My band of buddies includes a few friends who run in caddie circles in New York, and they have been predicting that 2-over wins the U.S. Open. But I got in touch this morning with a much better source, and in his view it’ll be something closer to 6- or 8-under.
And let’s just say that this particular source has about as much knowledge of Shinnecock as anyone.
Gambling opportunities abound as we get ready to return to the course where hole No. 7 was virtually unplayable during the 2006 U.S. Open, having to be hand-watered between groups because the USGA had cut it so short that it resembled concrete.
From what I am told, the USGA is taking an hour-by-hour approach to managing No. 7, which will remain the case through Sunday morning.
Also, the rough is as long as it has ever been — about two feet tall, but also lush and green. You pretty much can’t get a club through it. The fairways have been widened (they average 41 yards wide, about 15 yards more than previous U.S. Opens at Shinnecock), which sort of seems at odds with what the USGA is all about. Also, the 11th hole is going to have balls rolling off the green from back to front if the wind is blowing out of the north.
The course record is 62, and it was set by Kenny Stadler two years ago during a recreational round. The members’ record of 63 is shared by Jimmy Dunn and John Powers.
As of this morning, the greens are running at 11.5-12 on the Stimpmeter. The USGA can get them up to 13, but given what happened in 2006, we probably won’t be seeing a number that high.
There will undoubtedly be a lot of action on Tiger Woods, who is the subject of no less than 13 prop bets being listed by my partners at BetDSI. The most interesting in the short term is the prop bet on Tiger’s first tee shot. He is -145 to put it in the fairway; +115 to put it elsewhere: In the rough; in a tree; into someone’s beer glass.
But the action does not begin or end with Tiger. Insert your own Waffle House joke here. There is an NHL referee (Garrett Rank) in the field, there are guys who got in through sectional qualifying; there are locals who have played the course dozens or hundreds of times (this is why they call it the “Open” after all), and there are about 18 gazillion sites out there with writers who will tell you whom to play, whom not to play and where to get the best lobster thermador should you be lucky enough to score tickets and find a place to stay out in Southhampton, which is not exactly a low-rent district.
The over/under for the lowest score is 64.5, and since the U.S. Open record at Shinnecock is 65, that seems iffy. But keep in mind that the wind has been blowing lightly over the past several days on Long Island, and the forecast calls for more of the same. Then again, if you want to hitch your boat and your bets to what any given weatherman says, you do so at your own peril. Is there any job in America where people get paid so much money to be so consistently inaccurate?
Which reminds me: The final round of the 2004 U.S. Open was played in brutal conditions with not a single player under par. The final-round scoring average was a crazy 78.7. Corey Pavin inspired me to purchase a 4-wood.
But I digress.
Woods and Mickelson are two of five players who are competing this week after playing in the 1995 and 2004 U.S. Opens at Shinnecock. Steve Stricker, Ernie Els and Kenny Perry are the others. Mickelson inspired me to teach my youngest son, John, to swing a golf-club left-handed, which he continues to do. He bowls right-handed, and his 297 should stand as the Sheridan family record for some time.
But again, I digress.
“Lefty” is a golfer that many people will be cheering for this week, and the props on him are interesting, too. He is 30-1 to win the tournament, which is not a bet that I would want to make. Jhonattan Vegas at 250-1? Now that is something worth considering.
If you are not a big believer in Phil, then you can go ahead and wager $3,800 to win $100 (if Phil finishes anywhere other than first place) and let your wallet ride that one out. Me? I don’t quite roll that way.
Dustin Johnson is the favorite at 11-1, and given the pedigree of the genetic pool in the Hamptons, he could have quite the interesting week when he is not playing golf.
Rory McIlroy is 13-1, but his recent U.S. Open history is anything but good.
If you are a fan of guys not named Tiger Woods who have fired Steve Williams, you can get Adam Scott at 35-1. He is really never a bad bet, and the guy on his bag this weekend is Lenny Bummolo, who loops out of Shinnecock six days a week.
It should be a fabulous tournament. Nobody can say with any certainty whether LeBron James will be watching, but given what we have heard from J.R. Smith over the past couple of weeks, he will likely have it on the telly. (If you want to bet on LeBron’s next team, read this article I wrote from Cleveland on Friday night.)
As for gambling advice, I will only say something related to golf: Keep it in the fairway, stay out of the rough, consider the risk/reward factor. Not sure yet who I will be backing, but let’s just say I kind of like guys from Venezuela whose last names have a bit of a gambling locale connection.