Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 8 places
Weather forecast for Pebble Beach Golf Links:
7am: 54 degrees, cloudy, 5mph winds
10am: 58 degrees, cloudy, 7mph winds
1pm: 63 degrees, cloudy, 9mph winds
4pm: 64 degrees, mostly sunny, 10mph winds
7pm: 60 degrees, mostly sunny, 9mph winds
The afternoon starters have warmer conditions but also face slightly stronger winds and must deal with extra foot traffic, leading to bumpier poa annua greens.
First-round leader history in US Opens at Pebble Beach:
2010 – Shaun Micheel, Brendon De Jonge, Paul Casey (69)
2000 – Tiger Woods (65)
First-round leader history in US Opens:
2018 – Russell Henley, Dustin Johnson, Scott Piercy, Ian Poulter (69)
2017 – Rickie Fowler (65)
2016 – Andrew Landry (66)
2015 – Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson (65)
2014 – Martin Kaymer (65)
2013 – Phil Mickelson (67)
2012 – Michael Thompson (66)
Strategy: In recent US Opens, eight of the last 11 players to have had a piece of the R1 lead were morning starters. However, in the 2010 US Open, the three R1 leaders were afternoon starters, all teeing off within 30 minutes of each other. Tiger had an early 08:40 tee-time when starting out with a 65 to lead in 2000 and the top three after 18 holes that year were all a.m. starters. Tee-times/R1 scores from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am don’t help us as it’s played on three courses and everyone heads out in the morning. Overall, I’m leaning towards morning starters due to the smoother greens but, given that all three leaders came from the afternoon wave in 2010, I’ll throw in a p.m. pick as well so it’s a 2:1 split.
Side with Spieth
Dustin Johnson (twice), Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson have all had a piece of the R1 lead at the US Open in the last eight years.
In the last five Masters, Jordan Spieth (three times), Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau all topped the leaderboard at the end of the opening lap.
And, of course, Koepka sprinted into the first-round lead at last month’s US PGA.
In other words, don’t be afraid to look at the front end of the market in R1 majors betting as you’ll often find the winner there.
It would be easy to go for Rory after his incredible seven-shot win last week and I’m also drawn to Dustin Johnson.
DJ has been joint-leader after the first round in two of the last four US Opens but, at just 18/1, sharing top spot doesn’t leave much profit.
Instead, I’ll jump to 33/1 Spieth.
True, Spieth is in the afternoon wave but I wanted a p.m starter.
He’ll enjoy the sunnier conditions and it may be telling that he thinks these poa annua greens are the best he’s seen and possibly may not spike up as much.
Spieth has been second after the first round in his last two starts and, on the West Coast swing earlier this year, he opened with 65 at Torrey Pines, 67 at Pebble and 64 at Riviera.
He’s fifth in R1 Scoring Average on the PGA Tour this season and has come right back to form in recent weeks with a trio of top 10s in his last three starts.
Spieth, who also held the lead after day one of the 2017 Open Championship, heads out at 14:09 alongside Tiger and Justin Rose.
Look to Lowry
Shane Lowry did this column an each-way favour at 55/1 last week and the Irishman could be worth following again.
An opening 64 in Canada put him tied second after the day one action and just three starts earlier he’d held the R1 lead after 18 holes of the RBC Heritage.
Earlier this season, he flew out of the blocks with a 62 in Abu Dhabi and went wire-to-wire in that event.
The Irishman has a bit of a leg up on many of his rivals this week as he’s played the Pebble Beach Pro-Am for the last five years and he’s been T8 and T13 after day one in two of the last three.
He returns after finishing tied second in Canada while three rounds in the 60s helped him to tied eighth in the US PGA in his previous start.
The in-form Lowry, who was tied fourth after round one of the 2016 US Open, can start fast from his 08:13 tee-time.
Willett worth a wager
Europeans do well at Pebble.
In 2010, Graeme McDowell and Gregory Havret were the first two home after Paul Casey had been tied for the R1 lead.
And there were four Euros in the top seven finishers in Tiger’s 2000 romp.
So how about Danny Willett causing an early splash at 100/1?
The Englishman was T9 after day one of his 2016 Masters triumph and sat second following the opening lap of the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
Also T8 after 18 holes of last year’s Open, the Englishman isn’t afraid of a fast start at this level and a recent return to form has been fuelled by solid openers.
Willett opened with 66 in Canada last week before finishing T8 and a 69 paved the way for T27 at Memorial the previous week.
Pebble looks a good place for him to show his talents and some of his strokes gained numbers in Canada back that idea up – 10th Off the Tee, third Tee to Green and second Around The Green.
Willett starts from the 10th at 07:40.
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