U.S. Open 2018 field: Root for these nine golfers this week at Shinnecock Hills
From Phil Mickelson to Rickie Fowler, there are a ton of fun stories that are easy to get behind
We've already looked atheading into the 118th U.S. Open, but that's a much different exercise than picking one to support throughout the week. Golfers have fans for myriad reasons -- swings, wins, attire, generosity with autographs -- and there are some particularly compelling narratives this week at Shinnecock Hills.
The first one (as is always the case with the U.S. Open) is the most obvious, but I'll give you eight other (plausible) storylines to get behind ahead of the national championship.
|Lefty is going for his first U.S. Open after nearly a decade's worth of heartbreak. He has six runner-up finishes at this formidable event and maybe none more excruciating than in 2004 when he went to the 71st hole at Shinnecock tied with Retief Goosen. A double there after his ball landed in front of a rock in a greenside bunker led to maybe the toughest loss of his career. The redemption a win would bring this week is incalculable. |
|I know the narrative might get old, but Fowler really is both (a) one of the kindest golfers on the PGA Tour and (b) the best yet to win a major championship. Shinnecock sets up nicely for his all-around exquisite game, and it could be a big few weeks for him after . |
|You could talk me into him being No. 1. You could also talk me into him not being on the list at all. I'll slot it here because it would be a massive deal both inside and outside of the golf world, even if Tiger isn't always the easiest player for whom to cheer. |
|If Spieth wins Shinnecock, that means he's at four, and we all of a sudden have to start putting the elusive eight major championships number in play for him over the course of his career. I refuse to believe he isn't an all-time great, and only six golfers have ever won eight or more (Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Tom Watson). Rory McIlroy and Spieth are probably the best bets of this generation to get there, but Spieth needs to keep pace with his own collection thus far. |
|If you're into young, elite Americans with a chance to dominant the game on an international level for the next two decades, then maybe I can interest you in throwing on a Julio Jones jersey and rooting for this former Alabama golfer. |
|Places like Shinnecock shape legacies, and McIlroy has a lot at stake this week. A U.S. Open win at this place can change the life of somebody like Ryan Moore or Charley Hoffman. It can't do that for McIlroy, but it can change the way we think about him. He has two holes in the resume. The first (and foremost) is obviously Augusta. The second is a U.S. Open or Open Championship in the cauldron where he has to shoot 71 or 73 to win on a Sunday. I'd love to see it, and he'd certainly put on a show. |
|The Australian has struggled (for him) a bit over the past few years. He only has one top 10 in the last 10 majors and only two at U.S. Opens ever. While absolutely nobody alive feels bad for the good-looking, sweet-swinging former Masters champion, seeing him claw through sectionals and become the first qualifier winner since Lucas Glover in 2009 would be pretty cool. |
|Much like Woods, I'm not sure if Johnson is easy to cheer, but his story is certainly compelling. A win this week would propel him to 19 for his career and two of the last three majors (and Oakmont plus Shinnecock should count as more than two!).|
|The Englishman contended last year at Erin Hills for a while and is one of the easiest golfers on the PGA Tour to root on. He plays golf as if he can't believe he gets paid money to do so, and if Fowler isn't the best player without a major, Fleetwood might be. He'd be a worthy winner at a place like Shinnecock. |
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