Five sleepers for the US Open
Kyle Stanley, Nick Watney and Ryan Palmer headline our list of sleepers at the 2013 US Open at Merion.
The biggest question for many people trying to pick a sleeper for our nation's championship is, "What wins the US Open?"
It's a question I've thought about a lot in preparing for this week, and this excellent analysis by ESPN's statistical team helps provide answers.
Basically you find the best golfer at hitting greens in regulation, slot him in as your winner, and pray he doesn't fold.
Of course a good GIR isn't always pertinent -- for example, Webb Simpson was only the 34th best at hitting greens in regulation in 2012 but he still won the US Open. You only have to be good for 72 (or 90) holes.
With that information in mind -- and when taking into account that hot putters, steely golfers and some luck will come into play this week -- here are five guys nobody is talking about to keep an eye on at Merion.
1. Kevin Streelman -- He is ranked 22rd on Tour in greens in regulation, 24th in strokes gained putting, won at Tampa earlier this season, and actually led at Torrey Pines during the 2008 US Open. Plus he's a gamer -- as evidenced by his "don't call it a comeback" comeback tale.
2. Ryan Palmer -- One of the last five players to make it into the Open, Palmer is 25th on Tour in GIR and sixth in birdie average. He finished T21 at Congressional when Rory McIlroy won and 10th at the 2011 Masters.
3. Nick Watney -- Has all the talent in the world but struggles to put it together sometimes (he shot 77-82 at the Memorial two weeks ago). He is 16th on Tour in GIR and finished T21 last year. Could he improve on that in 2013?
4. Kyle Stanley -- He would have been knocked out of the tournament if Scott Stallings had hung on to win the St. Jude Classic, so I'm guessing he's a big Harris English fan right now. Stanley is 28th on Tour in GIR and we know he's mentally capable of winning this thing -- he proved that last year by winning the Phoenix Open after a final-day meltdown at Torrey Pines the week before.
5. Justin Hicks -- Who? Right. Hicks is 18th on Tour in greens in regulation and 12th in driving accuracy. He finished T7 last week at the St. Jude Classic but has never done better than T60 at the US Open. I'm going to tweet "I told you so" like 293 times on Sunday if he's in it.
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