US Open 2019: Predictions, Field, Spread Preview
US Open 2019 Preview: Koepka Defends and Looks to Claim a Third Successive Title
Brooks Koepka will bid to win a third successive US Open title when he takes on the world’s best players at Pebble Beach this week. He will carry a great deal of momentum into the tournament after triumphing at last month’s PGA Championship and storming to the top of the world rankings. But several superstars will be keen to knock Koepka off his perch, so it promises to be a gripping four days at the legendary Californian course.
Interest in golf has skyrocketed this year after Tiger Woods’ stunning victory at the Masters in April. It earned him a 15th major and amounted to one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time. Woods dominated the sport between 2000 and 2008 and he seemed all but certain to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors. Yet he then descended into the wilderness amid personal problems, injuries and scandals and many thought he was finished. Woods proved everyone wrong at Augusta in April, and fans were desperate to see if he could recapture the magic at the PGA Championship.
However, Kopeka quickly seized the initiative at Bethpage Black and coasted to his fourth major triumph. He is now being touted as someone who could be mentioned in the same breath as Woods and Nicklaus in future, and it will be fascinating to see if he can prevail at Pebble Beach. Yet the tournament is sure to be fiercely contested by all of the world’s finest players, while Woods has a fine record at this course, so Koepka will need to be at his very best if he is to succeed.
Who Won the 2018 US Open?
Last year Koepka became the first man to retain the US Open since Curtis Stange in 1989. He needed to display great versatility in order to secure a one-shot victory over England’s Tommy Fleetwood, as conditions were brutal at Shinnecock Hills. Winds of 30mph battered the course and forced the US Golf Association to move pin positions and slow greens throughout the tournament, leading to some remarkably inconsistent scoring patterns. Koepka carded a 75 on the Thursday, with two bogeys and two double-bogeys, but he rallied to a 66 on the Friday and shared the lead with Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau and Daniel Berger after 54 holes.
Yet Fleetwood came into his own on the final day and he recorded the joint-lowest round in US Open history to seize the clubhouse lead. The wind then picked up and Koepka needed to scramble, defend and save pars by burying tough putts en route to a gritty victory. Despite his historic round, Fleetwood was left to reflect on what might have been, as he missed birdie chances at 16 and 18. Johnson finished one further shot back at +3 as his putting let him down on the final day, while Patrick Reed was fourth and Finau finished fifth.
Who Holds the Record for Most US Open Wins?
Four men share the record for the most US Open wins. Scotland’s Willie Anderson secured four titles between 1901 and 1905, and that was the only major he ever competed in. Legendary American golfer Bobby Jones equalled his record by winning it four times between 1923 and 1930, and then Ben Hogan lifted the trophy four times between 1948 and 1953. Nicklaus also won it four times en route to becoming the most decorated player in history, with his final triumph coming in 1980, 18 years after his first.
Woods can join that elite group if he emerges victorious at Pebble Beach this week. He won the US Open at this very course by a record-breaking 15 shots in 2000, a victory that announced him as a major talent. He won it again in 2002 and then he beat Rocco Mediate in a playoff in 2008 to clinch a third title. An 11-year major drought ensued, but he was back in business at Augusta this year and he can take a great deal of confidence from that performance. He struggled at the PGA Championship last month, but Nicklaus is among the pundits tipping him to thrive at the US Open.
Woods is among the favourites to win the US Open in the golf spread betting, while Koepka is also up there. If Koepka can win the tournament, he will move level with Woods and Hale Irwin on three US Open titles. He comes alive in majors and he is remarkably calm under pressure, so he will feel confident in his chances of success. But the field is stacked full of talent and Johnson in particular will be desperate to vanquish him.
The US Open is the only major Johnson has ever won. He romped to victory in 2016, but he has seen Koepka dominate it ever since. The two are friends, but Johnson will be disappointed to see Koepka overtake him as world number one, and this represents an excellent chance for him to return to the summit of the game. He has a superb record at Pebble Beach – far better than Koepka’s – and it will be fascinating to see if he can finally seize a second major, following three podium finishes over the past year.
What is the Pebble Beach Course Like?
Pebble Beach hugs the rugged Californian coastline, offers glorious views of Carmel Bay and is widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful golf courses. It has hosted the US Open five times previously: Nicklaus’ triumph in 1972, a win for Tom Watson a decade later, Tom Kite’s victory 10 years after that, Woods’ record breaking win in 2000 and Graeme McDowell’s win in 2010. Accuracy is prized at the US Open and missing the fairway too frequently typically scuppers one’s chances of success, but that has not really been the case at Pebble Beach. Kite, Woods and McDowell had a collective fairway percentage of 66.6, which is nothing special.
Pebble Beach is expected to play 7,075 yards, which is the second shortest US Open course in the past nine years. It should give players that struggle to hit fairways a much better chance of success than they usually have at the US Open. You need to be able to putt Poa annua greens very well.
It represents an opportunity for the US Golf Association to redeem itself after coming under heavy criticism in recent years. The venues it has chosen for the US Open tend to be very tough, with narrow fairways and thick rough placing a great deal of emphasis on accuracy from the tee, while extremely quick greens require a fantastic short game. The US Golf Association has been caught out a couple of times however, with the rules controversy at Oakmont in 2016, Rory McIlroy securing a record-setting -16 victory when Congressional Country Club played soft in 2011 and when Erin Hills was favourable as Koepka equalled that -16 in 2017, but for the most part it has required battle hardened players.
Woods, McIlroy and Phil Mickelson have been vocal in their criticism. “They're trying to do as good a job as they can and I think they’ll admit they've made a couple of mistakes over the last couple of years,” said McIlroy. “Everyone does. And I think we should give them the chance to redeem themselves. If they can't redeem themselves at Pebble Beach, then there could be a problem.”
What Type of Golfer Does Pebble Beach Suit?
This could well be Mickelson’s last ever chance to claim that elusive US Open title he so craves. He has finished second on six occasions and never won it. Lefty has clinched all the other majors and the US Open is the only one stopping him from claiming the Grand Slam, and he will arguably never have a better opportunity to win it. Accuracy off the tee is a weak point for Mickelson, and Pebble Beach should help negate that weakness. The ranges are optimal for him, he has putted extremely well on the fast greens here and he has five victories in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am under his belt.
He is now 48, and time is running out for him to complete that Grand Slam, so he will be desperate to succeed this week. Yet it is worth noting that he has struggled at recent majors and he has missed the cut in five of his last eight attempts, while he has not finished in the top 15 for more than four years.
The weather has been dry in the build-up to the US Open and there is no rain forecast, while the wind is not expected to blow too hard and we could see another winning score around level par. Anyone that can keep their cool under pressure, scramble well and display precision on the rapid greens will be in with a chance.
What do Previous US Open Winners Tell us About 2019's Potential Winner?
Americans have dominated this tournament recently, securing victory for the last four years. Jordan Spieth was just 21 when he cruised to victory in 2015, before Johnson won it in 2016 and then Koepka picked up back-to-back wins. US stars have won the last seven majors held on American soil. It is interesting to note that seven of the last 10 US Open winners were in their 20s, while all 10 were aged 32 or under. Youngish Americans are therefore worth keeping an eye on.
Eight of the last 10 winners were ranked in the world’s top 30. However, none of them were the favourites to win and many carried pretty long odds. They had all played in the US Open previously and eight of the 10 had competed three or more times. Nine of the last 10 had previously finished in the top 20 at the US Open, while six of the last 10 winners had secured a top 10 finish. They had all finished in the top three of a tournament that year, but only three had won earlier that season. Seven of the last 10 did not compete in the week before the tournament in order to ensure mental freshness.
Spieth is now 25, he is American, he is ranked 28th in the world, he has played in seven US Opens, he was third at the PGA Championship last month and he has had a week off, so he fits the bill. If you are looking outside the US contingent, Hideki Matsuyama is the other man that fits the bill, as he is 27, ranked 29th in the world, played in six US Opens and was third at Torrey Pines, while he has also skipped the Canadian Open, so he will be fresh. Yet there are plenty of young Americans vying for glory, including Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Reed, so the tournament will be extremely competitive.
Who's Fancied to Have a Strong Tournament?
The world’s best players are naturally clustered at the top of the golf spread betting on this tournament. Our traders have put the likes of Koepka, Woods, Johnson, McIlroy and Spieth near the top of the betting. Several exciting players that are yet to win a major are in contention this time around, including Patrick Cantlay, Schauffele, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, Matsuyama and Fleetwood. Between 2015 and 2017, eight majors in a row went to players that had never won one previously. Since then Koepka has emerged as the dominant force at big tournaments, but there are plenty of excellent players that are desperate to finally join the club of major winners and they will be fighting for glory this week.
There will be a great deal of hype surrounding McIlroy at this tournament, after the Northern Irishman secured a dominant victory at the $7.6 million Canadian Open on Sunday. He shot a nine-under 61 on the final day to finish -22, seven shots clear of Webb Simpson. It was the perfect preparation for the US Open and he will be pleased with his performance, which blended poise with aggression to devastating effect.
Who is the Favourite to win the US Open 2019?
It is interesting to note that Koepka is not the favourite in the US Open 50-25-10-5 Index to win the US Open. That honour goes to Johnson, who has a spread of 6-8. Our traders are clearly impressed by his record at this course – he won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2009 and 2010, he finished second in 2014 and 2018, third in 2017, fourth in 2015, fifth in 2012 and seventh in 2008 – and they see him as the man to beat. Next up is McIlroy at 5.5-7.5 following that superb performance in the Canadian Open, and then you will find Koepka at 4-6.
What Golf Spread Betting Markets are on Offer for the US Open 2019?
You will find a huge range of interesting spread betting markets that have the power to massively boost the excitement you feel when watching the US Open. You can look at the 50-25-10-5 index, where the winner gets 50 points, the runner-up gets 25, third place gets 10, fourth is given 5 points and all the others get 0, and you speculate on how well a particular player will fare. The US Open Leaderboard Index assigns 100 points to the winner, 70 to the runner-up, all the way down to 5 points for whoever finishes 10th, and Johnson leads the way at 21-24 in this one. If you think he will do well, buy at 24, and sell at 21 if you think he will struggle.
You can bet on finishing positions, player specials, how the big guns will do, how the challengers will perform and how the previous winner will get on. Sporting Index is offering markets on the top Asian, South American or Australasian, plus a huge range of player specials and tournament specials. You can speculate on the first round leaderboard and you can pit players against one another in match bets that either last the entire tournament or just a particular round. There are dozens of different markets for you to choose from and you can learn more about golf spread betting here.
Take your US Open 2019 betting experience to the next level with spread betting, you can see all of the markets offered on our US Open golf spread betting page.