Punch Man: Who Wins The US Open – And Who Doesn’t
Who lifts the trophy on Sunday at Torrey Pines? And who is not?
GolfChannel.com editors choose their winners, sleepers and more in this edition of the US Open of Punch Shot:
The winning score will be …
REX HOGGARD: 5 cents. Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate finished tied at 1 under par the last time the national championship was contested on the south course in 2008 and despite advancements in technology it won’t be far this time around. Anyone who rolls less than 5 will like their chances.
RYAN LAVNER: 6 under. A heat wave gave the USGA every chance to pull off a firm and quick installation. The greens are springy, the rough is catchy, and anything in the ’60s (it’s a par 71, not 72, this week) will be a good score.
BRENTLEY ROMINE: 3 cents. The greens are pretty firm already, and it’s not like the USGA is going to water them that much this week. The first round should be a shock to players who typically play this layout in January. The rough around the greens appears to be brutal which makes scrambling difficult, and while the rough along the fairways has been described as “uneven,” it could mean lots of leaflets and unpredictability instead of just hacking and hoping.
Sleeper to watch
HOGGARD: For the foreseeable future, the answer to that question will be Will Zalatoris, who finished second at the Masters this spring to make his major statement. He probably doesn’t have enough experience at Torrey Pines to wrap up what would be a surprising win, but he has more than enough game to play.
VALVE : Will Zalatoris. Forget the rivalries – and the W? His last three major results: T6, 2, T8. His result at Torrey in January: T7. Any other choice here is wrong.
ROMINE: Charley Hoffmann. I loved Hoffman at the PGA, and he tied for 17e. I love him again this week in his hometown. Not only does he have a US Open-style game, he’s also in good shape with seven top-20s, including two top-3s, in his last nine world starts.
US Open: Open field tee times | Full coverage
Don’t be surprised if this player disappoints …
HOGGARD: Phil Mickelson. In all fairness, expectations are driven entirely by others, but it will still be a disappointing week for Mickelson. After the emotional spike of becoming the oldest player to win a major tournament last month at the PGA Championship, a storybook ending about his hometown course is just not in the cards.
VALVE : Rory McIlroy. He’s played well here for the past two years at the Farmers, but he doesn’t use the pilot as a weapon like he was then as he works on a few swing changes with coach Pete Cowen. One of the most prominent drivers in the game, McIlroy has been outside the top 40 for strokes won: off the tee in his last two starts – and that would have torpedoed his chances on a course that features long, rough tricks. .
ROMINE: Bryson De Chambeau. It won’t be because he’s distracted by this Brooks Koepka drama, however. I just don’t think DeChambeau will be able to replicate what he did at Winged Foot, mainly because Torrey’s fairways are wider and not everyone will be hacking him all the time like they have. did last year. DeChambeau’s length will help, but when he misses he will actually be at a disadvantage compared to shorter hitters sitting in the fairway.
And your winner is …
HOGGARD: Unless he and Bryson DeChambeau come to blows in the middle of the 18th fairway, it’s Brooks Koepka’s championship to lose. He’s finally healthy, hungry, and after a few tough weeks in the eyes of the public, eager to change the narrative.
VALVE : Jon Rahm. Too chalky? It doesn’t matter. It makes so much sense, with the world No.3 record on this course and after what he has described as arguably the best performance of his career at the Memorial shortened by COVID. Allowed to return last Saturday, he had ample time to prepare for the Open.
ROMINE: Jon Rahm. I really want to pick someone else because it’s too obvious, but just because he missed some time recently with COVID-19 doesn’t mean Rahm was playing one of the best golf courses of his career just before that. He picks up where he left off in a place he loves – well, sort of; Expect a slow start before it turns it on over the weekend.