U.S. Open in Wisconsin, Let The Fun Begin

U.S. Open in Wisconsin, Let The Fun Begin

By Doug Upstone

Over the weekend, the USGA, after being battered like a bucket of range balls the last couple years, is hoping this year's tournament will bring calmness and less criticism, despite playing at a new venue, that is the main storyline going in.

The Course and Setup

Erin Hills is the new style of American links courses that is being designed. It is in the rolling hills of the middle of Wisconsin. It seems the USGA has acquiesced to some of the players, with the fairways wider than in recent events and the greens as good as they have been in years.

The par at 72 is a big deal, as the last time that happened in a U.S. Open was 25 years ago and do not think it was not purposely done. If say, the par was 70, and the winning score was 284, everyone would be complaining about +4 as too high and the USGA is sinister. If we get the same result of 284, but the winner is -4, nobody makes a peep.

At an expected 7,800 yards, tee shots have to be long and straight, hitting greens in regulation will be tantamount and having the stroke and courage on 8 to 15-foot putts will be a deciding factor.

One last element, the course is a beast to walk, with so many up and down small hills, staying mentally sharp when fatigued on the weekend will matter.

The Contenders (or Usual Suspects)

Dustin Johnson is a significant favorite and has the game to pull this off. Johnson is silly long, and since winning this event a year ago, we have seen a more reliable putting stroke and willingness to stick iron shots near the pins. However, before you dump a wad of cash on the defending champion expecting a quick payday, consider that it has been since 1988-89 when Curtis Strange went back-to-back, which is the only such occurrence in this event since 1939.

Dustin Johnson              +675

Rory McIlroy                   +1150

Jason Day                       +1250

Jordan Spieth                 +1250

Jon Rahm                        +1850

Rickie Fowler                  +2040

Justin Rose                     +2100

Sergio Garcia                  +2250

Adam Scott                     +2600

Henrik Stenson               +2650

Rory McIlroy seems to like his life more than golf (not a criticism, just an observation) and does not appear as devoted as other contenders. Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose figure to be real contenders and Adam Scott has shown the patience needed to hang around near the top of the leaderboard.

Here’s the Rex Factor’s lowdown on Erin Hills.

Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm have the skill, but Day and Fowler have found either bad rounds or a bad group of holes that knock them out and Rahm probably needs more seasoning.

With Sergio Garcia now a Masters champion, does that give him the confidence to start 2-0 in majors?

Long Shots To Ponder

Shane Lowry (+7000) was the third round leader a year ago and has finished in the Top 10 in the Open the past two years. He's known for being long and straight.

The most intriguing long shot for my money is Thomas Pieters (+4800), who has four Top 14 finishes since the Genesis Open in February (three were Top 5, however, two missed cut also in the mix) and he's a bomber, who will like the somewhat wider fairways.

And the U.S. Open Winner is....

After finishing second a year ago, Justin Rose ups his game and holds off Johnson, Spieth and Day in that order. I will also make head to head wagers using this foursome.

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