U.S. Open: Who should you root for?

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — No Tiger Woods. No Phil Mickelson. At least, not in the hunt for the 2019 U.S. Open. Instead, we’re left with an array of major champions and who’s-that-dude’s, any of whom could step up and claim one of the game’s premier trophies. So as you’re preparing to settle in for some Father’s Day viewing of the Great American Golf Tournament, here’s what you need to know about the top 10, plus a few more:

Gary Woodland (-11): Never won a major. Had some astounding par saves on Saturday. Former basketball player, getting better every time he plays a major. Could be due. Often mistaken for Brooks Koepka.

Justin Rose (-10): Won the 2013 U.S. Open. One of the best players in the world, so good that he’s done nothing really well this week and is still one stroke off the lead.

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Brooks Koepka (-7): Destroyer of worlds. Two-time reigning champion at the U.S. Open. Always a threat to roll off five straight birdies, but suffered some uncharacteristic short misses on Saturday. Mistaken for Gary Woodland, but not as much as the other way around. Yet.

Chez Reavie (-7): Grinder who hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2008, and hasn’t placed higher in a major than T12 at the PGA Championship last year. If you like underdog stories, he’s the second-underest dog there is.

Louis Oosthuizen (-7): Cool: he won the 2010 British Open. Cooler: He’s capable of draining any shot on the golf course at any time. Coolest: His full name is Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen.

Rory McIlroy (-6): Already a Hall of Fame-level golfer, but really could use a major win; it’s been five years since his last one. Has the potential to obliterate the field when he gets rolling, but for some reason chooses not to use this power as often as he should.

Matt Kuchar (-5): The onetime Nicest Dude In Golf has seen his rep suffer a bit in the last year thanks to some rules-related and caddy-payment controversies. Still hasn’t won a major; a victory here would wipe out a lot of bad blood.

Chesson Hadley (-5): His only non-cut finish in a major was a T61 finish at the 2014 PGA. He is your underest of underdogs among this crew. Also has the golfiest name ever created.

Danny Willett (-4): Picked a great day to have the best day of his life when he won the 2016 Masters — you know, the one where Jordan Spieth massacred the 12th hole. Hasn’t done much of note since then, but a good finish here could change all that.

Graeme McDowell (-4): His one major win was in 2010, the U.S. Open (hey!) at Pebble Beach (hey hey!). One of the most quotable golfers on tour, so hope for a big win and a lot of time on camera.

Jon Rahm (-4): Battling not just the course but his own temper, he’s on track to post one of his best-ever finishes in a major. Always has the potential to detonate on the course, which makes every round fun.

Henrik Stenson (-4): U.S. Open MVP if only for posing with a fan he just beaned with a shot. Major winner.

Matt Wallace (-4): European Tour player who’s never even made a cut in a U.S. Open. Golfer on this list most likely to be standing next to you right now and you wouldn’t even know it.

Everybody else is at -3 or below, so as long as Pebble Beach doesn’t fall into the sea, your winner is coming from this crew. Tune in on Sunday afternoon to see who tames Pebble Beach and brings the trophy home.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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