There are plenty of ways to win even if your selection doesn't seriously contend for the title, such as aiming for a less ambitious, yet respectable finishing position. Check out Paul Krishnamurty's seven-strong portfolio of picks in the Top 10 and Top 20 Finish markets...
"There has been no better links or Open Championship performer in the last 20 years...Lest we forget, Els has challenged in three of the last five US Opens, despite his career being in steep decline."
There are two ideal situations in which the value in these finishing positions can be really maximised. First, when there is a vast bank of previous course form to study. Wentworth or Sawgrass, for example. The other is when we see a really tough course, that will take no prisoners.
So while there's a large element of guesswork at this US Open, because there is no meaningful previous course form, the nature of Chambers Bay offers plenty of encouragement for betting purposes. Most of this field will either not enjoy links golf, or lack either the class or experience around the greens to survive the test.
I expect those best suited to score well and separate themselves, opening up a gap from the rest. It won't be a surprise to see ten shots between the winner and 20th place, so backing a winner in this market may not need heroics. Instead, we're looking for previous links form, good scramblers and resilience, which can normally be found in majors form, particularly this one.
The plan is to back seven players across the Top 20 and Top 10 Finish markets for a total outlay of 22 units. One winner will get almost the entire stake back, two will secure a good profit. The bulk of that outlay is in the former market, because it seems a significantly easier target this week.
First, Brandt Snedeker was one of my early outright picks at 65.064/1. All of those arguments still apply - he's a superb scrambler, with a good US Open record, coming into form at the right time and, having enjoyed a fortnight off, should be well prepared. He's made the top-25 in six of his last seven US Open appearances and this course should suit better than most of them.
Another strong fancy to go well is Ryan Moore, who again is one of the best scrambers around. His parents live 15 miles from Chambers Bay so we must assume that, unlike most players for whom getting out to the West Coast for substantial practice has been difficult, he is going to be well prepared.
I've felt Ryan has the game to thrive in majors for some time and regard this is as a great breakthrough opportunity. He finished 12th in the last Open and the same position at Augusta - another major venue with a huge premium on scrambling. His stats clearly suggest the top-20 is the right market - he's made this target on 23 of his last 50 starts.
Regardless of his lack of recent form, Ernie Els is simply the wrong price at 12.011/1 to land yet another top-20 in a links major. There has been no better links or Open Championship performer in the last 20 years, especially over the weekend as conditions toughen and the weaker ones fall away. Lest we forget, Els has challenged in three of the last five US Opens, despite his career being in steep decline.
At the complete other end of the golfing spectrum, Michael Putnam may not be the no-hoper his outright odds suggest. Indeed, he is Romily Evans' each-way pick, on the grounds that nobody knows this course better than the local favourite. There is almost universal consensus that Chambers Bay is a course which is going to require masses of practice, so this top-20 target is well within range.
Three more bets appeal in the top-ten market, all on players I've tipped elsewhere. Marc Leishman is my each-way pick, on the grounds that he is becoming an excellent player of tough golf courses. It may also be that, following his wife surviving a near-death experience, the Aussie has a more balanced perspective on life and the game. He's certainly in form, finishing fifth at the Memorial last time.
Finally the cases for both Branden Grace and Alex Noren are made in detail in my Find Me a 100 Winner column. Noren is also among our each-way selections, this time the pick of Dan Geraghty, who thoroughly deserves a return after being appallingly unlucky to miss the places with John Hahn last week.
Back Brandt Snedeker 7u @ 2.87515/8
Back Ryan Moore 6u @ 3.55/2
Back Michael Putnam 2u @ 11.010/1
Back Ernie Els 2u @ 12.011/1
Back Marc Leishman 2u @ 10.09/1
Back Branden Grace 1.5u @ 12.011/1
Back Alex Noren 1.5u @ 14.013/1