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Five US Open tips: Can Rory McIlroy or Graeme McDowell repeat past glories?

It's the third Major of the year as the top golfers in the world head to the iconic Pebble Beach top battle it out for the US Open.

Rory McIlroy goes into the US Open in sparking form.
Rory McIlroy goes into the US Open in sparking form.

By Gareth McCullough

Can our boys add to their Major tallies or will another name be engraved on the famous trophy come Sunday evening?

Here we go again golf fans!

It's Major Number Three this weekend with the US Open beginning tomorrow, following on from the Masters and USPGA and providing a brilliant precursor to the 148th Open at Royal Portrush, which is only a matter of weeks away.

One of the world's most famous courses, Pebble Beach on the Californian coast, will play host to the best in the business as they aim to conquer the rest of the field.

Rory McIlroy

Yes, he gets tipped for pretty much every Major tournament he plays in. But there's a reason for that. Even when not on from, the Holywood man has the ability to turn it on at any given moment.

The difference going into this week? He is bang IN form. His stunning victory at the Canadian Open, where he finished with a brilliant round of 61, means he comes to Pebble Beach full of confidence. While the usual booming drives were a feature of his win, McIlroy's iron play and putting - the latter so often a negative in his game - were on the money. With accuracy rather than length key around Pebble Beach, if Rors can marry both then there is absolutely no reason to think that Major Number Five isn't achievable. ODDS: 8/1

Graeme McDowell

Freedom can be wonderful thing in the game of golf and, after enduring a tough time on the course, G-Mac will now feel that a weight has been lifted off his shoulders heading into a tournament he has won and on the course where he won it.

Having secured his tour card for another two years with victory in the Dominican Republic back in March, Rathmore clubman McDowell put the icing on the cake on the final hole of the final round of the Canadian Open last Sunday. He drained a 30-foot putt that guaranteed his participation in the Open Championship at Royal Portrush next month.

That sense of relief should allowed the Florida-based McDowell to be able to relax on the course and that is always a plus point for any golfer. He'll have good memories of Pebble Beach having held off the likes of Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in the final round nine years ago and he's been paired with the latter duo for the opening round of this year's tournament.   

McDowell isn't blessed with distance in comparison to some others, but positioning and accuracy are key at Pebble, especially if the wind gets up. ODDS: 80/1

Graeme McDowell is seeking a first win since 2015 in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (Steve Paston/PA)
Graeme McDowell is seeking a first win since 2015 in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (Steve Paston/PA)

 

Brooks Koepka

Going for a remarkable three-in-a-row at this tournament - you have to go back to 1905 when Scotland's Willie Anderson completed his treble, the only time it's been done, and fifth Major win in nine starts following his USPGA victory last month, you simply can't count Koepka out.

While he has only teed it up once since his Bethpage brilliance - finishing way down the pecking order last week - given he's a guy that seems to peak come Major time, its understandable that he's such short odds to retain his title. Like Rory, his big hitting won't necessarily be his biggest weapon at Pebble Beach, but Koepka's ability to tear courses apart seemingly at will have him amongst the favourites. He'll have Northern Ireland's Ricky Elliott on the bag once again, with the two having formed one of the most formidable partnerships in the game. ODDS: 9/1

Brooks Koepka celebrates with his caddie Ricky Elliott after winning the US PGA Championship (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Brooks Koepka celebrates with his caddie Ricky Elliott after winning the US PGA Championship (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Xander Schauffele

The 25-year-old with the exotic moniker - though he's from the less-exotic climes of San Diego - is turning himself into something of a Major specialist without having won one yet.

Pebble Beach will essentially be a home from home for the American who has been in the top six in the last two US Opens and who also finished runner-up to Tiger Woods at this year's Masters in Augusta. Whilst he's still young in golfing terms, he's seriously talented and with a raft of home support behind him, he's in with a great chance of winning his maiden Major.

You get the feeling that when he wins one, he might go on a Koepka or even Woods-type of run in the big tournaments. ODDS: 28/1

Shane Lowry

The likeable Lowry comes into this week on form, having finished second only to a barnstorming McIlroy at the Canadian Open last time out.

While the Offaly native has only won once on the PGA Tour, it was a big one with victory at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone back in 2015. He could, and possibly should, have gone one better the following year as he led going into the final round of the 2016 US Open at Oakmont.

After a rain delayed third round had been completed, Lowry led Dustin Johnson and Andrew Landry by four shots. However, having found himself one adrift of Johnson with six to play in his final round, Lowry bogeyed 14, 15 and 16 to end up shooting 76 and finishing joint second to eventual winner Johnson.  

While he may be an outside bet for this tournament, if he can fly under the radar and keep his emotions in check should he be iun the hunt going down the stretch, then he can't be counted out. ODDS: 50/1

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