Lowry can lead the way



Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 8 places

Weather forecast for Torrey Pines: The early starters go off at 6:45am local by which time it’s already in the mid-60s. It should be almost flat calm for a couple of hours before the winds pick up to about 8mph from 11am onwards. Temperatures rise a little in the afternoon, as does the wind but not significantly.

First-round leader history in US Opens:

2020 – Justin Thomas
2019 – Justin Rose
2018 – Russell Henley, Dustin Johnson, Scott Piercy, Ian Poulter (69)
2017 – Rickie Fowler (65)
2016 – Andrew Landry (66)
2015 – Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson (65)
2014 – Martin Kaymer (65)
2013 – Phil Mickelson (67)
2012 – Michael Thompson (66)

Strategy: Looking at the list of previous US Open first-round leaders and nine of the last 12 have played in a Ryder Cup or won a major. That seems a decent starting point rather than trying to find a needle in a haystack and locate an Andrew Landry or a Scott Piercy. I’ll focus on quality. As for tee-times, it seems the very early starters may get slightly calmer conditions so I’ll pick two from the morning wave and one from the afternoon.

Look to Lowry

Open champion Shane Lowry tees off at 7:29am with fellow Euros and major winners Henrik Stenson and Francesco Molinari.

It’s a nice group to be in and I’m hoping Lowry is the one to shine. Recent form says he’s by far the most likely.

Lowry is in excellent form, with a fourth place in the US PGA at Kiawah Island and sixth at Memorial.

He’s also been starting well, ending round one in the top 11 in four of his last seven starts. That run includes a 68 in another huge event, The Players Championship, which put him third after 18 holes.

When Lowry won the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush, the Irishman was second after round one while he’s also started strongly in US Opens, shooting a 69 at Chambers Bay and a 68 at Oakmont (fourth after R1).

He’s enjoyed past trips to Torrey Pines and has a T7 and a T13 in his four appearances in the Farmers Insurance Open.

Put it altogether and he’s a fair price at 50/1.

Woodland worth a wager out west

The last time Gary Woodland contested this event in California he started with a 68 at Pebble Beach and went on to score a brilliant win and claim his first major.

It perhaps hasn’t gone as well as he would have liked since but the big-hitting American has overcome some setbacks to show some strong form again in recent months.

He was sixth in April’s Texas Open and then bagged a top five in May’s Wells Fargo Championship.

Woodland was fourth after day one in that event while he was eighth on the closing R1 leaderboard in the US PGA at Kiawah Island two weeks later.

At Torrey Pines, he has one of the better scoring averages at the South Course, twice shooting 66 there in the last four years.

He tees off at 7:51am in an all US Open winners group featuring Webb Simpson and Martin Kaymer.

Woodland looks a good wager at 80/1, with eight each-way places.

Get with Garcia

For an afternoon starter, I’ll go with Sergio Garcia at 75/1.

The Spaniard has been a first-round leader twice in his last six PGA Tour events. He opened with a 65 at Sawgrass to lead the way at The Players Championship and a 63 secured day one honours in the Charles Schwab Challenge on his latest appearance.

Sergio also handed in a Thursday 65 at the Byron Nelson Championship three starts ago so he’s been flying out of the blocks of late.

He’s also throwing in some big numbers too but for this market you’d rather have extremes in round scores rather than someone churning out solid 69s and 70s.

Garcia is 11th in Round 1 Scoring Average on the PGA Tour this season so the only question is whether he can do it again on this course.

There’s no recent evidence as he hasn’t played here since the 2008 US Open but he did post tied 18th in that event while the last time Sergio teed it up in regular PGA Tour action at Torrey Pines he took tied eighth in the 2006 Buick Invitational.

He’s had some decent starts in US Opens (three times in the top four after 18) so let’s back Garcia, a 1:25pm starter, for FRL at 75/1.