The Magnificent Seven to Watch at Oakmont

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The Big 3

Jason Day

Why He’ll Win:

His game is as strong as ever – who can argue against this guy? I’m not going to throw a ton of numbers out there because, well, really who cares? Only one number matters — #1 World Ranking. With Day, it’s more about look than numbers. He walks courses with confidence — like Tiger used to; he’s comfortable with his routines; and he’s comfortable with how good he has become. He expects to win. And so do I.

Why He Won’t:

Ummmm…uhhhh. Misses a flight. Dog eats his clubs. But seriously, ummmm….uhhhh.

 

Jordan Speith

Why He’ll Win:

Impressive win (and critical to his mindset) at Colonial last month. Doubters, including Johnny Miller, will have a harder time saying that Speith’s psyche is still damaged after April’s collapse on the back-9 at Augusta. Two pieces to Speith’s game that always put him in the discussion when it comes to winning and competing for the big prizes – putting and short game. Putter is great and his wedge game will come in handy on these ice rink-slippery greens.

Why He Won’t:

It’s hard to repeat – in any form of competition. Especially when you’re talking about the greatest golfers in the world converging on, arguably, the toughest course in the country.

 

Rory McIlroy

Why He’ll Win:

Rory won the Irish Open last month, breaking a winless streak that dragged on for over a year. He’s a previous US Open champion (at Congressional in 2011) so the course will not scare him. Despite a quiet start to the season, McIlroy has put together 3 top 4s in his last 6 PGA Tour starts.

Why He Won’t:

The biggest knock on Rory this year has been his inability to string together a full 72 holes – always seems to be a 9-hole stretch that derails his tournament hopes. Oakmont’s not forgiving – if things start going south, it’s unlikely even Rory could recover.

 

 

The Quiet Contenders

Paul Casey

Why He’ll Win:

Casey shot the lowest round of the 4 days at Oakmont in 2007 – a 66. He has the consistency in his game to stay steady and not compound mistakes with more mistakes. His name always seems to pop up near the top of the leaderboard early on in majors. Now, he just needs it to be there at the end.

Why He Won’t:

That 66 was impressive – no doubt. However, the Englishman bookended the tourney with a 77 and 76. Needs to put together the best 4 consecutive rounds of golf of his life. No pressure, though.

 

Lee Westwood

Why He’ll Win:

Westwood emerged at Augusta on Sunday with a final round 69 to finish 3 back of Danny Willett. The soft-spoken European has, twice, placed third at the US Open. The old adage “slow and steady wins the race” doesn’t apply to anyone quite like it does to Westwood – tournament moves along and all of a sudden there’s Lee near the top and in contention. Now he just needs to finish it. Perhaps, the front row seat he had at the Masters watching fellow countryman, Danny Willett, win the green jacket will serve as some inspiration.

Why He Won’t:

Westwood isn’t getting younger and a track like Oakmont can take its toll on a player. Aside from the T2 at Augusta, Westwood hasn’t finished better than T38 on American soil this season.

 

 

Major Champs Looking for 1st US Open

Bubba Watson

Why He’ll Win:

Bubba does not have a great history with this tournament. But in 2007, he did enjoy his best US Open finish — T5. The long-hitting lefty sat at +1 after 36 holes and T2 going into the weekend. The key to Bubba’s game will be keeping his driver straight. Huge advantage if he can.

Why He Won’t:

Oakmont is the type of course that favors straight hitters and those who won’t be tempted to, well, do something stupid. A few drives in the rough and you’re talking about adding 4 to 6 shots to the scorecard. Got to keep it straight here – not sure Bubba can do that with the consistency that a win will require.

 

Phil Mickelson

Why He’ll Win:

A six-time runner-up at this Major Championship. Like Day, this is less about stats and more about feel with Phil – he’s got to win one of these before its all said and done, right? Alright, one stat – Phil has 4 top 5 finishes this year. Quietly playing really well.

Why He Won’t:

Oakmont has been the venue that has been least kind to Mickelson – T47 in 1994 and MC in 2007. A risk-taker through and through – it’s been Phil’s undoing before. Could be the same story in 2016.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Justin Rose – past champion; has the resolve to battle Oakmont (won at Merion in 2013); 5 top 10s; putting has been awful; lingering back injury kept him out of the BMW and the Memorial

Jim Furyk – T2 in 2007; calm, cool, collected; trying to become the oldest US Open winner

Dustin Johnson – not sure who holds the title of “Best Golfer without a Major” but DJ is in the discussion; looking to put Chambers Bay far behind him – a win might be the only result capable of that

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Author: Brian Goodwin

An educator for 15 years. I have a passion for sports and a passion for writing about sports. I'm very excited to run this blog and have conversations with people about relevant topics, mostly pertaining to sports but also in all aspects of life.

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