Dave Tindall, Matt Cooper, Ben Coley, Ian Richards, Martin Mathews and Jason Daniels each provide their best bet for the US Open.
With winning scores of +6, +2, +7, -4 and +5 in the five US Opens at Winged Foot, history points to an over par 72-hole tally this week. The obvious counter is that the game has changed, hence the recent totals of -16 and -13 in two of the last three years. However, it's worth noting that the USGA tend to react when low scores are posted. The year after Rory McIlroy's -16 at Congressional, Webb Simpson triumphed at Olympic with +1. And 12 months on from Brooks Koepka's -16 at Erin Hills, he defended with +1 at Shinnecock in 2018. So, following Gary Woodland's -13 at Pebble Beach in 2019, it's fair to assume the trend continues. Winged Foot looks the ideal place to test the theory and, of course, the pandemic means there will be no crowds to trample down the thick rough. Back the WINNING SCORE TO BE 280+ at 8/11 with Bet365 and embrace the chaos.
Follow Dave on twitter @DaveTindallgolf
You'll have to shop around and weight stakes accordingly here but the basic message is this: take on Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson in the top left-hander market. Watson has an abysmal record in the US Open, missing five of his last six cuts and failing to threaten since way back in 2007. It seems as though he's concluded this semi-absurd grind isn't really for him and his close-range putting remains a major issue. As for Mickelson, he has demons to lay to rest here and could go well - but there are risks attached and he's short enough. The main issue is he hit three fairways in total last weekend and he'll not get away with that here. That leaves BRIAN HARMAN and ROBERT MACINTYRE and I'm inclined to keep it simple and dutch them. Harman has been 11th and 12th in his last two starts and his best US Open finish - second in 2017 - is better than anything Bubba has done. MacIntyre played well at Portrush, made the cut at the PGA recently, and his fightback at Valderrama was impressive. Both have the grit for this and if either can make the weekend, that really could do it. Anything around the 6/4 mark and upwards that either lands this bet is value.
Follow Ben on twitter @BenColeyGolf
XANDER SCHAUFFELE’s capacity to perform in elite fields is mightily impressive. He has eight top 20-finishes from 12 major championship starts (three from three in the US Open), another seven from ten starts in WGC stroke play tournaments, one from two starts in the PLAYERS Championship, four from four in the TOUR Championship, two from three in the Tournament of Champions, and even one from one in Europe’s Tour Championship. I’m not overlooking that many of those are not just elite fields, but small ones too. I just still think the numbers are outstanding.
Follow Matt on twitter @MattCooperGolf
I admit to having a bit of a soft spot for SEBASTIAN MUNOZ as I backed him when he won on the Korn Ferry Tour on his home course in Bogota at 200/1. I probably didn’t expect to be backing him at the same price to win a major four years later but he really can play and finally the rest of his game is catching up with his putting prowess. With bumper places on offer all I am asking for is a repeat of his last two performances where he was eighth in the BMW Championship and seventh in the TOUR Championship, although that comes with the caveat of a larger field. His game has been solid in all departments though – he actually led the all-around stats at East Lake as not only was his putting good but he was second for driving accuracy and fifth for greens in regulation, attributes he will require this week. It was exactly this time last year that he followed a seventh place at the Greenbrier with his first PGA Tour win at the Sanderson Farms, and the last time he played in New York he was runner-up on the Korn Ferry tour in 2018.
Follow Ian on twitter @SBIdotcom
MACKENZIE HUGHES is fancied to go well and can land a place in the top 20. At almost 30 years old the Canadian fits the long-held view that a golfer peaks around that age as he's in the form of his life right now. Proving his worth in tough events in 2017 at Pebble Beach and Sawgrass, he furthered that view in 2019, losing only to Graeme McDowell in the Dominican Republic, and this year his consistency has seen him climb to the fringes of the world's top 50. Tied third at the Travelers reads better than you would think given that event links a lot of players to a big US Open, and sixth at Muirfield demonstrated again how strong he is around the greens and how well suited he is to a proper test. Getting to be known for his long putting exploits, it was that asset that allowed him to qualify for the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake where he finished seventh in 72-hole scoring. That followed finishes of T13 and T10 and there is no reason why he cannot continue in this vein round a course that will require quality when just off the putting surfaces. He may not be the second ever Ontario-born player to win a major, after Mike Weir, but it's not out of the question.
Follow Jason on twitter @ThirtySixHoles
I have a strong hunch that former PLAYERS champion SI WOO KIM could deliver his best major performance to date this week and find himself at the business end of proceedings come Sunday. With his work under the tutelage of Claude Harmon III really paying off, Kim arrives here on the back of ten straight weekends played, which includes four top-20 finishes, and with his long-game thriving he should be able to handle the tee-to-green challenge of Winged Foot better than most. The icing on the cake is that despite his troubles with the flat stick the young Korean is actually one of the best scramblers on the PGA Tour, something which is reflected in his regular annual appearance in the top-25 of the strokes-gained around-the-green statistics. As we know from Kim’s memorable victory at Sawgrass he is more than capable in this company when the mood suits him and I am confident he can match if not improve on his recent 13th place at TPC Harding Park in the PGA.
Follow Martin on twitter @Sundogmonkey
With local ties - he grew up just minutes away from Winged Foot - and a recent win on the Korn Ferry Tour to his name, BRANDON WU can go well this week. He's a highly-promising youngster who impressed many when waltzing through Open Championship qualifying last summer and he'll soon be establishing himself on the PGA Tour. With an early tee-time on day one he's been popular in the first-round leader market, but the best way to play him may be to take 9/4 that he finishes in the top 40. He did that at last year's US Open (T35), has improved since, and has the accuracy-based game to stay out of trouble.