For the second straight major this year, Jason Day is your favorite at the start of the week. Day began as the 7/1 favorite at Augusta National, just slightly ahead of his "Big Three" colleagues Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. Day was No. 1 in the world then and he's No. 1 now, adding a Players Championship title in the intervening months. So he'll start U.S. Open week as a 6/1 favorite, again just slightly ahead of McIlroy and Spieth.
Those three may be the clear top talents in the game these days, and their odds reflect it with the fourth man on the board (Dustin Johnson) down at 15/1. But that doesn't mean any of these players, despite their talent, offer good value in a 156-man field. Any player that's less than 30/1 does not offer particularly great value for a game that's so unpredictable. The U.S. Open can be especially difficult to peg, with a player's hopes going up in flames on one hole and the attrition sometimes rewarding random unforeseen longshots. Oakmont is the toughest course in the U.S. Open rotation and in the country, which won't make handicapping things easier.
When Day has it working, he's the best player in the game. He may not be as sexy or popular a name as Spieth and Rory. But he hits it just as far as Rory and is among the best in the world around and on the green, ranking No. 1 in strokes gained putting on the PGA Tour this year. Day may throttle down at times to avoid the jail that is Oakmont's rough, but barring some catastrophic blowup hole, he should be around on Sunday. He showed up in Pittsburgh early and was the first official player to register for the national championship.
Spieth has also been in town a week early along with caddie Michael Greller. They've had a couple tours through the layout this spring and were out Sunday morning prepping for a week as the defending champion. Rory made a trip to Oakmont after the Memorial in nearby Columbus, then went back to Florida for a bit more practice.
Again, the value at the top is just not there. Day, Spieth and Rory are likely to play well but winning a major is another combination of luck and skill that's hard to map and the low odds aren't commensurate with that unpredictability. This is not the Tiger Woods era, when the 14-time major winner would start the week with outrageous odds like 3/1. There won't be some wildly overwhelming favorite at these majors, but expect the "Big Three" to share this distinct status from the rest of the field for the final three majors this season.
Here are your odds for the field at the start of U.S. Open week (via Jeff Sherman and GolfOdds.com):
|Players||Odds to Win|
|Byeong Hun An||125/1|
|Rafael Cabrera Bello||150/1|
|Jaco Van Zyl||300/1|
|Billy Hurley III||1000/1|
|Jeev Milkha Singh||1000/1|
|Frank Adams III||2000/1|
|Richard Schembechler II||2000/1|
|Wes Short Jr.||2000/1|