Power over precision is the order of the day as the PGA Tour returns to Congressional, venue of the 2011 US Open. Rory McIlroy destroyed this course the last time it was seen on our TV screens as he used his power off the tee to blitz the field last June - a theme I'll be following this week with my picks.
There will be no Rory on show this week however, as he tees it up at his home Open back in Ireland, so once again it's Tiger Woods who heads the betting at 7.0. Hunter Mahan posted a -9 final round finish at the Travelers Championship last week and is tucked in behind Tiger at 13.0. Hunter's game is perfectly set up for Congressional, ranking 7th in the total driving department and Mahan is going through some equipment changes at the minute which, judging by his twitter, he's very happy about. I'd expect the American, sitting third in the Fedex Cup, to be there or there abouts this week.
The Course - Congressional CC
According to reports, the course this week is set up more like a major - intricate, unforgiving, punishing - now than it was when it actually hosted one in 2011. But for me, it's the bombers that will still prevail. A quick look through the leaderboards down the year shows you quite an obvious trend with big hitters like Woods and Anthony Kim recent winners of the AT&T. Add to that the extra yardage, with the course now playing just shy of 7,600 yards to a par of 71, and I expect the big hitters to thrive here again. Those who tend to draw the ball from the tee may be at even more of an advantage. Conditions will be faster and firmer than at the rain soaked US Open in 2011 and rough may be more penal.
Three From The Pack
Ryan Palmer is a big fancy of many this week and has already attracted plenty of money in the betting. Ranked 43rd in total driving and ninth in strokes gained putting, Palmer comes into the event off the back of four top tens (three top fives) in his last five events.The big hitting Texan has posted two top 25 finishes at Congressional in recent years including at the US Open. Palmer is available at 50.0 to win, or 11.0 the place with Unibet.
Nick Watney has reappeared on my radar for this week. A horse for the course, Watney posted a top 25 at the US Open the other week with the help of a double Eagle on his way and is very much a confidence player. The defending champion can build on that performance on a course which should suit, given the added length. Watney ranks 6th in 'left tendency' indicating a draw from the tee which is an advantage at Congressional and he is trading at 40.0 for the win or 9.0 for the place.
A top five finish here at the 2011 US Open for the enigma that is Robert Garrigus is nearly enough on it's own to justify value in a price of 50.0. Again, sticking to the theme of bombers this week, Robert ranks third in driving distance and 15th in GIR%, giving him an advantage on a lot of the field. Garrigus is in the top 20 in scoring average on both day three and four so if he finds himself in contention going into the weekend, expect him to stick around. 11.0 is available on the place.
Sleeper Watch: Another big hitting drawer of the ball who I like the look of this week is Scott Piercy (80.0). Piercy has the ability to go low on any given day and I think he has the attributes to take on the Blue course at Congressional. 17.0 is top value on a place.