US Open Golf Tournament 2017: Top Odds, Predictions and Storylines for Thursday

The U.S. Open is the most important tournament of the year, even if it does not have the glamour of the Masters and the beauty of the Augusta, Georgia, course. It is the national championship and is regularly one of the toughest venues on the PGA tour. That's one of the key storylines this year, as the U.S. Open comes to Erin Hills in Erin, Wisconsin. This is the first time Erin Hills has hosted the tournament, and there are a lot of questions about what kind of course it will be for this event.

The U.S. Open is the most important tournament of the year, even if it does not have the glamour of the Masters and the beauty of the Augusta, Georgia, course.

It is the national championship and is regularly one of the toughest venues on the PGA tour. That's one of the key storylines this year, as the U.S. Open comes to Erin Hills in Erin, Wisconsin.

This is the first time Erin Hills has hosted the tournament, and there are a lot of questions about what kind of course it will be for this event. The early reports indicate it is fair and that the players have a chance.

Jordan Spieth said he thought a score of five- to 10-under could win the tournament.

"I don't see par winning the tournament," Spieth said, per Gary D'Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I see closer to five- to 10-under. Someone who has very good control of the ball off the tee will have plenty of opportunities to make birdies, given the conditions that we’re expecting."

That would indicate that the course is fair because one under par, even par and one over par have been winning scores in the tournament before.

Another storyline involves defending champion Dustin Johnson, who came through at Oakmont last year to win the first major of his career. Can he repeat his success at Erin Hills?

Johnson has the power to outdrive the competition on nearly every hole. He also has the accuracy to find the green in regulation and put himself in a position to make birdies and eagles. If his putting is sharp, he should have an excellent chance to win a second consecutive tournament.

Rory McIlroy has been sidelined with a recurring rib problem recently, but he told the media he's ready to compete at Erin Hills. McIlroy would not have returned if he were not healthy, but how will he do in competition for four straight days if he makes the cut?

That injury could become an issue, and even if it doesn't, McIlroy will have to figure out a way to play consistently. The Northern Irishman has great distance off the tee, he can do an excellent job of going fairway to green and he can compete with anybody when he is hot with the putter.

McIlroy is somewhat inconsistent in that he rarely has all elements working together at the same time. If he can do it at Erin Hills, that would be a huge story.

Sergio Garcia had his breakthrough at this year's Masters, winning his first major championship. Like Johnson, a huge burden was lifted when he was able to hold his game together in the final round.

The Spaniard proved he has the mettle to go the distance—to the sport and to himself. Now that first major has secured, how will Garcia play at Erin Hills?

The other storyline to look at involves Phil Mickelson. Will he tee off at 3:20 p.m. ET, or will he miss his tee time? Mickelson is attending his daughter's high school graduation, and the question is whether he will get to Erin Hils on time.

Johnson is the plus-750 favorite to win the tournament, according to OddsShark. A bettor who wagers $100 on Johnson will earn a profit of $750 if the defending champion is successful.

McIlroy is the second choice at plus-1,200, while Jason Day and Spieth are both plus-1,400. Rickie Fowler is plus-1,800, while the red-hot Jon Rahm follows at plus-2,000.

     

Prediction

Johnson should be quite inspired to play well and defend his title. He was at the top of his game earlier this year, and he was a heavy favorite to win the Masters because he was in such good form.

However, he never had a chance to win the green jacket because he suffered a fall in the home he was renting and injured his back.

While it was not a long-term injury, it kept him from competing. With that mishap burning at his core, look for the World No. 1 to come through with a championship-level effort in the U.S. Open.

McIlroy, Day and Spieth may have a hard time competing for 72 holes, but look for long shots Louis Oosthuizen (plus-4,500) and Henrik Stenson (plus-3,300) to push DJ hard.

Johnson will keep it together throughout the tournament and find a way to play his best round on Sunday. Johnson wins his second consecutive U.S. Open.