Next up for the best golfers in the world: one of the toughest tests on the calendar.
The U.S. Open tees off Thursday morning on Long Island with star-studded field trying to topple Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
This is far from Shinnecock’s first go-around. This is the course’s fifth U.S. Open, the most recent coming in 2004 when Retief Goosen outlasted Phil Mickelson.
Whether you’re looking to bet on the U.S. Open or build the perfect DFS team, we’ve got plenty of information for you to go through before making those calls.
Shinnecock Hills is a par-70 this weekend at a lengthy 7,445 yards, a 449-yard increase from 2004. The fairways are maybe a little wider than you might come to expect from the USGA, but a few holes have been tightened to make life more difficult for the field. As always, the greens will be fast and slick, but here’s hoping we avoid a repeat of the 2004 disaster at No. 7.
In this tournament, perhaps more than any other, it’s imperative you’re good from tee to green. Of the last 10 U.S. Open winners, eight finished the season in the top 50 in approach-the-green strokes gained. And all but one of them finished in the top 50 in strokes gained off the tee. Tee shots and ball striking are important every week, but it’s even more important this week especially with the danger around the greens. You’re not going to want to put yourself in a position where you have to scramble.
There’s no better golfer in the world right now than Dustin Johnson, and his play sets up well for Shinnecock. He’s long off the tee, often giving himself a high-iron or wedge into the green, which is a big reason he’s tied for 12th in strokes gained fairway-to-green. The same can be said for players like Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and even Tiger Woods.
Dustin Johnson +800
Rory McIlroy +1400
Justin Thomas +1400
Justin Rose +1400
Jordan Spieth +1600
Jason Day +1800
Tiger Woods +1800
Brooks Koepka +2000
Jon Rahm +2200
SOME WORTHWHILE LONGSHOTS
Henrik Stenson (+3000) — At 30-to-1, the 2016 British Open champion won’t be confused for Cinderella. But it’s good value for arguably the best ball-striker on tour. Stenson missed the cut last year, but he does have a top-five finish at the U.S. Open under his belt and just finished tied for fifth at the Masters.
Alex Noren (+6600) — We’re loading up on the Swedes. Noren has never won on American soil and has missed the cut in four of five U.S. Opens, but … he’s had success on links courses, and Shinny kind of, sort of has a links feel.
Xander Schauffele (+10000) — OK, so he’s probably won’t win, but he’s worth a sprinkle. He’s another guy who falls into the previously mentioned statistical categories, and he’s a good putter within 5 feet, which is so important when it comes to avoiding disaster at the U.S. Open. He’s also a decent DFS or pool play.
Winning region: Europe (+200) — Johnson’s the favorite, Thomas is always a threat, and if Jordan Spieth finds his putter, he’ll be there on Sunday. But we already told you about a pair of Swedes we like, Rory McIlroy fits the bill, and Justin Rose is a very trendy pick to win.
Hole in one: No (-120) — There hasn’t been a U.S. Open hole-in-one since 2014.
Tiger Woods miss cut (+340) — Tiger probably won’t miss the cut. But there’s some good value, considering both his driving accuracy and putting have been issues for him at times this season, and there have been a handful of close calls with the cut line. All it takes is a few wayward drives or costly three-putts to put up an ugly number that he won’t be able to save this time around.
Round 1 leader: Patrick Cantlay (+5000) — Cantlay is third this season in first-round scoring average and is great both off the tee and from the fairway.
PICK TO WIN
Justin Rose (+1400) — We know Rose can win the U.S. Open; he won the event in 2013 at Merion. Fun fact about Merion: Historic golf course architect William Flynn was instrumental in perfecting Merion, and he also led the charge in the 1931 redesign at Shinnecock Hills. That’s gotta be worth something, right? But more importantly, few if any players this week have been as good this season in all facets of the game. In terms of strokes gained, Rose ranks 17th off the tee, eighth tee-to-green, 27th in approach-the-green and 10th in putting. And for good measure, he ranks 18th in scrambling.