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Michael Taylor 15th Jun 2010 - 17:28

Dustin Johnson the king around Pebble Beach

The second golf major of the year, the US Open, returns to the majestic Pebble Beach Golf Links in California and it seems any number of stars arrive with strong claims.

Phil Mickelson, the 2010 Masters Tournament winner, has three career victories on the course; Lee Westwood finally nabbed a second PGA Tour win at last week's St Jude Classic and Tiger Woods may feel his time to shine has finally arrived.

However, the man who perhaps starts with the most confidence is 25-year-old South Carolinian Dustin Johnson - the winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the past two years.

Johnson has three career wins, two of which have come at least partly on the Pebble Beach Links and there is no player in world golf that's as comfortable on the potentially very tough track.

His two rounds at this year's AT&T (a first round 64 then a final round 74) showed two things. One, if the wind stays calm on Thursday and Friday then low scores are almost a guarantee with the easier pin positions.

The second expectation is that on Sunday things could become extremely hazardous if the organisers are feeling particularly cruel in their pin placements.

The weather should be better than it was than in February but, as an indication of how tough the course played on the Sunday, only six players broke 70 (from a field of 69) while no fewer than 41 couldn't even manage par.

This is without the immense final day pressure associated with majors as well meaning Johnson's closure over the past two years has to come into play, especially at the unbelievable par five eighteenth that has been the make or break for so long now.

The best bit is that thanks to so many players arriving in great form you can still get the great price of 35/1 about Johnson landing a first major.

If he isn't for you though so could do a lot worse than looking towards Lee Westwood after he finally ended a winless streak (PGA Tour) dating back over 100 events and 12 years.

The Worksop man is a 12/1 third favourite and although the big black mark on his CV is a lack of a major there is a feeling the tides are changing.

He should never have been able to win at the St Jude this past Sunday but the world number three won't be feeling too much sympathy for poor Robert Garrigus' ability, or lack of, to close out for the win.

Especially in the last two years it's this area that Westwood has struggled so, in seeing off Robert Karlsson in a playoff, it may just have removed the monkey of his back.

Another reason why he looks good this week is his preparation.

He may have been slightly lucky to win this past week but the truth is he played well all week in a tournament that's become known as ideal US Open preparation.

He shot 10-under over 72 holes, made pars for fun and had his work around the greens been better he could have romped to the win instead of tiptoeing.

You also can't forget that nobody is striking the ball quite as well as the European number one, especially from our side of the Atlantic - and on a course where ball strikers are amply rewarded you have to think his 15/8 favourite price for top GB and Ireland player is great value.

Finally looking away from the tournament winners one bet stands out as a real cracker from William Hill's huge range of markets and that's Vijay Singh to be the top rest of the world player (non European or North American) at 20/1.

The Fijian former world number one might not be the force of old - he does however have a bit of course form and some decent recent results on the PGA Tour.

He has five top 35 finishes from 14 events, three top 15s and he hasn't been totally unfamiliar to the top of the leaderboard even if he hasn't quite managed to put a full four rounds together.

Also, with the top four places paying at 1/5 of the odds, he doesn't actually have to beat too many great players for his backers to get money back.

 
 
 

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