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2014 US Open Preview

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The world’s most difficult golf tournament is finally before us. Every year the field sets out to try and conquer some crazy course conditions en route to hopefully finishing below par for the tournament, yet very few succeed at that. The past two years the winner has won with scores of +1. Get ready for a lot of frustrated professionals trying to find their way through tight fairways, thick rough, and glass-like putting surfaces. We may be Tiger-less but we certainly aren’t excitement free. This should be one for the ages. Pinehurst has hosted two prior US Open’s, back in 1999 when Payne Stewart edged Phil Mickelson and then Michael Campbell shocked the world by holding off Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia. This should be yet another incredible major championship and another amazing US Open as Phil Mickelson returns to the course that he came so close to winning his first career major at.


Notable Tee Times (Round 1 Hole 1/Round 2 Hole 10)


Sergio Garcia, Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker


Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar, Lee Westwood


Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell

Notable Tee Times (Round 1 Hole 10/Round 2 Hole 1)


Justin Rose, Matthew Fitzpatrick (A), Phil Mickelson


Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler

Notable Tee Times (Round 1 Hole 1/Round 2 Hole 10)


Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Victor Dubuisson


Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel


Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Martin Kaymer

Notable Tee Times (Round 1 Hole 10/Round 2 Hole 1)


Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Bill Haas

Going Out

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Hole 1: Par 4 402 yards

This tricky opening hole demands serious precision. Being a short par 4 you probably won’t see too many players opting to hit driver, especially since the fairway narrows considerably at the length a driver would typically reach. A shorter drive will leave about 150 yards or less to a domed green. Any wayward shot on this hole will make par extremely difficult on this hole. Anything but great precision into this green will cause the ball to roll away from the hole in every direction. Starting off with a missed fairway will only make that approach shot that much more difficult.

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Hole 2: Par 4 507 yards

In the 2005 US Open this played as the most difficult hole on the course. While recent renovations have widened the landing zone off the tee, this green is nearly impossible to navigate. That is if you can carry the ball over the giant hump located at the front of the green that just loves repelling balls more so than Dikembe Mutombo. 


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Hole 3: Par 4 387 yards

This is going to be one to watch all week but especially when they tee off from the forward most tees. You should see guys like Bubba Watson trying to drive this green. However missing this green makes for a nearly impossible up and down.


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Hole 4: Par 4 529 yards

In both of the previous US Open’s here this hole played as a Par 5. However this time through the tee shot will be more downhill than in the past. Either way that extra shot makes a huge difference on a 529 yard hole that slopes left to right on a course that features holes that predominantly slope right to left.

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Hole 5: Par 5 576 yards

This hole has gone the opposite way of the 4th in that it had been played as a Par 4 in both of the previous US Open’s. However this year it should create quite a bit of drama with such a risk/reward decision to make. With any good drive most players should be have the option to give their second shot a ride to reach the green in two but it is going to take one hell of a shot since the ball will be sitting well above the right handed players feet. Even with a second shot onto the putting surface there is still no guarantee of escaping with a birdie since this is the toughest green on the course to stick on as well as the most difficult to putt on with the many different slopes.

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Hole 6: Par 3 219 yards

This par 3 might just play as the most difficult Par 3 on the course this week. This long par 3 features a false front as well as one of the deepest bunkers on the course on the front left side of the green. When the pins are up the front this is one of those holes that a par is a victory. This green is so slippery fast that any putt from the back side of the green has a chance of running 20 yards off the green.


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Hole 7: Par 4 424 yards

This is one of those holes that requires great strategy and execution. With a severe right to left dogleg most will elect to hit less than driver off the tee with a right to left shot shape before hitting their approach shot into a green guarded by a large bunker on the right side and nice big plateau in the middle of the green that we will see one of the pin placements sitting right on top of. However when played smart, this can be a birdie hole.

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Hole 8: Par 4 502 yards

Yet another par 4 over 500 yards here at the eighth. This one is straight ahead but features so many different slopes in the fairway that you could have four different stances for the approach shot over the course of four rounds. The approach shot is really the key for this hole. Anything long or left will drop off almost ten feet. Anything right will be gobbled up by the bunker in the picture and if you look closely anything short is going to roll on back down into the fairway. It can certainly be birdied but it is going to require three great shots.

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Hole 9: Par 3 191 yards

This is certainly one of the crazier looking greens you may ever see. With two very distinct levels you must be accurate off the tee if you hope to make birdie. Missing the green will almost certainly result in a bogey and just being on the putting surface off the tee guarantees nothing but a difficult putt.

Coming Home

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Hole 10: Par 5 617 yards

Unlike the other par 5 on this course, this will almost certainly require three shots to reach. You may see guys like Bubba reach back and try and fire a bomb off the tee to set up for a second shot into the green, but it is going to take a hell of a second shot with a big swinging shot shape or a sky ball over some trees protecting the left side. The risk/reward might not be there until Sunday when someone is trying to make a late surge to the top. The first three rounds this should be a hole that is played smart and should result in quite a few birdies.

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Hole 11: Par 4 483 yards

This hole requires quite a confident swing off the tee to a semi blind landing zone. Something tells me after that we will see a lot of guys missing this green to the right. Missing left will make for a nearly impossible up and down either out of a deep bunker or an uphill chip out of thick rough onto the downslope of the green. Conversely missing the green right will lead to a safe chip onto the upslope of the green allowing for quite a bit of control.

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Hole 12: Par 4 484 yards

This tee shot should be one of the easiest to find the fairway. But this hole gets a lot more difficult after that. The green slopes from back to front quite severely and any approach shot over the green will drop off a few feet and leave a chip back down the slippery slope of the green. This green should see quite a few three putts before the tournament is over.

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Hole 13: Par 4 382 yards

Birdie is certainly on the table for this hole. Unlike most holes on this course being long with the approach shot is far better than being short. With several bunkers and a false front guarding the mouth of this green you should see a number of players going over the green here at thirteen. Regardless this should be a birdie hole given it’s distance and relatively open driving zone.

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Hole 14: Par 4 473 yards

This tee shot really favors players that can shape the ball left to right in order to avoid that bunker on the left side of the driving zone. The approach shot goes back to the course tendency of being short is better than being long seeing as to how severe the slope is from back to front. Being short and straight leaves a relatively easy up and down whereas from any other angle makes it really difficult to make par.

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Hole 15: Par 3 202 yards

This is the smallest green on the back nine and it sits up on a plateau surrounded by a false front, thick rough and bunkers meaning an accurate tee shot is needed to avoid trouble.

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Hole 16: Par 4 528 yards

This right to left dogleg features the only water hazard on the course even though it isn’t in play for the professionals not named Kevin Na, let’s be honest he is so due for a 12 at this point. Tee shots down the left side should get the benefit of a nice bounce forward leaving an approach shot to a green with yet another big slope from back to front. Something tells me we are going to see Bubba unload at least one mammoth drive on this hole this week.

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Hole 17: Par 3 205 yards

While this green is pretty big and therefore easier to hit than some of the other holes, you can see how heavily protected it is. A tee shot that isn’t on point is going to find some serious trouble no matter where the miss is. This should be a fun penultimate hole come Sunday.

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Hole 18: Par 4 451 yards

The final hole features a landing zone off the tee that is a bit fake. It appears to be much wider than it really is. This green is certainly not easy to navigate and come Sunday we should see a back right pin placement just like it was when Payne Stewart won back in 1999.



Now what should we be betting?

Stay Away From


Rory McIlroy 10-1

Without Tiger here is your 2014 favorite at 10-1. Now we know he has the ability to win this thing, but recently he has struggled to put together four good rounds. He might go low, for the US Open, for one or two rounds but I don’t think he can reel the rest of his game enough to put together the four solid rounds needed to win this grind of a tournament. He should be towards the top of the leaderboard when it is all said and done, but I’m not so sure he will actually be a factor at any point and at just 10-1 I’m not willing to make that gamble.

Jordan Spieth 20-1

This young kid just hasn’t shown the ability to put together a good Sunday round this year. While his future is as bright as it can be I feel as though he is a year away from true stardom. He might even be the 54 hole leader, but I don’t think he has the grit to get through that final 18 as the leader.

Justin Rose 30-1

Since 1991 only four defending champions have finished inside the top 15 the following year in this tournament. Not to mention the fact that there have been seven that have missed the cut altogether. 30-1 is a nice price but the odds of him winning back to back US Open’s is just astronomical.

Best Bets

Bubba Watson 18-1

Bubba has a real good shot at winning this thing if he has control of that long stick. If he is on his game and pounding his driver deep in the fairway he has a great shot at winning this one. His length could be a huge advantage on a few of the holes especially in a tournament in which par is a good score through four rounds. Any advantage you may have needs to be exploited early and often in this tournament.

Matt Kuchar 20-1

It feels as though Kuchar should have won himself a couple of major tournaments at this point. His game is so well rounded that it’s a damn shame he hasn’t won one yet. However this might be the course to earn that first major championship victory at for Matt. Back in 2005 he missed the cut but that was the norm for Kuchar back then. Since 2010 he has only missed the cut in two of the seventeen major championships held while he finished inside the top 10 in six of them. This course seems to set up nicely for Kuchar as long as he brings his A game.

Dustin Johnson 30-1

Dustin Johnson probably should have at least one major championship under his belt at this point if not two. But someone has to lose even if it’s in dramatic fashion. Either way like Bubba DJ has a distinct advantage off the tee over most of the field which should help him on a few holes as long as his approach game is on point. Again in a tournament where the winners each of the past two years finished at one over par, if you have an advantage you need to focus on it and make sure you capitalize on it since every shot is of the utmost importance. Plus how can you face Mr. Gretzky if you lose yet another major? 

Jim Furyk 35-1

The fact that every shot is so incredibly important it really brings the smarter players into the mix. Mr. Furyk has made a living off of that. He doesn’t have tremendous power or anything but he takes what the course gives him. He won this thing back in 2003 for his only major championship and finished 28th the last time it was held at Pinehurst. This is another one of those guys that it seems baffling that they don’t have more victories in majors, that was his only major championship victory to date. But this course could set up nicely for Furyk like it does Kuchar and at 35-1 you are getting someone that should be around come Sunday with a shot at winning.

Zach Johnson 50-1

If there is one thing you/I should have learned from the hole by hole preview, it is that precision is the number one most important thing on this course, and that is the foundation of this cat’s game. He won’t blast the ball off the tee but he will play a smart game and he won’t make mistakes. If his short irons are zoned in, he could have himself a stellar tournament. While he hasn’t fared particularly well in US Open’s throughout his career this one feels different to me. While there are four long par 4’s that could put him at a disadvantage, if he has his short game going he can make up a lot of ground on a course with just two par 5’s. Remember he is a former Masters champion and you don’t necessarily earn that title by out-driving everyone.

Steve Stricker 60-1

With every major championship that passes that Stricker doesn’t win, every real golf fan gets a little bit sadder. This guy is such a class act and is so f’n good at and for the game he deserves to at least win one major championship before he hangs em up. If there was ever a chance for him to grab one it’s this one. He is a crafty ball striker that can string together a bunch of pars. While that doesn’t sound like someone you may want to bet on, it is at the US Open. Even par would have won this tournament each of the past two years and four of the past eight as well as forced a playoff in 2010. I can’t begin to explain how much value you are getting at 60-1 for Stricker and you couldn’t have your money on a better guy to root for.

Best Value Bets

Sergio Garcia 30-1

I wish there was a bet for odds on Sergio to choke away this tournament but since that doesn’t exist I’ll take the 30-1 value you are getting on him to win. Call it a hunch but I have a strange feeling he is going to be around on Sunday and just might steal this thing. He has been playing some good golf this year and while normally I would put him in the “Stay Away From” category given the US Open conditions, this tournament feels a little different to me. I don’t think there will be a ton of scores below par but it feels like there should be some scoring chances for guys that are accurate and can putt. Sergio has shown the ability to do that this year. While I certainly wish he was closer to 50-1, and he would be if Tiger were playing, I actually do like his chances to win even at 30-1. For a little peace of mind for those still skeptical… Sergio finished T3 back in 2005, the last time the US Open was held at Pinehurst.

Lee Westwood 35-1

Lee is another one amongst the long, growing list of guys that feels like they should have at least one major championship under their belt. While he has never shown the ability to get the job done when it counts in these tournaments, he has played some exceptional golf. Since 2008 Lee has played in 24 majors. Of those 24 he has two runner up finishes, six third place finishes, twelve top 10’s and fourteen top 11’s while missing the cut just three times. That is one hell of a track record for someone who hasn’t pushed through for a victory yet. It feels as though every major in recent memory he has found himself in the lead after every round but the one that counts. At 35-1 you are getting someone that will almost certainly be there when it counts on Sunday and that is all you can hope for out of a 35-1 shot.

Rickie Fowler 75-1

Rickie seems to have the right combination of game to make a serious bid for this championship. He finished 10th in this tournament a year ago and I would be amazed if he wasn’t around the top of the leaderboard come Sunday. Am I sure he has what it takes to win? No of course not but 75-1?! Yes please.

Victor Dubuisson 75-1

I wish this Frenchman had more value than Rickie but he is scrappy enough and can pound the ball far enough that he deserves a look. This course can throw some funky shots at you and he has the ability to amaze you with a crazy up and down. I don’t think he deserves the same odds as Rickie but I still like him at 75-1 as a longshot. I think Dubuisson has what it takes to win this thing but only if the circumstances call for it, meaning he has to be around very late on Sunday. He has the ability to scramble from crazy lies as we have seen in the past, but he needs to get off to a steady start the first three days, and day one especially.

Nicolas Colsaerts 250-1

There are two reasons I am putting him on here. One he has such exceptional ability to mash the ball off the tee that if he can be accurate off the tee he has an advantage. The other is the fact that he is 250-1 and that it would be rather fitting if either him Bubba or DJ wins this thing after being the most disappointing trio in last year’s US Open.

My Pick

Phil Mickelson 13-1

How many times do you think Phil has run this memory through his mind the past few days…


I forgot the set of balls Payne Stewart had. Between the vest, hat, socks and game this guy had balls. He had swagger before swagger existed. RIP bud you are certainly missed even if you don’t get the credit you necessarily deserve.


Anyways, if not for that crazy par putt on the 72nd hole, Phil might already have achieved the career grand slam. Instead here we are some 15 years later at Pinehurst with Phil still on the hunt for his first US Open championship and sixth career major victory. Last year he finished runner up to Justin Rose and this year he looks to end that career long drought of not winning the US Open. Something tells me this is the one he has wanted the most from the beginning. Yes you can point to Augusta, but when you have six second place finishes in one single major tournament you tend to drool over the thought of getting over the hump and winning that one. Six second places is rather mind blowing actually. Think about how different history could be had he won those six. While he can’t be thrilled with his Sunday performance last week, he certainly won’t feel any kind of complacency or overconfidence. This year it’s Phil’s tournament, everyone else is just creating television worthy material around him.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

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