Finally, the 2016 US Open returns to a classic course that will produce a classic test. Oakmont Country Club will feature tight fairways, deep rough, and the fastest greens on earth, and I love it. If you are a traditionalist, and you believe even-par is a great score in this tournament, and that this should be the hardest tournament on earth to win, you’re in for a treat. You can’t have been happy with last year’s carnival played at Chambers Bay, or even the 2014 contest at the redesigned Pinehurst #2.
Let’s look at the principals:
Justin Rose won the last US Open contested on a traditional layout (Marion – 2013) and sort of backed into it when Phil Mickelson found another way to finish 2nd. Rose has got to be considered a contender. He’s having a great ball striking year but his putter is shaky and these greens are going to be the most difficult the pros play all year. Regarding Phil, I believe the window is just about closed because of age. Phil plays more interrupt driven golf than ever before. Interrupt driven = pars and birdies interrupted by “others”.
Rory McIlroy leads the BABSBP category (Bad Ass Ball Striking Balky Putter) with Justin Rose closely following. Although Rory is arguably the best ball striker on earth when he’s on, the recent change of putting grip from left hand low to reverse overlap is disconcerting when done so close to a major. He pulled this before The Masters going from reverse overlap to left hand low and was ineffective. He struggled on the slickmeisters at The Players too, and when his putting is off, he clearly gets frustrated. The US Open requires steadiness with the flat stick and more patience than any other tournament, and for that reason, Rory’s out.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth is clearly the best putter in the world. He just recently won at Colonial too. Current world #1, Jason Day is arguably the best all around player and is deserving of his top ranking. With apologies to Masters champion Danny Willett, the tournament will come down to these two. Going head-to-head ten times, Day would win six. It’s that close. Will the heat be a factor? Day has struggled with health issues on and off and during some high visibility moments. Can Spieth keep the ball in the fairway? The occasional chicken wing move could be costly on the clutch tee shots on Sunday. Spieth won at Chambers Bay because he can putt and because there was no rough. Spieth became more and more jittery over his shots at The Masters and I’m not sure he’s overcome that nervousness. Day is cool, Day is calm, Day is collected. Jason Day is your 2016 US Open Champion. Did I miss someone? Who do you think wins it?