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BlogU.S. Open Preview and Picks

U.S. Open

June 15th – 18th, 2017

Erin Hills

Erin, Wis.

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,741

Purse: $12 million

with $2,160,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Dustin Johnson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 77 of the top-100 and 59 of the top-60 in the latest Official World Rankings.  The only top-60 player not in the field is #43 Ryan Moore who is hurt with a shoulder injury and was forced to withdrew.

Last year there were 70 of the top-100 players and 59 of the top-60.

The field includes 23 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2017.  Those players not in the field are #20 Mackenzie Hughes and #23 Hudson Swafford.

The field includes all players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list.

25 major championship winners, led by five-time winner Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els (4), Rory McIlroy (4), Angel Cabrera (2), Zach Johnson (2), Martin Kaymer (2), Jordan Spieth (2), Bubba Watson (2), Lucas Glover, Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Danny Willett, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker, Jim Furyk, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink.

14 amateur participants will compete in the 2017 U.S. Open. In 2015, 16 amateurs were in the field and six advanced to the weekend. Here’s a look at the amateurs in the field this year: Brad Dalke, Scott Gregory (England), Maverick McNealy, John Oda, Mason Anderson, Stewart Hagestad, Sahith Theegala, Cameron Champ, Joaquin Nieman (Chile), Alex Smalley, Christopher Crawford, Scott Harvey, Scottie Scheffler, Walker Lee.

The field includes 11 past champions: Dustin Johnson (2016), Jordan Spieth (2015), Martin Kaymer (2014), Justin Rose (2013), Webb Simpson (2012), Rory McIlroy (2011), Graeme McDowell (2010), Lucas Glover (2009), Angel Cabrera (2007), Jim Furyk (2003) and Ernie Els (1997 & ’94).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the U.S. Open field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the U.S. Open in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the U.S. Open.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

 

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the U.S. Open

Player FedEx St. Jude Lyoness Open Memorial Nordea Masters Dean & DeLuca BMW PGA AT&T Byron Nelson The Players Wells Fargo Zurich Classic Volvo China Open Valero Texas Open Shenzhen
Alex Noren
(285.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(35)
DNP Win
(198)
DNP 10
(40)
T31
(12.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Francesco Molinari
(253.33 pts)
T24
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(150)
DNP T6
(60)
T24
(17.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Kisner
(218.67 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Henrik Stenson
(189.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T26
(24)
DNP T3
(135)
DNP T16
(34)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Bernd Wiesberger
(173.67 pts)
DNP T15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP T30
(30)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP Win
(44)
Jason Dufner
(170 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T13
(24.67)
T60
(0)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(167.33 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(80)
T24
(17.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Billy Horschel
(157.33 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T34
(16)
DNP Win
(88)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Matt Kuchar
(151.33 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP T9
(30)
82
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T40
(3.33)
DNP
Jordan Spieth
(147 pts)
DNP DNP T13
(37)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-10)
DNP 4
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(147 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(100)
DNP T12
(57)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brian Harman
(145 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP T53
(0)
Win
(88)
T14
(12)
DNP DNP DNP
Byeong Hun An
(144 pts)
DNP DNP T25
(25)
DNP DNP T24
(39)
T5
(46.67)
DNP T8
(33.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T40
(3.33)
DNP
Jon Rahm
(143.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP T72
(0)
4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Hideto Tanihara
(141 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(135)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(6)
DNP DNP DNP
Daniel Berger
(138 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T65
(0)
T36
(9.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Sean O’Hair
(136.67 pts)
DNP DNP T52
(0)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP T5
(46.67)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Chappell
(135.67 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T35
(15)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP
Ross Fisher
(135.5 pts)
DNP DNP T22
(28)
DNP DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T6
(20)
DNP T3
(30)
Shane Lowry
(132.33 pts)
DNP DNP T15
(35)
DNP DNP T6
(90)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T24
(17.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Louis Oosthuizen
(130 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(21.33)
T2
(100)
DNP T24
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Adam Scott
(128.33 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP T31
(19)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(60)
T36
(9.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Chris Wood
(128.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(100)
DNP T49
(1.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Phil Mickelson
(124.33 pts)
9
(45)
DNP T22
(28)
DNP T29
(21)
DNP DNP T41
(9)
T18
(21.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brooks Koepka
(123.33 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP T31
(19)
DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.67)
T16
(34)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP
Si Woo Kim
(123 pts)
DNP DNP WD
(-5)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP
Dustin Johnson
(119.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
T12
(38)
T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Bud Cauley
(117.33 pts)
DNP DNP T25
(25)
DNP T41
(9)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP
Pat Perez
(115.67 pts)
DNP DNP T19
(31)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T22
(28)
T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Stewart Cink
(107.67 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP
David Lingmerth
(106.33 pts)
DNP DNP T15
(35)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP DNP T72
(0)
T18
(21.33)
T14
(12)
DNP DNP DNP
Justin Thomas
(103.33 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T75
(0)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Charl Schwartzel
(101.67 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP T35
(15)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-3.33)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jason Day
(98.33 pts)
DNP DNP T15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Webb Simpson
(97.33 pts)
DNP DNP T67
(0)
DNP 5
(70)
DNP DNP T16
(34)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the U.S. Open

Player FedEx St. Jude Lyoness Open Memorial Nordea Masters Dean & DeLuca BMW PGA AT&T Byron Nelson The Players Wells Fargo Zurich Classic Volvo China Open Valero Texas Open Shenzhen
Bryson DeChambeau
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Jim Furyk
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Wade Ormsby
(-25 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-15)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
Roberto Castro
(-23.33 pts)
T65
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T56
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
C.T. Pan
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP T40
(10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Troy Merritt
(-17.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
T24
(8.67)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP
Russell Knox
(-15.33 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP T65
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-15)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Martin Kaymer
(-15 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-15)
DNP T69
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Thomas Aiken
(-15 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-15)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Na
(-11.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-5)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

The USGA is taking the national championship to a new course and one that is public.  Now they did that two years ago when they went to Chambers Bay and that didn’t work.  But this year it will, Erin Hills is wonderful, the players seem to like it the course is big enough to hold lot’s of people and they will be able to see everything perched in the dunes above the player.

The course is very long and has a Scottish Links feel to it.  Fairways are very generous, this is probably the widest fairways of any course that has held the U.S. Open since World War II.  But if you miss the fairway, the very high fescue rough will eat up players and cause lot’s of doubles and higher.

A lot has been said of the fact that the course will be a par 72, the first time that the Open has had this along with four par 5s since Pebble Beach in 1992.  If the wind doesn’t blow and if the course gets wet, low numbers could be had and it will be interesting to see how the USGA takes this. Honestly I think people love to see a lot of birdies and low scoring on tough courses so who knows maybe this will be a special experience for the USGA.

As for the players it’s the usual thing.  Yes Rory McIlroy hasn’t played much with his rib injury, Dustin Johnson after winning tournament after tournament has cooled down and missed his last cut at the Memorial.  Jason Day is starting to come around after all the health problems of his mother, but things seem to be better and Day is also healthy again.

As for Phil Mickelson, he really wants to play but it doesn’t look that he will have a weather window on Thursday to allow him being at his daughters 10am graduation in San Diego and then tee it up at 2:20 unless he either owns a supersonic jet or they have figured out how to transport people instantaneously through the air.

So who will win is the million dollar question.  I can say this in an unofficial manner, when the course is easy you seem to get more marquee names winning.  Just look at Congressional, Rory McIlroy won, Tiger won at Torrey, Jordan won at Chamber Bay.  Then on the hard courses like Bethpage in 2009, Lucas Glover, Pebble in 2010 Graeme McDowell and Webb Simpson in 2012 at Olympic.  Again no rhyme or reason but you get what I mean.

One last thing about this week that shows more parity.  This year 51 (would be 52 if Mickelson doesn’t play and Diaz would be a rookie) of the 156 players will be U.S. Open rookies.  This is a remarkable number until you realize that last year there was 51, in 2014 there were 53 rookies. All of these are extraordinary numbers.  In the history of the U.S. Open the year with the most first-timers was 86 in 1919.  That was the first Open played after World War I and the field increased in size.  If you look at the most first-timers since World War II, it was 75 in 1948.

Looking at U.S. Opens since 1970 the most first-timers were 53 in 1977, 1980, and 2011 so this year will not have the most rookies.

For those wondering, Last year there were 48 rookies, in 2013 there were 44 rookies at Merion, in 2012 there were 46 first-timers at Olympic and in 2010 there were 50 at Pebble.  Oh one thing, don’t look for a rookie winner.  The last time a first timer won the Open was 104 years ago when Francis Ouimet did it in 1913 so don’t look for one of the 51 rookies to win this week.

 

Championship information:

The inaugural U.S. Open was slated for September of 1895. However, the Open, as well as the inaugural U.S. Amateur, were delayed due to a scheduling conflict with the more popular sporting event, the America’s Cup yacht races. Finally, the first U.S. Open was played on Oct. 4, 1895, on a nine-hole course at the Newport Golf and Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island. The first U.S. Open was somewhat over-shadowed by the first U.S. Amateur tournament, which was played concurrently at the Newport Golf and Country Club. Its meager field consisted of just 10 professionals and one amateur. Horace Rawlins, the assistant at Newport Golf and Country Club, captured the first U.S. Open. The format for the tournament was 36 holes squeezed into one day, with four trips around the nine-hole course in Newport.

In 1898, the U.S. Open switched to a 72-hole format, two days of 36-holes. For the first few years, the field was routinely riddled with amateurs as well as British and Scottish professionals. The popularity of the event dwindled until Americans began to dominate, starting with John McDermott in 1911. The U.S. Open experienced a dramatic jump in popularity in 1913 when Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old American amateur, defeated famed British professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff. Popularity for the U.S. Open began to soar even higher in the early 1920s. In 1922, the U.S. Open sold tickets to the event for the first time. A year later, Bobby Jones, an amateur golfer from Georgia won his first of four U.S. Opens. By 1924, an enormous influx of applicants to compete in the U.S. Open forced the USGA to hold sectional qualifying to determine who would receive entry into the field.

In 1926, the format for the tournament was again switched. Players would play 72 holes; 18 holes on each of the first two days, followed by 36 holes on the third and final day. The changes to the U.S. Open format were paralleled by an almost systematic phase-out of the amateur player. Though amateurs still compete annually, John Goodman was the last amateur to win the U.S. Open, taking the 1933 crown at the North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Illinois. Jack Nicklaus’s second-place finish at the 1960 U.S. Open is the best finish by an amateur since Goodman’s victory in 1933.

The U.S. Open saw relatively few changes between 1935 and 1954. In 1954, the course was roped off from tee to green for the first time, as well as broadcast on national television. Arnold Palmer’s historic comeback victory in 1960 further boosted the tournament’s popularity. But it was the 1962 U.S. Open, in which Jack Nicklaus defeated Arnold Palmer in a Monday playoff, that would catapult “America’s Championship” to the forefront of the golf world.

Over the next 18 years, from 1962 to 1980, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer combined to win four U.S. Opens. Fans flocked to the U.S. Open in droves to see the budding rivalry. In 1965, to accommodate the growing fan base, the U.S. Open switched from the three-day, 72-hole format to the current, four-day, 72-hole format.

In 1971, Lee Trevino’s victory at the U.S. Open was the catalyst as he went on to play, arguably, the three greatest weeks of golf. After winning the U.S. Open, Trevino went on to capture the Canadian Open crown, followed by the British Open crown. A feat that to this day has not been matched. Trevino, as well as the already well-established Nicklaus and Palmer, created a trio that further launched the event into the American limelight. In 1977, ABC began live coverage of the final two rounds of U.S. Open play. By 1982, upstart cable channel ESPN was broadcasting the Thursday and Friday rounds.

In 1994, the U.S. Open at Oakmont was the venue for Ernie Els’ first victory in America. Els and Loren Roberts both shot 74, while Colin Montgomerie shot a 78. Els claimed the title by defeating Loren Roberts on the second sudden-death playoff hole.  Els and a slew of other foreign champions paved the way for the first qualifying tournaments held outside the United States.

But for the masses, nothing will compare to Tiger Woods’ victory in 2000 at Pebble Beach.  First of all, it was the 100th U.S. Open. Secondly, it was held on one of the great courses in the world that comprised the beauty of an ocean side course that stunned the viewers and fans but on a tough course in which wind played an important factor. It was also perfect timing for Tiger Woods to win his first Open title in a dominating way. At 12 under, he finished 15 strokes ahead of Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez to become the first double-digit winner relative to par.  The win brought the U.S. Open into a different focus as it began its second decade of play.

 

Course information:

  • Erin Hills
  • Erin, Wis.
  • 7,741 yards
  • Par will be 72
  • A couple of oddities of the course, it will be the longest course to hold a major championship.
  • All four of the par 5s will be true 3-shot holes.  The shortest is the 14th at 594 while the other three are over 600 yards.  The 18th hole will be the longest at 637 yards.
  • One last thing it will be the first par 72 course since Pebble Beach in 1992

USGA CHAMPIONSHIPS AT OAKMONT COUNTRY CLUB

  • 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links: Tiffany Joh defeated Kimberly Kim, 6 & 5
  • 2011 U.S. Amateur: Kelly Kraft defeated Patrick Cantlay 2 up

PLAYERS WHO PLAYED IN 2011 U.S. OPEN AT ERIN HILLS and playing this week (18) –  Byeong-Hun An (WD), Chris Crawford (FQ), Bryson DeChambeau (Rd 32), Kevin Dougherty (Rd 64), Harris English (RD 32), Emiliano Grillo (FQ), Stewart Hagestad (FQ), Russell Henley (Rd 32), Stephan Jaeger (Rd 32), Brooks Koepka (FQ), Ben Kohles (FQ), Daniel Miernicki (FQ), C.T. Pan (FQ), Jonathan Randolph (Rd 64), Scottie Scheffler (FQ), Justin Spieth (Quarterfinal), Justin Thomas (Rd 32) and Peter Uihlein (Quarterfinal).

Let’s take a look at key stats that are important for those playing at Erin Hills:

The U.S. Open is going to Erin Hills, a course that has never held a professional tournament. It did hold the U.S. Amateur in 2011, but the course will be an adventure for most of the field of 156.
Now in this piece we try to put past stats together with present day stats and we will do the best to accomplish this. I spent a day at Erin Hills in 2009, I played it and found the course to be very challenging and natural. It’s funny because the USGA ten years ago went out on a limb to let both Erin Hills and Chamber Bay hold U.S. Opens in their first decade of existence. This is something that you don’t see much of. I played Chambers Bay in 2008 about seven years before they held the U.S. Open and found it to be a very scenic place with some really challenging holes, but the course seemed to be contrived and even though it was suppose to be like a links course, you can tell that mother nature had very little to do with the course and they moved a hell of a lot of dirt to make the course. I had a sneaking suspicion that the course would be too unnatural and that it would be a course that didn’t cater to the 25,000 spectators that came out to watch. My suspicion was dead on, Chambers Bay is probably one of the biggest disappointments and may never hold another tournament again. But we can’t say the same for Erin Hills.

Mother nature is the true architect of the course as the land was carved out many eons ago by moving glaciers that carved the land up. I would also say that Erin Hills 652 acres is probably three times the size of Chamber Bay and will be a delight for the 35,000 that will watch the action. One of the unique aspects of the course is that not much dirt was moved to make the layout, the architectures routed the course on the way the land was. The course will be very long but the fairways are more abundant than courses like last year’s Oakmont. The course will play to 7,741 but could be stretched to just about 8,000 and will be the first par 72 course at the U.S. Open

The course is very special. As Chambers Bay was a mangle of congestion since it was on a small track of land, Erin Hills is very expansive and you won’t find any congestion. Were Chambers Bay was totally artificial in which many tons of sand and dirt was used to build up the course, Erin Hills is very natural, glaciers, not bulldozers created the course. Erin Hills was the complete opposite from Chamber Bay as the holes at Erin Hills were created based on the natural landforms. The fairways will be very generous for a U.S. Open, but if you venture off your in big trouble. In some places the fescue rough will be impossible to even hack the ball back to the fairway, in a way I haven’t seen rough like this since the Open was played at Muirfield in Scotland. The greens are average size at 6,650 and are well bunkered. As I said the fairways are generous in size, but you don’t want to drive it into a fairway bunker because they are deep and the player will have trouble getting it onto the green.
For the average player the course is really hard, it’s rated at 78.4 with a slope of 147. One unique item, water comes into play on the 1st hole and if you hit a terrible teeshot right on the par 3 ninth hole, you could get wet but that is it. Even though the elevation difference is only 54 feet, the course is very hilly and a tough walk.

So with that said, how can we judge this course? First we are going to do something different in picking our four key stats, we are going to use strictly strokes gained stats. Our first is Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee because driving will be important. With wider fairways and the course being played over 7,700 yards yes this is a bombers course. Guys that hit it short like Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell and Steve Stricker will have a tough time at Erin Hills. Guys that hit is long and straight like Dustin Johnson or Bubba Watson will have a big advantage so look for our first key being Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee.
Our next stat is Strokes Gained Approach-the-Green because hitting greens are important and you have to make sure to hit the greens. Our third stat is Strokes Gained Around-the-Green because players will miss greens and to win they will have to get it up and down. Last is Strokes Gained Putting because that is going to be very important for players this week.

Of the 156 players in the field, only 82 have stats on the PGA Tour.  So marquee guys like Rory McIlroy, Alex Noren, Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger and Henrik Stenson don’t have stats for 2017 because they haven’t played enough rounds.

One last thing, because of some travel problems to Milwaukee, the Preview will be a bit late and come out on Tuesday afternoon, sorry.

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is the link to all of the stats for the 82 players in this year’s U.S. Open.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the U.S. Open:

  • Since 1960 only nine players have made the U.S. Open their first PGA Tour victory; Jack Nicklaus, 1962; Lee Trevino, 1968; Orville Moody, 1969; Jerry Pate, 1976; Ernie Els, 1993, Retief Goosen, 2001, Michael Campbell in 2005, Angel Cabrera in 2007 and Graeme McDowell in 2010.  But take a look at that list. Jack Nicklaus and Jerry Pate were U.S. Amateur champions, Retief Goosen, and Ernie Els had almost a dozen wins around the world before they won the U.S. Open and Lee Trevino became one of the greatest players in the world.  Michael Campbell, Angel Cabrera, and Graeme McDowell won a lot around the world, especially in Europe.  Dustin Johnson won a lot of the PGA Tour. So of these first-time winners, you have Orville Moody, who went on to win the Senior Open but still wasn’t that great of a player.  The point here is looking for a big name to win the U.S. Open.
  • So could that open the door for another first-time winner?  Probably not, of the 51 first timers, I don’t see one that could win, lot’s of good players and prospects for the future but not today.
  • Six years ago the 41-year streak of not having a European Tour player winner was finally broken by Graeme McDowell.  Since then the floodgates have opened as other Europeans like Rory McIlroy won in 2011, Justin Rose in 2013 and Martin Kaymer in 2014.  With the course being so hard, don’t be surprised if another European wins this year. Europeans are used to playing links style courses, more than Americans.  One that I don’t see fitting the bill is Justin Rose.  He has been a part of the last couple of Opens, winning at Merion in 2013.  He fits the profile of a player that can win at Erin Hills but with one big exception, his back.  He told reporters that he is working hard on the back and making progress.  Still don’t think he will be in the mix, yes I have heard the words “Beware of the injured,” but in the case of Rose, you have a sore back it’s hard to play your best.  Same with Rory McIlroy he has been off more than he has played.  He got married just last month so is his mind into the Open this week, damn right it is.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

So what will it take to win at Erin Hills?

I think the most important things about Erin Hills is that the course is the longest course to hold a major so the winner will be long off the tee.  He also has to hit it pretty straight, remember the fairways will be almost double the size of the fairways of Oakmont last year so if they are just off the fairway, they will be ok. But good luck for those wild drivers, Erin Hills will bite them in the butt with it’s very long fescue rough that will be impossible to get the ball back to the fairway.

The most important thing to remember about Erin Hill is having a lot of patience.  Each week these players compete in an environment in which you make a birdie every fourth hole or a total of five to six times a round. Even with four par 5s that won’t happen and players will have to realize that par is your friend.

Hitting to the greens, how tough?

A lot will depend on if the pin is tucked away on a plateau or hard to get close.  Again a player has to be smart; there are lot’s of danger around the greens, so you have to make sure a shot is to the right part of the green.  The greens will also be hard (unless rain makes them too soft), so lot’s of shots won’t hold the greens and roll off into a hard situation.  Sometimes getting it up and down from rough off the green will be hard, the same with greenside bunkers, they won’t be easy to get up and down from.  I think that a person that scrambles well will be the winner this week.

What about once you get there?  Greens are big at 6,500 sq ft with lots of undulation and roll.  They aren’t massive at 8,700 square feet like Chambers Bay were but yes reading the greens will be tough.

Weather

The weather is always important at the U.S. Open. This year the weather will probably play a part in the Open.

This tells us to expect rain starting on Wednesday afternoon and turning into heavy showers most of the day but it will tail off for the first round.  Expect hot humid conditions but dry on Thursday but major storm action with a 60% chance.  Goes down to 40% on Saturday and Sunday will be the best day.  A cold front moves in and will bring dry, cool air as it will be 75 degrees, perfect for the final round.

Is there any rhyme or reason for a player winning the U.S. Open?

No.

In the past 25 years it’s been won by grinders like Dustin Johnson,  Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen, Angel Cabrera and Graeme McDowell, who may not look pretty but knows how to place shots in the right spots.  There have also been superstars like Tiger Woods, who were expected to win.  It’s been won by great tour players like Tom Kite and Corey Pavin, who capped off their PGA Tour careers with their first win in a major.  It’s been won by up and coming stars like South African’s Ernie Els, Martin Kaymer, Retief Goosen and Geoff Ogilvy, who won it in 2006.

Who can forget the stars that many thought were past their prime, like Payne Stewart and Hale Irwin.  It’s also been won by tour grinders like Lee Janzen and Webb Simpson. Last but not least the stray qualifier like Steve Jones, who surprised the golfing world with his victory in 1996, plus Michael Campbell in 2005, who was contemplating not going to U.S. Open qualifying the night before.  How about 2009 winner Lucas Glover, you show me a person that had a winning Lucas Glover ticket, and I will show you my winning Irish sweepstake ticket.  In past Opens, we said that it was a wide open field.  But I feel that only the best will contend this week. It will be just like the Masters in which only a dozen players have a real chance at winning.

 

 

Who to watch for at the U.S. Open

Best Bets:

Rory McIlroy

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T9 T23 T41 CUT Win CUT T10

Hits it long and pretty straight. If he can hit the greens and scramble well he will repeat what he did in 2011.

Dustin Johnson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
Win T2 T4 55 CUT T23 T8 T40 T48

This guy will be on the right course at the right time to possibly win back to back Opens.

Justin Thomas

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T32 CUT

Played well in the Amateur held at Erin Hills. He is just sitting back and getting ready to pounce, this will be a great course for him.

Best of the rest:

Sergio Garcia

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T5 T18 T35 T45 T38 T7 T22 T10 T18 CUT CUT T3

He also hits the ball long and straight and can hit a lot of greens. But if that part of his game isn’t shapr he won’t have much of a chance.

Jordan Spieth

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T37 Win T17 CUT T21

He may not hit it super long, but should be long enough to do some serious damage. Of course the key for him is getting it up and down on the greens he misses and making all of those putts like he did in 2015.

Jason Day

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T8 T9 T4 T2 T59 2

Can’t forget about him, he has come around of late and could be the one to beat.

Justin Rose

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T27 T12 Win T21 CUT CUT CUT T10

Have to think he will be a part of the process.

Alex Noren

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT CUT CUT T51

Guy has been hot of late and Erin Hills will be perfect for him.

Solid contenders

Jon Rahm

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T23

Another of those guys that hit it long and have lot’s of control on courses like Erin Hills, look for him to contend.

Adam Scott

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T18 T4 T9 T45 T15 CUT CUT T36 T26 CUT T21 T28

This is a great course for him to do serious damage on.

Paul Casey

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T39 T56 T45 CUT T40 CUT T65 T10 15 WD

Doesn’t seem to be able to get his act together in majors, who knows he should be good for Erin Hills and surprise us all.

Hideki Matsuyama

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T18 T35 T10

Always a danger anytime he plays.

Rickie Fowler

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT CUT T2 T10 T41 CUT CUT T60

Everytime we think of him he misses the cut. So pretend that I didn’t write this and see if he comes around and has a great week.

Long shots that could come through:

Louis Oosthuizen

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T23 T2 T40 WD CUT T9 CUT

Guy plays well in majors and always seems to surprise us with a good finish like he did in 2015.

Francesco Molinari

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T27 T23 CUT T29 CUT CUT T27

Watch him, has had a great season and could run the tables this week.

Marc Leishman

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T18 CUT CUT T51 CUT

Has all of the stats to do it, don’t be surprise to see him have a great week.

Comments

  1. bill seidel says:

    Stenson’s game may fit this course?

  2. I don’t think so, yes he hits it long but his game is not sharp right now and he doesn’t have problems around the greens and putting.

  3. Kevin J says:

    Would love to hear your thoughts on possible sleepers…Pieters, Grace, Steele, and Levi. Thx!

  4. Kevin J.
    One person that sticks in the back of my mind is Lucas Glover. He hits the ball long, is above average in greens hit but sucks around the greens and on the greens. Sseriously he was T-6th at the Players and has had a good year. Again his putting is a disaster, but if the weather is terrible and he is on the right side of the draw, he could pull another Bethpage.
    The U.S. Open always has that one big story in which somebody that you least expect does well. Last year it was Andrew Landry and Scott Piercy, in 2015 it was Cameron Smith and in 2014 it was Erik Compton. For some odd reason in the middle of June someone that you least expect does well and sometimes they win. Look at Webb Simpson Graeme McDowell and Lucas Glover, how many people do you think went out and bet $50 on any of these guys the Wednesday before the Open? You can count it on your right hand.
    Here are a couple of other possible longshots: Bubba Watson, is his game back? Jason Kokrak, can drive it a mile but could be spending most of his time trying to keep the ball out of the long fescue. You also have Charley Hoffman, Andrew Johnston, Tyreel Hatton and Shane Lowry to watch this week.

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