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US Open Handicapping Preview

US Open Handicapping Preview

US Open Handicapping Preview
By Alf Musketa

In this U.S. Open Handicapping Preview we'll try to dissect Bethpage Black and look at who we think can win this major tournament.

The U.S. Open is the toughest test of golf that the game has to offer. The par 70 layout will play 7,426 yards.

Bethpage Black, which seven years ago played to a 74.72 stroke average, this time is 200 yards longer. Three par-4 holes measuring more than 500 yards and the 525-yard seventh is longer than the 517-yard par-5 fourth hole. There are four dog leg holes that bend right to left and four holes that bend left to right. You'll need all the shots to tackle this monster. We won't dwell on the stats or results of 2002, too much has changed in the power game.

Rocco Mediate last year's runner up said, "To compete here you need to drive it in the fairway." Driving accuracy is always an important stat in this event.

No characteristic defines the U.S. Open more than the rough. The new concept of graduated rough from the USGA has been accepted by the players for the past three years. The first six feet is a intermediate cut, playable and the ball does not drop to the bottom. The second cut is 20 feet of primary rough that is dense 2.5 to 3 inches and finally from there to the spectators ropes is a brutal 4 to 6 inches of the thick stuff.

Mike Davis the USGA man in charge of setting up the courses the past couple of Opens says the graduated rough is a stern test where, "the punishment fits the crime."

The greens at the Black can get as fast as 14.5 on the stimpmeter but unlike many U.S. Opens they are relatively flat with not much undulations.

The 7th hole is now the longest par 4 in the history of the U.S. Open at 525 yards. If you hit the primary cut only a handful of players will get close to this green in regulation.
So, what are we looking for in a player to bet on in future books or matchups. It is easy to say Tiger Woods or someone that hits it long and straight, but in the past year Tour players have used their 3-woods more and more instead of the driver and who can blame them. Why? The 3-woods of today are 43 inches long the same length that drivers were 14 years ago and most top players can now hit their 3-wood 275-300 yards! Henrik Stenson won the Players Championship only hitting his driver twice in the final round, but was long and straight with his Callaway 3-wood.

Grinders win U.S. Opens. Players that can get up and down from deep rough and players that can bounce back from a bad shot usually do not fall down the leaderboard. Tiger won here in 2002 with a total score of -3 under-par. He was the only player under-par. He also led the field in GIR. Players that fire at the flags and make allot of birdies do not fare well in U.S. Opens. Par is a good score or as the USGA likes to put it, "each hole at a U.S. Open should be a hard par, but an easy bogey."

Tiger Woods 9/5

I've seen Tiger at EVEN money at many establishments after winning the Memorial. You have to remember that a good percentage of bets to win this major or any tournament that Tiger tees it up in, is on the favorite. The sportsbooks are cheering against Tiger. Yes, he hit every fairway in the final round of the Memorial, but those fairways are 45-50 yards wide compared to 25 yards in the U.S Open. He will not lead the field in fairways hit this week, if he does, he wins, easy. The New York media is hyping, "Back to Back at the Black." We'll try to bet Tiger in matchups at -250 or less or to WIN after he has the lead.

Jim Furyk 18/1

I've made more money betting on Furyk in matchups than any other golfer in the world. At the Memorial according to Shot Link, Furyk and not Tiger led the field in fairways hit with 50 of 56. Tiger had 49 which is 87.5% a personal best for him. Furyk can work the tee ball as good as anyone on Tour both ways and is putting extremely well. He won the 2003 U.S Open at Olympia Fields.

Angel Cabrera 50/1

Cabrera "the Duck" shanks it at Augusta and still won the Masters in a playoff. Talk about grinders, when he won the U.S. Open two years ago at Oakmont, somehow he got it on the greens from deep rough! The guys has power, talent and a very underrated putting stroke. He has won just twice on the PGA tour both of those wins were majors.

Retief Goosen 35/1

The Goose is always a threat at the U.S. Open. No one putts fast greens better than the Goose. He won earlier this year at the Transitions event on a very difficult golf course at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course.

Steve Stricker 30/1

Stricker won a couple of weeks ago at Colonial, a tight demanding track. Other than Tiger, if I had to pick someone to make a putt to win, Stricker has the purest stroke. He is not a good wind player, but the early forecast calls for showers Thursday and Saturday, but not much wind.


Ross Fisher 120/1

Fisher had a share of the lead early in the Masters. The Englishman is sneaky long off the tee and a deadly with his irons. He had nine Top 10's in 2008 on the European Tour. He missed the cut at last year's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, but that was his first go-round.

Dustin Johnson 125/1

Huge odds here for one of the young guns on Tour that can hit it Nine Miles. He has won twice in the past 10 months on the PGA Tour! He ranks 41st in the World!

David Toms 100/1

If you shop you may find higher than 100/1, which maybe stealing because as of this writing Toms is three off the lead at the St. Jude Classic. When he's on, he's on and there is no better course manager. He has six Top 10's this year, LEADS THE TOUR IN DRIVING ACCURACY NO.#1. One of the ways British punters, or bettors play the future book, is to buy the longshot prices and once they are near the lead or up there on the leaderboard, offer a lesser price to the betting public say 20/1 and hedge your wager. Toms could easily fit that model.


Winning Score

There are no props up yet, but I project a winning score of 275 which is -5 under par. There looks like a the Farmingdale, NY will get some rain possibly on each of the first three days of competition. So, softening up the course will result in more tee shots finding the fairway and the greens holding.

Best Round

The sportsbooks will probably have Over/Under 65.5. Recall this is a par 70. I believe someone will shoot -5 under or 65 or less in soft conditions.

Check back with us during week U.S. Open week for my Matchups and possible Proposition bets.

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Re: US Open Handicapping Preview

Ron Raymond's US Open Golf Picks

Nobody has won back to back US Open Golf Championships since Curtis Strange did in ’88 and 89. Plus, from what I can gather from local players and professional golfers, if you’re a bit wild off the tees, you will be in for a long day, because there’s no forgiveness at Bethpage Black. Here’s what you’re looking for when picking a golfer to win the 2009 US Open Championship.

1. You want somebody who is accurate in driving and hit’s the fairways with consistency.
2. Somebody who can nail putts, because like they say; “You drive for show and putt for dough”.
3. Finding a golfer who has won this year, this mean they know how to deal with pressure on Sunday.

Gold Pick - Zach Johnson +5050: Zach Johnson is my top choice to win the 2009 US Open Golf Championship at Bethpage Black. In my view, the winner of the US Open will need to be able to take out the driver and be ready to “grip it and rip it” and hit the fairways consistently. In fact, Johnson is hitting 69.5% of his drives in the fairways this season and is ranked 15th in accuracy. Plus, he’s won 2 events (Sony Open in Hawaii and Valero Texas Open) this year and has 5 top ten finishes and eight Top 25 finishes. He’s your current FedEx Cup leader and has netted 3.3 million in earnings this year. Plus, being paired with Lee Westwood of England and Shingo Katayama of Japan, sits well with Johnson, as he won’t have the “media pressure” following them, because they will be in Tiger and Phil’s group.

Silver Pick - Geoff Ogilvy +2000: After reviewing the important factors of driving and putting, Geoff Ogilvy has been solid in these departments, but even stronger with the putter. Ogilvy is currently ranked 7th with the putter and that is huge for winning the US Open. Ogilvy has 2 wins this year (World Golf Championship Accenture Match Play Championship); he’s got 4 Top 10 finishes and 7 Top 25 finishes. Plus, he’s 2nd in the Fed Ex cup and did well at last years Championship by placing 9th. This might be his year, as long as his putter is burning hot!

Bronze Pick - Ian Poulter +5000: I’ve been a huge Ian Poulter fan this year and if there’s one thing about betting on Ian, when he’s hot, he will give you a chance on Sundays. If you recall, Ian finished 2nd this year at the Players Championship and he’s earned 4 Top 10 finishes and 7 Top 25 finishes. Poulter is my longshot to win the 2009 US Open Championship and he’s 12th in putting on tour and because this is a challenging course, ending up in the sand traps might be key to some golfers scores and Poulter is ranked 5th in sand trap plays. Take a flyer and play Poulter at these great odds.

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