The 2015 U.S. Open has an excitement level that is reaching an all-time high heading into the opening round on Thursday, June 18. A lot of that has to do with the sales job that Executive Director Mike Davis has put forth leading up to the season’s second major.
Davis has been known to make some bold decisions during his tenure. Just last year, there was a doubleheader at Pinehurst No. 2 as the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens were both played there. Davis has proven he isn’t afraid to push the envelope, and that is once again the case in 2015.
Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington will host the U.S. Open this year. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, Chambers Bay turns eight years young this month. Unlike most traditional U.S. Open courses, this one is a links layout that more resembles that of the Open Championship overseas.
Almost 50% of the property at Chambers Bay consists of sand. There is only one tree on the entire course. Elevation changes, huge variations in yardage from different tees, and trouble everywhere will be commonplace at this year’s major. That’s why Davis was adamant that contenders need to put in more study time leading up to it than they ever have before.
Chambers Bay played host to the 2010 U.S. Amateur, which paves the way for hosting the 2015 U.S. Open. Eleven of the 156 players in the field gave the course a go in that event five years ago. Jordan Spieth was one of the eleven, and he did not fare too well, but there have been several big changes since to make the course more playable.
This course has a ton of quirks that will make it intriguing to the viewer. For example, holes 1 and 18 will play as either a par 4 or par 5 depending on which tees Davis decides to use. The maximum measurement of Chamber’s Bay is 7,906 yards, though it is expected to be played close to the 7,500 range.
There’s no question that long hitters off the tee will have an advantage because they will be able to fly the ball over trouble on a lot of holes. Plus, the fairways are 40 to 70 yards wide on almost every hole, so the penalty for taking out the driver will be minimized.
Still, with greens averaging a robust 8,700 square feet, proximity to the hole will be a major factor. These big greens also mean that scrambling will be another key to winning. Lag putting will be tough with such huge greens that feature massive elevation changes. This course will favor ball-strikers more than anything, but patience and creativity around the greens will be nearly as important.
I have gone through and looked at the odds of all the contenders heading into the 2015 U.S. Open. I have factored in those odds to pick out the five players who I believe have the best chance to win this week at the right price. Here is my Pick 5 for Chambers Bay.
Jordan Spieth (+855) – Spieth has a hidden advantage here. His caddie used to spend his time at Chamber’s Bay, so he knows the course inside and out. Plus, he has arguably the best player in the world to give that knowledge to as Spieth has performed well everywhere. He leads the TOUR in adjusted scoring, par-4 scoring and proximity from the rough. Spieth also won the Masters for his first major, so he knows what it takes.
Phil Mickelson (+1550) – This will be Mickelson’s second attempt at a career grand slam. He wants to win the U.S. Open more than any other major, and he has come gut-wrenchingly close on a number of occasions. He has a record six runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open. Mickelson is playing well coming in with three top fives in his last five starts, including a T3 that featured a final-round 65 in Memphis last week.
Jim Furyk (+3800) – The 2003 U.S. Open champ has three top fives in his last five starts. He won at Harbour Town earlier this year and was extremely clutch down the stretch in doing so. He is one of the game’s best ball-strikers as he leads the TOUR in proximity to the hole, while also ranking 12th in greens hit.
Sergio Garcia (+4000) – One of the best ball-strikers the game has ever seen, Garcia is ready to win his first major title on a links course that suits his game. He ranks fourth on TOUR in strokes gained-putting while also ranking eighth in adjusted scoring. He will help prove why Chambers Bay caters to ball-strikers this week.
Ben Martin (+24500) – I have gone way down the list of odds to find my favorite sleeper pick. Martin has shown an ability to play well above average on courses where hitting fairways and greens is at a premium. That record includes a solo fifth at Bay Hill and a T4 at the Players Championship. He ranks 16th in TOUR in ball-striking and T33 in proximity to the hole.