The second Major of the year is upon us and it’s off to Congressional again 14 years after Ernie Els won a thrilling finish to gain what was his second Major in 1997. Going through the leading contenders, here is a run-down of them…..hopefully the winner will come from these!
Lee Westwood – 12/1 best price with Ladbrokes, Bet365 and Boylesports
Another nearly Major for Westwood and one which I would not be surprised to see him win. His strengths lie in the fact that he makes very little mistakes from tee to green, a must for any potential US Open Champion. The main issue will be when he gets into trouble greenside will he be able to recover sufficiently to keep him in the run in? I think he will be right up there come Sunday night and it would be great to see him be crowned US Open Champ 2011. A serious contender.
Phil Mickelson – 16/1 best price with Ladbrokes and CORAL
Mickelson has not been in great form for most of 2011 and it would be a huge surprise to see him contend this week. As a annual backer of him at the Masters I would steer clear of him in this Major although he did contend a few times just coming up short, not for me this time around. Sorry Phil!
Luke Donald – 14/1 best price with Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Stan James
Luuuuke has the game for any Major as he showed at the Masters in April, one bad swing away from what could have been his first Major Championship. He has the short game to get himself out of trouble and his long game is usually spot on although he has been a little off lately while still producing the results on the leaderboard. Would be amazed if he wasn’t in the running on Sunday, along with a few of his Ryder Cup colleagues.
Rory McIlroy – 22/1 with William Hill and Victor Chandler. Rory looks to have the game for Congressional, although the hangover from his Masters Meltdown could have an effect if he gets into contention. He seems not to have felt many ill affects, though, as he contended the very next week with another Top 5 finish in Malaysia. His long-game prowess should stand him in good stead and I would think of him as a bet-to-nothing at 22/1. Good luck Rory!!
Matt Kuchar – 25/1 with Paddy Power and Ladbrokes
The nice guy with the no-so-orthodox swing has the game to win at Congressional. Solid off the tee and pretty darn good from the fairway to the hole as well, he is one of the most solid players on tour these days. Could be the main contender from the US contingent this week.
Hunter Mahan – 25/1 with Ladbrokes
Hunter is again somebody who has shown decent form this season but I think his propensity (very big word so must be right!!) to fold a little under pressure could again rear its ugly head. Ryder Cup and the Matchplay against Kaymer are prime examples here of when his chipping seems to just desert him. I would hate to see it happen but it is because of this that I would shy away from putting a few quid on Mahan.
Martin Kaymer – 28/1 best price with Paddy Power
Kaymer has yet to hit the headlines like he did for most of 2011 yet but the man with the new caddy, Christian Donald I believe, could have a great week at Congressional. The harder the course the more likely I would expect to see the German atop the leaderboard. A big chance and a big each way price.
Steve Stricker – 25s with Ladbrokes and bet365
Stricker is one of the form players on tour and is as solid as they come. He has been down the stretch in Majors before coming up short on a few occasions. Expect a big week for Steve but he may come up a bit short at Congressional again.
Dustin Johnson – 25/1 best price with Ladbrokes and Paddy Power
I really enjoy watching DJ play but he just does not have the game for a US Open, Pebble being the only exception because he loves it around there. Not one for me, would love to be proved wrong and for Dustin to gain revenge for his Major disappointment last year.
The Rest of the Irish
Padraig Harrington – 129/1 with Betfair.
Harrington’s 2011 has been very disappointing so far and it would take something exceptional for him to contend this week at Congressional. He does have the game but he would need to find that 2007 and 2008 Major form to make an impact. If he gets into contention I expect Paddy to remain there and he is probably the grittiest competitor, apart from maybe the Tiger of old, down the stretch. We look on in hope rather expectation though.
Graeme McDowell – 64/1 with Betfair.
G Mac produced a superb performance to come out on top at Pebble Beach and the fact that he is defending champion will be a big motivation for him. His game is not quite at the level that it was back in June of 2010 but there have been flashes of brilliance of late and if he can find a rhythm then you never know what McDowell might do in Maryland.
Pick of the Outsiders
David Toms – 74/1 on Betfair, 50/1 with Ladbrokes and Paddy Power
I’m amazed that David Toms is this price, he is one of the best players on tour when hitting it well and he is one of the Top 5 form players in the World at the moment. One of the streakiest and best putters out there I expect Toms to be right in the shake up on Sunday at the 2011 US Open.
Ernie Els – 100/1 with Ladbrokes
The Big Easy won here back in 1997, hitting some truly wonderful shots down the stretch. He has still got the game although his form is well behind that of 14 years ago. A sentimental choice but I think he could still do the business in a Major he has excelled in in the past.
To make a long story short – Luke Donald to win the 2011 US Open at Congressional with David Toms, Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els to run him very very close.
**Prices accurate as of 14th June 2011 via http://www.bestbetting.com**