US Open at Pebble Beach: Final-round preview and betting tips

Gary Woodland and Justin Rose shake hands
Gary Woodland and Justin Rose shake hands

After two winners from two selections on Saturday, don't miss Ben Coley's advice ahead of the final round of the US Open.

Gary Woodland and Francesco Molinari are in some ways, or at least have been, diametrically opposed golfers, Woodland all six-foot-something brawn, Molinari this short, stocky, timid man from Turin whose stock in trade was finding a fairway.

Yet since the beginning of 2018, when a crisis meeting between Molinari and his support team ignited a remarkable summer of Claret Jugs and Ryder Cup records, their paths have begun to converge. Should Woodland win the US Open on Sunday, they'll have much more in common than their mild manner.

Molinari's turn towards Woodland began with working on his power. From the ground up, guided by coach Denis Pugh he found those 20 or 30 yards' extra carry which helped him stand firm under pressure from Rory McIlroy at Wentworth. Winning there turned into winning in the US turned into winning in Scotland turned into starring in France.

Woodland's turn towards Molinari began with a copycat move, right around the time the Italian was producing that bogey-free weekend at Carnoustie to take down Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and the rest. Like Molinari, Woodland sought the guidance of Phil Kenyon, the hottest putting coach on the planet even before he managed to get the Italian pulling rabbits out of hats on those rare occasions he did miss a green.

Results for Woodland may not have been as explosive, but they were no less immediate. At the PGA Championship last August, he secured his first ever major top-10 finish. At the PGA Championship this May, he bagged his second. And now, at Pebble Beach in the 119th US Open, he has his first 54-hole major lead.

"When I see the ball going in the hole, I'm a completely different player," he said at Bellerive, and again on Saturday we saw as much. Woodland's performance on and around the greens this week has been utterly remarkable, and really he only needed a functioning short-game - rather than a leading one - to be a contender in majors. The talent from tee-to-green has always been there.

It's unfortunate for the man from Kansas that Justin Rose also happens to be out of his mind on the greens. In fact, the 2013 US Open winner has been better than Woodland by a shot or so, which would be about right on a normal week only they wouldn't rank first and third. They're breaking new ground on old ground at Pebble Beach.

Sunday, though, will surely not depend on who makes the 40-footer. This can't carry on. It will depend on whose long-game remains intact; who can avoid the sort of trouble spots which swarmed all around Dustin Johnson and forgot about Graeme McDowell; and, yes, who gets lucky.

Rose didn't have luck on his side when last faced with this kind of situation. Back in 2017, he'd done as most expected him to do and taken control of his tussle with Sergio Garcia at the Masters, and it was Garcia who had found a new trouble spot to the left of the creek at the curving 13th.

A bit of good luck for Rose - or bad luck for Garcia - and the tournament would've ended then and there, but it continued and in surviving the moment which we all thought had done for him, Garcia became something stronger than he had been before.

That is the reminder to Rose and to all of us that credentials don't always count for as much as they might. By rights it will be him and if not him then Brooks Koepka and if not Brooks Koepka then Louis Oosthuizen and if not Louis Oosthuizen then Rory McIlroy. Woodland, exposed on top of a hill, will be cut down. Were it that simple, Rose would be halfway to a grand slam.

Were it that simple, Molinari would still be that short, stocky, timid man from Turin who won once every two or three years, existing quietly in a corner of the sport which doesn't concern itself with things like Sunday of an Open Championship, and Woodland would still be that powerful show pony sat alongside him, unconcerned with affairs at Pebble Beach.

They've always had more in common than at first it seemed. Come Sunday night, they may be forever bound together by golf's history books, in a chapter about perseverance and hard work, serving as a reminder to all of us that people change, careers change.

Sunday's recommended bets

1pt Garcia to beat Spieth at 17/10

3pts Fleetwood to beat Wise at 8/11

Things are looking up with a round to go, despite Xander Schauffele's catastrophic start to round three and the fact that while Woodland was in the Masters staking plan and Rose was the headline bet in the PGA, truly neither were on my radar here.

They're looking up (and these things are relative) thanks to Chez Reavie, a 9/1 top-20 bet who currently sits in third place. Of course, given that he was a 250/1 chance there's an element of the bittersweet here but to be frank chances are that he stutters a little and finishes around 10th place anyway. Providing he doesn't win and does finish inside the 20, no complaints.

Viktor Hovland, meanwhile, was one of two winning two-ball selections yesterday, and in playing well enough to account for Webb Simpson he kept slim top continental European hopes alive. They're slim because the lead here is jointly held by Jon Rahm and Henrik Stenson four shots away, but Hovland currently fills the final place and at 28/1 that's just fine.

Should he sneak into the frame there, Reavie hang tough and Schauffele even climb into the top eight, it will have been a profitable week in an event which just has not played out how I had expected, let alone how I had hoped.

Onto today's best bets and for all that I can see Woodland going through with it, he doesn't look a bet at 2/1. Oosthuizen is somewhat tempting - he leads the field in birdies and could well make a significant early move - but we'll stick to the two-ball coupon where Sergio Garcia looks a value play against Jordan Spieth.

Much of this is built on the final-round scoring averages for 2019, which have Spieth ranked 203rd of 209 players and Garcia firmly inside the top 40. Of course, Spieth's struggles have come during a period of rebuilding after one of the worst stretches of his career, and he's only going to climb as his long-game becomes more trustworthy.

However, he's not there yet and having hit under 50 per cent of greens in regulation over the course of rounds two and three, he's having to fight for everything - all while on the end of some stick from the galleries.

Garcia struggled a little from tee-to-green early in the third round, but he came home with eight pars and a birdie and that may have set him up nicely for the sort of solid final round which has been beyond Spieth for most of the season.

At 6/4 generally and 17/10 in places, he's the best outsider, with Tommy Fleetwood the pick of the more fancied runners ahead of his two-ball with Aaron Wise.

Opposing Wise paid off yesterday and it's a little difficult to understand why we'd be able to take the same price with a different yet very similar opponent now.

Fleetwood hasn't had the week he wanted but last year's final round at Shinnecock demonstrated yet again that he's not one for throwing in the towel. He'll have eyes on the round of the day to sneak inside the top 20 and build some momentum for the summer months.

Wise was very poor throughout the third round, making an eight at the ninth and a double-bogey at the 15th in a round of 78. He's gone from having a decent chance to having no chance and it will be hard for him to recover.

Posted at 0800 BST on 16/06/19.

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read

The Sporting Life team provide their free tips for Saturday's action across a range of sports1

Saturday's Bets of the Day

A full round-up of the Sporting Life team's best fancies across Saturday's action, including racing, football, darts, golf and rugby.

Don't miss Ben Linfoot's latest preview2

Value Bet: Take Mehd to bounce back

Our racing expert Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on Qipco British Champions Day with Mehdaayih fancied to bounce back in the Champion Stakes.

Premier League and EFL football gossip and transfer rumours
3

Paper Talk: Cook chase on

Liverpool and Chelsea are monitoring Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook and there's Manchester United and Arsenal news too in a busy edition.

Oli Bell's Champions Day selections
4

Oli Bell: Saturday best bets

Five fancies for our pundit on QIPCO British Champions Day including an 18/1 chance in the closing Balmoral Handicap.

Benbatl scorches to victory at Newmarket5

Saturday's racing preview

Keith Hamer fancies Magical to win again on QIPCO British Champions Day - he has a tip for every race.

Most Read

The Sporting Life team provide their free tips for Saturday's action across a range of sports1

Saturday's Bets of the Day

A full round-up of the Sporting Life team's best fancies across Saturday's action, including racing, football, darts, golf and rugby.

Don't miss Ben Linfoot's latest preview2

Value Bet: Take Mehd to bounce back

Our racing expert Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on Qipco British Champions Day with Mehdaayih fancied to bounce back in the Champion Stakes.

Premier League and EFL football gossip and transfer rumours
3

Paper Talk: Cook chase on

Liverpool and Chelsea are monitoring Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook and there's Manchester United and Arsenal news too in a busy edition.

Oli Bell's Champions Day selections
4

Oli Bell: Saturday best bets

Five fancies for our pundit on QIPCO British Champions Day including an 18/1 chance in the closing Balmoral Handicap.

Benbatl scorches to victory at Newmarket5

Saturday's racing preview

Keith Hamer fancies Magical to win again on QIPCO British Champions Day - he has a tip for every race.

Racing Tips

Don't miss Ben Linfoot's latest preview

Value Bet: Take Mehd to bounce back

Our racing expert Ben Linfoot seeks out the value on Qipco British Champions Day with Mehdaayih fancied to bounce back in the Champion Stakes.

Oli Bell's Champions Day selections

Oli Bell: Saturday best bets

Five fancies for our pundit on QIPCO British Champions Day including an 18/1 chance in the closing Balmoral Handicap.

Simon Holt previews the action

Simon Holt: Going into 'Batl

Benbatl can back up his recent win to land the QEII on Champions Day, according to Simon Holt - he has three Saturday selections.

Next Race Off

11:00 Marseille-borely
12
(9)
Petite Milanaise
J: S Ruis
5
(8)
Vision De Roland
J: M Guyon
9
(5)
Salut Lionel
J: A Crastus

Football Tips

The Sporting Life team provide their free tips for Saturday's action across a range of sports

Saturday's Bets of the Day

A full round-up of the Sporting Life team's best fancies across Saturday's action, including racing, football, darts, golf and rugby.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package

Saturday's Premier League tips

Mark your card for Saturday's Premier League action with our best bets & predictions, including Chelsea and Manchester City.

The latest Sporting Life Accumulator

Sporting Life Accumulator

This week's Sporting Life Accumulator involves four teams from the three EFL leagues, enhanced to 18/1 with Sky Bet...