a solid all-round game with enough length off the tee, accuracy from fairway and touch around the greens to prosper this week. Previously ranked as high as third in the world, Casey is back on the rise now he has fully recovered from a shoulder injury with six top-20 finishes in 11 PGA Tour events and looks decent value at a venue which should suit his talents.
Steve Rawlings: Back Aaron Baddeley @ 251.0250/1
American-born Australian, Aaron Baddeley, strikes me as someone about to do something very special and it might just be this week at Pinehurst. He's been on my radar for a few weeks now and his performance last time out in the Memorial Tournament was the sort of eye-catching display that suggests he's very nearly at the top of his game. He birdied all bar two holes on the front-nine on day one, playing them in just 29 strokes. Then he made six birdies in-a-row during round three and in round four he played the first 12 holes in a bogey-free six-under-par! There were plenty of mistakes thrown in also but it was a promising effort and as I highlighted in my preview, he has the profile to do well here. At a massive 250/1 he might cause a shock.
Paul Krishnamurty: Back Luke Donald @ 34.033/1
England had to wait 43 years to produce a US Open champion but now Justin Rose has beaten the jinx, there's every chance we'll see two in a row. There are good cases to be made for several English candidates, with Luke Donald the pick of the bunch. As a perennial majors underachiever in his early thirties, there is much in common with Rose. Most major winners break through at around this point of their career and Donald will simply never get a more favourable venue than Pinehurst, with its emphasis on accurate iron play and scrambling brilliance. Luke looked very close to his best when coming up slightly short in similarly favourable events, such as The Heritage and BMW PGA Championship and is overdue a change of luck.
Mike Norman: Back Jason Dufner @ 51.050/1
There are so many imponderables ahead of the season's second Major that it's difficult to be too confident about anyone performing well. A renovated course that could suit some more than others, a dreadful weather forecast that could cause lengthy delays and soften up Pinehurst - it's a tricky conundrum to solve. What we do know is that the last two US Opens have played extremely tough and despite not ranking highly in some of the key stats ahead of each renewal Jason Dufner performed brilliantly to finish fourth each time. The Duf-meister is now a Major winner, a man seemingly returning to top form following a runner-up finish at Colonial a fortnight ago (beaten in a play-off by Adam Scott), and he has that relaxed laid-back attitude that suggests he will handle whatever is put in front of him this week.
Season P/L (£5 e/w per selection)
1. Dan Geraghty: +£513.75
2. Joe Dyer: +£135.00
3. Steve Rawlings: +£33.75
4. Paul Krishnamurty: -£96.25
5. Mike Norman: -£170.00