The second major of the golf season, the U.S. Open, tees off at Shinnecock Hills on Thursday. While there was a ton of hype surrounding Tiger Woods entering the first major – The Masters – the focus at the 2018 U.S. Open is on a slew of other golfers.
Dustin Johnson (+900) enters the week as the favorite. He won the St. Jude Classic by six shots and finished up by holing out for eagle. That was his second win of the season. When Johnson is on, there are not many players better than the 2016 U.S. Open champion. With his win at the St. Jude Classic, Johnson has now finished in the top 17 in his last five starts.
Rory McIlroy (+1400) finished T-8 at the Memorial and prior to that finished solo second at the BMW Championship on the European Tour. McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but he is still very inconsistent this season. That makes him tough to back, although he’s more than capable of winning. Another tricky bet is Justin Thomas (+1400), who has lost the world No. 1 ranking back to Johnson but still leads the FedExCup standings. He won the Honda Classic in February and has finished T-21 or better in seven of his last eight starts, but is usually a safer bet for the top 10 than to win.
Rose won U.S. Open in 2013
Justin Rose (+1400) followed up his win at the Fort Worth Invitational by finishing T-6 at the Memorial. He has finished in the top 20 in seven of his last eight starts. Rose is also a former U.S. Open champion, winning in 2013. It’s interesting to see him ahead of Jordan Spieth (+1800), who missed the cut at the Memorial. Spieth has probably been the most disappointing player this season. He cannot seem to figure out his putter and that is seeping into other parts of his game. That is not to say that Spieth will not find his stroke this week but he’s tough to consider based on recent play.
Another popular youngster, Rickie Fowler (+1800), can be feast or famine at the U.S. Open as he has missed the cut four times but he also has three top-10 finishes. Fowler finished T-8 at the Memorial, his fourth finish of T-21 or better in five starts.
All eyes on Tiger Woods
Of course, everyone will be watching Tiger Woods (+1800) closely this week. He finished T-23 at the Memorial, where he hit the ball well but could not buy a putt. The three-time U.S. Open champion has to be good off the tee because Shinnecock Hills is punishing in the rough. The conversation surrounding Woods has changed a lot, though. At The Masters, the question was whether he could win it. At the U.S. Open, it feels like making the cut and pushing for a top-10 would be a solid accomplishment for him.
Another popular player who will be closely monitored is sentimental favorite Phil Mickelson (+3000). He is coming off a T-12 at the St. Jude Classic. Mickelson has won all the majors except for the U.S. Open where he has finished solo or tied for second six times. Like Woods, Mickelson has to keep it in the fairway to have a chance against golf’s younger generation.