In 2015, the U.S. Open golf course will be the big news. The peculiarities and unknowns of Chambers Bay makes handicapping this field a little tricky, but with some reverse logic we can arrive with a solid pick to win.
We know the course is links style with a single tree standing out on the entire property. It’s long, with four par-4 holes measuring over 500 yards, and the greens are huge. There’s no shortage of consternation in anticipation of the USGA setting up a carnival ride, at least that’s what you hear from pros like Ian Poulter on social media. I think it’s in the USGA’s best interest to set up as fair a test as possible because they took a good amount of criticism for the non-traditional setup at Pinehurst last year. Folks want long, narrow, and slick for the U.S. Open and they’re not going to get it for the second year in a row, so expect the setup to be tough but reasonable.
Let’s look at the contenders. World #1, Rory McIlroy is the betting favorite at 7:1 but is coming in with zero mojo and off two missed cuts in Europe. When Rory is on his game, he is the best player in the world, no doubt. But why is he slumping now? Over the years, he’s had two recurring problems when he under-achieves: 1) Poor practice habits. 2) Distractions from a love interest. #2 appears to be in play and I don’t like Rory this week because of it. Jordan Spieth is next at 8:1 and I love his competitive “anywhere on any course” attitude. He oozes winning and I would bet the house that he finishes ahead of McIlroy this week. The rest of the field is way back. Mickelson, Fowler, Rose, and Dustin Johnson are all at 18:1. Chambers Bay is unique and will require an inordinate amount of imagination and patience to play well and Phil has the most of those attributes. Over the years, he’s learned to be patient despite his gambler mentality, but when you picture him and his imagination, you envision high flopping lob shots to impossible pins, not the low running ground game that Chambers Bay will require. For this reason, I’m feeling good about the defending champion, Martin Kaymer. Chambers Bay is cutting the fringes to almost the same heights as the putting surfaces. You may see guys putting from 50 yards off the green and Kaymer loves the putter from the fringe and essentially won at Pinehurst with that play. He’s an excellent dark horse pick at 40:1. Lastly, watch our rabble-rouser, Poulter. He’s playing well on the American tour and the venue suits his hit it anywhere-work the chipping and putting. If he comes in with a good attitude about the golf course, he could do some damage.
While I’d love to see Phil close the deal on the career slam, he’s got two main obstacles: his age and Jordan Spieth is in the field. So your 2015 U.S. Open picks:
Winner: Jordan Spieth
Runner up: Phil Mickelson – again
Third: Martin Kaymer