7 Players to Watch at the US Open
The Englishman is in the form of his life. The golf he produced to win the Fort Worth Invitational was simply sensational. Rose proves, week after week, that the key to scoring well is to find the middle of the fairway and hit the middle of greens. The harder the course, the better he plays. There is no better strategist in the game. Don’t be at all surprised to see him walk off with the trophy again on Sunday night.
The Dustinator may feel that he has a point to prove after being toppled from the top spot in the world rankings. And he will also feel that the US Open still owes him after his disappointments at Pebble Beach and Chambers Bay. He drives the ball superbly, and nobody tops the rankings unless they also possess a decent short game. He had been quiet for a few weeks until the St Jude Classic, but is now ready to turn his season around.
Just six months ago if you had said out loud that you thought the 14-time major champion would have a chance to win the US Open, those around you would have been calling for men in white coats to escort you to a safer place. But Woods has played some sensational golf during a remarkable comeback. All that is missing is a victory, and it would be entirely typical of the man if he were to do it at Shinnecock Hills. There have been some frailties in his putting stroke, but you can never write off a fit Tiger Woods.
For Spieth it is all about the flat stick. He is still looking for his first victory of 2018 and he adores fast putting surfaces - if you doubt it, take a look at what he did on the greens at Augusta in April. Many people are writing off his chances but Spieth is a fighter who never knows when he is beaten. If he can find the middle of enough fairways, he will be a contender because his iron play and his short game are peerless when the chips are down.
The Australian has put a miserable year behind him and is back to the form that took him to the top of the world rankings. When he is at his best there is nobody better. When he holes putts, he is just about unbeatable. It would be nice to see him speed things up just a little. Brilliant ball striker with a wonderful temperament and not a single weakness.
Not many players successfully defend any major, and Koepka is returning from a horrible wrist injury. But don’t write him off. He finished with a 63 at the Players Championship and shot the same score in the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational to chase down Justin Rose and finish second. He is fit, he hits the ball a mile and he is in form.
The key question is this: which McIlroy will turn up for the 2018 US Open? If it is the one who smashes the ball 315 yards down the middle of almost every fairway, hits the par fives in two and starts holing putts then everybody else should stay at home. But if it’s the guy who sprays the ball left and right and can’t hole a worthwhile putt to save his life then he may as well stay at home. He has played some brilliant golf in 2018, but he has also played some mediocre stuff. Surely he will arrive at Shinnecock Hills with his A-game in tow.
After finishing second on six occasions, there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house if Lefty were to finally land the one major that eludes him. He may be 47 years of age, but there is no doubt that he still possesses the game to win the US Open. However, there is one proviso - his driving is dreadful and he needs to sort it out and work out a way to keep the ball in play over 72 holes at one of the toughest courses on the rota. Can he do it? Probably not.
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