US Open Golf Favorites 2012: Championship Odds for World's Top Players

Carlos TorresContributor IJune 13, 2012

US Open Golf Favorites 2012: Championship Odds for World's Top Players

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    The 112th edition of the U.S. Open will start tomorrow and the world's elite players will go all out on their quest to write history and win the year's second major.

    The venue will be the Lake Course at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California. It will be the fifth time the course has hosted the U.S. Open and the first since Lee Janzen won it in 1998.

    The U.S. Open is trademarked as "Golf's Toughest Test"  and it certainly is. The 7,170-yard, par-70 Lake Course can break a lot of hopes on the first six holes.

    The players know that on this course is all about hitting it in the fairway and on the right spots on the green. Easier said than done.

    The golf course is longer than in 1998, but that isn't the biggest change. The greens have been resurfaced, and they roll so fast that it's difficult to get the ball close.

    Plus, the USGA has shaved some areas off the green to form large collection areas. A slight miss could send the ball some 30 yards away.

    A total of 156 players will take the course tomorrow on this tough course, but let's take a look at the championship odds—according to Bovada.LV—for the the world's Top 10 players.

10. Dustin Johnson (USA)

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    Odds: 26-1

    Best U.S. Open Finish: T8 (2010) 

    Arguably the best pure athlete on the PGA, Johnson also has the skills to be one of the top players in the world.But so far, what we remember the most about him is that on the biggest stage he just can't close the deal. 

    He has been three times in the final group in a major on Sunday, at the 2010 U.S. Open, the 2010 PGA Championship and the 2011 Open Championship.

    But Johnson has won at least once in the last five years. His last win was just this past weekend  FedEx St. Jude Classic in sensational fashion with back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th hole on Sunday to pick up the sixth win of his career.That was in just his second tournament back from a back injury, so at least his will be very confident going to the tee on Thursday.

9. Jason Dufner (USA)

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    Odds: 26-1

    Best U.S. Open Finish: T33 (2010) 

    Dufner is arguably the hottest player on the tour right now and has been on a steady climb on the rankings and the fans' perception.

    In the past month he has jumped from No. 30 to No. 9, product of two wins and a runner-up finish over his last four starts.

    He has been also contending in the majors, he lost the lead late and then the playoff to Keegan Bradley at last year’s PGA Championship, and had a share of the 36-hole lead at this year’s Masters.

    If you are looking for somebody to pick to win this weekend, that has been playing solid and striking the ball like champions do, look no further than Jason Dufner.

8. Hunter Mahan (USA)

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    Odds: 41-1

    Best U.S. Open Finish: T6 (2009) 

    Mahan has five wins on the PGA Tour, but two are WGC victories.

    He has 13 starts this year with three Top 10 finishes, two of them wins. This makes him one of three players to have won twice already this year on the PGA Tour.

    One of those victories was the WGC Match Play Championship.

    Mahan will not be contending for a win every weekend, but when he does he goes all out. He is just that, a home run hitter. 

    That may be the reason for his high odds even when he is second in the FedEx Cup standings and had reached as high a No. 4 in the rankings after his win at the Shell Houston Open.

    With Mahan you get the unexpected, but if he is on early on this tournament, you can expect to see him contending for the win on Sunday.

7. Justin Rose

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    Odds: 29-1

    Best U.S. Open Finish: T5 (2003) 

    Rose is an interesting prospect heading to the U.S. Open.

    Ever since his impressive start as an amateur at the 1998 Open he was expected to become a golf superstar. But has been far from it and has seldom contended at the majors since. 

    But recently he has been playing  his best golf and peaked as high a No. 6 in the world rankings and is the leader in the Race to Dubai on the European Tour.

    He also won his first WGC victory when he con the Cadillac Championship earlier in  year and now has 11 wins as a professional.

    In 13 starts this year he has one win (WGC Cadillac) and five other Top 10 finishes including the T2 at the BMW PGA Championship three weeks ago.

    His recent play dictates and proven ability certainly shows that he has what it takes and is ready to capture his first major crown.

6. Matt Kuchar

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    Odds: 29-1

    Best U.S. Open Finish: T6 (2010) 

    Since his break through year in 2010 when he won the PGA Tour leading money winner, Kuchar has been a contender just below the elite players.

    But this year, Kuchar got the biggest win of his career when he won The Players Championship last month.

    Still he has only four PGA Tour wins on his resume and is flying under the radar of many experts picks, despite his recent win at the TPC.

    He has three other Top 10 finishes in 12 starts this, but finishing in the Top 10 is not breaking news with Kuchar, is him winning.

    But this year Kuchar has been hot at the biggest tournaments. He finished T5 at the WGC Match Play, T8 at the WGC Cadillac and T3 at The Masters.

    A steady, accurate and solid putter like Kuchar, the way he is playing in the big tournaments this year has to be considered a definite threat to win the U.S. Open.

5. Bubba Watson (USA)

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    Odds: 51-1

    Best U.S. Open Finish: T5 (2007) 

    Watson got the biggest win of his career after his dramatic Sunday performance at The Masters.

    He peaked at a career-best No. 4 in the world after that, but since he finished T18 as the defending champ at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and missed the cut at The Memorial tournament.

    And is understandable as he took some time off to spend with his Angie, and the 2-month-old son they adopted just two weeks before he won at Augusta.

    It's safe to say his mind has not been much on golf and more about family. But to contend here he will need to be 100% mentally on top of his game as the Lake Course is no walk in the park.

    And after reading what he told, he is not a fan of the course.

    Watson is one of the game's most creative shot-makers but he will need to summon ore shots like the one he used to help him win The Masters if he is to win this weekend.

    His surprisingly long odds seem to be justified.

4. Tiger Woods (USA)

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    Odds: 7.50-1

    Best U.S. Open Finish: Won (2000, 2002, 2008)

    Even though Friday marks the four-year anniversary of the last of his 14 major championships, Woods is still very much in the hunt of Jack Nicklaus all-time record.

    The former world No. 1, this year is back up to fourth in the world rankings thanks to winning twice, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial—Nicklaus' tournament.

    Both have been tournaments he has won multiple times so most are waiting for him to finally win another major before declaring him all the way back.

    But after rallied from a four-shot deficit at the Memorial and holed an amazing chip for birdie late in the round and secured the win, that made him the betting favorite to win his fourth U.S. Open title.

    His detractors would argue that he won Bay Hill in his final start before the Masters, and then looked ordinary in a T40 finish at Augusta.

    And they might be right, but he keeps improving steadily and looking more like his old self as tournaments—and wins—keep passing by.

    He is definitely the favorite to win this weekend.

3. Lee Westwood (ENG)

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    Odds: 12-1

    Best U.S. Open Finish: Third/T3 (2008, 2011) 

    Westwood, the current world's No. 3 and former No.1,  is arguably the best player without a major. 

    He has 39 wins worldwide and is coming off his second win of the year when he won the Nordea Masters in Sweden by five-stroke this past Saturday.

    His best finish at the U.S. Open is a third place and also been a runner-up at both the Masters and the British Open, and helped lead Europe to victory in the Ryder Cup.

    He finished tied for seventh the last time the U.S. Open was played at here at the Olympic Club. He's had four Top 10 U.S. Open finishes in 12 appearances, including a tie for third last year at Congressional Country Club.

    Westwood has held the tournament lead in many majors in the past before surrendering it during later rounds. 

    He definitely has the talent, all that is left for him is to bridge the gap between the talent and the mental aspect and close the deal winning that elusive first major this Sunday.

2. Rory McIlroy (NIR)

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    Odds: 15-1

    Best U.S. Open Finish: Won (2011)

    McIlroy comes back to defend the title he won in record-setting runaway fashion last year.

    He established 11 new records en route to his dominating performance that left the world's best playing for second place over the weekend.

    Yet, he arrives to the tournament off what is the worst streak of his career that has seen him missed three straight cuts and in his last tournament he threw away a two-shot lead and went into the water on 18 to finish T7.

    After his win at the U.S. Open he finished in the Top Five in 12 of 14 tournaments and has been in-and-out of the top spot along with Luke Donald since.

    But he has yet to contend in a another major, finishing a disappointing T40 at The Masters most recently. 

    McIlroy is too good to be down for long and even though this is a tougher course than Congressional, he might find the spark he needs this weekend a jump start his quest for greatness once again.

1. Luke Donald (ENG)

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    Odds: 12-1

    Best U.S. Open Finish: T12 (2006) 

    The world's No. 1 is like Rodney Dangerfield, he get's no respect.

    Last year, he became the first man to officially top the money lists in Europe and the United States, and this year he has won tournaments on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

    Yet for all his success he is still without a major win and flying under the radar behind the attention that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy get.

    Before his 12th-place finish at the Memorial, he won the BMW PGA Championship and prior to that he was sixth at The Players Championship and third at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

    The only major he has not finished in the Top 10, is the U.S. Open and has not finished higher than 45th since he tied for 12th in 2006.

    But despite this, the tricky course Lake Course at Olympic Club might suit his game as he has a preference for shaping the ball from left to right.

    Donald is playing at his best and seems ready to hurdle that final obstacle on his path and win his first major.