118th U.S. Open
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
Defending Champion: Brooks Koepka (Erin Hills)
It is finally U.S. Open week, and I for one could not be more excited for what we have in store this week down in the Hamptons, at the famous Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. For those unaware of Shinnecocks history, it is the oldest golf club in America, dating back to 1891, and will be hosting it’s 5th U.S. Open this week, with the first being held in 1896, and it’s most recent championship in 2004 with Retief Goosen outlasting Phil Mickelson for the title of United States Champion. Before getting more into the 2004 U.S. Open, it would be unfair to not highlight the years 1986, and 1995, where Raymond Floyd, and Corey Pavin won their respective championships, with Pavin hitting one of the most famous shots in tournament history on 18 to clinch his win.
Another guy famous for his double fist in the air celebration, Phil Mickelson, does not have too fond of memories here at Shinnecock Hills. Going back to the 2004 U.S. Open, we first have to talk about the condition of the greens that week, which has given players and superintendents alike nightmares for the possibilities of this years tournament. The greens that week in 2004 were nearly unplayable, with not only bad shots being especially penalizing, but even good shots found themselves falling off the near concrete greens. While the entire course was dried out, the 7th hole on Sunday specifically was a joke, with only 17% of the field hitting the green in regulation. Fortunately, both Goosen and Phil walked away with pars, but that didn’t mean that the course was unfair to the entire field, and unfortunately for Phil, he was on the losing end.
If you have 10 minutes, and haven’t rewatched the final round of the 2004 U.S. Open like I have, I highly suggest watching the above video, and you will see how difficult the course was playing that day. Not only will you see how tough the course was, but you will be enamored with how well Goosen was putting the ball that day, I mean the guy just did not miss all day! Even with Phil battling all day, it wasn’t until his double on the Par 3 17th, that sealed his fate, and would at the time be his third runner-up finish at the U.S. Open, and wouldn’t be his last.
— Riggs (@RiggsBarstool) June 12, 2018
(@LinkGems is a must follow for any golf fan)
Now that we know a little more about the history surrounding Shinnecock, let’s dive into this years setup, and how the USGA is trying not to have a repeat of 2004. First off, the course certainly will not be as dried out as it was in years previous, and the weather will be nearly perfect with temps in the 70’s all week, and hopefully a little wind to make it more interesting. Last year at Erin Hills, the weather did not cooperate, and the course played way too easy for a U.S. Open track, so you would think that the USGA is going to bring back the tournament to its roots of being one of the hardest challenges in golf. While the fairways are actually wider than previous years at Shinny, the USGA has add rough to certain areas (and yeah it’s some deep shit), as well as lengthening a few holes. The course will be tipping out at 7445 yards, and while you would expect the long hitters to be successful here, it will certainly not be a bombers paradise like Brooks showcased last year at Erin Hills.
To become a U.S. Open Champion, you need to be able grind your ass off for a full week, between preparation, that for some started a year or so ago, to the four most grueling days of competition that these golfers will face all year. Like the saying goes, you cannot win the tournament on Thursday, but you sure as hell can lose it, and that has never been more true than at the U.S. Open.
With rough that eats balls for breakfast, to greens that will befuddle even the best putters in the world, you can’t take a hole off, let alone a shot. With that being said, and the fact that the U.S. Open field is full of amateurs, like NHL ref Garrett Rank, who qualified via sectional qualifiers, to guys whose game just cannot compete with the best of the best, there are really only a handful of guys that can take home the hardware on Sunday afternoon, so let’s dive into the field of the 118th U.S. Open.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 11, 2018
With the Masters earlier this year, we got a glimpse of the excitement that these group of guys can bring to the major championship stage, and I think we will see more of the same this week. I mean let’s be honest with ourselves, if you told me any of the top 20-25 guys in the world won this week, it would not surprise me, because these top guys are just that good.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 12, 2018
Side Note: I was a much bigger fan of the PGA Tour slogan “These Guys Are Good”, versus “Live Under Par”, because no one even knows what that means, but I digress.
US Open golf updated
D Johnson 8/1
R McIlroy 14/1
J Thomas 14/1
J Rose 14/1
R Fowler 14/1
J Day 16/1
J Spieth 18/1
T Woods 20/1
J Rahm 20/1
B Koepka 25/1
P Mickelson 25/1
H Matsuyama 30/1
H Stenson 30/1
P Reed 30/1
T Fleetwood 30/1
B Grace 30/1
P Casey 40/1
B DeChambeau 40/1
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) June 11, 2018
First you have the odds on favorite (8-1), by a large margin, in DJ, who laughably holed out for eagle to win last week in Memphis by 6, so there is no doubt he is the man to beat this week.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 10, 2018
Following DJ, is a slew of the top players in the world coming in at 14-1 with JT, Rory, Rose, and Rickie, all of whom have the perfect game to be successful here, and all playing at the top of their game. Then to round out the other top dogs, you have Day, Spieth, Tiger, and Rahm, and woah boy do we have some serious value in those four right there! However, like I have said previously, picking a winner for any old tournament is hard, but trying to pick a winner for the U.S. Open is even more difficult. To get a more in depth look at what I believe will be the most important aspects of the game this week, and which players I like/dislike in terms of Daily Fantasy, Tournament Matchups, and Picks/Fades to Win, be sure to listen to this weeks episode of Hook, Line, and Cover where Steehn and I discuss everything you need to know heading into Shinnecock.
The 118th U.S. Open Champion….
Rickie Fowler (+1400)
Rickie Stokkes!!!!!! If you don’t think that now that Rickie has finally put a ring on it that he won’t break through to win his first major championship he has so desperately been clamoring for his entire career, you are crazy. Not only is this a match made in heaven, but Rickie has the perfect game to be successful at Shinnecock, and he has been one of those guys that has been here multiple times the last couple of years, just waiting for this moment. Long off the tee, precise with his irons, and a lights out putter when he starts to feel it, Rickie is far and above my favorite heading into the week.
This got me hype and not only is Rickie Ready, but Ball Marks is Ready!
— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA) June 9, 2018
Not single anymore, and after this week he will be majorless no more! I cannot wait for Slick Rick to take down the U.S. Open and party like Ovi has with the Stanley Cup. There is not a guy on Tour, besides Phil, that deserves to win this U.S. Open more than Rick, and I for one am ready for it.
UPDATE: There is now zero doubt in my mind that Rickie will win his first major this weekend.
Rickie Fowler played Friar's Head yesterday with, among others, Tom Brady.
"I'll tell you what, Tom Brady can putt. So if I can take that into this week, I think that's one thing I took off of him that will help me."
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelTAN) June 13, 2018
Dark Horse of the Week
Marc Leishman (+6000)
Ok, so full disclosure, the reason I like Leishman dates back to the Front 9 at Augusta on Thursday, which I know is just my dumb brain picking one memory to base my gambling off of, but hey that’s how I roll. This man was absolutely throwing darts early at The Masters, with Tiger looking on, and I just cannot get that out of my head. If he can play the way he did at Augusta, and can drop a few putts, there is no reason he can’t take home the U.S. Open, and stick it to the Americans, which his wife would especially love.
This is still one of the best shots I have ever seen, and I have STILL not seen a better angle of this. He threw this ball about 40 yards out to the right and brought it back, over the water, and stuck it to about 10 feet. Give me that this week Leish!
Masters 2018: Marc Leishman | 15th Hole, Round 2 pic.twitter.com/QuxH2MI37b
— Masters Highlights (@MastersMoments) April 6, 2018
Obligatory Tiger Pick of the Week
Tiger Woods (+2000)
It is the 10 year anniversary of his last major win, so who is to say the stars won’t align for his 15th major championship victory. Everyone is worried about his driving, but if he can hit his 3-wood and 2-iron around Shinny he should be fine, but if he putts like he did at the Memorial, he has not shot. So if he can putt like the Tiger of old, I think his game is in the right place to win here this week, and if he does, I may just keel over and die of happiness.
I will be on the grounds on Saturday (insert Bart Scott Can’t Wait gif, except fuck Bart Scott), so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram for live updates from Shinnecock, and the rest of the weeks action.