US Open 2012 latest odds, news and free bets

Twelve months ago, Rory McIlroy recovered from his disappointment at the Masters to blow away the competition at the Congressional Country Club, finishing with a 16-under 268 that was streets clear of any other player

McIlroy will be in San Francisco along with the other elite players from around the world this week as the world number two looks to retain his title and the northern Irishman arrives in pretty good shape after a bright showing in the St Jude Classic.

True enough, Rory blew his chances of winning with a poor third round score before making a hash of the 18th in his final round, although he clearly has the game to win the US Open again and can be backed at 16/1 (Blue Square free bets) to claim victory at the Olympic Club.

The final pairing that everyone wants to see is McIlroy and Tiger Woods, a potential rivalry which could see the sport of golf elevated to new heights if indeed the duo battle out majors for years to come.

The bookies are falling over themselves to offer the best each-way terms to punters, with BetVictor and Paddy Power both going seven places which seems to be a new record.

Woods arrives on the west coast in great shape after winning the Memorial tournament last week in convincing fashion although one should remember that the same thing happened before the Masters and the 36-year-old then flattered to deceive at Augusta by finishing a long way off the pace.

Nevertheless, the American (8/1 Sportingbet) boasts three US Open titles and the most recent of these in 2008 was the last time he tasted major success. Perhaps he is ready to do so again.

With the arrival of another golfing major comes the perennial question over whether Lee Westwood or Luke Donald can break their duck, with Westwood continuing to boast a fine record in major events without claiming a victory.

The 39-year-old was tied third at Augusta and he also achieved the same position in the 2011 US Open which suggests that he could be the each-way pick at 12/1 (Paddy Power bookmaker) for this tournament, although Donald doesn’t boast the same pedigree.

True enough, the Englishman has been world number one recently and is clearly one of the best golfers on the planet although he has been tied 47th and tied 45th in his last two US Opens and didn’t play the final two rounds in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Phil Mickelson is among the favourites and can’t easily be written off considering Lefty has won four major tournaments and would dearly love to add a US Open crown to his three Masters titles and that solitary PGA success.

After Mickelson come a string of Americans who all have a lively chance and players from this country have largely dominated the winners’ podium in the past 20 years, including Lucas Glover, Woods, Jim Furyk, Payne Stewart and Lee Janzen.

A new crop of players from the States are now looking to make a big impact and that includes Jason Dufner who at 28/1 looks a reasonable bet. The 35-year-old has really risen to prominence since tying 5th in the PGA two years ago and then running Keegan Bradley even closer twelve months down the line before losing in a play-off.

Bradley is available at a much bigger 66/1 and doesn’t have great form ahead of this second major of 2012, although there are several players likely to be well-supported and that includes the colourful Ricky Fowler who will be inspired by his close friend Bubba Watson’s victory at Augusta in April.

Watson’s big-hitting ways may be suited to this difficult course in California while the more conventional Furyk is trading at similar odds of 40/1 and could easily be in the mix come the final day, while we should remember the way that Matt Kuchar exploded into life a few months ago and looked like taking the Green Jacket.

Perhaps the best value on the outright market can be found by backing the two impressive South Africans that go by the name of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. The former was desperately close to claiming a first Green Jacket having easily won the Open Championship two years ago.

His compatriot also has a 2011 Green Jacket in his locker and another player to consider is Jason Day who also seems to raise his game for the major tournaments.

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