The world’s best players have gathered at the historic Merion Golf Club this week for the 113th US Open.

Merion – which last staged the US Open in 1981 – has played host to more USGA ee

The lead-up to the tournament has been eventful, with the deluge of rain over the past few days leading many to question Merion’s suitability as a US Open venue.

But many players have moved to quash those concerns, with the likes of Graeme McDowell praising the set-up and many others claiming the last five holes are the toughest they’ve seen at a US Open.

The event is intriguingly poised heading into the first round, and the soft conditions have brought more players into the tournament.

At less than 7,000 yards, Merion is the shortest US Open venue since Shinnecock Hills in 2004, but that shouldn’t detract from the test at hand.

The bookmakers have installed Tiger Woods as the 6/1 favourite, but given US Open’s premium on driving accuracy, many will be tempted to look elsewhere.

Below, Golf Monthly’s two betting tipsters – Nick Bonfield and Tom Clarke – each select a favourite, a mid-ranger and an outsider.

Nick Bonfield:

Graeme McDowell, at 20/1 with Ladbrokes, looks a great bet this week. The Northern Irishman has become a US Open specialist in recent times, winning at Pebble Beach in 2010, finishing 14th in 2011 and narrowly missing out at San Francisco’s Olympic Club last year. He currently ranks first on the PGA Tour in both Driving Accuracy and Scrambling and he’s already notched two wins this season.

Steve Stricker has also caught my eye at 50/1 with Ladbrokes. In six events this season, he’s recorded two second-place finishes hasn’t finished outside the top 37. Stricker is also perfectly suited to Merion – a short course which places a premium on accuracy, strategy and a sharp short-game.

Michael Thompson, at 100/1 with Ladbrokes, could feature this week. The American won his first PGA Tour event at this season’s Honda Classic, proving adept under pressure. He finished second in the US Open last year and 29th in his only other appearance in 2008, and he’s coming into the tournament off the back of a tie for eighth at the Memorial.

Tom Clarke:

Rory McIlroy, at 25/1 with Ladbrokes. Rory has not been this long for a fair while, and that’s because he is not having a great season… or is he? Well he has played in nine events on the PGA Tour and had four top tens, including one 2nd place. Also let us not forget, he won the 2011 US Open at what was a soft Congressional by 8 shots.

Rickie Fowler, at 66/1 with Ladbrokes. Rickie is one of the few people in the field to have played and won here. In the 2009 Walker Cup he won four out of four matches for the American team. Has no outstanding stats to suggest he will win here, but experience could be on his side.

Boo Weekley, at 100/1 with Ladbrokes. He has already proved a great profit for me this year and he could do again here. The best ball striker on Tour at the moment, should miss what will be thick wet rough. Relies on his putting finding some form, but has been playing well this season with 4 top ten finishes including a runners-up and W.

US Open advised bets:

3pts each way on Graeme McDowell at 25/1 with Ladbrokes
3pts each way on Rory McIlroy at 25/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Steve Stricker at 50/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Rickie Fowler at 66/1 with Ladbrokes
1pt each way on Michael Thompson at 100/1 with Ladbrokes
1pt each way on Boo Weekley at 100/1 with Ladbrokes