Monday’s Golf Shots highlighted the top six players on the odds chart for the 2014 US Open Championship, and this edition takes a look at some of the second tier favorites for the tournament this weekend at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, NC. Odds quoted in Golf Shots are according to the Station Casinos Race & Sports Book in Las Vegas.
Jason Day (17-1) FedEx Cup Rank: 34 Scoring Average: N/A Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR): No. 7 Day is a difficult one to handicap, as he has not played enough tournaments this year to get a feel for the state of his game. He won the WGC Accenture Match-Play Championship in February, but a thumb injury suffered during that tournament caused him to sit out nearly two months. He probably would have given his injury more time to heal if not for his desire to play in the Masters, where he tied for 20th. After taking another 1 ½ months off, he came back for the Memorial two weeks ago and finished in a tie for 37th.
Justin Rose (20-1) FedEx Cup Rank: 46 Scoring Average: 70.280 OWGR: No. 9 At first it would seem a value to get the defending champion of the US Open Championship as a second tier favorite at 20-1, but Rose has not been at the top of his game in 2014. He has played in 11 events and, not only has he not won, he has not finished in the top three. Rose’s best finish has been a tie for fourth at the Players Championship, but he then missed the cut in the Memorial Tournament. With the restored Pinehurst No. 2 playing much like a links golf course now, however, it would surprise no one if Rose went back-to-back.
Jim Furyk (20-1) FedEx Cup Rank: 12 Scoring Average: 70.117 OWGR: No. 12 There are several reasons to make Furyk one of the choices for the US Open Championship this year. He is nearly always “in the mix” at US Opens, where there is a premium on hitting the ball straight. He plays in control, and never seems to require an inordinate amount of recovery shots. One could also make a case that he is somewhat in form, finishing runner-up in two straight tournaments (Wells Fargo and Players) in early May. Those good performances might be offset by a few clunkers in his last two starts—a T51 at Crown Plaza and a T19 at the Memorial.
Henrik Stenson (25-1) FedEx Cup Rank: 115 Scoring Average: 71.180 OWGR: No. 2 Last year’s FedEx Cup champion has yet to find his stride in 2014. In eight events this year, Stenson has only one top-ten finish and only four finishes in the top-25. He has one missed cut, and his best performance is fifth place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He does have a knack for showing up in the big tournaments, placing 14th at the Masters in April.
Dustin Johnson (25-1) FedEx Cup Rank: 4 Scoring Average: 69.789 OWGR: No. 15 Johnson could be the best bet of the five second tier favorites listed at 25-1 for the US Open Championship. He has had a great year thus far, with a win and two runner-ups in 13 events in 2014. He has also been in the top-ten six times. One of the negatives is his performance in big events this year. He missed the cut at the Masters, and was tied for 59th at the Players Championship.
Sergio Garcia (25-1) FedEx Cup Rank: 33 Scoring Average: 69.484 OWGR: No. 8 Garcia might rate right up there with Dustin Johnson at 25-1 odds. His FedEx cup rank is deceiving, as he plays a limited schedule in the United States. In eight events this year he has one missed cut, but made the top-25 in each of the others. There is nothing to be gleaned from his results in this year’s big events, as he missed the cut in the Masters but had a third-place finish in the Players Championship. Here is another European who may be right at home playing the links-style Pinehurst No. 2 golf course.
Jason Dufner (25-1) FedEx Cup Rank: 38 Scoring Average: 70.546 OWGR: No. 16 Dufner had only one win in 2013, but that win was the PGA Championship. He is impossible to handicap because there is no way of knowing which Dufner will show up. In eight events this year, he has a runner-up at the Crown Plaza Invitational, but missed the cut at Augusta. He may be rounding into form, as his runner-up at Crown Plaza was followed by a top-20 at the Memorial. Then again, maybe not.
Lee Westwood (25-1) FedEx Cup Rank: 95 Scoring Average: 71.042 OWGR: No. 30 Westwood is perhaps the shakiest of the 25-1 second tier favorites for this year’s US Open Championship. He so often teases in major tournaments, but never manages to close the deal. 2014 has not been a good one for Westwood, with only 2 top-ten finishes in 13 events. He has failed to make the cut four times this year. A case might be made for his British roots and the links feel of the golf course, but Westwood has settled in Florida now, and “taming the loop” is a distant memory.
Golf Shots is a daily series which provides analysis and commentary on the PGA tour and golf-related topics all year long.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky