Selectabet: 111th US Open Championship
June 13, 2011 Leave a comment
Date: 16th – 19th June 2011
Competition: 111th US Open Championship
Venue: Congressional Country Club (Blue course), Washington, Maryland
The PGA Executives behind the usually tough US Open have stated that they want the 111th outing to be a rigorous test, and players will testify that the set up for the Congressional is a brutally long, demanding golf challenge. Even 2010 US Open Champion Graham MacDowell (56/1 at Betfair) has predicted that no one will break par!
Set up to potentially be the longest US Open course in its 111 year history, to win this years’ Championship anyone with the ability to hit the ball a good distance off the tee and bring their approach shots in with a high ball flight should place highly at Congressional.
Yards: 7,574 yards
Included in this quality field are the top 50 in the Official World Rankings and the winners of the majors for the past 5 years, along with the leading individuals of the biggest tours across the world and the fierce competition through qualification tournaments for others including Sergio Garcia (80/1 at Betfair) and the European Tours’ Nicolas Colsaerts (275/1 at Betfair) and Stephen Gallacher (797/1 at Betfair!!!).
Two notable absences are Tiger Woods who, with further knee knack problems misses his first US Open since 1994 and Vijay Singh who misses his first consecutive Major in 67 starts through seeming Lazyitis.
Isolated thunder storms and rain showers are scheduled between periods of sunshine over competition days will make an already lengthy course, even longer – so expect long rounds of viewing and perhaps the odd “T-storm” delay. So not only requiring players to be long off the tee, but patient in equal measure!
Three, of the 18 belting holes, will make or break a scorecard – the Par 5 9th hole is one of the most demanding holes in U.S. Open history; bunkers guard both sides of the fairway off the tee. Players must lay up on their second shot to avoid the deep ravine in front of the green. For all but the longest of hitters, it would be insane to attempt to reach the short stuff in two.
The 11th – a 494 yard par 4 has an elevated tee overlooking a tight landing area that slopes from left to right. The narrow fairway runs into a stream that guards the entire right side of this hole. All second shots require great accuracy to negotiate the connected water hazards on the right and the bunkers on the left.
Congressional’s par 4 signature hole is as challenging a conclusion as any in the world and is set up perfectly for a long, right-to-left tee shot through a narrow opening of trees. Anything too far right will find trouble in a thick grove of cedars. Bunkers right of the green AND water on three sides make the second shot a test of courage. At 523 yards this is the longest of all par 4’s at Congressional and a dramatic finish is almost a guarantee.
Ones to watch:
Consistently achieving top ten’s (7 in 14 starts on the PGA Tour), 19th in the putting stats and ranking high in greens in regulation Hunter Mahon (25/1 at BetDaq, Betfair and William Hill) is a top 5 ranked performer with only one missing piece to his 2011 season jigsaw – a victory. With such a strong and open field – might the Hunter become the hunted?
Not a week goes by without World Number 1, Luke Donald (14/1 SportingBet and SkyBet) making someone’s’ “One to Watch” list – mine included, but his consistency is world class and with leading stats in nearly every one of the core golf elements on both the PGA and European Tours – you would be a brave man to bet against him. However, like Hunter, the one thing missing from this man’s trophy cabinet is a victory – only this time in a Major. A win would silence many of the grumbling Americans for whom World Number 1 means nothing without a “big four” trophy in your clutches.
Nicknamed “Mr. September” due to his success in the FedEx Cup playoffs (never having finished outside the top-25 in ten career starts) Steve Stricker (25/1 at 888sport.com, Victor Chandler and BetFred) is my each way pick. A leading scrambler and low scorer, The Strick (who clearly spends too much time self penning nicknames and not winning major tournaments!), at number 4 in the world, is the highest ranked American and one of several serious contenders for the title. Not long off the tee, the 41 year old veteran ranks high in so many of the stat ratings that barring uncharacteristic mistakes – surely makes an each way bet a sure thing!
One to Win:
With consistency AND flair just two of many weapons in his arsenal, and to me, as American as Mom, Apple Pie and, well, er, Baseball – Bubba Watson (49/1 at UNIBet), whom I’ve been looking for a reason to tip for ages but am handicapped as the European Tour writer, provides my first chance to do so.
Twice a winner on the PGA Tour already this season, Bubba hits long (not just long but “Bubba Long!”) and damn straight and hits a large number of greens in regulation. I’m tipping Bubba to win his first major, making it five consecutive Major titles to first time major winners. And with a 20+ yard advantage per hole over the average Tour player, does a 400 yard course head start mean one hand is already prepped to take the trophy come Sunday?