U.S. Open Predictions
As far as sports predictions go, it doesn’t get any harder than trying to accurately forecast who will win a golf tournament. In any given week, there are something like 30 players who could feasibly take home the trophy. Compare that to the other individual/country club sport, tennis; in those Grand Slams, there are realistically only…five?…players who could win.
Making matters worse for the golf predictions industry: Every once in a while, a Shaun Micheel or Todd Hamilton or Ben Curtis will come around, steal a major championship and rudely remind us that there are way more than 30 players who can win, should their stars align.
Thus, the following picks are educated guesses at best and indulgences in a fool’s exercise worst. But that never stopped anyone in the internetsphere. So let’s have a crack at it—here are some predictions for this week’s U.S. Open Championship, which begins Thursday morning at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
SLEEPERS WHO WILL CONTEND COME SUNDAY AFTERNOON
- Guys who have success this week will need to fly it a country mile off the tee and have a full arsenal of short-game shots. Rain last week and on Wednesday has softened the course considerably, tilting things in long hitters’ favor even more than anticipated, and the shaved areas around the greens will force players to employ a variety of different trajectories with their chips and pitches. A player I keep coming back to is Tony Finau, who is second on the tour in driving distance in 18th in strokes gained off the tee. Finau has played well in majors before—remember when he took 10th at Augusta on an ankle the size of a softball?—and he’ll be on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.
- Bryson DeChambeau. He is long enough, his iron play is strong enough, and he is hot enough, having just won the Memorial. Winning this event often comes down to making a lot of difficult pars on long holes, and DeChambeau has the game to do it. Calling him a sleeper may be a stretch—he’s up to 22nd in the world and has a good chance of making the Ryder Cup team—but he is at least a napper, as he has never really contended in a major. DeChambeau could be this year’s Brooks Koepka: a winner who was well-known among golf fans but not so much among the crowd that only watches four times a year.
So, so hard to pick against Dustin Johnson here. He’s had tremendous success in U.S. Opens. He was absolutely dominant last week. And he has the extra motivation of wanting to prove that he is the desering world No. 1. He’ll certainly be in the mix come Sunday, but I’m going with Brooks Koepka this week. He’s flown a bit under the radar this year mainly because he simply hasn’t played very much—he missed 15 weeks with a wrist injury—but he hasn’t missed a beat since his return, highlighted by a solo second at Colonial. He’ll become the first back-to-back winner since Curis Strange in 1989.