SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — The season’s second main opens Thursday at Shinnecock Hills, with all the massive names seemingly primed to make one thing occur. Can Dustin Johnson win two weeks in a row and proceed the American dominance in majors? Can Phil Mickelson make yet one more U.S. Open run and seize the main that has eluded him all these years? Is it Rickie Fowler’s time? Will Rory McIlroy’s two-week golf journey on Long Island — he is performed seemingly each big-name course in and round the space throughout his prolonged keep — end in a second U.S. Open? Oh, and what about Tiger Woods? Is the main that now appears the hardest for him to win — the demanding, one-big-mistake-will-do-you-in main — be the one the place he breaks via?
All the majors in the similar place
A fast peek at the Official World Golf Rankings exhibits the sport is in various fingers. Seven completely different international locations are represented in the prime 20. So you’d assume the titles can be distributed all through the world, proper? Actually, no. Right now, the U.S. has its fingers on all 4 main titles as this U.S. Open kicks off. Brooks Koepka is the defending champion right here. Patrick Reed gained the Masters in April. Justin Thomas closed the 2017 main season by successful the PGA Championship and Jordan Spieth claimed The Open final yr with a wild Sunday end at Royal Birkdale.
The all-U.S. main run marks the first time since 2003-’04 that Americans have had all 4 — Jim Furyk (U.S. Open), Ben Curtis (The Open), Shaun Micheel (PGA Championship), Phil Mickelson (Masters) — at the similar time. Before that, Americans held all 4 majors in 2000-’01 when Woods held all 4 after finishing the Tiger Slam.
Don’t wager on the favourite
Looking at the odds and attempting to work out who has the finest shot to take dwelling the trophy? Well, do not take a look at the favourite.
The final time the betting favourite took dwelling the title was 2008, when Tiger Woods limped round Torrey Pines on a damaged leg and held off Rocco Mediate in a Monday playoff for what was Woods’ final main title. According to ESPN Stats & Information, in the 39 majors since Woods’ victory, the betting favourite has gained simply twice — Jordan Spieth at The Open final yr and Rory McIlroy at the 2014 PGA Championship.
That’s dangerous information for Dustin Johnson, who enters as the favourite at 9-1.
Also dangerous for DJ? The final time the top-ranked participant in the world gained the U.S. Open? Yeah, Woods in 2008.
When the key gamers hit the course
Tiger and Phil issue
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson can be on reverse sides of the draw, with Mickelson’s day beginning at eight:02 a.m. and Woods’ not starting till 1:47 p.m. Both, although, have quite a bit on the line, with Woods attempting to work out how to win one other main and Mickelson, who turns 48 this week, nonetheless attempting to full the profession grand slam with that lacking U.S. Open.
For Woods, that is his first U.S. Open since lacking the lower in 2015 at Chambers Bay. And whereas he has been in rivalry this season, there has at all times appeared to be one lacking half from his sport that holds him again from successful. Early in the yr, he was placing properly however spraying full pictures. In his previous few occasions, he hit the ball solidly however struggled mightily with the putter.
“Golf is always frustrating,” Woods stated. “There’s always something that isn’t quite right, and that’s where we, as players, have to make adjustments. You’ve seen the tournaments I’ve played in this year … There’s always something. Hopefully, this is one of those weeks where I put it all together and even it out, and we’ll see what happens.”
As for Mickelson, he nonetheless thinks he can win. And actually, others are rooting for him.
“If I wasn’t playing and just purely as a fan of golf, I’d love to see Phil win this week because it’s great for the game,” McIlroy stated. “It’s a huge story in the game of golf. And as someone involved in the game, I think it would be really cool for that to happen. But seeing as I’m playing in the tournament, I’d rather beat him and not have that happen. But if it isn’t me that wins this week, it would be a great story if Phil was to win.”
Is No. 7 going to be OK this time?
The final time the U.S. Open was held at Shinnecock Hills, the par-Three seventh inexperienced turned almost unplayable. The USGA, in an effort to maintain the course agency and quick, let the closely sloped seventh get too dry, to the level that golf balls wouldn’t keep on the inexperienced. Even USGA CEO Mike Davis admitted that even good pictures have been being penalized. That will not occur this time, proper?
Well, throughout apply rounds, gamers nonetheless had bother hitting the seventh.
“I’d rather hit in the bunker than miss the green [left],” one participant stated as he hit shot after shot into No. 7. “You’re going to see a lot balls over here. Might as well keep practicing it.”
A foot away, one other participant pitched ball after ball onto the inexperienced, solely to watch every roll again to his toes.
“You can’t stop it [on the green],” he muttered to himself.
The resolution about how a lot to push the 189-yard seventh gap — or any gap at Shinnecock Hills — rests in the fingers of the USGA.
“And at the end of it, we believe that, as long as we keep the turf healthy there and there’s enough moisture and we keep the green at an appropriate speed, that it will be a very difficult hole, but it will be playable,” Davis stated.
McIlroy, for one, is not frightened.
“[No. 7] has been very playable so far,” McIlroy stated with a shrug when requested Wednesday.
Nor does Rickie Fowler, who thinks the gap can be extremely arduous, with only a few touchdown spots.
“I don’t think they’re going to let it get out of control to where they had to water it in between groups in the past U.S. Open here,” Fowler stated. “It’s nonetheless a really powerful inexperienced. It’s a really arduous par Three. If you do not hit it in possibly a 10 foot by 10 foot circle in the variety of entrance portion of the inexperienced, it is going to be very arduous to maintain a ball on the placing floor
Will everybody make their tee time?
The nightmare for each participant in the subject is not a ball trickling off the seventh inexperienced or failing to hit the fairway with their opening tee shot. The massive nightmare shouldn’t be making it to the course on time. No different subject has been mentioned as a lot as the visitors scenario round Shinnecock Hills.
“There are a couple of guys thus far this week have stated it is taken them from the resort 2½ to Three hours,” Woods said. “You get a little bit visitors, you get possibly a little bit fender bender, it is not inconceivable somebody might miss their time.
It’s a lot of a priority the USGA put out an advisory Wednesday as a warning shot to everybody — gamers and followers — about simply how dangerous issues might get.
“Traffic during the morning hours within a 10-mile vicinity of Southampton can expect delays of up to two hours on main roads during peak periods and should adjust their planning times accordingly,” the USGA advisory stated.
So get an early wake-up name.
“I played with Matt Fitzpatrick [on Tuesday], and he said it took him an hour and a half to get to the golf course,” McIlroy stated. “One of the things about this area is it’s a small piece of land and can only take so many people.”