US Open Top 5/10: McIlroy and Morikawa can make a mark

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy can have a solid week and make the top 10
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Dave Tindall assesses the mood of the players and arms you with the stats that matter for a punt on the Top 5 and Top 10 Finish markets ahead of the 2020 US Open...

"Clearly in a great frame of mind after becoming a Dad for the first time, Rory has 20 top 10s from 45 starts in the majors and has banked at least two a year since 2014."

Back Rory McIlroy for Top 10 @ [3.35]

Dustin Johnson - DJ the form horse

With DJ in such sensational form and, as a result, right at the top of the market, the betting psychology reverses and you're looking for reasons why he won't thrive. So perhaps here's a little hint from Tuesday's press conference.

"There's holes I can hit driver and play aggressive on, but there's a lot of holes where I'm hitting iron off the tee just because of the way it shapes. I don't like to draw the driver, so I've got a lot of holes where I've got to lay back a little bit just because you've got to hit it in the fairway, and driver kind of runs out of room. Especially the fairways are firm and fast right now, so the ball is running out pretty good, and there's a lot of holes that are difficult shots to get it in the fairway."

Then again, even if it isn't quite the perfect course, he won his US Open at Oakmont on another ultra-tough layout in the north-east of the country and he always seems to play great in New York/New Jersey. Four top fives in the last six US Opens shows he has all you need to succeed in this event.

Last four events: 3-2-1-2
Course form: -
New York form: 2-3-1-18
Last 50 starts - Win: 12%, Top 5: 34%, Top 10: 48%

Jon Rahm - Spaniard bids for first major

Rahm's recent recce produced these quotes on Winged Foot. "All I can say is it's a heck of a golf course. The greens kind of gave me an Oakmont vibe: extremely difficult, extremely undulated. But I think all 16 out of the 18 greens are all sloped back to front. There's always a run-up on the front. At least it seems a little more fair than Oakmont might look. You can hold all the greens, even if you don't hit a perfect shot. It's just a difficult course. It's long. It's narrow. It's undulated. You just need to play really good golf. I'm not shocked that the winning score last time was 5-over par."

Rahm was T23 and the low amateur (2016) at Oakmont incidentally and added T3 in last year's US Open, his best finish in a major. Winning the recent BMW Championship with 4-under shows he can grind and, notably, Rahm finished 2nd in Bogey Avoidance last season. The Spaniard heads to Winged Foot with his game in a great place and with a great chance to win his first major.

Last four events: 6-1-6-13
Course form: -
New York form: MC-MC-3
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 34%, Top 10: 56%

Justin Thomas - JT raving about the course

Thomas got a first look at Winged Foot ahead of the recent Northern Trust. "It was really hard. I absolutely loved it. It's one of my favourite, if not my favourite courses I've ever played. It's right in front of you. It's not tricked up. It's not... nothing hidden. It's just you stand on the tee and you're about 490 yards away and you have a really narrow fairway and a pretty severe green. There's a lot of holes like it. It is probably the most US Open venue that I've seen. It checks all the boxes. It's long. It's narrow fairways. Going to be long rough and severe greens."

A three-shot winner of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude, JT wobbled a little after that but shot three 66s and took third place at East Lake last time. Sometimes the putter can go cold on him but, if not, there's lots to like and his positive course comments add another layer of confidence.

Last four events: 3-25-49-37
Course form: -
New York form: 25-6-10
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 26%, Top 10: 48%

Rory McIlroy - New Dad in upbeat mood

McIlroy is another with good things to say about Winged Foot. "It's hard, obviously, but I think it's very, very fair. I said to someone yesterday when I played Oakmont for the first time, my initial reaction was, this place is impossible. This course doesn't feel quite as -- it gives you a little more chances if you miss it, I guess. You can run the ball up on to the greens and maybe a touch more playable, but it's a tough track, and I'm still learning it as I go here. I'm going to go and play nine holes this afternoon after this. But I loved what I saw yesterday morning. This is a wonderful golf course, and I think one of the best that I've played for a US Open."

T12 at the BMW, McIlroy then finished T7 at the Tour Championship in is first event as a Dad. He's clearly in a good place and his positive vibes point to a good week.

Last four events: 7-12-65-33
Course form: -
New York form: 8-MC-34-31
Last 50 starts - Win: 8%, Top 5: 36%, Top 10: 56%

Xander Schauffele - Big-event record gives American appeal

xander schauffele (720).JPG

Schauffele heads to Winged Foot after his unofficial 'win' at the Tour Championship (he shot the lowest 72-hole score). That's more evidence that he thrives against elite company and he's certainly shown that in his three US Opens. The American was T5 on debut at Erin Hills, T6 at Shinnecock and T3 at Pebble Beach last year. Add in second places in both the US Masters and Open Championship along with a T10 in last month's US PGA Championship and he has a 50% top-10 strike rate (six out of 12) in majors. Four of those are top fives. Ranking 1st in the All-Around and 2nd for Scrambling last time at East Lake suggests his game is in perfect shape for a big week.

Last four events: 1-25-25-10
Course form: -
New York form: 16-6-17-45
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 22%, Top 10: 32%

Collin Morikawa - PGA Champ ready to impress again

Some Morikawa comments from Tuesday. "To be honest, the game, swing feels really good, and it should be really fun Thursday through Sunday. So I saw nine holes yesterday. What a course. You've got to golf your ball out here. You've got to really know how to control your shots and keep it in the fairway. It's not like it's not playable. Obviously you've just got to hit really good shots. It's going to test every part of your game this week. Overall, Winged Foot is amazing. My caddie played in the US Am here in 2004, so he's bringing a lot of knowledge. I think he was here in '06. I hit a lot of drivers yesterday. It fits my eye pretty good. Guys that are going to play well are going to take their medicine and scramble really well."

After that brilliant win in the US PGA in just his second major start, Morikawa's confidence levels will be through the roof and he has the steady temperament to take it in his stride and go well again here.

Last four events: 7-20-MC-1
Course form: -
New York form: -
Last 50 starts - Win: 9%, Top 5: 24%, Top 10: 35%

Bryson DeChambeau - Muscle man has plan of attack

For the first time in 12 attempts, DeChambeau finally contended in the final round of a major before finishing fourth at the US PGA. That's the obvious plus but poor form since either tells us he's working on a new scientific theory that sees him peak for majors or simply that he's gone off the boil. At least he has a clear strategy for Winged Foot

"I'm hitting it as far as I possibly can up there. Even if it's in the rough, I can still get it to the front edge or the middle of the greens with pitching wedges or 9-irons. That's the beauty of my length and that advantage. There's certain holes I might lay up on just because of the situation, but for the most part I'm going to be trying to go after it as much as I possibly can. Even if I hit it in the rough, I still feel like I can make birdies out here. I still feel like I can run it up the middle of the green and make a 20-footer."

Sounds good. Now can he put it into practice?

Last four events: 25-50-MC-4
Course form: -
New York form: MC-25-MC
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 24%, Top 10: 40%

Webb Simpson - 2012 winner has record to improve

Simpson's biggest moment came in this very event at Olympic Club in San Francisco in 2012. And his winning score there of 1-over shows that he can get it done in ultra-tough US Open conditions. A tied 10th at Shinnecock in 2018, tied 16th at Pebble Beach last year and an overall record of eight cuts made in nine US Open starts seems to further his appeal. But there are doubts too. In 35 majors, he's managed just three top 10s which is way down on what we'd expect from a player at his level. That record needs to improve and most of his play in 2020 (two wins and plenty of other top fives and 10s) suggests he's in the form to do just that.

Last four events: 17-6-3-37
Course form: -
New York form: 29-10-6-48
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 28%, Top 10: 40%

Patrick Cantlay - Californian struggling for top 10s

Cantlay has a good temperament for a test like this. He's calm, unflustered and will shake off the bogeys. Not surprisingly, he's proving a solid customer in the majors and has missed just one cut in 13 starts. He's 4-for-4 in the US Open although yet to crack the top 20 but did show us what he's capable of at this level last year when T9 at the US Masters and T3 in the PGA (also in New York). He stuck his chin out and banked a creditable T12 in tough conditions at the BMW Championship last time but there's a slight impression in his stats that he isn't quite sharp enough. Also, the bare numbers show that he's managed just a single top 10 in his last 11 starts.

Last four events: 12-MC-43-35
Course form: -
New York form: 3-45-10
Last 50 starts - Win: 2%, Top 5: 18%, Top 10: 34%

Daniel Berger - American hopeful has ideal profile

Berger's best major so far in 17 appearances (12 cuts made) came on another tough track in the region - tied sixth in the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock. He also has T10 in the 2016 Masters and a pair of top 15s in US PGAs, including T13 at Harding Park last month. He certainly has the perfect profile for a US Open winner in terms of age, winning experience, world ranking etc and has been in sparkling form since the restart with a win, a second and two thirds. Perhaps he's just dipped a little very recently though with T25 (out of 70) in the BMW and T17 (out of 30) at the Tour Championship.

Last four events: 17-25-3-13
Course form: -
New York form: 71-6-33-70
Last 50 starts - Win: 2%, Top 5: 14%, Top 10: 18%

Conclusion

Rory McIlroy was upbeat after seeing Winged Foot for the first time and this could be a good chance to play him at a decent price.

It's not every major you'll find him over 2/1 to get a top 10 but that's the case here with [3.25] available.

Clearly in a great frame of mind after becoming a Dad for the first time, Rory has 20 top 10s from 45 starts in the majors and has banked at least two a year since 2014.

He'll need a top 10 here and at Augusta to maintain that record but I'm confident he can do it.

T9 in last year's US Open, McIlroy looked a little out of sorts (was the new baby on his mind?) when golf resumed in June but he's now hitting his straps and was T12 at the BMW and T7 in the Tour Championship.

He drove the ball impressively in both and this could be a good week to catch him.

At a similar price, I'll also play Collin Morikawa at [3.2] for a top 10.

Collin Morikawa.jpg

Some players struggle after the lightning bolt of a first major but the 23-year-old has the class, temperament and game to put in another big major performance here.

Like McIlroy, he likes the look of Winged Foot and regards it as fair and it's a course where his elite ball-striking can thrive.

Xander Schauffele would be next on my list but he's just [2.72] for a top 10. McIlroy and Morikawa look better value.

Dave Tindall,

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