U.S. Open Golf 2014: Latest Odds, Predictions and Picks

Mike DudurichContributor IJune 10, 2014

U.S. Open Golf 2014: Latest Odds, Predictions and Picks

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    Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore discuss their work at Pinehurst No. 2.
    Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore discuss their work at Pinehurst No. 2.USA TODAY Sports

    One more day of practice rounds, short-game preparation and hype exists before the start of the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

    There are plenty of questions still unanswered, and most will remain that way until golf balls are in the air Thursday.

    Will Phil Mickelson be able to focus sufficiently on golf to be a factor Sunday afternoon?

    Will the restored Donald Ross-layout play as tough as course designers Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore hope?

    It ought to be a great four days of golf in one of the most historic courses in the United States.

Latest Odds

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    Rory McIlroy prepares to unleash the big dog.
    Rory McIlroy prepares to unleash the big dog.Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    The list of odds to win the U.S. Open is populated with the normal suspect at the top from Bovada (via Odds Shark).

    Rory McIlroy is the favorite at 10-1. Adam Scott is second at 12-1, and somewhat surprisingly, Phil Mickelson is the third favorite at 14-1.

    There appears to be a story behind those odds. You might have noticed nobody has odds in single digits, which means that nobody is an overwhelming favorite in the minds of those who establish those odds.

    That's not really surprising since no one has demonstrably stepped up to fill the void left by an ineffective and then-injured Tiger Woods.

    It also means this could be the most wide-open U.S. Open in a long time.

    Here are the 13 players at the top of the list:

    Rory McIlroy: 10-1
    Adam Scott: 12-1
    Phil Mickelson: 14-1
    Bubba Watson: 18-1
    Henrik Stenson: 25-1
    Jordan Spieth: 25-1
    Justin Rose: 25-1
    Matt Kuchar: 25-1
    Jason Day: 28-1
    Dustin Johnson: 33-1
    Lee Westwood: 33-1
    Luke Donald: 33-1
    Sergio Garcia: 33-1

Phil's Quest

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    Phil Mickelson prepares for the U.S. Open on Tuesday.
    Phil Mickelson prepares for the U.S. Open on Tuesday.Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Phil Mickelson is a fan favorite wherever he goes. And he'll no doubt be the center of attention this week as he pursues the Career Grand Slam.

    He's been a bridesmaid in the U.S. Open six times, and if he's able to get past that and win one, he'd become only the sixth man in history to win all four majors in his career.

    But he's bringing a lot of baggage with him to the site of one of his previous runner-up finishes, the 1999 U.S. Open.

    The only consistency in his game in 2014 has been has the inconsistency. He characterizes himself as mentally soft, and recently, news has broken that he is part of an investigation into insider trading.

    This course will be far too difficult for Mickelson to be trying to find his game, and his quest for the career grand slam will live at least until the 2015 Open.

A First-Time Major Winner?

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    Matt Kuchar will be hoping to grab his first major title this week.
    Matt Kuchar will be hoping to grab his first major title this week.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Much has been made over the years about the experience necessary to be a contender in a major championship like the U.S. Open.

    But when you consider that the last two, and four of the last five, Opens have been the first majors won by those champions, maybe experience isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    Justin Rose won at Merion last year and Webb Simpson at the Olympic Club in 2012.

    Might it happen again this year? Well, there are certainly some very qualified candidates in the field that seem capable of being able to extend that streak to three years.

    Guys like Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker, Jonas Blixt and Kuchar headline that list, with Brandt Snedeker and Westwood facing longer odds to win despite being in the same category.

The Top 10

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    Adam Scott hopes his name will be at the top of that leaderboard Sunday.
    Adam Scott hopes his name will be at the top of that leaderboard Sunday.Charles Riedel/Associated Press

    It's always been my opinion that trying to pick the winner (of the top 10) of a golf tournament is a lot like herding cats.

    Not impossible certainly, but pretty darn difficult.

    Having said that, here how I see the top 10 working out at the U.S. Open:

    1. Adam Scott: He's the No. 1 player in the world, and he's playing like it.
    2. Rory McIlroy: He's won a U.S. Open, so he knows what it takes. Could be a big week for him.
    3. Matt Kuchar: Golf owes no one, but this guy deserves a major title for as well as he's played.
    4. Graeme McDowell: He knows how to work his way around a golf course and that knowledge will help him on a big course.
    5. Jordan Spieth: He keeps knocking on the door and is soon going to crash through it.
    6. Miguel Angel Jimenez: Don't know how he keeps doing it, but don't count him out.
    7. Justin Rose: Can he become the first player in 25 years to stage a successful defense of last year's title?
    8. Webb Simpson: He's played better recently and would be a good story if he could win in his home state.
    9. Phil Mickelson: Not sure if he can seriously contend, but he's been second six times, and that counts for something.
    10. Jonas Blixt: Don't overlook this guy. He finished second in the last major of 2013 and T4 in the Masters.

The U.S. Open Winner Will...

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    Welcome to the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
    Welcome to the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Weather permitting, someone will be awarded the U.S. Open trophy on the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 2.

    To reach that moment, the player will need to do most of the following:

    1. Have his best putting in the bag when he tees it up Thursday morning. U.S. Opens are not won by mediocre or poor putters. And U.S. Opens on Donald Ross courses are specifically not won by poor putters.
    2. Find a way to hit those Pinehurst No. 2 fairways, the ones that are nearly twice as wide as they were in 2005. They're going to be firm and fast and will provide plenty of rollout once tee shots get on the ground. Length will be important, but much more vital will be how accurate those shots are.
    3. Be prepared to be creative when shots find the waste areas along the fairways that replaced nearly 40 acres of rough. Who knows what kind of lies players will find in there? Should make for some interesting spectating.
    4. More than ever, understand that patience must be the predominant trait of the week. Pars are always good in the U.S. Open, and that may never be more true than this week.