Brooks Koepka seeks to become only the second man to win three consecutive US Opens as the American defends his title at Pebble Beach this week. Koepka has won four of the last nine major championships although he does not start favourite. Rory McIlroy assumed this status after his crushing seven-shot victory at the Canadian Open on Sunday.

Pebble Beach should provide a fierce examination for the field with dry weather ensuring firm and fast conditions at the California coastal course. A strong all-round game will be required to contend at the 7,075-yard par 71.

 

Avoiding the punishing rough will be crucial while hitting plenty of the poa annua greens will also be important. A confident scrambler will also be required when the small greens are missed. Graeme McDowell was the champion with an even par total, when the US Open was last held at Pebble Beach in 2010, proving shorter hitters can compete and win at the classic course.

Koepka is hugely respected, with his extraordinary recent success in the majors, although the weight of history could prove a slight burden and his errant driving in Canada suggested he may not be at the peak of his powers. 17/2 shot McIlroy has still yet to prove he can handle a fiery US Open with his 2011 win coming at a rain-softened Congressional. Dustin Johnson has the pedigree although he capitulated in the final round of the 2010 edition at Pebble Beach and frequently seems to find one player too good in the majors.

 

Woods primed for more glory

Tiger Woods rolled back the years with a majestic performance at the Masters this year to capture his 15th major title and he could be heading for more silverware this weekend. His remarkable comeback was complete in April as Woods won the Green Jacket sparking a huge outpouring of emotion. It had been coming though with sixth place at the Open last year followed by second at the PGA Championship.

Woods’ win at the Tour Championship last year provided the result he needed to lift him to major glory at Augusta and conditions should be favourable for him this week. The 43-year-old has the strategic game management and patience to plot his way around Pebble Beach, being able to leave the driver in the bag on plenty of the holes. Woods’ incredible 15-shot triumph at the 2000 US Open at the course was followed by fourth place here nine years ago. Ninth place at the Memorial was an excellent warm-up and he ranks first this season for greens in regulation. Woods looks a huge factor this week and is a confident selection at 12/1 each way.

Patrick Cantlay has surged into the top ten of the world rankings after a superb run of golf in recent months. Cantlay tied for ninth at the Masters and was third at the RBC Heritage on a short, coastal layout. The American secured his best result in a major with third at the PGA Championship and crowned this run with a second PGA Tour title after a brilliant closing round of 64 at the Memorial.

His performance at Muirfield Village was outstanding and few golfers will come in with as much confidence as the 27-year-old. The Californian is comfortable on poa annua greens and has extensive experience of playing golf in the region. All facets of Cantlay’s game are firing at present, ranking first for both scrambling and bogey avoidance as well as second for strokes gained tee to green. With no obvious weaknesses, Cantlay can attack this week’s test with authority and, despite the fancy prices disappearing, still merits support at 18/1 each way.

 

Schauffele can shine at US Open again

Xander Schauffele looks a major winner in waiting and the Californian could be celebrating his breakthrough in his home state on Sunday. Schauffele has established a tremendous record in the biggest events during his short career. In his major debut, the American tied for fifth place at the 2017 US Open and 12 months later finished sixth at Shinnecock Hills. He was also runner-up at last year’s Open Championship before taking second place at the Masters in April.

Schauffele has two victories this season including the WGC HSBC Champions in China. The 25-year-old also beat a winners-only field in the 2019 opener at the Tournament of Champions. The four-time PGA Tour champion struck the ball superbly, in his top-15 finish, on his last start at Muirfield Village where he led the field for strokes gained tee to green and total driving. Schauffele appears nerveless in contention and is fancied to contend in a third successive US Open at 28/1 each way.

FARMINGDALE, NEW YORK - MAY 15: Xander Schauffele of the United States warms up during a practice round prior to the 2019 PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course on May 15, 2019 in Farmingdale, New York. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Brandt Snedeker has enjoyed a love affair with Pebble Beach and the American looks a likely title contender at one of his favourite courses. Snedeker won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2013, where two of the four rounds take place at the famous track. He also won the tournament again two years later and was eighth at the US Open in 2010.

Snedeker, who has five top tens in this tournament, reunited with his former coach Todd Anderson earlier this season and the results are starting to pay off. The 38-year-old tied for fifth at the Players Championship in March and comes in off three successive top 20s. Fourth place on Sunday in Canada was a major step forward for Snedeker as he putting strongly on the poa annua greens at Hamilton Golf and Country Club. With confidence rapidly returning, Snedeker warrants support at 55/1 each way.

 

Lowry brings major momentum to California

Shane Lowry heads to Pebble Beach buoyed by an excellent stretch of golf and the Irishman could go close this week. Lowry finished second behind McIlroy in Canada on Sunday, ranking third for putting with his short game looking in great shape. It continued Lowry’s impressive run following a tie for third at the RBC Heritage and eighth at the PGA Championship in his last three individual tournaments.

Lowry started the year in style with a victory in a strong field at the Abu Dhabi Championship. The 32-year-old is fully focused on qualifying for Padraig Harrington’s European Ryder Cup team next season and his recent performances suggest he is well equipped to achieve this goal. He was runner-up at the 2016 US Open at Oakmont and won the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in 2015, underlining his ability to prevail on the big stage. Lowry, who finished 14th at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am two years ago, has a big chance to contend in California at 66/1 each way.

HAMILTON, ONTARIO - JUNE 09: Shane Lowry of Ireland looks over a putt on the ninth green during the final round of the RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club on June 09, 2019 in Hamilton, Canada. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Firm and fast conditions at Pebble Beach should enable shorter hitters to compete and there is scope for a surprise winner this week with CT Pan a tempting bet at fancy odds. The Chinese Tapei golfer claimed his first PGA Tour title at Hilton Head a couple of months ago, on a course which shares some similarities with this week’s test.

Pan finished third on his last start at Colonial and will head to the US Open with confidence. The 27-year-old has played well in California before with second place at Torrey Pines in 2017 and should be comfortable at the coastal course. The former world number one amateur held his nerve superbly under pressure to win at the RBC Heritage and the recent victory will give him belief if he can get into contention. Pan looks well worth chancing at 150/1 each way.

Tips:

Tiger Woods Each Way

Patrick Cantlay Each Way

Xander Schauffele Each Way

Brandt Snedeker Each Way

Shane Lowry Each Way

CT Pan Each Way

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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