Ryan O'Sullivan

Sully's Snapshot

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U.S. Open: Preview and Ranks

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


The U.S. Open rides into Wisconsin to Erin Hills Golf Course. Dustin Johnson is set to defend his first major championship a year after winning at Oakmont. It’s time to consider who, if anyone, will dethrone DJ in 2017.

 

Erin Hills is hosting the U.S. Open for the first time. While we have been able to learn bits and pieces about this par-72 layout tipping at 7,741 yards based on player comments and other reports, it is still without the course history we find comfortable in the research of most tournaments.

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What we have seen is that the rough is ridiculously high if the generous fairways are missed. Uncommon for U.S. Open venues is that this will play as a par 72 with four par 5s. Because of these two known entities, I’ve placed a high value on Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee and Par 5 scoring average. The thought process being that if a player can avoid major trouble off the tee and take advantage of par 5 scoring opportunities, they have the most direct path to the top of a leaderboard.

 

I’ve also received a little nugget directly from 2017 Web.com Tour winner Kyle Thompson, competing this week after qualifying in Maryland, that lag putting will be a factor due to the size of the greens. That would suggest that 3-putt avoidance will be in play.

 

Traditionally, the U.S. Open has favored ball-striking over putting. I see that being the case again this week. Faking one’s way around this course just isn’t likely. More times than not, the best putter among the best ball-strikers will be right in the mix down the stretch. There’s no reason not to expect that this week.

 

Going 25 deep for the season’s second major. Here we go!

 

1.  Dustin Johnson – It’s easy to write a guy off that’s defending because it’s hard to go back-to-back. That said, we watched Daniel Berger do just that last week. It would also be easy to put too much emphasis on DJ’s poor outing at Jack’s place two weeks ago. Don’t fall into either of those traps. Dustin is a perfect fit for this course and should be treated as such.

 

2.  Sergio Garcia – He is an excellent fit on paper, ranking second in SG: Off-the-tee and ninth in Par 5 Scoring Average. What we are all waiting to see is how he will respond to the lid finally being lifted in major championships with his Masters win. Could be similar to Phil Mickelson, who went off to the races.

 

3.  Jon Rahm – Much like his fellow Spaniard, Rahm is third in SG: Off-the-Tee and 11th in Par 5 Scoring Average. He’s got big game. The key may be keeping his emotions in check and being able to deal with some of the bad breaks that await in the season’s second major.

 

4.  Rickie Fowler – It’s not uncommon for there to be a trend regarding major championships in certain seasons. With Sergio winning the Masters, perhaps this is a year where another guy in the conversation for “best player never to win a major” checks a box. If that’s the case, Fowler is a prime candidate. He will need to do his best to avoid a big number, as that is often his downfall.

 

5.  Justin Rose – Former U.S. Open winner would seem to be a good fit for this particular layout, as he’s an extremely good driver and is in the midst of a very solid season.

 


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Ryan O’Sullivan joined Rotoworld in 2012. The Clemson grad blogs as The Golf Aficionado and can be found on Twitter @ryangolfblogger.
Email :Ryan O'Sullivan



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