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I enjoy my annual foray into the US Open Golf because it reminds me of my very first activity on betting exchanges way back in June 2000. Aside from a small flutter on some financial markets, it was the Golf that launched my betting exchange career. Back then Tiger Woods was being offered at 4.00 for the championship and Colin Montgomerie 14.00. Tiger Woods won it that year at Pebble Beach, which, in my odyssey to visit sporting venues, I finally managed to visit last year. This year a new course makes its debut, Erin Hills.
Construction began on this year’s course in 2004 and it officially opened in 2006. At 600 acres, it is more than twice the size of a normal course. The USGA has been given a lot of stick over the last two championships. Chambers Bay was a disaster with greens that were less suitable for putting than my back garden. Last year a rules issue led to Dustin Johnson finishing in farcical style. That led to a change in rules. The USGA will be hoping that their first visit to a ‘new’ course in Wisconsin will go better.
Erin Hills will be a complete unknown for this level of golf. It almost looks like a links course as it’s devoid of trees, but it isn’t. So, I’m wondering if it will play somewhat like a very long links course, without a sea breeze. It’s a mystery, to be honest.
Erin Hills will be amongst the longest-ever major championship venues at 7,693 yards and it’s the first par-72 U.S. Open course since 1992. Players tend to lose their driving distance with age so a long course should play into the younger players on the tour.
The player’s opinions on the course seem mixed. But feedback from the practice round is that players who can hit the fairway consistently are likely to outperform. Those that find the rough are likely to be in deep trouble. But to counter that, the fairways are wider than most traditional US Open courses so hitting the fairway should be easier.
Golf is about very small margins. Only a few strokes per round separates players at the very top to the very bottom. I looked at the recent stroke averages from the top 100 players and the best was only 1.90 strokes per round better than the 100th. That average is over 18 holes and around 72 strokes.
While researching this tournament I referred to notes that showed one player gained 1.5 strokes per round just from his ability to drive a long and accurate tee shot. When you look at that gain and stats I’ve listed above, that’s a huge margin! But the slim margins that golf inherits also means that a decent round of golf can be undone by a couple of bad shots. You simply can’t afford to have many of those at this level. Golf is a sport where the lead changes hand on a regular basis, giving you the ability to lay a short price and trade out for a profit regularly.
However the course plays, you should know that in round one 50% of the eventual winners are ranked 11th or higher on the leaderboard. By round two 50% of winners are 5th or higher on and by round three, 3rd or higher. That should give you a guide as to where the key contenders are and it should be those that offer the best trading opportunities.
Matched bet turnover at first tee on the IS Open is weaker than some of the other tournaments. It only matched £2.1m last year, which was a significant drop from the prior year. It’s averaged around £3.5m a year since I’ve kept records on it. For comparison, the US Masters is around £7m and the UK Open £6m.
Being a US tournament, liquidity arrives in bucket loads in the UK morning before the first player tees off in the US. You tend to get peak activity the day before at around 10pm and then it will go quiet overnight but activity resumes in earnest first thing in the morning and volumes will really start to build from there to the first tee shot.
Golf trading tips
The top things to look out for on Golf are how the course plays and the weather. Early or late tee times may affect the ability of players to score well, so watching the scores of groups teeing off ahead of the player you are following is a key tactic. The course will have easy and hard holes and this combined with the weather affecting groups at different times of the day, will give you an insight into whether players teeing off later have an advantage or not. This gets easier later in the tournament as the leaders always start later on the last two days, so you will have the catching group going out first. Once you have figured out what impact that will have, you can decide on whether you want to back or lay the current leader.
If you are looking to back to lay, finding one player to do that on is hard. Finding one of many, a bit easier. <strong>Covering a range of selections and trading that to even out the odd bit of luck or vice versa is a sensible strategy</strong>. Last year I managed to catch Shane Lowry at odds of  and by the cut, he was top of the leaderboard and had shortened to [16.5]. Any losses on players I incorrectly called were covered by this and other back bets placed in the market. A £10 back bet on Lowry would have yielded a £87 profit two rounds later.
While the course may hold a few mysteries this year, hopefully, the trading won’t.