There’s sure to be plenty of multi-screen activity going on as the second Major of the year begins US Open 2018.
US Opens are traditionally the toughest of the four majors in terms of course setup. The rough is thick, greens are slick and holes often fairly long.
Since 2004 plenty of changes have been put in place around the inland links track. The course has been lengthened by 500 yards and is now a brutal 7,440 yard par 70. This considerable distance for the par gives a huge advantage to the bigger hitters.
Total driving (distance and accuracy) is still key but the fairways are some of widest the US Open has ever seen. Find the rough though and you might as well kiss any decent score on the hole goodbye – it’s horrible in the thick stuff.
And finally scrambling – it’s inevitable that even the winner will miss plenty of GIR. It will be about getting up and down from the toughest of spots that could and probably will be the difference between top of the leaderboard and middle of the pack.
Sky Sports will be broadcasting all the action live on their dedicated channel for the event: Sky Sports Golf.
Coverage starts at 1pm on Thursday June 14.
If you’re not a Sky Sports subscriber, you can watch all the action live through Now TV, where you can buy a day pass from £7.99 – buy one here.
Now TV is also running a promotion that allows golf fans to get four months of coverage for £70, saving £60 on what you’d usually pay. Find that offer here.
There are simply too many reasons not to think Justin Rose will be a contender this week. For starters, he is in some of the most consistent and formidable form of anyone in the world, so the fact he’s not actually closer to being favourite is slightly crazy.
Since he missed the cut at the PGA Championship last August, he has played 20 events, won 4 times, recorded 11 top 10’s and made the weekend at every other tournament. That’s just insanity. He’s also propelled himself to 3rd in the world rankings and there have been some quiet talks in the media about the fact he could actually propel himself to the top spot if he wins this week.
That won’t be even close to entering his mind though, as all he’ll care about is getting in a position to challenge for his second US Open title. His game, on paper at least, absolutely fits the bill for this test. The links aspects will be very familiar to him, whilst there are very few better ball strikers to overcome the tee to green requirements. In fact his whole game is so consistent, that you can happily say he’s one of the best all-round players on the circuit and that’s exactly what we’re looking for this week.
He is also one of the few to have played here in 2004 and although he missed the cut and openly stated how much he hated the course, he has played since the changes and thought it was a much, much greater and fairer course.
If you’re going to go with anyone at the top end of the market, Rose makes so much sense with all those boxes he ticks, therefore weirdly making him decent value. Plus, it’s nice to go with a Brit as well, isn’t it?!
Jason Day has bizarrely been one of those top golfers who is accused of not winning enough events. For a few months in 2015 and separately in 2016, he went on a mad streak picking up seven trophies (including the PGA Championship) in total, but he has been known to not quite get the job done at other times. So the fact that he recorded his first win in January since The 2016 Players was encouraging. Then, going onto win the Wells Fargo a few months later is SUPER encouraging.
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Basically, much like Rose, he’s in ridiculous form. We all know he can drive the ball incredibly well, but it’s his putting that has been particularly impressive. He ranks in 1st for strokes gained putting across the season, which is hardly a surprise as in both his wins it felt like he holed everything. It’s even scarier when he said he didn’t play well after the Wells Fargo win… What does playing well mean?!
Links-wise, his form is pretty decent in the past few years, winning at Whistling Straits for that first major and a further four top 5’s at places like Pebble Beach and St. Andrews. His game should suit this sort of style and if he’s able to get his irons going, which is weirdly a shortcoming of his, he’ll definitely be challenging. You have to say he represents decent value at the top of the market.
There is just this itchy feeling that Tommy Fleetwood is on the cusp of something truly amazing. What he achieved in 2017 was incredible, but we all expected that after a highly distinguished amateur career. The Englishman finally lived up to that promise and now it’s time to take that next step and get closer to winning a major.
So, when we saw where this US Open was taking place, Fleetwood came to our minds straight away. It fits the bill for his game perfectly and he proved he can mix it at his level with a T-4 at The US Open last year (interestingly at the links-esque Erin Hills).
Tommy Fleetwood is on the verge of shocking every at The US OpenGETTY IMAGES – GETTY
Tommy Fleetwood is on the verge of shocking every at The US Open
He is very accustomed to any links test having played on British shores for most of his teenage years up in Southport, whilst the tee-to-green game he possesses is just stunning. He lies 1st for total driving on the PGA Tour, which is nuts considering the other names you’d think of before his. If he can get that driver going, the rest of his game will follow and therefore he feels like great value in the middle of the market.
Branden Grace 33/1
Branden Grace has been sneaking along this season. It feels like he’s slightly under the radar and we can only put that down to the fact he isn’t a ‘big’ name and he has only recorded four top 10’s on paper. But the fact is, he hasn’t missed a cut in 20 events. The South African has been let down by the odd nine holes or round here and there, however a T-5 at Wentworth and T-3 at the Byron Nelson in recent outings certainly catches the eye.
He’s slowly getting discussed in those top circles now after five top 6 finishes in the last 12 majors. That shows he’s got the bottle in the big ones and we really think another good finish could come on a course that should suit.