9 Golfers with the Best Chance to Win the US Open
What is it going to take to win the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin? Which golfers are best suited to hoist the trophy Sunday?
Well, answering the first question first: While Erin Hills is a new U.S. Open venue, we can be assured the USGA will prefer the same elements it always does: accurate driving with a touch of power, precise approach shots, deft scrambling from penal bunkers and closely mown areas around the green...oh, and avoiding three-putts. In other words: The USGA endeavors to test all facets of a player's game.
So, to win, a player must manage the excruciating mental challenge that is competing and maintaining composure for 72 holes in a U.S. Open. Beyond that, capable driving and deft approach play into Erin Hills' greens are key. Obviously, we like to see a player flashing good form with past quality play at the season's second major.
Handicapping the U.S. Open at a new venue is notoriously difficult. Here are a few potential contenders who don't quite make the list of nine, with an area of concern that kept them out highlighted.
Don't be surprised to see some of them inside the top 10, however, come Sunday's final round.
Hideki Matsuyama: 28-1: He had a poor showing at the Memorial in his most recent start and missed his last U.S. Open cut.
Sergio Garcia: 22-1: Simply put, the probability of contending in two consecutive majors, let alone winning, is low on the PGA Tour.
Justin Rose: 22-1: A cut-misser at last year's U.S. Open, Rose hasn't done much since winning the tournament (his first and only major victory) in 2013.
Rickie Fowler: 20-1: He missed the cut at the FedEx St. Jude in his most recent action. He also missed his last two U.S. Open cuts.
Jon Rahm: 20-1: He's an emerging talent, yes, but he showed a lack of composure at the Memorial. That is worrying at golf's toughest mental test.
Recent form: The Players: T16, BMW PGA Championship: T3, Nordea Masters: T26
Best U.S. Open finishes: T4 (2014), 9 (2009)
Why he can win: Stenson's combination of accuracy off the tee—he's hitting over 75 percent of fairways on the PGA Tour this year—and quality iron play always lands him on the short list of U.S. Open contenders. With quality recent form and some strong U.S. Open finishes under his belt, this major-winning Swede is a serious contender.
Recent form: Wells Fargo Championship: T12, The Players: T22, Dean & DeLuca Invitational: T10
Best U.S. Open finishes: T10 (2007), 15 (2006)
Why he can win: Paul Casey has been one of the most consistent quality finishers on tour this season. He does more than respectable work off the tee and is third on tour in strokes gained: approach and 13th in strokes gained: tee to green. Like Stenson, Casey has the combination of solid recent form, good showings at U.S. Open venues and plenty of veteran mettle.
Recent form: The Players: T12, Byron Nelson: T13, The Memorial: Cut
Best U.S. Open finishes: 1 (2016), T2 (2015), T4 (2014)
Why he can win: Obviously, DJ has a proven aptitude for U.S. Open venues. And despite a missed cut at the Memorial, his recent form has been superb. Statistically, Johnson has been, well, the best: tour leader in strokes gained: off the tee, 12th in strokes gained: approach, first in strokes gained: tee to green, first in strokes gained: total. Unless you believe he'll be distracted following the birth of his second child and want to bank on the difficulty of repeat U.S. Open wins, there's no doubt Johnson is a stellar candidate for victory.
Recent form: Arnold Palmer Invitational: T4, The Masters: T7, The Players: T35
Best U.S. Open finishes: 1 (2011), T9 (2015)
Why he can win: Well, he's won a U.S. Open already, albeit at a rain-softened course that looked like anything but a U.S. Open. The question about McIlroy concerns how rusty he'll be after a lengthy recovery from a recurring rib injury.
Still, the Ulsterman's pedigree necessarily lands him on any list of contenders. In just 12 measured rounds on the PGA Tour this year, Rors is picking up more than 2.172 strokes on the field average, a measure of the field-blitzing quality of his play.
Recent form: The Players: T60, Byron Nelson: 2, the Memorial: T15
Best U.S. Open finishes: 2 (2011), T2 (2013)
Why he can win: Again, mental fortitude and past quality at U.S. Opens will be key at Erin Hills. While Day hasn't won this tournament, his U.S. Open record is formidable, and a top-10 finish seems virtually assured.
True, his iron play hasn't been up to snuff this year, but Day leads the tour in strokes gained: around the green, and scrambling will be key at Erin Hills. Assuming he's tightened some things up in his practice time since the Memorial at the beginning of the month, he should contend.
Recent form: AT&T Byron Nelson: cut, Dean & DeLuca Invitational: T2, The Memorial: T13
Best U.S. Open finishes: 1 (2015), T17 (2014)
Why he can win: Spieth's play off the tee isn't what it was last year, but he's massively improved his iron play, leading the tour in strokes gained: approach.
He's 10th in strokes gained: tee to green and seventh in total strokes gained, and while his vaunted putting (40th in strokes gained: putting) isn't up to its usual standard, taking all of this together with his 2015 U.S. Open win, Spieth has to be among the handful of players expected to win.
Recent form: The Players: T22, AT&T Byron Nelson: T20, the Memorial: T57
Best U.S. Open finishes: T14 (2015), T35 (2014)
Why he can win: Who more appropriate to win the U.S. Open than Captain America? Reed's sweeping draw off the tee isn't necessarily the best ball flight for tight, undulating U.S. Open fairways, but he's gotten results, having finished tied for 14th in 2015. Throw his season stats out the window, as he was bizarrely playing with screwed-up clubs, and appreciate that Reed is rounding into form in time for the season's second major.
Recent form: Arnold Palmer Invitational: cut, the Masters: T4, BMW PGA Championship: T14
Best U.S. Open finishes: N/A
Why he can win: A steely competitor hungry for a major victory, don't overlook Thomas Pieters this week. He posted a big-time finish at the Masters in April, and while he's never competed in a U.S. Open, his club-tossing meltdown at The Open Championship last year will have taught him much. The 25-year-old is a tactician who plays well on difficult courses. Don't count him out.
Recent form: The Players: T56, Dean & DeLuca Invitational: 1, the Memorial: T6
Best U.S. Open finishes: T12 (2015)
Why he can win: A winner at a tight track that was built to host the U.S. Open (Colonial), Kisner can absolutely win at Erin Hills. Statistically, Kiz is having a dream season: ninth in strokes gained: approach, 23rd in strokes gained: putting, ninth in strokes gained: tee to green and fifth in strokes gained: total. The man is a top-quality ball-striker and determined player...and he just won at the end of May. And at 66-1, he's a darn good bet too!