Professional handicapper Wes Reynolds (@WesReynolds1 on Twitter) is using a mythical bankroll of $250 to bet the U.S Open futures board at the Westgate:
The U.S. Open returns this week to Oakmont Country Club, just northeast of Pittsburgh. This year will be the eighth time that Oakmont has hosted the national championship, which is more than any other course. While it is a medium-length course (7,219 yards) by tour standards, Oakmont is widely considered to be one of the toughest courses in America. The last time the U.S. Open was there (2007), Golf Digest ranked it as the fifth-toughest course in America. Last week, Phil Mickelson called it “the toughest course I’ve ever played.” In 2007, the winning score was 285 (5 over par), shot by Angel Cabrera.
After two years of not having high and thick rough at Pinehurst No. 2 and Chambers Bay, the U.S. Open rough is back in full force. When you combine the rough with greens that could roll as fast as 14 on the stimpmeter, this tournament probably will present the year’s biggest challenge for the game’s best.
$75 on Dustin Johnson (12-1): Going only one below the “Big Three” (Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy) with D.J. here. Certainly all three short favorites are capable of winning and are in good form with each winning an event within the last calendar month, but I go with the man who is arguably the most naturally talented player in the game.
The athletic and long-hitting (third on PGA Tour in driving distance) Johnson obviously has the game and the physical tools to win majors, but his mental approach and lacking a more experienced caddie long have been considered his weaknesses. Nonetheless, his form is difficult to ignore. Coming off a third-place finish at the Memorial and a fifth-place finish last week in Memphis gives him momentum. He also has finished no worse than seventh in four of his past five major championships. I backed him last year when a three-putt from 12 feet on the 72nd hole cost him at Chambers Bay. At some point, his talent should overcome his mental block, and this looks like as good a spot as any.
$40 on Phil Mickelson (25-1): At 45, “Lefty” is running out of chances to win his final leg of the career Grand Slam. This might be his best chance to do so. Mickelson has six second-place finishes at the national championship. Here are his bridesmaid close calls: 1999 Pinehurst No 2; 2002 Bethpage Black; 2004 Shinnecock Hills; 2006 Winged Foot; 2009 Bethpage Black; 2013 Merion.
If you notice a pattern, you’ll see Mickelson’s past five runner-up finishes were on difficult courses based in the northeast portion of the country. This week we have another tough course based in the northeast. He’s in a little better form here than in previous years, including a tie for second last week in Memphis. Another motivation for Mickelson will be the Ryder Cup. Major championships give out more Ryder Cup points than any other events. After yet another Ryder Cup loss in 2014, he said he planned on making the team as a player and not as a captain’s pick.
$35 on Matt Kuchar (30-1): This is my top selection to win the U.S. Open. Kuchar has six top-10 finishes in his past eight events, and his game has finally come back around to his form of being a consistent top 15-20 world-ranked player. While not having a major championship trophy in his case, Kuchar has made 12 straight cuts in the majors and six straight cuts at the U.S. Open. His accuracy and short game are his trademarks.
$25 on Patrick Reed (40-1): The fiery and sometimes churlish Reed is 0-for-9 in terms of top-10 finishes at majors, but I believe that’s only a sign of lacking experience. Reed has proven he can win on a course with tough conditions when he won a World Golf Championship event at Doral two years ago. At the U.S. Open, a player is not going to hit every fairway or every green, so he has to be able to get out of trouble. This is where Reed excels and ranks second on the PGA Tour in scrambling. Reed was the 36-hole co-leader last year at the U.S. Open, with eventual winner Jordan Spieth, before a tough weekend ended his chances. I think he learns from that experience and contends here.
$15 on Brandt Snedeker (60-1): Snedeker has four career top-10 finishes in 10 tries at the U.S. Open, including the past two years. Like Kuchar, Snedeker is a solid all-around player without many obvious weaknesses. He is consistently one of the better putters on the tour. Oakmont features bentgrass poa annua greens, on which Snedeker excels. Along with Bubba Watson, Snedeker has four victories on these type of greens since 2008, including this year at Torrey Pines.
With the remaining funds, here are three longer shots:
$15 on Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer (60-1)
$10 on Marc Leishman and Billy Horschel (80-1)
$5 on Tony Finau (125-1) and Chris Wood (150-1)