Erin Hills, site of the 2017 US Open, has been characterized as long, bouncy, devoid of trees, and with perfect greens. No major has ever been contested here and the course otherwise remains a mystery. A par-72 layout is rare for the US Open and may lend itself to less of the traditional fairways and greens grind and more of a birdie-fest. You’d think that’s not in the best interest of the USGA, and I hope they set it up tough but fair. After all, this is not La Quinta, and golf fans don’t expect to see 20-under win the tournament.
Unlike The Masters, not all the big names are in top form. Rory McIlroy is coming off a broken rib and missed the BMW Championship in Europe in late May. Ruled out. Dustin Johnson, would be a natural pick and he may be fully recovered from his butt busting slip down the stairs at Augusta, but his game hasn’t recovered. I didn’t like his form at Memorial (+8 and a missed cut).
A key statistic I like for the US Open is the little known “bogey avoidance”. This is an excellent indicator of short game proficiency, course management, and mental toughness, all critical elements for US Open success. DJ is ranked #2 which demonstrates the improvements he’s made to his short game. I was considering Jason Day, but he’s way down at 129th. Day gets into too much trouble with his driver and his putting and concentration seem off this year. He’s out.
I like the form Justin Thomas and John Rahm are showing, but mentally they lack a bit of the even keel needed to steady themselves over the grind. Rahm is a hot head and Thomas gets too pouty when things go wrong. This tournament will come down to three individuals. Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, and Masters champ, Sergio Garcia. Rose is hungry after his playoff loss at Augusta. He’s been preparing diligently for this tournament and even skipped last week’s Memorial, which I’m not sure was a good idea, but he’s focused and I’m throwing out his final round 80 at The PLAYERS as an aberration. Spieth has seen a remarkable resurgence in his GIR stats, going from 145th last year to 4th in 2017. Garcia, is arguably the first or second best ball striker in the world, which ultimately won him The Masters. Despite his first major win, I still didn’t like the way he putted at Augusta, and his putting stats are just awful. You can’t win the US Open putting badly.
Put a great course manager and the best putter in the world on great greens, and you have a champion. The All About Golf US Open kiss of death goes to Jordan Spieth.
Enjoy the action and play well!