The 116th playing of the U.S. Open begins Thursday and this edition will be held at Oakmont Country Club.
While Brian Stefan has your official preview, here are my predictions and some extra quotes.
It’s Jason Day. His iron play off the tee was magnificent at The PLAYERS Championship and that will be the key this week. You could pound your head for hours trying to pick a winner and still come up with the common sense player.
Also keep an eye on
It would be easy to just put Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy down. Both are great pics, but come on, that is too easy. I will start with Branden Grace. Grace is comfortable playing in America and has a great tutor in Ernie Els. Could this finally be Dustin Johnson’s time? It very well could be. All aspects of his game are in a rather good spot which bodes well here at Oakmont. Matt Kuchar has been a top-10 machine and he will get another one this week. He has been hungry to finish the job and his all-around game could provide that opportunity. Patrick Reed talks a big game but has been playing well too. He took a week off after two top-15 finishes.
I am intrigued by Andrew Johnston’s game. He has two top-12 finishes in his past two starts. He is under the radar at 105 in the world rankings but also won the Open de Espana. Brooks Koepka has some all-round game, and he also had consecutive second place finishes coming into the week. Marc Leishman is a name I look at. There’s two consecutive top-13 finishes and a player who has been in the moment down the stretch of a major tournament. Webb Simpson has won a major before and he also has two top-11 finishes in his last two starts. Everyone is questioning whether this is finally Phil Mickelson’s week to finally win a U.S. Open, but what about Lee Westwood? Westwood has been in the top 15 in each of his last four starts including a T2 at the Masters. Westwood is also one of 28 golfers who played Oakmont in 2007. The stars could align for his first career majors championship.
They said it
“If I was a member at Oakmont and I enjoyed that and I accepted it for what it is, I would be so proud of my golf course that they could withstand a national Open and be considered one of the best golf courses in the country, yeah, that would be my pride. Is that what you want for a steady diet? It depends on the person. Like I say, it depends on who the guy is or who the gal is. What do they like? Oakmont is a pretty stiff test.” – Jack Nicklaus on if he would play Oakmont Country Club a couple of time were he to live in Pittsburgh
“Then nobody will finish. If they’re truly at 14, they won’t finish. It would be a really tough golf course at that speed.” – Nicklaus on green speeds potentially being at 14 on the Stimpmeter
“It’s lived up and passed the hype it already receives from everybody. What a great test of golf and a very tough but fair test of golf. You can already tell, we had a great experience, played 27 holes, played the back nine yesterday evening and 18 holes this morning. So, had a lot of fun with it and it’s going to be a great U.S. Open this year, I think.” – Jordan Spieth
“I think I have four full rounds in, so getting to know the golf course a bit better. I don’t think you can play enough rounds here to really know it. But some of the craziest greens I’ve ever played and most penal fairway bunkers I’ve entered, and trying to stay out of those as much as possible this week. It’s a fair golf course. You’ve just got to be on the right side of the hole. You’ve got to drive the ball well. A lot of characteristics of a typical, tough and hard U.S. Open.” – Rickie Fowler
“Trepidation, I guess. Yeah, excitement is a good way to describe Augusta, but it really depends the venue that you play a U.S. Open at as well. But, yeah, this week it’s definitely — it’s not excitement. I mean, it’s definitely not that. I don’t know. Yeah, trepidation. You know you’re going to be put under a lot of pressure on basically every single golf shot you hit out there. So you have to be prepared for that. You have to be prepared for how mentally demanding it’s going to be, how much concentration you’re going to need out there. I think that for the guys who have to go play — well, don’t have to, but for the guys that are going to play Congressional next week, they’re going to need a couple days off in between this and going there. It’s going to be quite the mental grind.” – Rory McIlroy
“It’s been a race against the clock really for me to be fit and ready to play here. Since the PLAYERS Championship, I’ve sort of been recovering from a bad back, flared up disk, and just really been working around the clock. I’ve done everything humanly possible to be here from a recovery point of view, from a fitness point of view, from a practice point of view, but there’s no doubt my practice schedule has certainly been on the light side, limiting the number of balls I’ve been hitting. I only started hitting the driver two or three days ago. So it’s definitely been a tight timetable, but I’m confident I’ve done a lot of the really hard work, especially in the gym, especially re-engaging all the strength around the core and all that stuff is going to support me this week.” – Justin Rose
“Wentworth is a pretty tough golf course. Same kind of thing around that place is fairways and greens. The misses around there, again, are pretty brutal, and you can rack up some numbers, as we did a few times. The only thing I say around this place is you’re probably not going to see a ton of birdies. It’s going to be a lot of pars, as I said, and trying to limit your mistakes to when you do get out of position. So hopefully, we can keep it in the fairways and keep it on the greens and make life as stress-free as possible. I’m just looking forward to, I guess, my first U.S. Open on a golf course that I’ve notoriously watched growing up — tight fairways, thick rough and back to kind of how people see U.S. Open golf. It’s good fun to be back here and to be part of it and playing.” – Danny Willett