Golf Update: 6 With a Shot to Win the U.S. Open


 

The 2018 PGA Tour U.S. Open takes place at Shinnecock Hills starting this Thursday on June 14. The second major golf tournament of the year should give us more clues as to whether the great Tiger Woods has returned from his close to decades long slumber.

Tiger isn’t the only golfer with a shot to win at Shinnecock Hills, though. The odds actually favor Dustin Johnson at 11/1. Johnson is followed in the odds by Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Jordan and Rory are both at 14/1. Justin Thomas is at 15/1 while Tiger is at 16/1.

 

Golf Update: 6 With a Shot to Win the U.S. Open

This year’s U.S. Open takes place at Shinnecock Hills. Established in 1891, Shinnecock Hills is the only golf course that has hosted the U.S. Open in 3 different decades:  1896, 1986, 1995, and 2004. After 2004, Shinnecock increased the width of the fairways. The fairways have since been decreased. But, the fairways should still be wider for the 2018 U.S. Open then it was for the 2004 U.S. Open.

When considering who might win the 2018 U.S. Open, it’s also important to consider how long the course is. Shinnecock is a par 70, 6,940 yards course. For the U.S. Open this week, the yardage has been increased to 7,445 yards.

1. Justin Thomas

Thomas’ 4-under at the Masters in April wasn’t bad at all. It was good enough for Justin to finish in 17th place. He missed the cut in his very next tournament, the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. Since missing the cut in the Big Easy, he’s hit the ball well. The 21st place finish in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow wasn’t all that terrible. He shot a 73-69-70-70.

After the Wells Fargo is when Thomas truly decided to kick it up a notch. At TPC Sawgrass, he shot a 68 on Saturday and a 69 on Sunday. If he hadn’t shot a 74 in Round 1 and a 70 in Round 2, he might have managed to win the tournament instead of finishing 11th.

Thomas heads to Shinnecock Hills after finishing 8th in the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. After a less than terrific 72 Round 1, Justin shot a 69 Round 2, a 68 Round 3, and a 68 Round 4.

Justin Thomas currently ranks first on the PGA Tour Money List with $5,764,100. I believe he could significantly add to that total this weekend.

2. Jordan Spieth

Based on Jordan Spieth’s form, it doesn’t appear as if he’s got a shot to win the U.S. Open. He hasn’t finished better than 21st in his last 5 tournaments. At the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Spieth failed miserably. He missed the cut after following up a 66 Round 1 with a  74 Round 2. He finished 41st at TPC Sawgrass. Spieth ruined a nice Round 2 and Round 3 with a 74 Round 4. He made the cut at both the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational. But, then he shot a 75 Round 1 and a 72 round 2 at the Memorial Tournament.

Spieth is cold heading to Shinnecock Hills. But, this is Jordan Spieth.  The man finished 3rd at the Masters, the first major tournament of the year. There’s no doubt that he’ll be ready to show his best at the 2018 U.S. Open.

3. Dustin Johnson

There’s a lot to like about the chalk’s chances of winning the U.S. Open this week. Ranked second on the earnings list with $4,786,825, Dustin Johnson is the hottest PGA golfer heading to Shinnecock Hills this week. Dustin’s torn it up in his last 5 tournaments played. He’s finished in the Top 20 in all 5. Not only that, but he finished in the Top 10 at the Memorial Tournament before winning the FedEx St. Jude this past week.

Johnson is as hot as it gets heading to the U.S. Open. That’s the main reason to believe that he does enough to actually win the U.S. Open. But, that’s also the reason to believe that DJ takes a step back. It’s not often that a PGA golfer can remain on fire for three weekends in a row. That’s what Dustin’s trying to do by winning the U.S. Open after shooting a terrific 67-63-65-66 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

If he remains hot, he could have the U.S. Open trophy in his golf bag before Sunday.

4. Justin Rose

Like Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose has stepped it up in his last couple of tournaments played. He dominated the Ft. Worth Invitational. Rose shot a 66 Round 1. He didn’t look back after that. His 64 Round 2, 66 Round 3, and 64 Round 4, were things of beauty. The consistency Rose showed at the Ft. Worth Invitational led to a dominating -20 performance.

Rose’s earnings pushed him to third place on the list with $4,737,152. Rose didn’t stop there, though. He followed up the awesome performance at the Ft. Worth Invitational with a 6th place finish at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. The Memorial Tournament took place from May 31 through June 3.

Since the Memorial, Justin Rose, like so many other PGA Tour golfers, have taken the time to get shots ready for the U.S. Open. Will Rose’s strategy win out? Or, should he have continued his hot streak at the FedEx St. Jude this past week? We shall see!

5. Tiger Woods

Woods hasn’t been close to the dominating presence he was in the late 1990’s and early to mid-2000’s. Then again, why would he ever reach those heights again? The greatest golfer to ever live is also one of the greatest athletes to ever live. It’s taken a long time for Tiger to find a swing that didn’t rely so heavily on his athletic ability. Developing a swing that allows you to contend as a golfer on the PGA Tour can take a lifetime. For Tiger, it’s taken less than 10 years after issues with his back, ankles, and knees.

That tells me that El Tigre is ready to roar. The question is…when will the roaring actually start? Tiger finished a terrific 11th in The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass a couple of tournaments ago. He shot a fantastic 65 Round 3 and an equally impressive 69 Round 4. Why is it important to point out what Tiger shot in Round 3 and Round 4? The reason it’s important is because Woods had been shooting his best in the first and second rounds this PGA Tour Season.

He got it going in Round 3 and Round 4 at TPC Sawgrass. That means that, at least in The Players Championship, he adjusted his game to get the most he could out of the two later rounds. The -9 he shot at the Memorial Tournament, his tune-up for this week’s U.S. Open, wasn’t all that bad either. Tiger shot a 67 Round 2 and a 68 Round 3. He couldn’t keep it going in Round 4, where he posted a 72. The 72 was just like his Round 1 score.

Still, it’s obvious to me that Tiger took Round 4 to practice a few shots. His goal is to win the U.S. Open. From now until the 42-year-old Woods retires he’s only going to look to show his absolute best in the major tournaments.

Tiger could come up huge this weekend at Shinnecock Hills. Don’t think for second that the old Tiger Woods is gone forever. He’s been lurking. He might step in front of everyone at the 2018 U.S. Open.

6. Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler’s one of the most consistent golfers on the PGA Tour. He’s done an excellent job this season, recording 4 Top 10 finishes in 13 events. Like Woods, Rickie’s main goal is to win a major tournament. That’s why he’s been a terrible bet to win any tournament this year. If you don’t believe me, take a look at his very best finish so far in 2018. That’s right. It was at the Masters Tournament in Augusta.

Can Fowler win the U.S. Open? He most definitely can! Will he win the U.S. Open?  The key for Rickie is to put his gas on his golfing pedal and to not let up. If Fowler plays it too safe, he could find himself out of the Top 10. If he takes a few risks, he might find himself out of the Top 20. But, the only way for Rickie to win is if he takes those risks.