5 Players to Watch at the 2019 US Open
This year's U.S. Open has the potential to be a classic. Tiger Woods is back at Pebble Beach, Brooks Koepka is chasing history, and Rory McIlroy arrives in winning form. Golfshake's Derek Clements takes a close look at five of the main contenders, the players he believes that we will see at the summit of the leaderboard on Sunday.
Is it really 19 years since Woods destroyed both a world-class field and Pebble Beach to win the US Open by an unimaginable 15 shots? Yes it was. Did he really win The Masters in April to finally land his 15th major. Yes he did. He was among Woods the favourites for the US PGA Championship but missed the cut by a shot at Bethpage. However, he did not play competitively between the two majors and was unable to practice the day before the US PGA got under way due to illness. But he bounced back to form at the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village. It is largely forgotten that he was also fourth behind Graeme McDowell at Pebble Beach in 2010. He is proper contender again.
Controversy has followed the mild-mannered American like a bad smell this season. But it has not affected his play. After failing to make the Tour Championship and missing out on the US Ryder Cup team last season, he has been playing like a man possessed and leads the FedEx Cup standings. He showed at the Canadian Open that his form remains as good as ever. If he is ever going to win a major, it is surely going to be the US Open, where accuracy from the tee is at such a premium. Despite everything, Kuchar is one of the good guys and deserves to end his major duck.
He’s back! Spieth hasn’t won anything since he triumphed at the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and he endured a miserable run of form. But he played quite beautifully at both the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial and at The Memorial at Muirfield Village, two of the most challenging courses on the PGA Tour. Spieth will never be one of the game’s great ball strikers but he has rediscovered that glorious putting touch - and that can only spell trouble for his rivals. He is ready to win again.
Followed his missed cut at Muirfield Village with a terrific performance at the Canadian Open, where he drove the ball superbly and finally seemed to remember how to hole a few putts. It is all about confidence with McIlroy and he has shown some great form in 2019. Unfortunately, he failed to shine at both The Masters and the US PGA Championship, but Pebble Beach should be made to measure for the Northern Irishman. It is scarcely credible that the most recent of his major victories came in 2014.
Koepka is aiming to become only the second player ever to win the US Open three years running and his recent record in the majors is outstanding. Since the 2017 US Open Koepka’s form reads 1-6-13-1-39-1-2-1 and the 29-year-old survived a stern test of his nerve to retain his US PGA title at Bethpage after seeing his seven-shot lead reduced to a single stroke by Dustin Johnson in the final round. He also finished eighth on his sole appearance in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2016.
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