115th U.S. Open Preview: Chambers Bay set to challenge players

Preview – United States Golf Association’s 115th U.S. Open – Chambers Bay –University Place, Washington –

The United States Golf Association hosts the 115th U.S. Open this week in the Pacific Northwest about an hour outside of Seattle at Chambers Bay.

The club is garnering lots of attention – most of which comes from its unknown factors and youth. The layout is new to most of the 155-player field competing for the second major championship of the season.

From all reports, the layout designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. is a European-style course with American-style greens meaning tiered and sloppy and fast. Positioning around the course will be at a premium along with three-par avoidance, while there should be plenty of room off the tee. Without the usual U.S. Open features of trees and thick rough, Chambers Bay will rely on firm and fast conditions and difficult greens to test the golfers.

Three of the last seven U.S. Open champions have been ranked in the Top 5 of the Official World Golf Ranking when they triumphed, which bodes well for top-ranked Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson and Justin Rose. Three of which have already won a U.S. Open title and all four have major victories on their resumes.

Keep in mind that eight of the last 11 champions at this event have been international-born players including last year’s winner Martin Kaymer.

2014 Recap:

  • Kaymer (9-under) pushed his five-shot 54-hole lead to win by eight shots at the Pinehurst No. 2. In total control, Kaymer opened 65-65 to set the tone. Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton were 1-under and finished T-2. Keegan Bradley, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson logged Top 10s.

Fox Sports and the USGA worked out a contract in the “off-season.” Fox has the broadcast rights this week and will feature Greg Norman and Joe Buck headlining the team coverage.

FANTASY: Many are comparing Chambers Bay to St. Andrews so look for golfers who have excelled on that type of course like former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, who comes in 27th in the world rankings. Mickelson has to be on your team with his history at the U.S. Open (10 Top 10s). Phil was T-2 in 2013 and excelled at the Open Championship with a victory so the layout won’t distract him. Avoid Matt Kuchar, who has one Top 10 in 12 U.S. Open starts and Adam Scott, who struggles at this event.

BETTORS: McIlroy is the betting odds favorite at at 7-to-1 odds. Rory won two times this season on the PGA Tour, but is coming off back-to-back missed cuts. He’s a question mark. For the value, take Fowler at 20-1 odds. The PLAYERS champion finished in the Top 5 in all four majors last season and was T-12 in April at the Masters. Take value of Furyk at 16-1, but beware of the layout which may not fit his style. For a long shot, consider Francesco Molinari at 100-1. Molinari is fourth in Adjusted Scoring over the last eight PGA Tour events. He contended at the Memorial two weeks ago and led during the final round for a stretch.

Other Golf News:

  • Mickelson is searching for the career Grand Slam this week with a U.S. Open victory. Lefty has six runner-up finishes at this event and logged a T-3 last week on the PGA Tour.
  • Spieth, the Masters champion, is second on the PGA Tour in Proximity to the Hole at 35 feet – nearly 10 feet better than the tour average. He is also 8th in Scrambling stats.
  • Ernie Els is a sleeper this week at the U.S. Open. The former champion at this tournament has 10 Top 10’s at the U.S. Open including three in the last five tries.
  • Day is another question mark heading into the week. He has only three starts since April fighting fatigue issues. The Aussie has Top 5 finishes in three of his last four U.S. Open starts.