This week’s U.S. Open heads to Erin Hills which is hosting its first professional tournament and will be very unknown to players and experts. I had the opportunity to walk the course on Sunday and came away with some thoughts on what type of player will succeed at the 7,741 yard par 72 layout. As with any U.S. Open setup, tee to green excellence is needed to record a high finish at Erin Hills, and this year’s fairways are the widest ever seen at a U.S. Open venue. I believe that this will diminish the importance of driving and place more of an emphasis on the approach shots into Erin Hills massive green complexes. The undulating fairways should create an even larger advantage for the great ball-strikers. If you are looking for sleepers for your office pool, DraftKings or long shot bets, here are a few guys who could make some noise on the leaderboard especially if their putter gets hot.
Paul Casey 50/1
While the 14th ranked player is hardly a longshot, I really like his odds at 50 to 1. Casey has proven he plays extremely well on the uneven fairway lies that Augusta National produces year in and year out and I expect that to continue at Erin Hills. Casey ranks third in strokes gained: approach on the season and his form has been stellar recording a t6th at Augusta and notching top 25’s in his last three starts.
Kevin Kisner 63/1
U.S. Open’s test every aspect of a player’s game and one of the PGA Tour’s most balanced players is Kevin Kisner. The South Carolina native ranks 37th in strokes gained: off-the tee, 9th in strokes gained: approach, 38th in strokes gained: around the green and 23rd in strokes gained: putting. These stats tell the story of Kisner’s fantastic season which has included a win, a runner-up and three other top ten finishes.
Lee Westwood 65/1
Another chance for one of the best players to never win a major championship, Westwood regularly finds himself in the mix at big events because he is a transcendent tee to green player. His achilles heel throughout his career has been the flatstick and getting it done on Sunday’s. Fittingly, his sponsor UPS doesn’t deliver on that day either (I will show myself out). I love Westy especially because Erin Hills greens are pretty flat, which should help Westy coming down the stretch.
Martin Kaymer 65/1
The shaved off areas around the majority of Erin Hills greens are eerily similar to Pinehurst where Kaymer ran away with the 2014 U.S. Open. Kaymer’s had a solid year this year showing signs of his former world-class self with two top fives, his best finish ever at Augusta (t16th) and four other top 25’s.
Kevin Chappell 85/1
Few are better from tee to green when they are on and Chappell heads into Erin Hills after a t4th at last week’s FedEx St. Jude. Chappell finished t7th at the Masters and backed it up by earning his first career win at the Valero Texas Open, his next start.
Rafa Cabrera Bello 125/1
One of the world’s most consistent players is Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello. The issue, he hasn’t won since 2012. He again found himself in contention as the 54 hole leader at last week’s FedEx St Jude but struggled to a final round 73 and a share of fourth. Cabrera-Bello’s game is centered around his great tee to green game and I expect him to thrive at Erin Hills demanding setup.
Marc Leishman 125/1
@DJPie’s boy clocks in at 125 to 1 despite being incredibly long off the tee, a surgical iron player and numerous close calls in major championships. This year, Leishman ended a long winless drought at the Arnold Palmer and heads into the U.S. Open with two top 15s in his last three starts.
Webb Simpson 125/1
The former U.S. Open winners career has gotten back on track after switching to the arm-lock putter to alleviate the anchor ban woes he experienced at the start of 2016. Simpson ranks 11th in strokes gained: approach this season and has found himself in contention a few times, most recently at Colonial for the Dean & Deluca.
Jamie Lovemark 225/1
Lovemark’s form is phenomenal having qualified in Monday’s Columbus sectional after a t10th finish at the Memorial and a t18th at the Byron Nelson. In his only other U.S. Open, Lovemark finished t18th at Chambers Bay.
Daniel Summerhays 250/1
After nearly winning at the Memorial, Summerhays will return to the U.S. Open thanks to his t4th finish at Oakmont. The Utah native finished third in strokes gained: approach at Muirfield Village and if he is in similar form should perform quite well at Erin Hills.
Sam Ryder 1000/1
The Web Tour star earned his spot through sectional qualifying and is one of the Tour’s best ball-strikers. If there is one Web guy I am riding it’s Ryder (so bad, I know).
Trey Mullinax 1000/1
Mullinax has a boatload of talent and qualified through the Memphis sectional, backing up his performance there with a t18th at the FedEx St. Jude, his best finish since Pebble Beach. In Memphis, Mullinax finished 11th in strokes gained: approach and is probably worth looking at for a top 25.