115th U.S. Open Championship
University Place, Wash.
Yards: 7,900 from the back tees; multiple teeing grounds will be used throughout the week; course can play anywhere from 7,200 to 7,700 yards
Par: 70; The first and 18th holes will alternate between par four and par five depending on the day and wind conditions.
Greens: Fine Fescue; 8,700 square feet
Rough: Fine Fescue at 4"
Bunkers: Links style with plenty of sand everywhere
Water Hazards: 0
Course Architects: Robert Trent Jones II (2007)
Purse: $TBD (circa $9 million)
Winner’s Share: $TBD (circa $1.57 million)
FedExCup Points: 600 to the winner
Dates: June 18-21
Notes: 156 players; stroke play; low 60 and ties play the weekend; the 10-shot rule was waived in 2013.
Notes II: If there is a playoff, it will be 18 holes starting approximately at Noon ET on Monday morning.
Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Bill Haas, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker, James Hahn, Padraig Harrington, Alex Cejka (PRO), Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Matt Every, J.B. Holmes, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Chris Kirk, Steven Bowditch, David Lingmerth and Fabian Gomez are the first 23 winners of calendar 2015. Hahn (No. 297), Harrington (No. 297), Cejka (No. 285), Every (No. 96), Bowditch (No. 137), Lingmerth (No. 212) and Gomez, No. 283 are the only players outside the top 70 OWGR to win this year.
Nobody inside the top 135 OWGR has won the last three tournament on TOUR. I'll have a cheeky tenner on that streak coming to an end this week at Chambers Bay (CB).
After 28 wins in 45 events last season the USA has won with Snedeker, Koepka, Haas, Walker TWICE, Reed, Hahn and Johnson, Spieth TWICE, Every, Holmes, Furyk, Fowler and Kirk in 2015. The USA already picked up wins in 2014 portion from Charley Hoffman, Bubba Watson, Ryan Moore, Robert Streb and Ben Martin. The USA has won 20 of the first 31 events. Cejka, Harrington, Jason Day, Rose, McIlroy, Bowditch, Lingmerth and Gomez make up the rest of foreign legion who have won in calendar 2015. They join Sang-moon Bae (Korea) and Nick Taylor (Canada) from the 2014 as the international winners.
After 13 first-time winners in 2013 there were only 10 last year. Through 31 events in 2015, Hahn, Koepka, Martin, Streb, Taylor, Cejka and Lingmerth and Gomez have broken their maidens.
Groveling in the Gravel
This will be the 115th U.S. Open Championship but the first played on a new venue since 1971 Hazeltine. CB was the site of an old (think late 1800s) sand mining quarry until the early 2000s. After closing, the fine folks of the Pacific Northwest decided to bit out a project that would include a golf course suitable for hosting a U.S. Open. After reviewing over 50 proposals, Robert Trent Jones II was selected as the winning bid.
Jones worked his mastery on the ground that abuts Puget Sound to the west and the walls of the former quarry to the east. In 2007, CB was rewarded by the USGA the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the 2015 U.S. Open after being open for only seven months. The 2010 U.S. Amateur, played in August, showed a course that was burnt, turnt and nothing like most Americans had ever seen on their shores. Massive undulating greens were the target from large sloping fairways that tested the patience, imagination and execution of those trying to win the most prestigious amateur competition on this continent. It was hardly a wonder that a handful of top players at that time made up the quarterfinal match play participants as CB identified the toughest and most talented amateurs in the world that week.
The 2010 U.S. Amateur wasn't without its critics as the burned out fine fescue played hot and fast and some pin placements probably weren't the fairest of them all. Hell, that's golf. Like life, it's hardly fair but this week will be different in some regards. Pins that were tried in 2010 and didn't fare as well as planned could be scrapped. Rough has been grown into some of the premium landing areas and still measures over four inches off the generous fairways. Mounding in the greens have been softened to add extra pin placements. The climate in June is also different as the possibility of wind, rain, sunshine and calmness could happen all within a morning and/or afternoon.
The point of this exercise is to annually identify the golfer who can execute shots in the most difficult of circumstances from the tee, the fairway and in and on the greens and CB will provide a wonderful test.
Mike Davis, the USGA's evil genius who sets up these tracks, has some new "toys" to play with this year at CB. For the first time ever the championship will be played on fine fescue. Native to very few places in the world (think U.K, New Zealand) outside of the Pacific Northwest, this grass provides one of the truest bounces to the golf ball. If Davis is excited about how the ball is going to bounce and roll, that tells me the action is going to take place on the ground and not in the air for the successful players this week. Davis and Jones have both remarked that the key this week will be judging what the ball does AFTER it hits the ground, not how far it travels in the air.
The greens will run no more than 12-12.5 because fescue can't be cut that short and it is susceptible to browning with too much foot traffic. With unseasonably dry conditions CB was already brown on Monday afternoon! We'll have to wait for #WeathermanRob's forecast to see if there is any relief in sight for the tournament days. Firm and fast will be bring an entire other element into the field this week and so does the absence of rough around the greens.
Besides the playing surface of fine fescue, CB was designed with ribbon teeing grounds that will allow Davis to manipulate holes based on wind direction. For example all four par threes have multiple teeing areas that can vary the yardage anywhere from seven paces to over 120 yards, respectively. Don't forget that some of these shots will play dramatically downhill or even uphill depending on the day and distance. And don't forget these teeing grounds are NOT flat; they have two to three percent tilts to them to put ANOTHER thought in the best players in the world's minds.
Golf is a good walk spoiled one famous writer once mentioned and there will be plenty of walking this week. Another physical and mental challenge will be having to walk to the course's highest point three times during the round, an uphill climb of around 200 feet. Not bad for a "linksy" course! The wide fairways and difficulty of differentiating between putting surface and fairway feels linksy but the changes in elevation might remind some of Augusta. Justin Rose remarked that he's taking Monday off after a busy weekend of playing the course so that he doesn't run out of gas that he'll surely need on the weekend.
With all of that in mind, there is no question that this U.S. Open is going to be different. I think that's exactly what the USGA wanted when they picked this site. This is not an "old regular" classic rotator, at least not yet, and with the variance of yardages, teeing grounds, elevation changes, massive greens and fairways, only a player of sound mind and fit golf game will separate themselves from the flock this week. The most interesting part of this set up for me is the lack of rough for the second year in a row. Big fairways, big greens and big penalties for hitting bad shots should make for a big television audience as they unveil their newest test.
Experience or lack thereof has been an interesting debate leading up to this week's event. Mike Davis said at Media Day that two practice rounds wasn't going to be enough to learn all the nooks and crannies at CB. Ryan Moore, who grew up just a few miles away, said he had no interest in playing it earlier in the spring as the conditions wouldn't mimic the USGA set up. He remarked he had no interest putting on greens running at 7 or 7.5' on the Stimpmeter. Henrik Stenson has walked the course but hasn't played it before last week. Jimmy Walker claimed he enjoys flying blind and hasn't done too poorly in his career doing so. Phil Mickelson claims it gets easier the more you see it. Ben An, who played the 2010 U.S. Amateur here doesn't believe that will give him any big-time advantage. Michael Greller, Jordan Spieth's caddy who used to work as a part-time caddy at CB will know some of it, but not all of it. Graeme McDowell tweeted that length isn't important but for a few holes. Analyst Brad Faxon said the players with the best attitude will do the best. Arron Oberholser said any experience is positive. The best golfers in the world are about to find out which way works the best!
I'm looking for guys who have had success in big-time events and know what it takes to win. Form goes out the window for me this week as Davis' mental challenge is just as strong as the physical golfing challenge. Playing the Dunhill Links and shooting 24-under is nice but I doubt that's going to be the order of the day. Sure that experience will help on the THOSE links, but this isn't a style of golf the world's best play multiple times a year.
Players who accept bogeys and pars as good scores will be the ones who will be in it on the weekend. With fine fescue in play, the premium putters might not have as much of an advantage Usually on new courses, premium ball-strikers make the most noise but with larger greens putting still matters. So will the guys who keep the ball in play and avoid the big numbers. The U.S. Open tests all fourteen clubs in the bag and the six inches between each ear so that will factor in the decision as well.
Facts and Figures
Winners since 2000
Tiger Woods (2000, 2002, 2008) -- USA
Retief Goosen (2001, 2004) -- RSA
2003 Jim Furyk -- USA
2005 Michael Campbell -- NZ
2006 Geoff Ogilvy -- AUS
2007 Angel Cabrera -- ARG
2009 Lucas Glover -- USA
2010 Graeme McDowell -- NIR
2011 Rory McIlroy -- NIR
2012 Webb Simpson -- USA
2013 Justin Rose -- ENG
2014 Martin Kaymer -- GER
Internationals have won three of the last four and 10 since the turn of the century. Only Michael Campbell is absent from the field this year as he's retired from competitive golf.
Only five players have defended their U.S. Open championships. Curtis Strange was the last to do so in 1988-1989.
Peter Uihlein won the 2010 U.S. Amateur on this track. He did not qualify for this event. There are 11 players who teed it up in 2010 in the field this week and what they shot at CB that week.
Patrick Reed 68
Cheng-Tsung Pan 73
Morgan Hoffmann 73
Denny McCarthy 74
Blayne Barber 73
Ben An 77
These folks did NOT qualify for match play:
Brooks Koepka 81
Russell Henley 82
Jordan Spieth 83*
Tom Hoge 87
*Gamers need to subtract almost five years off the current ages of these players to get a better idea. Spieth had just turned 17 the month before the U.S. Amateur.
There are 16 amateurs in the field this year. The last amateur to win was John Goodman in 1933. The last amateur in the top 15 was Spencer Levin (T13) at Shinnecock Hills in 2004.
Francis Ouimet was the last player to win his first event as the U.S. Open.
The youngest champion is John J. McDermott (19 years) in 1911. Conversely, Hale Irwin is the oldest champion at 45 years when he lifted the trophy in 1990. Payne Stewart was the last champion to win in their 40s as he was 42 when he defeated Mickelson at Pinehurst No. 2.
Along with Goosen and Woods, Ernie Els and Lee Janzen are the other multiple winners in the field this week.
There are 23 major champions in the field this week.
Since the development of the OWGR in 1986 there have been 117 major champions. Just eight of them have resided outside of the top 100. #chalk
There have only been three playoffs since 1990 (1994, 2001, 2008).
Rory McIlroy's 268 at par-71 Congressional in 2011 is the lowest winning score. His 16-under-par is also the lowest in relation to par.
Woods won the 2000 edition by 15 shots, the largest margin of victory.
Bizarre Stat(s)of the Week:
Chambers Bay joins Bethpage Black and Torrey Pines (South Course) as the only municipal courses to host the U.S. Open.
Robert Garrigus is one of only eight players to post all four rounds in a U.S. Open under par. The others are Sam Snead, Billy Casper, Lee Trevino, Tony Jacklin, Lee Janzen, Curtis Strange and Rory McIlroy.
These Will Win You a Bar Bet or Two
Orville Moody was the last player to win the title coming from local and sectional qualifying in 1969.
Lucas Glover was the last sectional qualifier to win when he won at Bethpage Black in 2009.
There aren't many players that have won the week before a major. The last two to do so were Phil Mickelson (Scottish Open) before winning the 2013 Open at Muirfield and Rory McIlroy last year (WGC-BI) before the winning the PGA at Valhalla. Before that it was Tiger Woods in 2007 (WGC-BI/PGA).
No player has ever won the U.S. Open after winning the week before. Alex Noren won last week at the Nordea Masters on the European Tour and is the only player with a chance to break that streak as Fabian Gomez, the winner at the FESJC on TOUR, didn't qualify.
Future U.S. Opens
2016: Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club
2017: Erin Hills, Erin, Wis.
2018: Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y.
2019: Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links
In order, these are the players that I believe project the best this week (Yahoo! group in parentheses).
Justin Rose (B): The 2013 champion from Merion proved that he is a quick study to "new" venues as he claimed his first major in Philadelphia. His spring has been excellent as his game turned on when the majors began. He was T2 at Augusta and followed that up two weeks later with his victory in New Orleans. A bumpy patch of T17-MC-T38 was quickly forgotten with his P2 at Memorial. It didn't hurt that he invited RTJII out for a round last week and it doesn't hurt to have his swing either. He's embraced "new" before and played the weekend in 11 of his last 13 majors with three podium finishes.
Rory McIlroy (A): The world's No. 1 player and 2011 champ has won a major in three of the last four years and smashed plenty of records on his way including a few with "U.S. Open" in the title. In five of his last six he's finished T8 or better and has racked up two wins so not much bothers him. The only angle that keeps me from putting him No. 1 is when he hits it crooked, he can hit it REALLY crooked as he showed us the last time out at Royal County Down where he MC. He leads the TOUR in too many categories to count so I would be surprised if he had a poor week, just as I was at RCD.
Jim Furyk (A): Patience? Check. Experience? Check. Control of his golf ball? Check. The faster CB plays this week the more Furyk rises to the top because if there is any hindrance to his game it's distance off the tee on a big track. Furyk's advantage this week is between the ears and with his accuracy. If a grind breaks out, which is believed to be the case, there is nobody else I'd want in my lineup. The 1999 champ has cashed six top 10s and 10 top 25s in the toughest challenge the USGA throws at the best players in the world. He's a proven commodity and has racked up a win and two top five results in his last five starts on TOUR.
Jordan Spieth (B): It's hard to believe that he shot what he shot here to miss Match Play in the 2010 Am but I'll remind myself he was 17 years and one month. His caddie Michael Greller has looped a few rounds here so he should have most of the routing raring to go for the Masters champion but it's his player that will be swinging the club. Spieth remarked that his ball-striking, his only concern, has been excellent early in the week but the way his short game works, he'll give himself plenty of chances to save par. I'll never forget his thoughts from earlier in the spring that really hit home with me. He said that he was struggling with holding on to the rain at Colonial. He almost interrupted his own thought by scolding himself and remarking that he needs to do a better job in those conditions. He gets it and he knows that's one of his many advantages.
Phil Mickelson (B): One of the angles this week is that the long hitters who are fearless could prosper if they are not afraid to take on some of the shortcuts. Well this guy has proven over the years that he doesn't mind a challenge like that. He's also proven that he embraces this test of golf. Mickelson thrives were long, strong and to a degree, quirky, fit the bill and this week qualifies. Sure his short putting drives gamers crazy but his chops, creativity and guts are my focus this week. It also doesn't bother me that he closed with 65 last week in Memphis. I shouldn't have to mention to gamers that a win this week completes his career grand slam and that he has a six pack of seconds in this event, right?
Brandt Snedeker (B): His victory this year was his second at Pebble Beach Golf Links so I'll mark that as a positive. He's entering the week off T2 at Colonial and T6 at Byron Nelson where he made nothing. Snedeker has caught our eye in majors plenty of times including U.S. Opens. He's played in six of the last seven and five weekends have resulted in T23 or better. He's also banged four T11 or better. His last four are T8-T11-T17-T9 so he's proven as well to be one who embraces Mike Davis's challenges.
Dustin Johnson (B): I have absolutely no problem with his WD last week because that week is finished and over with. The first time he saw Whistling Straits in 2010 he was well on his way before the incident happened on the final hole. He's had zero problems playing in the elements throughout the years because he pierces drivers and irons through any wind. He was the 54-hole leader at Pebble Beach by three shots in 2010 as well. In his last five Open Championships he's finished T14 or better and had the lead on the back nine on Sunday in 2011. All of the pieces of the puzzle are in there; it's just putting them in the frame on Sunday.
Hideki Matsuyama (B): The Japanese metronome continues to punish fairways and greens week after week on TOUR. He's third in total driving, ball-striking and the all-around and is second to McIlroy in strokes gained: tee-to-green. He's played the weekend 11 of 12 times in 2015 and 10 of those finishes are T23 or better. He's a factor every week he tees it and definitely has the chops to make the rest of the field sweat if he gets out in front. He's played eight majors as a pro. He's made seven cuts and owns three top 10s including a closing 67 at Merion two years ago.
Rickie Fowler (B): He ditched the orange on Sunday on won at THE PLAYERS but backed that up with T30 at Royal County Down and MC at the Memorial. Gamers shouldn't worry as his results in the last eight majors have been ridiculous. Last year he joined Nicklaus and Woods as the only players in history that finished in the top five in every major. He started this year with T12 at Augusta to continue this run. He's played the weekend in seven of his last eight (one MC) and his worst finish was T19. He was T10 at Merion and T2 last year at Pinehurst. I'll gladly hop back on board when the most chips are on the table.
Billy Horschel (B): He wore octopus trousers in the final round in 2013 when he had a chance to win so having any thoughts about self-belief should be out the window. Horschel's spring heated up when he just missed the knockout round at Match Play and he hasn't looked back. His attitude and ball-striking are exactly what it takes to win one of these. His patience will be tested but this is a challenge that I believe he'll embrace. He's rolling into town off of T13-T11-T8 (including a closing 65 like Phil) in his last three and won't think he can't win.
Henrik Stenson (A): I saw a stat somewhere that he has hit the most GIR in the last whatever majors. I believe it. He's nine for his last nine in the biggest events on the planet and eight of those have been T21 or better. In his last seven he's racked up four top 10s including T4 at Pinehurst last year. He took ill earlier in the year but still rallied for T19 at Augusta. He hardly practiced before Match Play so he's rounding into shape. He's a player that isn't going to be bothered by the length, elements, field or the magnitude of the occasion. No male Swede has won a major championship but I like that he played last week to knock the rust off with T13 at the Nordea Masters.
Matt Kuchar (B): He's played the last five of these and his worst finish is T28. If slow and steady wins the race, I'll gladly include Kuchar here. He saves so many shots in and around the greens and that's his advantage this week. Kuchar will enjoy the larger fairways and greens this week and his experience will be a huge factor as well.
Francesco Molinari (C): Coming off his T3 at Memorial where he missed winning the tournament by two yards, the Italian ball-striker has been on fire this spring. He posted T2 at the Spanish Open and solo fifth at Wenworth before nearly winning again in Columbus. One of the advantages is putting from the proper portions of these greens and his iron play should give him more chances at birdies than most. He'd prefer a tighter track to take advantage of his excellent driver but I don't think anyone will mind the extra landing room this week on an unfamiliar track.
Sergio Garcia (A): Gamers won't be impressed with his last two outings in Europe (T22-MC) but I'll lean on his class over immediate form. He was excellent at Riviera (T4), Augusta (T17) and THE PLAYERS (P2). His P2 was with an uncooperative flat stick that missed too many putts inside 10 feet to count. This tells me the ball-striking hasn't been the problem and that's a positive this week. His scar tissue from the majors is palpable but his attitude improvement in the recent past might just make the difference this week.
Patrick Reed (C): He shot 68 here in 2010. That's a fact. He has that kind of ability, power and short-game plus the self-belief to pull this off. His power is sometimes combined with crookedness but the better he drives it, the better he scores. He's a bit of a risk-reward this week because if his driver does not cooperate it will be early doors. His majors history might scare off a few but his skill set could shine this week.
Kevin Na (C): He should probably be farther up the list towards the top but I always get a little worried about him on Sundays if big stakes are on the table. Not too many smart people will argue with his record since the beginning of March where he hasn't finished outside of the top 20 in stroke play. That's eight events. That's not a fluke. Na isn't flashy, brash or powerful but he gets the ball in the hole and that's the name of the game. Gamers can buy names or performers. I'll take the guys with a record like his.
Jason Day (B): Please make the course as hard, fast and difficult as possible and Day should flourish. He's mentioned multiple times that this is his formula for success but I'd point out he did quite well at a rain-soaked Congressional in 2011. He'll embrace the challenges of greens that can burn out and fairways that will catch his drives that aren't always down the middle. Gamers should have ZERO concerns that he MC at Memorial his last time out as he's never been better than T26 in his adopted home town. Gamers could be concerned that he WD the week before in Dallas with dizziness on the course so he falls here. His only four U.S. Open starts are second, T59, T2 and T4 last year. That works.
Danny Willett (B): This will be a big ask for the Englishman but he has caught my eye more than once this spring. He was T12 at the "new" Doral this year in his first try. He was third in Match Play. He was T6 last time out at Royal County Down in Europe. Those three fields were stacked and played on tough courses. Sounds a bit like this week! He doesn't let many rounds get out from under him. He's on the way up and he's already No. 36 OWGR.
Jimmy Walker (B): With his length, ability to find GIR from anywhere other than the fairway and smooth putter, the Texan should comfortably slide under the radar this week. He just hasn't racked up as many majors as the others but his play the last two years shows me he's plenty capable. He hit the top 10 three out of four times last year and his other finish was T26. I bet if they polled the players on who loves not having tight, tree-lined fairways again this year, Walker's hand might be the first to go up.
Ryan Moore (C): If gamers are unaware of his fantastic amateur career and upbringing in this part of the world it's too late to educate. He's the home-town favorite and took last week off to smash in as many rounds as possible on the USGA set up. Moore excels in finding fairways, which won't be a problem this week, but his local knowledge could help push him into the upper echelon. He opened 67-67 at Memorial his last time out before cooling to T18.
Brooks Koepka (A): Like Na, he should probably be a big higher up the list but making the top 20 in an event like this is an endorsement in itself. His struggle is fairways, similarly to Walker, and like Walker, can putt like a beast. He officially announced himself to gamers last year at this event where he tied for fourth. He's made the cut in his last four majors because of his length and ability to putt it. He had never played Augusta before and found a way to finish T33. That's talent, period. It doesn't hurt he was in the fight and tripped and fell last week at Memphis.
Hot Form/Long Shots/Off-the-Radar
Hot plays, trendy fliers, tough fits, you name it, I got it.
Ian Poulter: His recent run of form on the back of his new Titleist irons and revamped putting grip saw him finish T5 at Colonial his last time out. He's had three full weeks to tune his game up on the practice range and might have dropped out of mind of some gamers. Not me. He's improved in the last three years T41-T21-T17 so he gets what the USGA is trying to do here.
Jason Dufner: His ball-striking has put him in contention the last few weeks. His pedigree has shown that these events he can find a way to cause a bother. His putter terrifies me but his imagination and iron play will let me sneak him in when nobody is looking.
Tony Finau: T16-T19-T10-T8 and is from the bomb, gauge and putt school of golf.
Alex Noren: After returning from injury he needed only a handful of tournaments to fire back up and has since rattled off 12 cuts in a row. He was T8 three events ago and won last week. #Sizzle.
George McNeill: Huge step up in class for the Floridian but his 2015 run of form is my interest here. I'd rather play guys who have shown consistent form than class players who haven't seen a top 25 in months. I don't believe CB to be the course to right the wrongs so guys like this are my support staff this week.
Byeong-Hun An: Known in Europe as Ben An, gamers in the States better remember this name. He's second the European Tour in stroke average and enters the week T8-T15-WIN-T21 in his last four. He played here in the 2010 U.S. Am as the defending champion but this has been his breakout season in Europe. Remember that big-time field at Wentworth? He was in the final group with Molinari and beat him by NINE shots. He was 20-under over the final three rounds.
Kevin Kisner: I was bothered to see he was a late scratch from the sectional qualifying and the FESJC because of a sore back. I'm not arguing his run of form but this isn't the week to load up on a guy with back problems who is going to be walking up and down hills all day. His recent form demands a place in this section.
Bryson Dechambeau: He won the NCAA individual stroke-play title and backed that up with a sectional qualifying place and T45 later in the week at Memphis. Hot golf is hot golf and there won't be an ounce of pressure on him to make another cut this week.
Robert Streb: He's played the weekend in his last four and the last three have been T4-T19-T18 so form isn't the question this week. This is only his second major of his career so we'll see if the form can carryover.
Charley Hoffman: His T9 this year at Augusta is his only top 25 in 15 tries in the majors but his 2015 has been beyond excellent. I'm mad at Hoffman still because he was T64 at RBC Heritage and that's his only finish outside of the top 30 in his last seven stroke-play events. He was T10 and T2 in the final Texas two step his last two times out so he's still riding high.
Marc Leishman: The only week he didn't fire after returning from taking care of his wife is the week I had him at Byron Nelson when he MC. Do you sense a pattern here? With five weekends from his last six all inside T28 and two of those top 10s the Aussie's form needs attention. If the wind blows he's proven before he can handle it. He finished T4 at the 2013 Masters, T12 at the 2013 PGA and was T5 at Royal Liverpool last summer.
Charl Schwartzel: Slated the course publically earlier in the week and said the winner would need more luck than skill. Based on his recent results he has neither so I'll gladly avoid him this week.
Graeme McDowell: His best finish in eight events this side of the pond is T26. His next best is T52. He three putted FIVE times last week in one round on a non-U.S. Open set up. I can't.
Zach Johnson: In 11 U.S. Opens, T31 is his best finish. Only 60 and ties make the cut. Every year I'm shocked when I type that sentence.
Bubba Watson: He's MC in two of his last four national championships and T63-T32 are his other finishes. He's mentioned more than once that he's not a big fan of these tests. I believe him.
Louis Oosthuizen: He healthy. He's hurt. There's no point in taking a chance with a guy who is going to have tons of uneven lies and plenty of walking to do who has a back back/neck.
Gary Woodland: I feel like he should win every week when big hitters have the advantage but his inconsistency on the greens drives me away.
Matt Every: He WD after Saturday last week with a wrist problem.
Tiger Woods: Oh, man. There are no angles this week where I can hammer this round peg into the squarest of holes.
Angel Cabrera: Maybe, if this was Oakmont. He has two top 25s and nothing better than T15 in 13 starts this year.
Miguel Angel Jimenez: He's MC in five straight attempts over the last six years.
Rookie/Up-and-Comer of the Week Last Week
Once called the “Jordan Spieth” of the week, I had to retire that name after his last two seasons on TOUR. Now, we’ll keep a broad view of newer names/faces that gamers should pay attention to as the season moves on. Some former examples in this column include Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed and Chesson Hadley.
Frys.com: Zac Blair, T12; Tony Finau, T12;
Shriners: Finau, T7
McGladrey: Robert Streb, WIN
CIMB: Cameron Smith, T5
SFC: Nick Taylor, WIN; Peter Uihlein, T4; Justin Thomas, T4; Blayne Barber, T9; Carlos Sainz, Jr., T9; Cory Whitsett, T14.
OHL:T7 Finau, T9 Barber, T9 Carlos Ortiz, T9 Oscar Fraustro,
HTOC: Taylor played his sixth event as a pro. He’s won 1/6 of the events he’s entered. That’s worth keeping an eye on for the foreseeable future.
Sony: Blair and Thomas finished T6 in their Sony debuts.
Humana: SJ Park (T2) is new to the TOUR but is hardly a rookie; Oh, look: Thomas in the top 10 again (T7).
WMPO: Koepka won so he graduates from this column like Reed, Spieth and Matsuyama before him. Justin Thomas is now the current mayor. Daniel Berger was T10, Thomas T17 and Finau returned with another top 25.
Farmers: Blair and Ortiz were T11 and Finau and Berger were T24. Not bad on a big, bad course!
Pebble Beach: Another top 10 for Berger and Curran as they had low rookie honors at T10. Will Wilcox was T18.
Northern Trust: Barber checked in at T12 and all that took was firing a tournament-low 65 on Sunday. No shame in Ortiz’s final round 75 from the final group as he played two very tough SoCal courses, Torrey South and Riviera T11 and T20. Noted.
Honda: Berger lost in a playoff. He’s played 10 TOUR events.
PRO: Young Argentine Emiliano Grillo missed a three-footer for his first win on TOUR. Curran hit another top 10, his third this season. Grillo has three TOUR starts; Curran has 17.
Valspar: There’s that pesky Thomas back in the top 10 AGAIN!
API: Berger just missed out on another top 10 with T13 and Blair and Ortiz racked up another top 25 each on T21.
VTO: Welcome Scott Pinckney to the proceedings as his T8 was quite stout. Ortiz hit the top 20 AGAIN with T15.
SHO: Berger, T25. He just keeps on keepin’ on.
Masters: Now you see why Spieth (WINNER) and Matsuyama (5th) were retired from the column? Koepka has already won as well. So has Henley. And Reed. Nobody this week fits.
RBC Heritage: Thomas, T11.
Zurich: Berger, T6. Thomas T12.
WGC-Match Play: N/A but Tommy Fleetwood is only 24 on the European Tour.
THE PLAYERS: Thomas fell from T5 to T24 closing with 75. #learningexperience
Wells Fargo: Web.com’s Patrick Rodgers inched closer to STM with his T2. He needs just nine FedEx Cup points to gain unlimited exemptions for the rest of the 2015 season.
Colonial: Finau returned to the scene as he backed up a good week at Quail with another at Colonial. T19.
ATT&TBNC: Pinckney, T2, best finish ever on TOUR; Berger and Finau T10.
Memorial: Finau, T8. He won't be in this column for long, I feel...
FESJC: Will Wilcox continues to turn the heads of gamers as he hits the top 35, T12, for the fifth time in only six starts. Tom Hoge was also T12.
Coming Later TUESDAY Afternoon
Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the GolfChannel.com game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game, DFS plus the European Tour! Oh, and my One-and-Done feature. Look for it around 4ET every Tuesday for the rest of the season.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at 12 ET. We will be breaking down the field at the U.S. Open and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/MikeGlasscott) on Twitter.