In the third in our series of articles on golf’s Major events, this time we turn our attention to the second oldest event in the golfing diary – The US OPEN!
Every year we get excited about the upcoming golfing calendar with some enthusiasm. The ‘Grand Slam’ events in golf include:
– The US Masters (Augusta National) April
– The US Open (Various) June
– The OPEN (Various) July
– The PGA Championship (Various) August
This is then now complemented but The Olympics every four years (from 2016) with the host city supplying the venue.
The Majors – The US OPEN…
The golfing calendar is on and we have already got past the US Masters in April 2017, with maverick Sergio Garcia holding off Justin Rose in a dramatic and nerve-wracking play-off to emerge as the winner.
As the dust settles, everyone is waiting with bated breath for June 12, 2017.
That is the day that one of the most prestigious golfing events in the US, the 117th edition of the United States Open Championship, popularly referred to as The US Open, kicks off at Erin Hills in Erin, Wisconsin.
The US Open has a rich history spanning 117 years from the time it was held for the first time on October 4, 1895, at Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island.
From fielding 10 professionals and one amateur in the day-long competition across 36 holes back then to its present avatar, to be held in Erin Hills, Erin, Wisconsin, this event has come a long way.
The 2017 edition will feature 156 players and comes with a prize fund of $12 million and is the first major with a winner’s prize in excess of $2 million.
The Majors – Player Qualifications for the US Open 2017…
There are different routes that players can take to qualify for the US Open. For the 2017 event, there are a number of qualifiers that players can use to get to Erin Hills come June 12, 2017. These include:
– Local qualifiers: held across the US. For this year’s US Open, currently 8979 players are competing for 525 spots
– Sectional qualifiers: held in Japan, England, and the US, with the first one being held at Ono Golf Club, Japan,
There are also 16 categories of exemptions available for players to use to participate in US Open 2017. These include…
– Winners of the US Open for the past 10 years
– Winner and Runner-up of 2015 US Amateur Championship – he must still be an amateur
– Winner of the 2016 Amateur Championship conducted by the R&A – he must still be an amateur
– Winner of the 2016 Mark H. McCormack Medal – he must still be an amateur
– Winner of The Masters Tournament for the past 5 years
– Winner of the Open Championship for the past 5 years
– Winners of the PGA of America Championship for the past 5 years
– Winners of the Players Championship for the past 3 years
– Winner of the 2017 European Tour BMW PGA Championship
– Winner of the 2016 US Senior Open Championship
– Gold medalist at the 2016 Olympic Games
– The lowest 10 scorers and ties in the US Open 2016
– 30 qualifiers for the 2016 season-ending Tour Championship of the PGA Tour
– Top 60 Point leaders in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) as of May 22, 2017
– Top 60 point leaders in the OWGR as of June 12, 2017
– Special exemptions as selected by the United States Golf Association (USGA)
The Majors – US Open 2017…
The US Open is the 5th major championship to be held in the state of Wisconsin – it has held 4 other PGA championships earlier apart from the US Amateur Championship in 2011.
Erin Hills is the venue of a major for the first time, which means the first thing to look out for is the course itself.
The Majors – The Erin Hills Course…
The course at Erin Hills is spread across 650 acres and the huge slopes all across it, together with the unpredictable weather, can make it quite an intimidating place to play at.
It can play up to 8100 yards, which makes it longer than Hazeltine National Golf Club where the 1991 edition of the Open was held.
This course will also be the first one in US Open history to play as a par-72.
Given the dry conditions, it is very likely that we will see some relatively low scores.
The Majors – Players to Watch Out For…
The 2017 US Open is a showcase event and the focus of the entire media – print, electronic, online and social – is squarely on golf and its players.
It is interesting to note that between 2000 and 2016 Americans have won the US Open 8 times.
Entering the US Open this year is quite easy – all you need is a 1.4 handicap and a $200 entry fee, after which you have to go through the qualifying grind.
This year, 9,485 players have entered the event, the fifth-highest number: the highest was 10,127 in 2014 at Pinehurst.
A galaxy of past champions will be part of the playing field this year including; Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Angel Cabrera, Graeme McDowell, Lucas Grover, Martin Kaymer, Webb Simpson. Some information on key players at the 2017 US Open is listed below….
Dustin Johnson is a big name to watch out for at the US Open this year, for a number of reasons. The first of course, is the fact that he is the current No.1 ranked player in the world.
And then there is the other little detail to consider: he is also the defending champion, having won a grueling battle at the Oakmont Country Club last year.
Out of the US Masters in April with a freak back injury, he is now back and in roaring form.
He will have an advantage at Erin Hills because of his length and the fact that this is an 8000+-yards course.
Currently ranked No.2 in the world, the Irishman went through a drought of titles in 2016. However, he bounced back with wins at the FedEx Cup and also the Tour Championships that year. He is one player who is a constant threat to all others when it comes to winning. He had had the distinction of holding the No.1 ranking for 95 weeks and is a 4-time Major champion. He is also a member of both the US and European PGA Tours.
Jordan Spieth is a former No.1 ranking player in the OWGR and a 2-time Major champion. He is the youngest player to win the US Open, after Bobby Jones in 1923, and also the youngest runner-up in Masters history when he came second to Bubba Watson at The Masters in 2014. He has also tied the 72-hole record that had been set by Tiger Woods back in 1997, apart from being the 2015 FedEx Cup Champion.
Hideki Matsuyama is a 24-year golfing prodigy from Japan who won four of his last five tournaments last year. This includes the Hero World Challenge and also a WGC event in China. He is a 4-time PGA Tour winner and 8-time Japan Golf Tour winner. His most recent win was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he defended his title against Webb Simpson.
Justin Rose is an English professional golfer who plays on the PGA Tour. He is also a member on the European Tour. He was the first Englishman to win a Major since 1996, the year Nick Faldo won. He is also the first Englishman to win the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970. Rose has also tasted Olympic glory, having won gold at the men’s individual event in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. He has been in top form, despite losing out dramatically to Sergio Garcia at the US Masters this year. He is one player to watch out for.
Sergio Garcia has been an enigma. He has played on the PGA as well as the European Tour on the PGA. A brilliant golfer who had a stunning 0 wins when it came to the majors, he broke the jinx at Augusta this year by winning the US Masters. He defeated Justin Rose in dramatic fashion in a sudden-death playoff, pulling off the win at the first hole.
Of course any player could win the trophy, but we think these players above are the ones to watch out for.
The Majors – Betting at the US Open…
Betting on golf has exploded in recent times because of easy access to the game – be it watching it on TV or following online – and also the opinions of golfing pundits.
Another major reason for this explosion is the wealth of licensed betting sites available to followers of the game and even to casual punters.
Millions of pounds are wagered almost daily at the various golfing events around the world, and the money only grows bigger when the event is something like the US Open.
The odds-on favourite of course is the No.1 ranked player in the world currently, Dustin Johnson; every sportsbook has seen money wagered on him. Leading bookmaker William Hill has the odds listed at 6/1 for Johnson.
The following are the odds on some of the other players winning, as per William Hill:
- Jordan Spieth: 7/1
- Rory McIlroy: 8/1
- Jason Day: 10/1
- Hideki Matsuyama: 14/1
- Sergio Garcia: 20/1
There are rank outsiders as per the bookmakers too. These include Billy Horschel, Jason Dufner, Scott Piercy and Marc Leishman, all at 100/1, while Daniel Summerhays brings up the rear at 125/1.
So as 12th June approaches, you could get incredibly busy if you are into golf and also making some good money placing the right bets.
There are lots of guidelines that can help you decide whom you want to bet on, including form books, the official player profiles at the USPGA website and more.
However, regardless of who wins, this year’s winner is guaranteed the distinction of being the one with the biggest US Open paycheck ever!
By Ian Mullins