Expert picks provided by: Jarod Kieler
Follow on Twitter: @Jkieler1010
After a lackluster week that saw Fabian Gomez win the St. Jude Classic by four strokes, the PGA Tour will head to the Pacific Northwest for the second major of the year. The U.S. Open will be held at Chambers Bay in University Place, the first time the state of Washington has held the Open. Chambers Bay is the youngest course to host the Open since 1970 and will offer a different type of test for the players. Unlike most courses on U.S. soil, Chambers Bay is not tree lined nor does it have any water hazards. In fact, only one tree (Lone Fir) is present on this beautifully designed course. Since this course will play more like a links style course that we see at the Open Championship, I am basing my picks off of that premise. Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth will be the headliners this week as McIlroy will look to win his third major in four tries and Spieth will be after his second straight. Last year, Martin Kaymer led wire to wire and claimed his second major championship.
My picks for this week:
1) Henrik Stenson (3) – Although this might seem like a little bit of a surprise, Stenson is my pick to win this week. Stenson has eight top-20s in his last nine stroke play events, including three top-5s. Stenson tied for 4th at last year’s U.S. Open and owns three top-3 finishes at the Open Championship.
2) Dustin Johnson (3) – DJ withdrew at last week’s St. Jude Classic, but prior to that, he had top-15 finishes in five of his past seven stroke play events. The 2015 WGC-Cadillac Champion tied for 4th at last year’s U.S. Open. Johnson also has top-15s in four of his past five Open Championships, including a runner-up finish in 2011.
1) Francesco Molinari (2) – Molinari comes to Chambers Bay with top-5 finishes in three of his past four worldwide events. Two weeks ago, Molinari had the Memorial in his grasps, but settled for a T3 finish. Molinari tied for 23rd at last year’s U.S Open, but also has top-15s in his last two Open Championships.
2) Brooks Koepka (5) – I am a little leery using Koepka as I only have him for three remaining starts. However, he comes to the U.S. Open in good form. Although he blew the lead over the weekend, he still finished in a tie for 3rd last week at the St. Jude Classic. The long bomber finished in a tie for 4th at the U.S. Open last year.
1) Kevin Kisner (2) – Kisner was a late addition to the U.S. Open after making it into the top-60 of the updated world golf rankings. While this will only be his second career major, I cannot ignore how Kisner has been playing. Kiz has four top-8 finishes in his past six events, including two playoff defeats.
2) Kevin Na (4) – Na has been on quite the roll lately and I am going to continue to ride his hot streak. In his past eight stroke play events, Na has seven top-13 finishes. Na has not fared well in Open Championships, but did tie for 12th last year at the U.S. Open.
Other Golfers Considered:
Phil Mickelson (Tier A): Just call it a hunch, but I see Phil being there at the end this weekend. Mick just shot a final round 65 to finish in a tie for 3rd at the St. Jude Classic. Phil is looking for the career grand slam and this could be his time.
Louis Oosthuizen (Tier B): Sweet Lou is one of just four major champions (Ernie Els, Angel Cabrera, Geoff Ogilvy) in Tier B. While he is the only one of those four I can see competing this week, his nagging neck injury scares me.
Shane Lowry (Tier C): The 28 year old Irishman has not been on the top of his game lately, but he did card a solo 6th finish at the BMW PGA Championship a couple weeks back. Lowry plays primarily in Europe so he should be accustomed to the links style course. Lowry has missed the cut in both of his U.S. Open appearances, but he did finish in a tie for 9th at the Open Championship last year.