Historically, the U.S. Open has been the hardest of the four majors to win. The USGA has setup their venues to require great thinking, punishing rough, and lightning fast greens. It is the ultimate test in golf. The first US Open I recall watching was Jerry Pate’s victory in 1976 at the Atlanta Athletic Club, and every year I’ve looked forward to the penal nature of the competition and how it differs from the weekly birdie-fest on the PGA Tour. The last two years have been a major buzzkill with the ridiculous assault on double-digit under par at Erin Hills and the carnival bounces at Chambers Bay (2016). I’m looking for full redemption this year. Shinnecock Hills has been lengthened by 450 yards, the rough has been grown out, and there’s nary a tree in sight to protect the golfers from the winds that are sure to blow from the Atlantic Ocean and Shinnecock Bay. The course is a national treasure and will not disappoint.
Who’s going to win? Beats me. But since I’m in the recreational handicapping business, let’s give it a go. Picking from this field is a big problem, but a good problem. As in this year’s Masters, the best and deepest pool of championship caliber golfers ever are competing. Of course the U.S. Open field is nearly twice the size of The Masters, making prognostication all that more difficult. Plus, half the Masters field is past champions with no chance. Here, qualifying is the ultimate merit based system.
I’m sensing this will be a ball striking contest. Essentially, who can drive it the best and manage the wind. Rory’s game is suited for links style golf and he’s a great driver of the golf ball. But he choked in round four of The Masters and I don’t think he’s hitting on all eight cylinders. Can’t win the U.S. Open with a four-cylinder engine. Jason Day is in good form and another great driver, but flights it too high. Jordan Spieth is the best major player in the field. Best mind in the game, but not the best driver (not even close). However, Spieth is always contending in every major and will be a factor. I loved the way Rickie Fowler finished at The Masters. Seems like he’s getting over his Sunday foibles, and he will be in the mix here. Of all the awesomely talented players, who’s the best when playing at his best? Dustin Johnson. It looks like he’s gaining that extra gear again and will be in the thick of the battle. Tiger is a lot of folk’s sexy pick, but Shinnecock accentuates his weakness: driving it consistently. Not his week. Nobody believes in Bryson Dechambeau except himself – and now me. As weird as his theories are, they work. This guy is more science than art, but is becoming scary good. Finally, the sneaky good fit for this venue is Tommy Fleetwood. Love his ball flight and familiarity and comfort with links golf.
So who takes it? The All About Golf Kiss Of Death goes to the best player in the world in the toughest tournament: DJ. Spieth is runner up, and Fowler takes third. Enjoy the action and happy early Father’s Day!