The US Open is traditionally the toughest of golf’s four major championships. The US Open 2018 will show that it was never more true than the last time it visited Shinnecock Hills in 2004 when Retief Goosen won and Phil Mickelson was the only other player to finish the tournament below par. On that occasion, the course was set up to be punitive and the greens bordered on unplayable, drawing stinging criticism from all sides and damaging the relationship between the players and the USGA, with the resentment still lingering for some.
The tournament’s governing body has promised to make the greens firm but fair for this edition – the fifth to be played at this famous old venue – but the rough will still punish stray tee shots and a clever tactical approach will be as crucial as ever. Brooks Koepka is the defending champion having won last year’s tournament with a record-equalling 16-under-par total and the list of recent winners underlines the belief that genuine star quality is needed to win this event. Dustin Johnson succeeded Jordan Spieth as champion in 2016, following on from victories for Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose, while Rory McIlroy claimed the 2011 title. Tiger Woods, meanwhile, has won three US Open titles, the most recent coming a decade ago at Torrey Pines.
US Open 2018 Favourites
Dustin Johnson won the St Jude Classic by six shots on Sunday to return to the top of the world rankings and the 33-year-old is the 9/1* favourite with Bet365 as he seeks just his second major title. McIlroy has had his ups and downs this season, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational but missing a good opportunity to complete a career Grand Slam at The Masters and the more consistent Justin Thomas may be a better selection of two players who are each available at 14/1*. Rose, who won at Fort Worth a fortnight ago, has the combination of technical quality and recent form to be a serious contender this week and the Englishman, who won at Merion five years ago, is next in the betting at 16/1* with Bet365 and Betfred. Spieth, who has not found his usual rhythm since Augusta, is widely available at 16s while Jason Day, the winner of the 2015 PGA Championship who has won twice this year, is an 18/1* chance with Betfred.
US Open 2018 Tips
Rickie Fowler is one of three players in the world’s top 10 who has yet to win a major – Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama being the others – but the American has come close on several occasions and looks ready to make his big breakthrough. He has finished in the top five no fewer than eight times at major championships, including all four in 2014, while he was second at The Masters in April. He has placed in the top 10 three times at the US Open, including a tie for fifth place last year, proving he has the tactical nous to cope with the test. Ladbrokes and Betfred are offering best odds of 20/1*.
Louis Oosthuizen won the 2010 Open Championship and has been runner-up at four further major championships, including the US Open at Chambers Bay three years ago. The South African, who was 12th at Augusta in the first major of 2018 and runner-up at last year’s PGA Championship, looks to be one of the best-equipped players among those at bigger prices to tackle the challenge of Shinnecock Hills. His recent form offers further encouragement – he was fifth at Fort Worth three weeks ago before finishing just outside the top 10 at the Memorial Tournament. The world number 33 is a 66/1* chance with William Hill.
Tommy Fleetwood recorded his best result in major championship golf when he finished fourth at Erin Hills last year and that will give the Englishman great confidence that he compete again on the biggest stage. Fleetwood has won four times on the European Tour, with three of those victories coming in the last 18 months. They include a win at Le Golf National, one of Europe’s toughest courses that will stage the Ryder Cup later in the year, and that’s another indication that the world number 12 can cope in the most testing conditions. He’s at 40/1* with most firms, but Betfred is offering 50/1*.
*US Open 2018 odds subject to change.