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Opinion & Analysis

2017 U.S. Open: Odds, Picks, and Prop Bets

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The year’s second major has arrived as the world’s best players head to Wisconsin for the U.S. Open. It will certainly be a week of excitement (and plenty of complaining about the rough). The field is as strong as we’ll see all year; 58 of the world’s top-60 players are teeing it up this week including Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth, as well as 14 amateurs.

The storylines at Erin Hills are endless, but most headlines will surround Johnson’s first major start of 2017 (and first as a father of two) and the potential absence of Phil Mickelson. Johnson looks to become the first back-to-back U.S. Open winner since Curtis Strange in 1989, while Mickelson is in search of his first U.S. Open victory. But, as I’m sure you’ve heard, Mickelson plans to attend his daughter’s graduation in San Diego on Thursday and will need a lengthy weather delay to make his tee time.

  • Tournament Record: 268 by Rory McIlroy in 2011
  • 18-Hole Record: 63 shared by Johnny Miller (1973), Tom Weiskopf (1980), Jack Nicklaus (1980), and Vijay Singh (2003).

The Course

Erin Hills will play host to the U.S. Open for the first time this year, but the course is no stranger to holding prestigious events. It was the site of the 2008 U.S. Women’s Public Links and 2011 U.S. Amateur. The par-72 course will be the second-longest track in tournament history, just a few yards behind Chambers Bay, playing at 7,693 yards. It features treacherous rough and fescue, which players have already criticized, and difficult bunkers.

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The tee ball will be a major factor this week. Luckily the fairways are relatively generous for a U.S. Open, but any miss will be severely penalized; if the players are lucky enough to find their ball in the fescue, the best they can hope for is to take their medicine and punch out.

The opening and closing holes, both par 5s, are the ones to watch this week. No. 1 plays at just over 600 yards, but it can be reached by much of the field and is a real scoring chance. Depending on the wind, anything worse than birdie could be giving a shot back to the field. No. 18, on the other hand, is a rarity on the PGA Tour; a true three-shot hole. At 663 yards, it’s out of reach for even the longest hitters. I wouldn’t be shocked, however, to see some ill-advised attempts to get there in two; especially for players right on the cut line or those in need of an eagle late on Sunday.

Odds

Dustin Johnson is the 2017 U.S. Open favorite.

Dustin Johnson is the 2017 U.S. Open favorite.

Past champs in the field

  • Ernie Els +30000
  • Jim Furyk +25000
  • Angel Cabrera +40000
  • Lucas Glover +15000
  • Graeme McDowell +15000
  • Rory McIlroy +1200
  • Webb Simpson +17500
  • Justin Rose +2200
  • Martin Kaymer +6600
  • Jordan Spieth +1200
  • Dustin Johnson +750

Favorites

  • Dustin Johnson +750
  • Jordan Spieth +1200
  • Rory McIlroy +1200
  • Jason Day +1200
  • John Rahm +2000
  • Rickie Fowler +2000
  • Justin Rose +2200
  • Sergio Garcia +2200
  • Hideki Matsuyama +2800

Picks

The Memorial Tournament Presented By Nationwide - Final Round

2015 U.S. Open Champion Jordan Spieth is my pick to win.

My Pick – It’s hard to do, but I’m not taking DJ this week. His MC at Memorial put a little scare into me, and I have a bad feeling he’s going to slump for a few weeks. With that said, I’m going with 2015 U.S. Open Champion Jordan Spieth (+1200). Spieth usually gets into some trouble off the tee, but the generous fairways should bail him out on a few occasions and his putter has been much better over his last few starts. If he can sink a few putts early on, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get hot. On top of that, Spieth has one more advantage over the field; he competed in the 2011 U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills.

Value Pick – I’m going with Justin Rose this week at +2200. Generally, I’d go deeper down the odds list for this pick, but I don’t think Rose is getting the respect he deserves with these odds. Rose is a former U.S. Open Champion, so we know he can handle the pressure and he’s played great golf this season, most notably reaching a playoff at the Masters. The biggest knock against him is that he hasn’t won in a couple years, but that just tells me that he’s due for a W.

Long Shot – Thomas Pieters at +4000 is my long shot pick this week. This will be Pieters’ first start at a U.S. Open, but he proved his lack of experience is anything but an issue with a great performance at the Masters. He’s one of a few players who’s both long off the tee and a great putter (he averages 309.3 yards off the tee and ranks No. 11 in putt per round on the European Tour).

Props

Dustin Johnson & Jordan Spieth (+450) vs. the Field (-750): I’ll take these odds all day. Spieth is my pick to win, and DJ is the odds-on favorite. This is the U.S. Open, so anybody can win, but I’ll take my chances on this one.

Wire-to-Wire winner – Yes (+500): I’m going with “yes” here. It doesn’t happen often, but I have a feeling someone is going to get hot out of the gate and stick with it all four days. The wider fairways give some leeway off the tee, so the nerves of leading a major might be a little more subdued than a typical U.S. Open.

Top Spaniard – Sergio Garcia (+125): The trendy pick for this is Jon Rahm at +120, and Rahm definitely has the game to do it, but I’m going with experience and recent form. Garcia just won the Masters, and he has three top-5s in the U.S. Open. It’s tough to pick against that.

TV Times

June 15 (Round 1)

  • 11:00 AM-6:00 PM* (FS1)
  • 6:00-9:00 PM (FOX)

June 16 (Round 2)

  • 11:00 AM-6:00 PM (FS1)
  • 6:00-9:00 PM (FOX)

June 17 (Round 3)

  • 11:00 AM-8:00 PM (FOX)
  • 5:00-8:00 PM (FOX Deportes)

June 18 (Round 4)

  • 11:00 AM-8:30 PM (FOX)
  • 5:00-8:30 PM (FOX Deportes)

*Local Time: Central Daylight Time (CDT)

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Twitter @NickRitaccoGolf

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. rebfan73

    Jun 13, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    You said Deportes

  2. Steve

    Jun 13, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Spieth misses the cut. Given his propensity to push his drive miles to the right, he could have numerous unplayable shots. I would bet the farm that he is not top 5. And I’m a fan of the guy, but this is not the course for him.
    Justin Thomas is my pick to win, with Adam Scott (if he can figure out how to sink putts) a 2nd choice.

    • Nick Ritacco

      Jun 13, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      I’d be surprised if he MC but it’s the US Open; a few disaster holes are lurking for everyone so it’s possible. Really wide fairways for a US Open though so I think he’ll get away with more misses here than at any other Open venue. Thomas and Scott are both solid choices but didn’t quite make my cut. Love watching JT play but I like Pieters at +4000 more than JT at +3300.

    • Z

      Jun 14, 2017 at 2:55 am

      Dude, the fairways are 75 yards in spots, and most of them they are 50 yards wide. Nobody will have any serious issues off the tee, the course is not designed that way – unless, the wind blows.
      The game is about how they attack the greens and what kind of horrible situations they get into when they miss the greens a little and the ball rolls away into the grass or the gnarly bunkers.

      • Nick Ritacco

        Jun 14, 2017 at 9:22 am

        Agreed, and I’ve heard quite a few reports that say the BIG misses aren’t as bad as just rolling into the fescue – the deeper in to the fescue you get, the thinner it is.

  3. TheCityGame

    Jun 13, 2017 at 10:57 am

    You have DJ listed at +450 and you have DJ & JS (+450) vs the field.

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Opinion & Analysis

Golf swing videos: What you absolutely need to know

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Let’s start with a game. Below are 5 different swing videos. I want you to study them and decide which of them is the best swing. Take your time, this is important…

Please, write your answer down. Which one was it?

Now, I am going to tell you a little secret; they are all the exact same swing filmed simultaneously from 5 various positions. JM1 is on the hand line but higher, JM2 is on the hand line but lower, JM3 is on the foot line, JM4 is on the hand line and JM5 is on the target line. Same swing, very different results!

So, what did we learn? Camera angle has an enormous impact on the way the swing looks.

“If you really want to see what is going on with video, it is crucial to have the camera in the right position,” said Bishops Gate Director of Instruction and Top 100 teacher Kevin Smeltz. “As you can see, if it is off just a little it makes a significant difference.”

According to PGA Tour Coach Dan Carraher: “Proper camera angles are extremely important, but almost more important is consistent camera angles. If you’re going to compare swings they need to be shot from the same camera angles to make sure you’re not trying to fix something that isn’t really a problem. Set the camera up at the same height and distance from the target line and player every time. The more exact the better.”

For high school players who are sending golf swing videos to college coaches, the content of the swing video is also very important. You have 5-15 seconds to impress the coach, so make sure you showcase the most impressive part of your game. For example, if you bomb it, show some drivers and make sure the frame is tight to demonstrate your speed/athleticism. Likewise, if you have a great swing but not a whole lot of power, start the video with a 5 or 6 iron swing to showcase your move. Either way, show coaches your strengths, and make sure to intrigue them!

Now that you have something that represents your skills, you need to consider how to format it so coaches are most likely to open it. I would recommend uploading the swings to YouTube and including a link in the email; a link allows the coach to simply click to see the video, rather than having to mess with opening any specific program or unknown file.

When formatting the email, always lead with your best information. For example, if you want a high-end academic school and have 1550 on the SAT lead with that. Likewise, if you have a powerful swing, lead with the YouTube link.

Although these tips do not guarantee responses, they will increase your odds!

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Opinion & Analysis

Jason Day’s shoulder: More concerning than it seems?

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If you watched The Players Championship last weekend, you probably saw Jason Day tweak his shoulder on the 16th hole on Sunday. He addressed the injury in his post-round press conference and it caught my attention. Check out this video of the press conference to hear the entire clip.

A few things about what he said stuck out to me:

  • “Every now and then it happens where my shoulder feels like it pops out, but it’s like more of a sting”
  • Feeling a “pop” and “sting” in his lead (left) shoulder
  • Pain is usually during the transition from the top of the backswing to the downswing
  • He’s been doing shoulder exercises to “stay loose”

Just by watching Jason Day’s swing, it seems pretty evident that he is a hypermobile athlete. This simply means that his joints tend to be naturally looser, enabling him to achieve the tremendous positions he does in his swing. This can become problematic, however, when hypermobility becomes instability. Instability of the shoulder can lead to recurrent and frequent subluxations and/or dislocations of the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint.

Shoulder Injuries in Golfers

Photo Credit: Arrow PT

Shoulder injuries account for 8-18 percent of all golf-related injuries. The most common shoulder injuries to the lead shoulder are posterior instability and acromioclavicual (AC) joint injury. Both of these injuries tend to be painful at the top of the backswing when the lead arm is in near-maximal horizontal adduction (reaching across your body). This position creates a compressive force through the AC Joint, which may cause pain.

Maximal horizontal adduction also places stress on the posterior capsule of the shoulder. During the transition from the top of the backswing to the downswing, the hips and trunk begin to rotate towards the target. In elite golfers, the arms tend to lag behind, creating a tremendous amount of torque. This can lead to something termed the “adduction stretch” in the swing when the arm bone contacts the rib cage and the humeral head exerts a posterior force. Repeated over thousands of times, this can lead to posterior instability of the shoulder (especially in a naturally hypermobile person).

 

Notice that Day’s hips have fired towards the target, but his shoulders are lagging behind. This is a move that creates tremendous torque and clubhead speed but also stresses the shoulder joint and capsule.

Golfers with posterior instability may suffer from posterior subluxations. A subluxation is when the shoulder slides out of the joint and immediately slides back in. This is different from a dislocation, where the joint remains separated until it is physically put back into place.

Photo Credit: Back And Body Clinic

Symptoms of a subluxation include:

  • A feeling of the shoulder moving out and in of the joint
  • A feeling of looseness in the shoulder
  • Pain, weakness, or numbness of the arm

Should Jason Day Be Concerned?

I’m not here to diagnose Jason Day with any medical condition. I have not evaluated his shoulder, and I do not have enough information to make any kind of an informed diagnosis. But, if it barks like a dog…

Is Day’s shoulder injury something that could negatively impact him in the foreseeable future? I would argue yes. If he does indeed have posterior instability of his lead shoulder with recurrent subluxations during his golf swing, this may be a problem that nags him for a while to come.

Conservative treatment for posterior instability typically features physical therapy focusing on improving rotator strength and stability. The rotator cuff can help stabilize the shoulder during the golf swing and prevent excessive motion of the humeral head within the socket when it is functioning properly. Medical research shows that conservative treatment of posterior instability is often successful, but not for every person. One study reports only 25 percent that golfers with posterior instability were able to return to golf after undergoing physical therapy. This study is old and has a few issues, but still, this is a pretty low percentage.

Surgical treatment of posterior instability is an option. The surgery includes tightening the capsule to prevent further subluxations. One of the major drawbacks of this surgery is that it may be tough to get full cross-body range of motion back after the capsule is tightened. This can make it difficult for golfers to get back to their old swing style after surgery.

Surgical repair of the capsule showing the tightening of the capsule.

 

Overall, shoulder injuries, particularly to the lead shoulder, can be problematic for golfers of all ability levels. I sincerely hope that Jason Day is able to overcome his shoulder pain and continue to play at his current level.

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Opinion & Analysis

Starting from Scratch (Episode 1): GolfWRX Editor switches to lefty

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As a right-handed Division I (Rutgers University) golfer, I underwent spine surgery at 20-years old, which effected the lower right portion of my back. Eight years later, I’m a trending-up-2-handicap who deals with back spasms after nearly every round of golf or practice session, and a lingering left wrist injury — neither of which are very good for a right-handed golfer. Extremely frustrated with golf and my body, I’m officially announcing my retirement as a right-handed golfer. BUT, I’m not retiring from the sport I love.

Going forward, I will be switching to playing golf as a left-hander. The left-handed swing puts significantly less pressure on the lower right side of my back and my left wrist. Therefore, I’ll be able to continue playing golf by switching sides, and get back the passion to practice and improve.

The problem? I’ve never played golf lefty and I’m not ambidextrous. I write, throw, bat, swing, play pool, play darts, everything as a righty. For 28 years, I’ve played golf righty.

As your fearless GolfWRX Editor, I’ll be documenting the entire process through written articles, photos, podcast updates, video and social media posts (@tg2wrx on Instagram). I’ll explain what it’s like to start the game as a beginning golfer, and the process I take to improve. I’ll document lessons, club fittings, performance assessments, rounds of golf, and practice sessions on my quest. Hopefully, I’ll be writing the blueprint for how to go from a terrible golfer to a nineties shooter. Hopefully.

My goal is to break 100 (on a regulation golf course from the “white” tees) before Labor Day. My co-host on Two Guys Talking Golf has bet against me for a publicly undisclosed sum, and I’ve also been taking many side bets, as well. My mission for the summer is to prove everyone wrong.

Watch Episode 1 of the series to see my first swings as a lefty.

Starting from Scratch: Episode 1

 

Week 1 and 2 highlights

  • Whiffed once while attempting to hit a 6-iron. I’m just happy it only happened once.
  • Went to a big box store to buy used golf clubs. Wow, buying equipment as a lefty is just as difficult as left-handers have been telling righties their entire lives. I bought a 64-degree SureOut wedge — I need the most forgiveness I can get
  • Purchased the rest of my set online for less than $500! We will be posting a “What’s in the bag” video in the coming weeks. Spoiler alert: I got some VERY forgiving stuff.
  • Watched a video from Shawn Clement — who is scratch as both a lefty and a righty — saying right-hand dominant golfers playing lefty should feel the club pulling with their right arm. It feels like a backhand stroke in tennis, and I’m thinking this will be a good swing thought moving forward
  • Grinded at the short game area almost every night until the rest of my clubs came in. Short game is feeling really good. Just working on hitting down on the golf ball and making consistent contact near the center of the face.
  • One night after work, I went to the short game area at my local course, and realized no one was playing. Although I didn’t feel ready to take my game to the course, I decided to play 9 holes. And I shot… 50!! (Par 35; 2,810 yards.) Very encouraging.
  • Check out @tg2wrx for a ridiculous flop shot I hit over the trees during my first round as a lefty
  • Shot 44 on a mini golf course putting lefty… yikes. Gotta reduce those three putts.

Thoughts from a left-hander

Overall, the most work is going to be getting mid-to-long irons in the air, and reducing slices/top/shanks off the tee. If I can simply get the ball in the air and hit it somewhere around the center of the face, I believe I can plot my way around a golf course to break 100. Bunker play is a huge concern still, so I’ll want to avoid bunkers at all costs. Other than that, I need to practice more. More range balls, more chip shots, more pitch shots and more putts. I need to continue getting comfortable hitting golf balls from the “wrong” side.

Tune in next time to see my WITB and how I’m faring as a south paw.

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