I’m going to kick things off with my shortest and definitely most boring pick – No Hole in One at 11/10 with the Sportsbook.
We’ve had five previous renewals of the US Open at Winged Foot and aces were recorded in each of the last two. Mark McCumber made one at the 10th in 1984 and Peter Hedblom found the bottom of the third hole cup in the third round in 2006 but there were none made in the first three editions here and there have only ever been 45 in the tournament’s entire history.
Obviously, the standard of play has improved dramatically since Horace Rawlins won the first edition in 1895 but even so, the ace rate only equates to roughly one every three years. Rory Sabbatini made one at the par three 12th at Pebble Beach last year but that was the first since Zach Johnson’s at Pinehurst in 2014 and given how tough this track is, odds-against has to be taken.
Another price I couldn’t resist underneath the Tournament Specials section with the Sportsbook is the 11/1 about a Wire to Wire Winner. We’ve had 20 US Opens so far this century and five of the 20 renewals went the way of a wire-to-wire winner. That’s enough of a statistical pointer to make the price too big but if we delve down deeper and look at major championships played around Tillinghast tracks this century, the chances of someone leading from start to finish increase significantly.
Both of the US PGA Championships at the Tillinghast-designed Baltusrol were won wire-to-wire – by Phil Mickelson in 2005 and Jimmy Walker in 2016 – and two of the three majors staged at Bethpage Black also went the way of a wire-to-wire winner. Tiger Woods won this event there from the front in 2002 and readers of this column collected on Brooks Koepka when he won the US PGA at Bethpage wire-to-wire last year at 9/1. I’m more than happy to take two points bigger here.
Place markets offer value
I’ve looked at the Top Nationality markets and while I was tempted to take on Rory McIlroy in the Top Irish with Shane Lowry, who I fancy might really enjoy this week’s challenge, I’m going to leave those alone and look to the Top 10 and Top 20 markets for my other two wagers.
Brendon Todd has only played in three US Opens and we can definitely ignore last year’s missed cut when he was still playing some deplorable golf. He also missed the cut back in 2015 but on debut 12 months earlier, he’d sat second behind Martin Kaymer at halfway at Pinehurst. The German broke everyone that year, cruising to an eight-stroke victory and Todd had a miserable day in round three, shooting 79 on Saturday before bouncing back with a 69 on Sunday to finish 17th.
Todd has an incredible ability for getting up-and-down to save par and he’s just the type to hang around when the majority are slipping away. The [12.0] available for a Top-10 Finish on the exchange is a juicy price and so too is the 7/1 on the Sportsbook about Matt Wallace finishing inside the top-20.
I had Wallace in mind for this event months ago but he hasn’t really thrived since the restart. There are at least three reasons to side with him at Winged Foot though and this market looks like the best option.
Wallace’s best result in a major championship to date was third place in the US PGA Championship at Bethpage last year (where he had a hole in one at the 16th in round three), so he has some great form at a Tillinghast track and his best effort since the restart, by some distance, was his tied fourth at the Memorial Tournament. The conditions were brutal at Muirfield and he was the only player not to record an over-par round during the week. And the final pointer came to me this morning when writing the Open de Portugal preview here.
Having kick started his career with six wins on the Alps Tour in 2016, Wallace graduated to the European Tour, where he won three times in 2018, courtesy of his win at the unheralded, co-sanctioned Open de Portugal in 2017. I just wonder if he’s looking back across the Atlantic at this week’s other event pondering where he’s come from, where he could have been, and where he could yet go. Having that pivotal tournament staged in the same week could inspire him and he might just grind his socks off around Winged Foot and surprise a few people. And if he does, hopefully they’ll get his name right this time!
? PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) August 11, 2018
I’ll be back on Friday morning with my In-Play Blog.
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