Former US Open champion can outscore moody South African
Phil Mickelson relishing Grand Slam bid
Sky Sports Golf, 1.30pm Thursday
Former US Open champions have a mental advantage on the first tee at the second Major of the season – they know they have previously passed the ultimate test with flying colours – and that fillip could be enough for Martin Kaymer to raise his game at Shinnecock Hills this week.
Kaymer can grind with the best of them and he destroyed the field in the 2014 US Open, winning by eights shots. His ten US Open starts have resulted in only two missed cuts. Although the German has been struggling to contend in the last couple of years, slipping outside of the world's top 100, he has made the cut in his last ten Majors. The tougher tracks bring the best out of him.
Kaymer, who finished eighth in the Italian Open in his last start, is a generous 6-5 outsider to beat Charl Schwartzel over 72 holes this week.
Schwartzel got his tail up with a surprisingly good performance at Sawgrass a month ago, but he immediately slumped back into miserable form afterwards, missing the cut by two shots in the Memorial at Muirfield Village, then finishing last of the weekend qualifiers in the St Jude Classic.
Weekend rounds of 78 and 75 sent Schwartzel to Shinnecock bereft of confidence, while Kaymer may be slowly but surely finding some self-belief. The outsider has the better temperament for this gruelling assignment and the irritable Schwartzel could quickly get ruffled.
Phil Mickelson, fourth and second in the last two US Opens at Shinnecock Hills, also looks a value outsider in a 72-hole match against Hideki Matsuyama. Half of Mickelson's six US Open runner-up finishes have come on Long Island, so he is clearly comfortable in this part of the world, and the WCG-Mexico Championship victor is relishing the challenge of attempting to complete a career Grand Slam of Major titles.
The vastly superior short-game skills of Mickelson give him a significant edge over Matsuyama on and around the lightning-fast greens.
The other match-bet option which appeals is Masters champion Patrick Reed to outscore Francesco Molinari. Reed is blessed with magic touch close to the hole and should be able to handle the difficult short-game assignment of this venue much better than Molinari, a robotic ball-striker who traditionally struggles with chipping and putting.
Hills return stakes on matches if they are tied and Reed at 8-11 with money back if he finishes on the same score as Molinari looks more than fair.
M Kaymer to beat C Schwartzel
2pts 6-5 BoyleSports
P Mickelson to beat H Matsuyama
2pts Evens Betfair, Paddy Power
P Reed to beat F Molinari
2pts 8-11 Hills (draw no bet)
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