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US Open Three Balls: A quartet of tips for the opening round

US Open Three Balls: A quartet of tips for the opening round

Todd rates good value in weak group

Back Brendon Todd 3u @ 21/10 (vs Donald, Weir) (Starts 15.29)

Let’s start the 18-hole betting with a group that, on all recent evidence, will not require anything special to win. The 49 year-old Weir has made only ten cuts since the start of 2015 and registered only one top-ten, on any tour, since 2010. Todd hasn’t made a top-ten since 2015. Donald missed nine of his last 12 cuts.

Clearly on that basis, any of them could win with a poor, over-par score. At considerably bigger odds than Donald, Todd is preferred because he’s played much better this term, notably reaching the top-20 at Quail Hollow. Note, too, that he sat second at halfway on the first of only two US Open appearances in 2014.

Recovering Kaymer well-suited to Pebble Beach

Back Martin Kaymer 4u @ 6/5 (vs Z Johnson, Els) (Starts 15.51)

Of these three major champions – all of whom have plenty of links prowess – Kaymer looks much stronger right now. Top-three in the previous two Pebble Beach US Opens, Ernie has gone right off the boil since a mini-comeback at the start of the season and seems certain to find constant trouble off the tee here.

Zach Johnson isn’t having a great year by his standards and has never done much at either this course or in US Opens. In contrast, Pinehurst champion Kaymer is finally getting back to somewhere near his best, finishing third at the Memorial and eighth in the British Masters. He was top-ten here in 2010 and should be ideally suited.

Martin-Kaymer-1280.jpg

Gmac to maintain his good run

Back Graeme McDowell 2u @ 11/4 (vs D Johnson, Mickelson)

Here’s a group that will certainly be shown extensively during the early coverage, involving two former US Open champions and the best player never to win one. All three are Pebble Beach specialists.

I can’t have Mickelson this week despite his record here. The same could have been said about the PGA at Bethpage Black, where he was 71st, either side of missed cuts.

DJ is obviously a worthy favourite but Gmac could represent a bit of value in current mood after qualifying for the Open on Sunday. As shown in 2010, his game is ideal for Pebble and he’s a lively outsider for the title.

Graeme McDowell hits drive 1280.jpg

Schauffele preferred on links and major form

Back Xander Schauffele 4u @ 5/4 (vs Wallace, Smith) (Starts 16.24)

This trio are all likeable types – excellent prospects, known for confounding expectations in majors. Schauffele is certainly the one to beat and could well be champion on Sunday. He’s finished top-six in the last two US Opens, second in the Masters and proved his links prowess when runner-up at Carnoustie.

While Wallace has also made hugely impressive strides and was a brilliant third at the PGA last month, he’s yet to prove his aptitude at links. He missed the cut in all three big links events in the UK last summer. Smith has been struggling in recent weeks.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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