Golf Channel's game has a new look in 2019.
This year in addition to picking a tournament winner we’re also shifting the focus to head-to-head matchups, with both the Golf Pick ‘Em game and an additional Sunday-only contest that focuses on the final round. Both contests can be found in the NBC Sports Predictor app, which fantasy players can download to make their selections each week.
Players can compete for weekly cash prizes, with the best scores during the season qualifying for the season-ending FJ $100,000 Championship, where cash and prizes will be awarded to top finishers.
The contests continues this week with the U.S. Open, as the USGA heads to Pebble Beach for the first time since 2010. Here’s a look at some of the top players you should consider when making picks, as Brooks Koepka looks to make it three wins in a row:
1. Brooks Koepka: No better place to start than with the two-time defending champ, who since last year's event at Shinnecock Hills has managed to snag not one but two PGA Championship titles. Koepka is attempting to enter rarified air this week, but his recent pedigree in major championships is unrivaled and his game can clearly translate to a variety of layouts.
2. Dustin Johnson: No one has had a more turbulent relationship with this event in recent years than Johnson, who won in 2016 but let the trophy slip through his hands nine years ago at Pebble Beach. DJ also came within 12 feet of the title in 2015 at Chambers Bay, and last year his 36-hole advantage evaporated as the back nine at Shinnecock dried out. Entering off a runner-up at Bethpage and a solid showing in Canada, he'll surely be around this weekend as he looks for his sixth top-10 since 2010.
3. Jordan Spieth: It seems that rumors of Spieth's demise may have been premature. While he spent the first half of the season fruitlessly searching for his game, Spieth appeared to find a spark at the PGA that has since translated into three straight top-10 finishes. No player better turns confidence into results, and returning to a place where he's won before (albeit in far different conditions) and on a course where length off the tee could be neutralized, there's ample reason to suspect he'll contend for a fourth major title.
4. Rory McIlroy: It's hard to draw up a better preparation game plan than flirting with 59 en route to a dominating victory on the eve of a major. McIlroy is the last player to win two straight weeks including a major, having done so in 2014, and after his romp in Canada he'll look to channel his previous form while bucking a trend of three straight missed cuts in this event. As he showed at cozy Hamilton, McIlroy's game is more than just eye-popping drives as he packs the precision and control to navigate a tight and demanding course like Pebble.
5. Patrick Cantlay: Cantlay finally turned a number of close calls into a decisive win earlier this month at the Memorial, shooting a final-round 64 to leave a decorated field in his wake. Now he'll turn his attention to Pebble, where the former UCLA standout will look to rely on the precise ball-striking that served him so well at Muirfield Village. With top-10 finishes in each of the first two majors this year, including a T-3 finish at Bethpage, he's clearly able to handle the big stage against the strongest competition.
6. Tiger Woods: His trip to Jack's Place showed that an early exit from the PGA was likely the exception rather than the rule. Woods once again appears in control of his game, much as he did ahead of his Masters win in April, and he returns to the site of his most dominant performance. But Pebble under USGA control can be a difficult test, as the errant shots Woods managed at Augusta National will be punished this week with impunity.
7. Jason Day: The man on Woods' bag back in 2000 has switched over to Day this time around, as Steve Williams looks to guide an Aussie to major glory just like he did with Adam Scott at the 2013 Masters. Day has a PGA title to his credit but his game seems ideally suited for U.S. Open setups, as evidenced by a record that includes five top-10s in six years from 2011-16. Day tied for fifth this year at the Masters, and while he hasn't especially factored in recent weeks, his USGA pedigree combined with his prior success at Pebble Beach indicate that he's likely to contend again this time around.
8. Justin Rose: The former world No. 1 got his elusive major at this event back in 2013, and he's cracked the top 15 twice since then. Rose already won this year on another former U.S. Open setup in Torrey Pines, and while he's gone through some caddie changes he finished 13th at the Memorial with Garth Lord back on the bag. At age 38, the Englishman knows his chances to factor in majors won't last forever, and this could be a week where the same iron play that took him to glory at Merion will again serve him well.
9. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar has been quietyl solid in recent U.S. Opens, with five top-20 finishes in the last nine years. That includes a T-6 finish at Pebble back in 2010, and Kuchar now finds himself in the midst of the best season of his career with two wins and a pair of runner-up finishes. While he couldn't keep pace with McIlroy Sunday in Canada, Kuchar did tie for fourth for his fifth top-10 finish in his last seven starts dating back to March.
10. Xander Schauffele: At this point, Schauffele's appearance on a major championship leaderboard should be expected rather than a reason to raise an eyebrow. Schauffele has finished T-5 and T-6 at this event each of the last two years, with top-20 finishes in six of the nine majors in which he has played. Already with two wins this season, a runner-up finish at the Masters and a top-15 at the Memorial, the California native returns to the West Coast this week with an eye on a breakthrough victory that shouldn't come as a surprise should it come to pass.