Thomas should relish Erin Hills layout
Day one matches
Sky Sports 1 & 4, from 6pm Thursday
The US Open battle of the Justins – Thomas and Rose – can go the way of the younger man at Erin Hills, Wisconsin.
Justin Thomas is probably licking his lips at the prospect of tackling the soft, wide-open layout, which is looking increasingly like a second-shot course. This pint-sized powerhouse can project his ball huge distances and his iron-shot approaches have been peppering flagsticks all season.
Thomas ranks fourth on the US Tour in the strokes-gained-on-approach statistics, which is a vital clue to his chance of success at Erin Hills. Hitting the dancefloors is crucial, as scrambling is difficult on this track, with its raised greens and shaven edges.
Thomas has won three times this term and was fourth in the Memorial last time out. Betfred make him 11-10 outsider against Rose, but the Olympic champion has not been hitting his irons close (95th for SGOA) and his putting stroke is one of the ugliest on the circuit.
The edge Rose has over Thomas is that he is a more accurate driver, but that may not count for much this week on the widest fairways in US Open history.
All four of the most attractive match-bet options are with Betfred, opening up the possibility of multiples. If the US Open was played on paper and decided by statistics, the name of Rickie Fowler would already be engraved on the trophy. Fowler is bringing an awesome set of all-round 2017 stats to the table and can be fancied to outscore Henrik Stenson.
Fowler may wobble in contention – he is desperate to become a Major champion and he let the tension get to him on Masters Sunday – but every department of his game is in top order. He brings power, accuracy and touch to Erin Hills and must be more confident than Stenson, who has been lacking sparkle this year after a glorious 2016.
False favourites can be opposed in two other Betfred matches. Bud Cauley looks a solid bet at evens to defeat Brian Harman, while Byeong Hun An can get the better of Brandt Snedeker.
Cauley has been playing some of the best golf of his career, posting four top-ten finishes in the last two months, and his form is based on top-class ball-striking. He should be able to handle the severe long-game test of Erin Hills.
Harman has played in seven Majors and missed the cut in four of them, never bettering 40th place in a Stateside Major. The younger Cauley should prove himself a much better player over time, starting this week.
Brandt Snedeker has been carrying a wrist injury since the Masters and could be vulnerable on such a beast of a track. Byeong Hun An, inside the top 25 in his last four tournaments and hitting his ball well, is a safer bet.
J Thomas to beat J Rose
2pts 11-10 Betfred
R Fowler to beat H Stenson
2pts 5-6 Betfred
B Cauley to beat B Harman
2pts Evs Betfred
B H An to beat B Snedeker
2pts Evs Betfred