2015 US Open: Biggest Questions Entering Moving Day

Lindsay Gibbs@linzsports Featured ColumnistJune 20, 2015

2015 US Open: Biggest Questions Entering Moving Day

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Two days at Chambers Bay are in the books, and the cut line has been enforced.

    Famous faces such as Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer and Rickie Fowler have gone home after two days of golf they'd just as soon forget, but the field is still packed with stars and storylines.

    Everything up until now has just been child's play; now, we're heading into Moving Day, where the 2015 U.S. Open will really begin to take shape.

    Those at the top of the leaderboard have to stay calm and cool under the pressure of a 36-hole lead, and those who are lingering at or just above par need to make a move before it's too late.

    Here are the biggest questions heading into Saturday at Chambers Bay.

Will Jason Day Be Healthy Enough to Continue?

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Friday's biggest story was also it's scariest: Jason Day, who finished the day tied for ninth at two under par, collapsed onto the ground as he was walking up to the green on the ninth hole, his final hole of the day.

    The 27-year-old Australian was overheard complaining of dizziness, and it seemed that he was suffering from a spell of vertigo, a condition that has afflicted him recently.

    After a considerable pause, Day was able to get up, hit his shot out of the bunker and two-putt for a bogey to finish the round.

    His agent, Bud Martin, released a statement on Friday evening updating on his condition, via the Associated Press (h/t USA Today):

    Jason was diagnosed to have suffered from Benign Positional Vertigo. He was treated locally by Dr. Robert Stoecker and Dr. Charles Souliere and is resting comfortably. His condition is being monitored closely and he is hopeful he will be able to compete this weekend in the final rounds of the U.S. Open.

    Day will certainly be a contender for this title if he's healthy enough to continue. He has been the runner-up at this event twice, both in 2011 and 2013.

Can Jordan Spieth Make History with the Masters-U.S. Open Repeat?

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    It's rare for any golfer to win the Masters and the U.S. Open back-to-back in the same year—in fact, it's only been done six times in the history of golf by five different players, most recently by Tiger Woods back in 2002.

    However, Jordan Spieth is on pace to be added to that exclusive club at the ripe old age of 21. The young American is currently tied for the 36-hole lead at five under par.

    As Justin Ray of Golf Channel pointed out on Twitter, Spieth officially has the best score ever (relative to par) after the first six rounds of major golf in a year: In 1953, Ben Hogan was 19 under par after six rounds; this year, Spieth is 23 under par cumulatively.

    But while Spieth had a big lead after two days at the Masters, Chambers Bay is a different beast altogether. It'll be very interesting to see whether Spieth is ready to turn his breakout season into an all-out coronation this weekend.

Which Lesser-Known Player Will Become a True Contender?

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    While there are certainly big stars on the leaderboard, there are also some relatively unknown players who have put themselves in position to make a big-time splash this weekend.

    Branden Grace, a 27-year-old South African, is tied for third place at four under par, just one off of the lead. Grace has six wins on the European Tour, including two at the start of this season. However, he's only finished in the top 20 of one major in his career, and this is only the second time he's made the cut at the U.S. Open.

    Joost Luiten, a 29-year-old Dutch golfer who had never before made the cut at the U.S. Open, is tied for fifth at three under par. 

    Luiten is tied with a trio of unheralded Americans: Tony Finau, a 6'4" 25-year-old of Tongan-Samoan descent who is Jabari Parker's second cousin; Daniel Summerhays, a 31-year-old who had only made one previous cut at a major; and Ben Martin, a 27-year-old who got his first PGA Tour victory last fall.

    All of these players have a chance to win this U.S. Open, but first, they have to make it through Moving Day without fading away. Who will still be in the picture on Sunday?

Is Brian Campbell Ready to Make an Amazing Amateur Push?

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    The U.S. Open is theoretically a friendly major for amateurs, but it's rare that you see an amateur toward the top of the leaderboard, particularly heading into the weekend.

    And yet, that's where you'll find Brian Campbell, a 22-year-old who just finished his collegiate golfing career at Illinois last month.

    Campbell is currently sitting at one under par, tied for 12th. He shot a 67 in the first round, which, according to Golf Channel, was the lowest opening round an amateur had shot at the U.S. Open since 1976. 

    This year, there were 17 amateurs in the field—the most since 1981—and an impressive six have made the cut. Can Campbell rise above the rest and put himself in position to contend for the title on Moving Day? 

Does Patrick Reed Have What It Takes to Stay on Top of the Leaderboard?

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    Despite the fact that Patrick Reed is such a controversial figure, it sure is a lot of fun to watch the fiery young American play golf.

    Luckily, it looks like we'll get to see him often this weekend—the 24-year-old is tied atop the leaderboard with Jordan Spieth at five under par.

    Reed already has four PGA Tour victories in his young career—with two coming in playoffs (one over Spieth)—and he was a rare bright spot for the U.S. Ryder Cup team last year. However, he hasn't been able to translate his game to the majors yet; in the five other majors he's played, he missed two cuts and made zero top 20s.

    But Reed is now firmly in contention for his first major title, and the spotlight will be shining on him like never before. Let's see how he handles the pressure.

Which Former U.S. Open Champion Is Capable of a Big Comeback?

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    Right now, it's looking very possible that we'll have a first-time winner at this year's U.S. Open—there are currently 16 players under par, and the only one from that group with a major victory is Jordan Spieth, who just won the Masters this year.

    However, there are some former U.S. Open champions lingering just above par, and if one of them has a great round on Saturday and shoots up the leaderboard on Moving Day, the entire complexion of this tournament could change.

    Ernie Els, the 1994 and 1997 winner, is at two over par and tied for 28th. Justin Rose, the 2013 champ, is also at two over par, while Jim Furyk (2003) is at four over par.

    2011 U.S. Open champ Rory McIlroy, the current No. 1 golfer and the reigning PGA Championship and British Open winner, is also at four over par. Webb Simpson (2012) and Angel Cabrera (2007) are at five over par and just barely made the cut.

    These guys all have a lot of work to do if they want to win this trophy again, but with this many unproven players leading the way, don't count out these former champs.

Will Dustin Johnson Be Able to Escape Ghosts of Majors Past?

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    Dustin Johnson has been playing well all season long, and he brought his best game to Chambers Bay, where he sits at four under par, one stroke behind leaders Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.

    We've seen Johnson on and around the top of a major leaderboard before. The 30-year-old had the 54-hole lead at the U.S. Open back in 2010 before shooting an 82 on Sunday. He also infamously incurred a two-stroke penalty on the final regulation hole of the 2010 PGA Championship, causing him to miss out on the playoff.

    "Dustin Johnson always had a big game. But we’re still waiting to see if he can handle the big moment," George Willis of the New York Post wrote. 

    The American has eight top-10 finishes at majors in his career, and after a six-month ban from the PGA Tour last year that Golf.com reported was due to a failed drug test, Johnson is playing some of the most focused golf of his career. 

    But it remains to be seen whether he's truly ready to overcome his on-course demons and win a major. 

Can Phil Mickelson Pull off the Miracle?

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    Phil Mickelson started out this U.S. Open with three birdies on his first nine holes, and he finished Thursday's round at one under par.

    Unfortunately, Friday did not go as well. Lefty shot four over par on Day 2 to just barely make the cut at three over par. He made five bogeys and only one birdie on the day.

    "It was a tough day today," he said on Fox after his round. "I've got to regroup and make a solid game plan for tomorrow and get a hot round."

    Mickelson is a sentimental favorite at Chambers Bay. After all, the 45-year-old has finished as the runner-up at the U.S. Open six times in his career, and he needs this major to get his Career Slam.

    He's still hanging on going into the weekend, which means hope is still technically alive, but he'll need nothing short of a miracle if he's going to fill in this missing line on his resume on Sunday. No matter what, at least we know we'll see Lefty go down swinging.


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