UA-33754892-1 Archives for 09 June 2013 | Jason Kelly Golf

Jason Kelly Golf

Golf Betting Tips

US Open

Last week was a nothing sort of week and we lost 3.5 points chancing our arm. We now stand at -116.95 points down.

This week’s US Open has been a real headache for me. There are so many questions to be answered. I was pretty convinced over the weekend that I had my 3 picks. Probably Kuchar, Stricker and one other. Now the whole equation has changed because of the weather.

The East course at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania hosts for the first time since David Graham’s win in 1981. It is short at 6996 yards and will play as short as 6800 yards during the week. The first 5 holes are tough, holes 7 thru 13 have nothing longer than 403 yards, then you hang on for a brutal final 5. There is a par 4 only a few yards longer than one of the par 3’s. All in it offers a varied, fun test of golf that should throw up a lot of birdies and a lot of bogies and worse.

If you look back at some of the past Merion Champions you will see players like Hogan and Trevino. Guys who could really control their ball and move it both ways easily. This will be important as not only are the contours on the greens important to manage but so are the slopes in the fairways. It is going to be a real game of strategy. When and where to be aggressive and how to deal with the inevitable mistakes.

Merion has hosted 18 USGA Championships, more than any other venue. Therefore it is strange that most of these players are seeing the course for the first time. Rickie Fowler played a Walker Cup here and had a 100% record. Furyk and Mickelson played a US Amateur here but neither progressed very far. It is fair to say there is very little course form to go on. The last Major to be played on a sub 7000 yard course was Shinnecock in 2004 when Goosen beat Mickelson. Two guys you would not immediately associate with suiting short courses. So there is another one of the tough to answer questions.

At the start of the week I liked the aforementioned players as a short, firm test would put a premium on their accuracy, patience, experience and course management. Pars would be the key, just hanging in there. Kuchar and Stricker both hit it straight and can grind pars as well as anyone. However, the weather changed and the course has now taken more rain than it can handle. The course is going to be soft no matter what. The forecast suggests it should rain up to and including Thursday before staying dry Friday and through the weekend. The fact it is going to be soft changes the test. So what type of player do we need to find now?

That is the million dollar question. I think there is still a huge premium on accuracy. Yes, the fairways may be easier to hit but now the rough is even more penal. It will be playing a bit longer but it should not really eliminate the short hitters. The short holes are still very short and the long holes are still very long. The biggest single difference in my view is now players will be able to take on pins that were not getable before. Therefore the scoring may go a little deeper than expected.

This means a plodder may not get it done. Maybe someone with a bit more flare with the ability to make a lot of birdies to offset the inevitable mistakes. These are the two ways to skin this cat. Plod and make pars or have a go and make lots of birdies and try and limit the mistakes. The best thing about Merion as a venue, like all great courses, is it does not eliminate any players because of its length. But, at the end of the day, it is a US Open so a good, accurate driver has an advantage. Good, accurate iron play is essential to find these greens that average 6000 sq feet, about average for the tour. But with pins tucked away, you will need to be in the right places with the greens at 12 on the stimp and slopey. The winner will need to be an accurate driver, a great iron player, a gutsy, solid holer outer, show patience, resilience, superb management and display excellent powers of recovery. Yeap, sounds like Tiger again!

If one ignores Tiger’s last performance at Muirfield Village then 6/1 is a big price. The form and control he had shown on previous outings was very similar to that of Tiger at his best. When watching his win in The Players at Sawgrass he looked a banker for this. His control from the tee, especially with the 3 wood was impressively monotonous. His iron play crisp and precise and Tiger was Tiger on and around the greens. He also had that glimpse in his eye. He knew he was going to win, he wanted to win and he did what he had to do to win. If that Tiger turns up this week he walks this. The question is can you forgive him his last start where his irons and putting can only be described as wild. At Sawgrass he put on a masterclass on a course he does not play well. Muirfield Village was the opposite. If he had won The Memorial he would have been a 9/4 shot for this. I think he wins this. If it had stayed firm his towering irons would have been a big advantage but he still posses all the relevant tools to win this and like I said, if he uses them as well as he has done most of this season he wins this.

So who can rival Tiger. Well, I mentioned Rickie Fowler earlier. He had a 100% record here in the Walker Cup but that’s amateur matchplay golf so its hard to use that for anything apart from to say he probably played ok and therefore likes the course. His best finish is 41st in a US Open and has not had a top 25 since March. Not for me. An interesting one at a big price is Kevin Chappell. He is 80/1 for this and finished 2nd last time out at Muirfield Village. He looks more of a player every time he gets in contention and has finished 3rd and 10th in the last two US Opens. He may well go well again at 80/1 but it is a big ask for a young player who has never won and ranks 139 in putting. Scott Stallings has shown some brilliant form of late finishing 4th, 4th, 2nd in his last 3 starts. This is his US Open debut and although undoubtedly a strong player, I’m not sure if he has the patience and experience to continue his hot run here.

Typical US Open contenders have to be considered and Graeme McDowell is certainly entitled to be classed as a US Open type player. He has finished 18th, 1st, 14th, 2nd in the last four. Add to that two wins in his last four starts worldwide including a win at a short, tight track at Harbour Town and you are starting to see a very real contender. He is the straightest driver on the US Tour, ranks 13th in putting and leads scrambling comfortably. The three key stats for a US Open. You can see why he likes the test. I just can’t get excited about the 22/1 price tag. This is a strong field with Tiger in it and I would have him nearer 40/1. The stat that puts the line finally through Gmac is he ranks 142nd in greens in regulation. His iron play will have to improve a lot to win this.

Furyk is another name that always gets touted about when the US Open comes around and why not? He is a great fit for it. He is a past winner and finished 4th last year when he really should have won. He ranks fourth in driving accuracy and we know he loves a grind on a tough track. You can have Furyk at 40/1 this week but for me his ability to close is now in question after the US Open last year and the Ryder Cup. He has had other chances too and couldn’t get it done. He also ranks 107th in putting.

Lee Westwood is a great US Open player, well great if you back him each way. The guy just can’t win a tournament he cares about. If he had a three shot lead going into Sunday I would still be thinking a place would be a result. His US Open form is great. 3rd, 23rd, 16th, 3rd, 10th the last 5 years. His form this year is solid. But, as they say, like his sponsor UPS, he doesn’t deliver on Sundays.

Four other US Open players that are of interest are Garcia, Snedeker, Stricker and Mickelson.

It is easy to overlook a superb Players Championship performance because of the finish for Garcia. He played great and this has been a trend for a long time now. He never seems to finish outside the top 20. His US Open form of 18,10,22,7,38 is solid. This should be a great fit for him. He ranks 2nd in putting, 30th in greens and 2nd in scoring. I think all the rubbish with Tiger could help focus him this week and make him more determined. He is one player that can go head to head with Woods and I like him at 40/1.

Snedeker has finished 9,mc,8,11,dnp in the last 5 US Opens. He has been massively in and out the last few months but has shown enough to be considered here. I know coming off of two missed cuts is far from ideal but he still ranks 9th in driving accuracy, 12th in greens, 22nd in putting, 3rd in birdies, 20th in scrambling, 3rd in par 4 performance and 1st in top 10’s this season. 35/1 is not huge but he has shown time and time again over the last few years he knows how to peak for big events. I like him for this course.

Stricker is a hard player to judge as he plays so little. What I do know is this has been his target for a while. His last 5 US Opens show form of 29,23,58,19,15. The 19th in 15th in the last two years show the point when he became an accurate player from the tee. He used to be short and wild but now ranks 13th in driving accuracy. US Opens have been tough for him in the past as he is not long and he does not spin his irons much. These softer conditions should suit him and we all know he can putt, he ranks 13th in this stat. Throw these together with a rank of 2nd in greens in regulation, 7th in birdies, 15th in eagles and 6th in par 4 performance and he is a contender. 50/1 is fair for the veteran who is running out of Major chances.

Mickelson’s game is not always linked with strong US Open form but it is there. He has 9 top 10’s, 5 of which are 2nd place finishes! Pretty impressive. One of those 2nds came at Shinnecock, the last sub 7000 yarder used in a Major. He finished 2nd last week at TPC Southwind, his 4th top 3 of the season. His last 5 US Open finishes are 18,2,3,54,65. I do like Mickelson this week and he does very well on the East coast but I can’t get away that he ranks so lowly in two key stats. 160th in driving accuracy and 93rd in scrambling. He is putting good and making a lot of birdies. A sign of the bad weather is the fact he flew home on Monday to California to practice as the rain limited his preparations at Merion. He flies back in late Wednesday evening. All in 22/1 is just a little too short for me to be backing him this week.

So who else. Rose has the game but his putting is so bad he can’t be backed. I like Bradley, Horschel, Schwartzel and Henley.

Keegan Bradley could be a player with that other angle. He could take this place on with a little more aggression. He drives it long and straight, goes for impossible pins and is a fearless putter. He has 3 top 5’s this year including a 2nd at the Byron Nelson two starts ago. He ranks 4th in total driving and is tempting at 55/1 but with only a 68th place finish to show in his one US Open start there may be better options elsewhere.

Billy Horschel is having an unbelievable year. He is 80/1 this week on his US Open debut, 110/1 in a place. His 10th place last week was his 6th top 10 of the year, including a win at the Zurich Classic. His ball striking is pure ranking 11th overall, breaking it down - 7th in total driving, 31st in driving accuracy and 34th in greens in reg. 17th in putting, 2nd in birdies and 5th in par 4 performance. It is a big ask for a debutant to contend but at 80/1 he is almost worth chancing but instead I am going to take the better value about Russell Henley.

Henley is 110/1 after some of the fancy prices available earlier in the week were snapped up, mainly I am sure due to Ben Coley from Sportinglife tipping him up…. or lumping on himself! There is still enough margin in the 110/1 to make him a bet. As an amateur he finished 16th and 42nd in this and has won four times since then as a pro. Three times on the and once on the PGA Tour in the Sony Hawaii Open, his first event as a full member of the PGA Tour. He is a class act. He is 10th in total driving, 40th in accuracy, 11th in par 4 performance, 8th in birdies and importantly 9th in putting. He is worth a play this week.

Schwartzel has gone about his business quietly but effectively this season. He has 11 top 10’s in his last 16 events worldwide. All his stats are solid and really reflect how he is playing. No stat really stands out. He is doing everything very well but nothing exceptionally well and hence the solid finishes without really looking like winning. 35/1 is an ok price, if he was nearer 50’s he would have got a place in the staking plan.

As for Kuchar I am going to pass on him. I think the conditions have gone against him. Firm and fast and 22/1 seems fair. The weather has levelled up the playing field and he plays his best on firm, fast courses. 22/1 is a tight price and I know he has won twice and is maybe the 2nd best player in the world right now. He is a solid, reliable player who is sure to put a strong run in but I am going to leave him out.

US Open

1.5 pts each way Brandt Snedeker @ 35/1
1.5 pts each way Sergio Garcia @ 40/1
1 pt each way Steve Stricker @ 50/1
0.5 pts each way Russell Henley @ 110/1

US Open Specials

1.5 pt double Stenson @ Evs to beat Kaymer and Stallings @ Evs to beat Stanley. 72 hole match bets. (with Stan James)
0.5 pts each way Keegan Bradley to be 1st round leader @ 50/1

2013 running total = -116.95 pts. This week’s investment 11.5 points. This weeks P&L =

2012 total +150.36 points
2011 total +370.78 points
2010 total +189.33 points

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My advice comes with a point system to rate the strength of a tip. A 1 point bet means placing your usual stake, so if you would consider your normal bet being £10 then a point signifies £10.