OAKMONT, rated as the toughest course in America, hosts the US Open for an unprecedented ninth time this week.
It was built 112 years ago and is unforgiving as industrialist Henry C Fownes, who designed it, believed a poor shot should be penalised.
As per usual the United States Golf Association have had the course set up to play tough and by all accounts it’s going to be a hard task.
Although the rough is penal I don’t think driving accuracy is going to be that important. I think recent good form, play round the greens and putting are going to be the key stats in this tournament.
With that in mind I’m looking to Big Phil Mickelson to be up there again at the end of the week. He was one of my picks for the FedEx last week, along with Brooks Koepka, and both gave it a good shot finishing T2.
In strokes gained:putting Mickelson is 5th (0.690) but last week his stat was a superb 2.675. In putts per round he is eighth with 28.5 and in strokes gained:around the green he is 19th (0.338).
He has finished second in this competition a record six times and if he wins he will be the second oldest US Open champion after Hale Irwin. If he can sustain his form from last week he has to be a serious contender.
Patrick Reed is another who ticks all the boxes. He is second to no one on strokes gained: around the green with 0.579 and second in scrambling with 67.14%. He is normally a solid putter but hasn’t quite got it right this season although he is 4th in putting average (1.534) but in putts per round he is 47th with 28.58.
His last outing was at the Memorial at the beginning of May and although he finished T8 his putting wasn’t great. Hopefully he has been away practising on the greens for the last month.
I couldn’t let a Major go by and not back big Dustin Johnson, well I could but with the form he’s in I’m not going to. Johnson hasn’t won since 2013 and he has cost me a fortune over the years, especially last year at Chambers Bay where he three-putted the last green to hand Jordan Spieth the title.
He has only been out of the top 15 once in his last nine outings with six of them in top five. In 2010 he led both the US Open and the US PGA going into the last round but failed to get his first Major. He is 47th in SG:putting with 0.296, T22 with putts per round of 28.39 and third in putting average of 1.704. In the final round at the FedEx he shot a fantastic 63 with six birdies and an eagle but unfortunately a 73 on the Saturday had put him too far behind winner Daniel Berger.
I’ve bigged up Brooks Koepka a lot this season and thankfully he seems to have returned to form. He lost in the AT&T in a play-off with Sergio Garcia, double bogeying the first extra hole and last week was T2 with Mickelson at the FedEx. He is 89th in scrambling with 59.77% and 89th in scrambling (59.77%) but his putting seems to be solid with SG:putting of 0.355 (37th), putting average of 1.758 (63rd) and ppr of 28.93 (97th). His all-round game is solid just now and I do expect him to be in contention on Sunday.
With the three favourites all in single figure prices I was going to miss them out altogether but Jason Day looks too good. They are all coming off recent wins into this tournament but for me Day looks the best ahead of Spieth and Rory McIlroy. He is 43rd (0.231) in SG:around the green, 1st (1.145) in SG:putting, 6th (27.92) in ppr and 42nd (62.15%) in scrambling so what’s not to like with those stats.