As the third major of the year gets under way on Thursday, the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts hosts the 122nd US Open.
Scene of one of the most infamous chapters in Ryder Cup history, Justin Leonard’s giant 17th hole putt saw a green invasions by the Americans, as Europe, with the trophy set to return home had their hearts broken in two. Recriminations followed as we all know, not least from European skipper Sam Torrance and Jose Maria Olazabal. Here, in the fourth US Open at Brookline and the first since 1988 however, where is the smart money this time around?
*all bets with SkyBet for 12 places unless stated
Could Europe have a measure of redemption in the Bay State this week? It could come from Rory McIlroy. Still without a major in eight years, the Northern Irishman arrives at Brookline fresh from the defence of his RBC Canadian Open. The winner at Congressional 11 years ago, McIlroy is favourite for his fifth major here and SkyBet have a win at 10/1 with 10 places instead of eight, for the Briton to take the trophy for a second time.
British hopes will also be with Matt Fitzpatrick. Still without a win in the US, the Sheffield native is enjoying some of his best form to date and finished a major-best T5 at Southern Hills last month. Fitzpatrick also has the impressive accolade of having won at the Country Club before, taking the 2013 US Amateur title nine years back. The Englishman is 18/1 at 12 places with Betfair.
Having missed the cut at the PGA Championship meanwhile, Masters champion Scottie Scheffler will look to get back on the major hunt at Brookline. In his third US Open, the New Jersey man finished T7 at Torrey Pines 12 months ago and having missed out on a fifth Tour win since February at the Charles Schwab via a playoff, Scheffler still has the form to say he is the best in the game. The world number one is 11/1 or 11 places at 12/1 with BoyleSports.
This week’s tournament has the rather significant spectre of LIVGolf hanging over it, as players from the Saudi-backed golf league had their first competition last week in Hertfordshire. With the roster still permitted to play the majors, two big draws will be in town. Though neither have anything close to form, Phil Mickelson is still missing his home Open from the Grand Slam set, whilst Dustin Johnson won in 2016 at Oakmont. Either man winning would create uproar but it is not an impossibility. Indeed, if they take your fancy, Mickelson can be backed at 150/1, with Johnson at 40/1. Both players can be had for 12 places with Betfair.
Returning to the more likely contenders, Justin Thomas will be seeking back-to-back majors after his win at Southern Hills and for either JT or Scheffler to win, SkyBet have a nice boost to check out at 11/2. For another special at the same price and with the same bookie, Thomas and McIlroy will been confident of a top 10 finish – including ties. Should that occur, punters will be sitting pretty.
Of the other names in the frame Sam Burns has won in the US three times this season and is hurtling up the FedEx Cup standings and well worth backing at 30/1 for nine places with William Hill. Billy Horschel’s win at Memorial was perhaps his most impressive Tour win so far and in his 35th major entry this week, might finally mount a sustained charge at 35/1. A final name to consider is Tony Finau after his late surge in Toronto last week. Having rather faded from view of late Finau looks capable of well-timed run in Massachusetts and Betfair can oblige most willingly at 25/1 for 12 places.