This year's U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club seems to be more open than most. A great chipper could win here. Somebody who hits every fairway would win here. World-class putters could have an all-time week. However, as is always the case with major championships, the tournament will most likely come down to 15 or so (in our case, nine) of the best players in the world.
Winged Foot has a way of identifying great ones. From Bobby Jones to Billy Casper to Hale Irwin, Winged Foot's five U.S. Open winners combined to win 16 major championships. The only player to win his first and only major at Winged Foot was Geoff Ogilvy, who was a star for a long time on the PGA Tour. So with all respect to the Troy Merritts of the world, we need to focus on stars (or future stars) this week
If there are any holes in your game this week, you're cooked. That's why we have to focus on stars -- the Xander Schauffeles and Justin Thomases of the world. They don't have holes -- or they have fewer of them than most -- and they'll need that wide variety of shots and skills to win this week.
"This is the epitome of a golf course where it's just hard, it kind of in your face all day, especially that finish, where the best golfer will win this week," said 2012 U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson. I think there have been setups in the past where you could argue that a great golfer with a good amount of luck won that week, but you're not going to have that here at Winged Foot. It's going to be whoever wins on Sunday is the best golfer here for the week."
With that in mind and Winged Foot just ahead, these are the nine guys I think can win the U.S. Open this week.
|No surprise here given that he's the No. 1 player in the world and stands up to big boy courses. If you win Oakmont -- especially the way he won it -- you can win at any course on the planet. Odds: 17/2 |
|It's such a great setup for him and the guy below him because neither of them have any holes in their games. Rahm's touch around the greens, especially when he's really on and feeling it in a given week, is absolutely exquisite. Odds: 10-1 |
|J.T. was top 25 in every strokes-gained category last season except for putting (where he was terrible). I do worry about the putter here because it's taken him out of events in recent weeks, but this course has such a J.T. feel that it's almost impossible to see him not contending. Odds: 14-1 |
|I love Reed this week, mostly because he has one of the more underrated short games in the world. Think about how much he has to gain with a win here. He would be 30 years old with nine wins -- including Augusta National and Winged Foot -- and some fabulous Ryder Cup showings. There are ... other ways to talk about Reed, too, but that resume would be pristine. Odds: 35-1 |
|Speaking of players whose legacy can change this week, Scott tops that list for me . This would be his 32nd professional win with victories at Augusta National and Winged Foot. That would read a lot differently to me than listing Scott as a one-time major winner. Odds: 45-1 |
|His tee-to-green game is immaculate and can withstand the squeeze of a place like Winged Foot. The short game is mildly concerning, but it's also mildly concerning for everyone. He could legitimately lead the field in fairway percentage. Odds: 16-1 |
|Simpson is another guy who could lead the field in fairways hit. As my colleague Rick Gehman has pointed out over and again, once you walk off the tee box, Simpson is statistically the best player in the world. His disadvantage (length) could actually be an advantage here if he finds enough fairways. Odds: 25-1 |
|Elite from tee to green? Check. Spectacular short game? Check. A putter and a mindset that can withstand the heat on Saturday and Sunday? I'll get back to you! Odds: 35-1 |
|Speaking of not having holes in his game, Schauffele has finished in the top 50 in every strokes-gained category in each of the last two seasons. It's easy to envision him, like Thomas, showing out this week and rolling into the mix on Sunday afternoon. Odds: 14-1 |
Who will win the U.S. Open, and which long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine to see the projected leaderboard, all from the model that's nailed six golf majors (including Gary Woodland's win last year) and is up over $8,000 since restart.