US Open: Shinnecock Hills looks tailor-made for Justin Rose
Betting.Betfair's roving columnist Ralph Ellis always enjoys a major punt or two and he can't get away from Justin Rose as he strives to back the winner of the year's second major
"Rose could well have a second US Open title by Sunday night because it's hard not to think that this course, set out on the far end of Long Island, New York, is absolutely perfect for his game."
Can there be an English global sports star less appreciated by the British public than Justin Rose? Number three golfer in the world, nine PGA Tour titles to his name, a US Open and an Olympic Gold Medal, and yet never a man to dominate the back pages.
You get the impression he could walk down most High Streets carrying his golf bag and still be largely unrecognised.
Even this week, as he arrives at Shinnecock Hills as the [16.0] second favourite to be this year's US Open Winner his name is a long way down the news agenda.
Rory McIlroy is the poster boy for the sport, Tiger Woods is the player who commands most attention 10 years after his last US Open title when he won on one leg. Rose, meanwhile, just gets on with his business.
Ironically he could well have a second US Open title by Sunday night because it's hard not to think that this course, set out on the far end of Long Island, New York, is absolutely perfect for his game. Yet if he does he'll be knocked off the back pages by the start of England's World Cup campaign.
Quiet commitment to excellence
He will never go into a Major in better form. The 2013 champion won his ninth PGA Tour title a few weeks ago and since missing the cut in last year's US Open has produced an astonishing level of consistency.
He's had 16 top ten finishes in 24 events (ten of those inside the top five), accumulating £6.92m of prize money in the process. (Making [2.44] a top ten finish https://btfr.co/144560079 look good value).
He's moved from 15th in the world last August to third now, and winning at Shinnecock Hills would lift him to number one. What better way to do it?
What I like most about Rose, though, is his level of both commitment and preparation. None of that is very glamorous, and maybe that's why he's viewed by the public as studious and dull rather than gaining the status he deserves.
But the commitment to be the best he can be is the best quality for any sportsman. "I have about five years left where I can work at this intensity and I want to see what I can achieve," he said recently.
Course definitely favours Rose's strengths
There is talk that they are making the fairways wider at Shinnecock Hills, but even so it will be a course which suits accuracy rather than big hitting. This is the US Open, after all, where they aim for the winner to be level par.
That will give him an edge over favourite Dustin Johnson [10.0] and McIlroy [17.5], and means you need to look for others who prize accuracy over distance.
I backed Henrik Stenson for the Memorial Tournament but sadly one bad round on the Saturday let him down. Even so he came back on the final day for a tied 13th finish and the Swede is a must to back at [2.46] for a top 20 finish here.
I also like Tommy Fleetwood at [2.88] a top 20 finish and [6.0] the top 10 - he was fourth in the US Open last year and is second on the European Tour for Greens in Regulation, the stat which will be so important this week.
But it remains Rose who is the obvious pick to win it. Even if it still won't get him the wider recognition he deserves.