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After one of our picks, Doc Redman, was placed at 35/1 in the Safeway Open last week, the pot is at €871 entering this week's tournament of focus, the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in New York.
The second major of the year begins at 11.50 am on Thursday, with four Irish players in the field; Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, and James Sugrue.
Be sure to shop around for each-way value, with William Hill offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top 9, Paddy Power, Betfair, and Boylesports offering 1/5 the odds for your selection to place inside the top 10, and Sky Bet going 1/5 the odds the first 11 places!
Last month's U.S. PGA Championship was very exciting and proved that golf doesn't require fans to be an enthralling TV viewing experience. This should be a fascinating watch because the West Course at Winged Foot is an absolute monster.
It is staging its sixth U.S. Open.
The last time the Big Apple venue hosted the U.S. Open, in 2006, the winning score was 5 over par.
Australian Geoff Ogilvy was the last man standing back then, as Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie both self-destructed by making double bogey at the 18th hole, while our own Padraig Harrington and Jim Furyk let legitimate chances to win slip through their fingers.
In 1974, Hale Irwin's winning total at Winged Foot was 7 over par.
In 1959 Billy Casper won with a four-round total of 2 over par. He played one of the par 3's by laying up at the hole all week and getting up and down for par each day.
Winged Foot's kick hurts the wayward in the guise of six-inch rough, brutal bunkers, small undulating greens with bamboozling contours and downhill slopes like glass. Trees and water are not prominent, because they don't need to be.
Winged Foot tests all facets of a golfer's game; driving, approach play, scrambling, and putting. I really believe you need to be very talented to win this tournament, so for my three main selections, I am siding with those that have the 'X factor'. Natural talent is half the battle in golf.
From an Irish perspective, Rory McIlroy is certainly capable of winning and at 16/1 I wouldn't put anyone off. Having his first child should put a massive smile on his face, but I would prefer to see his game a little sharper than it is right now.
Shane Lowry had new clubs in the bag last week, which suggests he's not at the absolute peak of his powers. He's got the talent to win, and in 2016 was the 54 hole leader at another fiendish U.S. Open track, Oakmont. At 100/1 he may have his supporters, but I haven't seen enough of late to put him forward.
As a past winner of this tournament a decade ago, McDowell has the grinding ability and accuracy to be on the front page of the leaderboard, but I am unsure if he hits it far enough these days or if he is in good enough nick at present.
For amateur Sugrue, it will be a great learning experience.
So here we go with a quartet of picks and a rub of the genie's lamp for good fortune!
Our headline selection is Jon Rahm for €25 each way at 10/1. (1/5 the odds the first 9 places - William Hill).
Spain's Jon Rahm is going to be a multiple major winner in my view. The 25-year-old former World Amateur number one listened to hip hop to get familiar with the English language when a college golfer in Arizona, an early nod to his ability to adapt and hit the ground running. Rahm is a very hard worker and a winner who makes things happen. Just look at how he won last month's BMW Championship at Olympia Fields, a former U.S. Open course. He shot 66, 64 over the weekend (10 under par), and holed a gigantic putt to beat Dustin Johnson in the playoff. That's what winners do. Rahm also won the Memorial Tournament this year, has landed the DP World Tour Championship and beat Tiger Woods in the singles at the Ryder Cup. Hard work is one thing, but Rahm has the talent to match. He's a fantastic driver of the ball, he can get his irons dialled in and his short game is confident. He's played the ultimate test of Augusta well over the last couple of years and has curbed his volcanic temper. Now ranked second in the world, it's a matter of when, not if, he wins that major. Why not this week?
Our second selection is Patrick Cantlay for €10 each way at 25/1. (1/5 the odds the first 11 places - Sky Bet).
American Patrick Cantlay is a little bit unfashionable, always slightly under the radar. Like Rahm, he's a former top-ranked amateur in the world and another extremely talented player. The death of his best friend and a serious back problem kept Cantlay out of the game for a long period. Once he returned, healed and healthy, he began to demonstrate his talent. He finished like a train in the Masters last year, almost winning, before posting a tied third finish at the U.S. PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, a course designed by A.W. Tillinghast, the architect of Winged Foot. Cantlay then closed with a 64 to win the prestigious Memorial Tournament. He needs to improve his recent iron play, but I do think tough courses bring out the best in him, and at 12 in the world rankings, he's no back number.
Our third selection is Jason Day for €10 each way at 35/1. (1/5 the odds the first 10 places - Paddy Power and Betfair).
Australian Jason Day split from his long time coach and mentor Col Swatton, but sometimes change is needed and Day, who has battled a range of ailments but is now healthy again, is one of the most naturally talented players on the planet. A former world number one, the 2015 U.S. PGA Champion amassed four top 10 finishes in four years at the U.S. Open between 2013 and 2016. He was bang in contention at last month's U.S. PGA Championship behind Collin Morikawa, the conclusion of four consecutive top 10 placings on the tour. Day then faded on his last two starts, so there's a degree of uncertainty in factoring his readiness, but I always feel that at his best, he's got the entire package. His scrambling was excellent at Harding Park, and he'll need that at Winged Foot. It's always at the back of my mind that Day nearly won the Masters as a rookie. On song, he's a danger to all.
Our final selection this week is Matt Wallace for €5 each way at 150/1. (1/5 the odds the first 11 places - Sky Bet).
The outsider I am selecting is England's Matt Wallace, a four-time European Tour winner who plays well on tough golf courses. Inside the top 15 at last year's U.S. Open, Wallace also finished in a tie for third at the U.S. PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. The 30-year-old played well at the Memorial Tournament in July, ending in a tie for fourth. He's battled his way from the Challenge Tour, to the European Tour, to the winner's enclosure, to decent finishes at majors. Wallace doesn't lack confidence and has veteran caddie Dave McNeilly on the bag. He's the grinder of the four picks and I think with 11 places on offer, he could contend to reward those each-way terms.
So that's this week's selections with a splash of virtual money, but please bet less at home! A euro each way is fine!
Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!