US Open Preview
Palmer the man for Open success…..
The 2013 season’s second major takes place this week at Merion Golf Club nr Ardmore, Pennsylvania. In staging this week’s event Merion will become the most used course for USGA major championships. Ironically most of this week’s field have never played the course that has not been used as a major venue since the 1981 US Open. At 6996 yards it is much shorter than most major courses but the powers that be will ensure that this is no walkover for the big hitters. Course management will be the order of the day at a course that offers plenty of risk and reward holes for the brave, or possibly foolhardy!
Watching last week’s FedEx St Jude Classic at the weekend two players names were added to my list of players to follow over the coming weeks and one in particular was of immediate interest for this week’s Open. Having scoured the lists of entries and odds yesterday his name was nowhere to be seen. Strange I thought. But having had another look this morning and perhaps with the lists having not been updated I was delighted to see the name of Ryan Palmer among the entrants.
Having started the season with two top ten finishes Palmers form dipped somewhat before a resurgence in the last six weeks or so. He posted another two top ten’s in his last four outings including a stellar performance at the weekend when he managed to finish fourth behind debutant winner Harris English, having been 4 over par midway through his first round on a tough golf course. His route back into the tournament was through patience and good course management, two attributes that will stand him in good stead this week. He currently stands 25th in the all-round ranking category on tour which tells you all facets of his game are in top order. He also finished 5th in the seasons ‘5th major’ the Players Championship.
A good ball striker in obvious good form this week could see Palmers name added to the list of major winners.
My second pick is a player in red hot form although without a win to show for it. After a fourth place finish in the Humana Challenge on his third start this year Scott Stallings form dipped alarmingly. He missed eight cuts in his next eleven events. But he has come back with a bang! A final round eight under par propelled him up the leaderboard in the Crowne Plaza Invitational three weeks back and he obviously used that as a platform to build on. Another fourth place finish at Memorial was followed by a near miss second at last week’ s St Jude Classic when only a misplaced drive at the last and an inspired finish by Harris English denied him victory. Stallings is one of the games bigger hitters and wouldn’t immediately come to mind as a US Open winner but there is a lot more to his game than bashing it off the tee! He is another that ranks highly in the all-round category on tour and rocks up here in such good form that I feel it would be foolish to omit him from the shortlist.
Three more players for the shortlist are Padraig Harrington, who is another player running into form after a few indifferent seasons. Perhaps his change of clubs and swings and teaks to this and that are finally going to reap some reward! Welshman Jamie Donaldson who continues to appear on weekend leaderboards and having claimed his maiden victory last year may claim a ‘big one’. The final pick is Japanese player Hideki Matsuyama who comes here in the best form of ANY player this week having won twice and been second twice I his last four starts. Granted this will be a lot tougher but he is certainly in great form.
Ryan Palmer current odds 100/1
Scott Stallings current odds 110/1
Padraig Harrington current odds 90/1
Hideki Matsuyama current odds 300/1
Jamie Donaldson current odds 300/1