Past Champion: Dustin Johnson
The toughest test in golf is upon us this week at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. The U.S. Open is known for its difficult layouts and USGA setups, and this week at Erin Hills will be no different. Playing a brutal 7,741 yards with fescue that has been deemed “dead” surrounding the entire course, this will be a test not many are prepared for. While some PGA Tournaments finish double digit under par, the U.S. Open is a different animal, with some winners finishing over par! Erin Hills will challenge all parts of your game, demanding not only a long tee shot, but an accurate one. Similar to other U.S. Open venues, Erin Hills will make players use their imagination when managing their way around this golf course. There are no short of storylines heading into this week between Phil flying across the country to try and make his tee time to some players already voicing their displeasure with the USGA (no surprise there), U.S. Open week is one of the best golf weeks of the year.
FORE U.S. Open Storylines
Family Man Phil
Phil Mickelson is a US Open Championship away from completing the career Grand Slam, which has only be done by 5 other golfers ever (Sarazen, Hogan, Player, Nicklaus, and Woods). Not that he hasn’t come close either, finishing runner up SIX times, Phil is in major limbo whether or not he will be able to compete in this years competition. As the news quickly circulated last week, Phil will be attending his daughter Amandas high school graduation ceremony, which she is giving her valedictorian speech the same day the tournament kicks off. HOWEVER, Phil is on the record saying he will be in the air immediately following the ceremony and on his way to Erins Hills in hopes of making his late Thursday tee time. Mickelson has also said the only way he believes he will make his tee time would be if there was roughly a 4 hour delay Thursday morning, but barring a miracle it looks like Phil will not make his Grand Slam run this year. Although a live stream of Phil making his way across the country would be electric content for Fox to fire up on Thursday.
USGA vs. The Field
The USGA pissing off players leading up to the U.S. Open (and during for DJ last year) has become a tale as old as time. This year the main discussion is the brutality of the fescue that starts just a few steps off the fairway. Kevin Na was the first to hit social media with a video trying to hit out the nasty fescue, which seems to be pretty impossible. Adam Scott also complained about the USGA and how they go about setting up the course for the U.S. Open year in and year out. It seems as though the USGA heard the rumblings and had the fescue actually cut down some on a few holes. On the other hand, Rory McIlroy came out on Tuesday and made it pretty clear that if you are worrying about the fescue then you should just pack your bags and go home. I agree with Rory, being that the fairways are some of the widest in US Open history, players should focus less on complaining to the USGA, and more just hitting it in the fairway. The U.S. Open is known to be one of the toughest challenges in golf and I don’t mind it one bit.
— Open Stance Golf (@OpenStanceGolf) June 12, 2017
Rory McIlroy didn’t hold back when he found out they cut down the fescue. pic.twitter.com/YbnLBzuJOH
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 13, 2017
Guess the USGA decided to be nice this week and cut down some of the rough 🤔 pic.twitter.com/RPHunJyKx1
— Peter Uihlein (@PeterUihlein) June 13, 2017
Daddy DJ Repeat?
With the birth of his second child coming just days before the U.S. Open kicks off and Fathers Day, Dustin Johnson is in a great place mentally and physically to repeat. Other than the good karma that comes with the joy of having another child (farrrr away from having that feeling), DJs game places perfectly for Erin Hills. A track that favors long hitters will give Johnson much shorter approach shots than the rest of the field. As the odds on favorite (+750), DJ has everything going in his favor heading into this week and would not be surprised to see him dominate the field similar to what Tiger did at the 2000 U.S. Open when he won by 15 strokes at Pebble Beach. The only disappoint if DJ does finish on top this week, is we will not get to see Paulina in her white dress from last years win.
Far and Wide
Not only are the fairways at Erin Hills far and wide, but the field is as well. An awesome part of the U.S. Open is the fact that anybody with a USGA handicap can enter into qualifiers for a chance to make their dreams come true and compete on golfs biggest stage. A few familiar faces made it into the field this week thanks to a qualifier, but none more special than Wisconsin native, Steve Stricker. Other notable names that made the field through qualifiers are Stewart Hagestad (Low Am at Masters), Stephan Jaeger (#1 on Web.com Tour), Harris English, and Jamie Lovemark just to name a few. These qualifiers have already went through the gamut to get to this point, so no reason somebody can’t make an amazing story that much more improbable.
U.S. Open Prediction
Jordan Spieth (+1200)
First Major of the year, The Masters, I chose Spieth to win, and he finished T-11. Second Major of the year, The U.S. Open, and I am picking Jordan Spieth again, but for a few different reasons this time around. While I, and every other golf writer, have talked about the length of Erin Hills at nauseum, I believe Spieth will take advantage of the other aspects of his game that may not exactly be talked about as much. The three reasons why I think Erin Hills will play to his advantage this week are the width of the fairways, the difficult approach shots, and the tame greens. If Jordan can keep those sprays off the tee to a minimum and set himself up in the fairway at a higher clip this week, there is no one better in the world Approach to Green and since switching back to his old putter, has been rolling the rock like 2015 Jordan. Coming in a little under the radar this week, as I talked about in Right in the Fairway DK U.S. Open Picks, Jordan is in some of the best form of his career and is poised to win his second U.S. Open in the last 3 years.
.@JordanSpieth ranks in majors since the beginning of 2015 –
Scoring Avg: 1
Score to par: 1
One putts: 1
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) June 12, 2017
Darkhorse of the Week
Graeme McDowell (+125000)
A golfer who has won the U.S. Open before in great form and the ability to hit fairways and make putts. I would throw a few bucks on him this week at Erin Hills, cause why not.
Enjoy the beauty and brutality that Erin Hills will provide this week. One of the best golf weeks of the year is a must watch come the weekend. Continue to follow along on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend.