Matt Cooper

Across the Pond

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U.S. Open Overseas Sleepers

Monday, June 11, 2018


 
Whilst Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy have taken the plaudits in recent years at the U.S. Open, from a European and world perspective there have been other, less-heralded, performances which gamers will want to recall and hopefully predict more of the same.
 
The standout example was Gregory Havret coming very close to pipping McDowell to the title in 2010 at Pebble Beach. In more recent times Eddie Pepperell, Gregory Bourdy and Marcel Siem have snaffled unlikely top 20s.
 
Valuable fantasy points from players who might have been new to many and available way down the rosters. Who might be the sneaky overseas sleeper of Shinnecock Hills? Time to take a look.
 

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Let's get this right: A man who made the cut last year on debut but then shot weekend laps of 82-84 with three double bogeys, one triple bogey, one quadruple bogey and a run of six consecutive bogeys rates the best of these outsiders? Yes! Only a few weeks later we suggested on these pages to not overlook his credentials and he backed us up, closing out the Open Championship with a lap of 63 for solo third. He then bested Rory McIlroy in a Dubai Desert Classic head-to-head. Signs of life in his recent form: A second round 66 in the BMW PGA Championship and T19 in the Italian Open.
 
Broke a run of 27 events without a top 15 finish when T8 in the Italian Open. Moreover he impressed that week by hanging around the top of the leaderboard throughout the four rounds rather than popping up with a one-off lap of hope. It would, however, take something utterly remarkable for him to challenge. Hasn't finished in the top 75 in his last six major starts.
 
Now a five-time European Tour winner and many hope that by the season's end he will have become a Ryder Cup performer. But the brutal fact is that he struggles in the big four. He's yet to play the Masters and is just 2-for-7 in the other three, with a best of T27 which was, at least, on his tournament debut at Chambers Bay. Also has just one top 30 in seven WGC starts.
 
As of two weeks ago the Dane joined Levy as a five-time winner on the European Tour and, with two notable but now somewhat distant exceptions, he also shares the inability to transfer that form to the big events. Olesen has just two top 25 finishes in 14 majors (and not one in his last ten). The bright moments were T9 in the 2012 Open and T6 in the following year's Masters. A touch of class, but tough to get right. One tournament appearance (MC 2013).
 
A two-time winner on the European Tour in 2017, he ended the year chasing world rankings points and although the momentum was maintained for a while he appears to have run out of gas a bit. His T20 in the Texas Open is his best since T11 at the Honda Classic. This is his tournament debut. Failed to finish in the top 60 in his first starts at the other majors.
 
Ahead of this year's Indian Open Darren Clarke noted to Englishman Wallace that the host course would mess with many players' heads. Wallace viewed it as a challenge and won the tournament. It's a message he ought to heed ahead of this week. He's talented, hungry and confident. He also has two ET wins in just over a year, but very inexperienced at the highest level. Shot 76-75 last year, his only previous major start.
 
Another young and confident performer. In the case of the Indian he grabbed his two ET wins in the space of four starts before and after New Year. He also displayed his talents to the world, leading the WGC Mexico Championship through 54 holes. Shot 77-74 on his Masters (and major) debut in April. T20 at the Forth Worth Championship before missing the cut at Memorial.
 
Huge-hitting Kiwi playing in his fourth major but first U.S. Open and seeking a first top 40. In addition to the long drives, if Shinnecock does indeed play like a links course his two top tens at last July's Scottish and Irish Opens might read well. T8 last time out in the Italian Open.
 
Another big-hitter, the South African was a six time Sunshine Tour winner before finally breaking through at ET level with last year's Tshwane Open. Qualified at the Walton Heath Sectional Qualifier for his major championship debut. T12 in the recent BMW PGA Championship.
 
Beef will always have fond memories of the event because it is where his reputation first burst beyond the confines of Europe. He was T54 at Oakmont in 2016 and the galleries cheered his name. A few weeks later he briefly threatened the lead in the Open Championship before settling for T8, his only top 20 in seven major starts. Lost a play-off this year in the Indian Open. Shared medal honors with James Morrison at Walton Heath.
 
A qualifying expert who has three times progressed from Open Championship Qualifying, twice from ET Q School and then was T3 at Walton Heath. Has an excellent Open Championship portfolio (MC-T12-T6) but this week will be his U.S. major debut.
 
A big-hitting and well-touted Australian who will be making his major championship debut. Has made three top tens on the European Tour this season, most notably when T3 in the Rocco Forte Open.
 
Joint third at Walton Heath and still perhaps best known as the 2006 US Amateur champion, even though a three-time European Tour winner (although not since 2015). T22 at the 2017 Open but his major championship record elsewhere? Look away now. He's 3-for-12 (0-for-5 in America) with a second best of T58. 
 
Only his fourth major championship start and his first outside the Open Championship. He's 1-for-3 with a best of T19 in 2008. A consistent type who has overcome injury, but never won on the ET.
 
Mathieu Pavon
A second major start for the 25-year-old Frenchman who impressed in his European Tour rookie campaign of 2017 and he'll be hoping to improve on his missed cut in the 2017 Open. Hasn't made a top ten in 2018 and ticked only one top 20.
 
Led the Sectional at Walton Heath alongside Johnston to set up his second U.S. Open start, eight years after he missed the cut at Pebble Beach. Has a T23 and T20 to his name in the Open Championship, but only 77 and MC in the PGA Championship.
 
A major championship debut for the Australian journeyman. Has six top 30s this season with a best of T6 in the Dubai Desert Classic.
 
Floppy hat-wearing Englishman who woke Monday morning to the news that he was in the field for only his second major championship. Finished T58 in his first, the 2016 Open. 13-for-15 this season, twice a round one leader.
 
Youngest winner of the English Amateur Champonship in 2012, five years later claimed the British Amateur. His subsequent trips to the Open and Masters failed to reap weekend golf. Plays out of Florida State.
 
The 2016 Amateur champion who missed the cut in the three major appearances he earned. Turned pro after the Walker Cup last year. Qualified at Walton Heath.
 
Ryan Lumsden
A cosmopolitan fellow. London-born, plays out of Northwestern and represents Scotland due to his grandparents. Qualified in Ohio and had an odd experience in last year's Scottish Amateur. He made an ace to progress to the last eight where he found himself 10-down after ten, eventually scraping a 9-and-8 defeat. Taking his final examinations early to play at Shinnecock.
 
 
 



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