MR S RIPE FOR US OPEN PICK­ING

Inside Golf - - US Open Preview - David New­bery david@in­sid­e­golf.com.au

ALL the usual sus­pects will be there.

They will ar­rive, some in red-hot form – oth­ers not.

The pun­ters, too, will line up and at­tempt to pick out one.

The usual sus­pects are the US Open pre­tour­na­ment favourites at Cham­bers Bay Golf Club on the shore­line of Wash­ing­ton’s lower Puget Sound from June 18-21.

There will be Rory McIl­roy, Jor­dan Spi­eth, Bubba Wat­son, Adam Scott, Phil Mick­el­son, Ja­son Day, Rickie Fowler, de­fend­ing

cham­pion Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose, Pa­trick Reed, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods.

With­out doubt, McIl­roy and Spi­eth will be at the top of ev­ery­one’s win list.

Both are in form with Spi­eth, the Masters cham­pion, pick­ing up seven top-10s in 11 starts while McIl­roy has wins at the Dubai Desert Clas­sic, the Wells Fargo Cham­pi­onship and the WGC-Cadil­lac Match Play Cham­pi­onship, as well as a num­ber of runnerup fin­ishes.

Mick­el­son, who turns 45 two days be­fore the tour­na­ment starts, is des­per­ate to win his first US Open to add to the Masters, Open Cham­pi­onship and US PGA. And Tiger, well, who knows with him. Scott, Day, Wat­son and Rose, who won in 2013, are dif­fi­cult to judge and could be there or there­abouts when the fi­nal putt drops.

Els and Furyk are play­ing well and both have won the US Open, but fa­ther-time is al­most against them. Both are 45 years old.

Still, Hale Ir­win was 45 years and 15 days old when he won in 1990 so they have rea­son to dream.

The odds of reign­ing cham­pion Kaymer win­ning back-to-back are slim.

Only six play­ers have achieved this in the tour­na­ment’s 120-year his­tory – Wil­lie An­der­son (1903-05), John McDer­mott (191112), Bobby Jones (1929-30), Ralph Gul­dahl (1937-38), Ben Ho­gan (1950-51) and Curtis Strange (1988-89).

Dustin John­son is a solid choice. At the time of writ­ing, he had played eight tour­na­ments for five top-10s in­clud­ing a win at the World Golf Cham­pi­onships-Cadil­lac Cham­pi­onship in March. Im­pres­sive.

He is yet to win a ma­jor and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how the game’s long­est-hit­ter tack­les this links-style lay­out.

If he comes up 30 me­tres short of the green, will he throw his lob wedge high in the air from a tight lie, putt or play a bump-and-run shot us­ing his three-metal. Cham­bers Bay head pro Brent Zepp favours the bump-and-run from tight lies.

Ser­gio Garcia is des­per­ate to get the aging monkey off his back and win his first ma­jor, but as each one comes and goes, the pres­sure mounts.

Jimmy Walker, who al­ready has two wins this sea­son, could pose a threat along with Fowler.

Young Rickie was the best per­former in the four ma­jors last year fin­ish­ing top-five in all.

Fowler’s form (12th at the Masters) is solid, with three top-10s and a win from 11 starts this sea­son. Don’t leave him out of the equa­tion.

Any of the above play­ers could win the US Open, but so could of a lot of oth­ers.

Why? Be­cause the favourites don’t al­ways win the US Open.

There have been plenty of sur­prise win­ners down the years. Think Lu­cas Glover, Michael Camp­bell, Steve Jones, Andy North, Corey

Pavin, Dick Mayer and Jack Fleck who de­feated Ben Ho­gan in a play­off in 1955.

Who would have picked last year’s win­ner Martin Kaymer?

Yes, bizarre things do hap­pen when it comes to the US Open and is likely to hap­pen again this year.

Cham­bers Bay is a links-style course, which might favour the Euro­peans – McIl­roy, Rose,

Graeme McDow­ell, Ian Poul­ter, Garcia or South African Louis Oosthuizen, who won the Open Cham­pi­onship in a can­ter at St An­drews in 2010.

Four of the past five win­ners have been Euro­pean. Graeme McDow­ell in 2010, Rory in 2011, Rose in 2013 and Kaymer last year. Amer­i­can Webb Simp­son won in 2012. That’s why I am tip­ping Hen­rik Sten­son. I don’t know why, but I have a gut feel­ing.

The 39-year-old Swede won the Race to Dubai and has three top-10s from eight starts this sea­son.

Okay, he is not overly long off the tee, but his driv­ing ac­cu­racy and his greens in reg­u­la­tion per­cent­ages are at more than 72 per cent.

He ranks sec­ond in strokes gained, tee-togreen and first in strokes gained, putting.

I know – I’ve been known to jinx play­ers I pre­dict will win.

Any­way, Sten­son’s chal­lengers could well be Ja­pan’s Hei­diki Mat­suyama, who has seven top10s from 15 starts this year, and Brooks Koepka, a big-hit­ting Amer­i­can with a bright fu­ture.

He has not missed a cut this year, has three top10s and is ranked 20th in the world.

Of the Aussies, I like the way Day is go­ing about his work and Scott, well, he’s just one of the game’s great ball-strik­ers.

If Adam “Come on Aussie” Scott can sort out his putting woes, look out.

But weird things do hap­pen at the US Open and it will hap­pen again when Mr Sten­son hoists the tro­phy.

Adam Scott

Rickie Fowler Jor­dan Spi­eth

Rory McIl­roy

Phil Mick­el­son

Dustin John­son

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