Has continued to play well since winning the Masters? Check. Played the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay? Check (but missed the match play). Can play in the wind and likes links golf? Check. Caddie worked at Chambers Bay and knows the course as well as anyone on the property at this U.S. Open? Check! Spieth is the favorite to contend at a course that he shot 83 on in the 2010 U.S. Amateur. He's got all the shots, local knowledge on the bag and the energy to handle what will be a draining week. The Pick.
Draw a line through his recent blow-up finish in the Irish Open. That experience of playing one of the toughest, quirkiest links on the planet will make the 63 degree days at Chambers Bay seem like Hawaii. The Players champion has shown he likes exposed conditions, as should anyone who grew up in the wind tunnel of Temecula. Don't pay much attention to his scores at the Memorial since he's had his share of struggles at Muirfield Village.
So much depends on Mickelson's view of the course. Second-place finishes in his last two majors prove that when the man puts his energy into preparation, he's still one of top 5 players on the planet. He sounds like he's convinced himself to like Chambers Bay and if he gets a good side of the draw weather-wise, Mickelson will be in a position to win going into the weekend. After winning at firm-and-fast Muirfield in the 2013 Open Championship, he settled any doubts about his ability to conquer an exposed, fescue grass course.
Reed has spoken openly of liking the course and the challenge of looking past the links-like vagaries to embrace Chambers Bay. In the go figure department: he shot 68 in his U.S. Amateur stroke play round here and 77 at the much easier "other" venue: The Home Course. Reed finished T-35 in his first U.S. Open last year at Pinehurst. He has an incredible short game and the determination to break through in a major. Do not take him lightly.
A consistency machine who seems to be playing as well as ever. He loves the U.S. Open and desperately wants to win another. A smart veteran who can block out all the noise to embrace the conditions. Just one question lingers: how will he and caddie Fluff Cowan deal with the endurance test component of Chambers Bay?
Rory McIlroy and/or Bubba Watson
Both should love links-style golf. Both should love the width and imagination rewarded at Chambers Bay. And if there was ever a U.S. Open course that seemed suited to their ability to overpower a course at the right times, this should be the one. But McIlroy and Watson have lingering emotional issues with exposed, windy and linksy conditions, McIlroy to much less of an extent after winning the 2014 Open Championship at an (albeit) softish Hoylake. Watson has yet to show he can embrace this kind of golf to the point of contending. But both are so gifted that they can't be ignored.
The Chambers Bay putting surfaces are not expected to run faster than 11.5 on the Stimpmeter, which could aid a player who has struggled on greens consistently in the high-12s each week these days. The conditions, design style and reward for creative shotmaking will favor the underrated creativity of Scott, as will his immense power off the tee. Final thing to like: having Steve Williams back on the bag.
The 2013 champion at Merion has been hot and cold over the last year, but when he's been on (2015 Zurich Classic, runner-up at Memorial), Rose is still one of the game's elite. His track record on more exposed links-style courses is mixed. But his power, patience and ball-striking consistency should aid him at Chambers Bay. Having grown up on slower greens, the Chambers Bay cutback in Stimpmeter speeds won't phase him and might even help him elevate the most average part of a well above-average all-around game.
At 34th in the OWGR, he's the highest ranked of the "local" golfers (Andrew Putnam, Michael Putnam, Andres Gonzalez and Troy Kelly are others with local ties). The UNLV grad is a former U.S. Amateur winner, has flirted with success at the U.S. Open and plans to arrive early to pull out all the stops in a quest for a breakthrough win. His grind-it-out style makes him a prototypical USGA champion.
The Swede made a scouting trip earlier this year but ended up just walking the course after a long flight. An elite, well-rounded player who has seen every condition on the planet, Stenson should not be phased by anything Chambers throws his way. A T-4 at Pinehurst last year and his second place finish at crusty Muirfield in 2013 gives him plenty to build on. Watch his early week comments for signs of attitude issues.
Forget the 77 he shot in the 2010 U.S. Amateur stroke play portion, the recent BWM Championship winner in Europe reached the semi-finals in 2010 as an 18-year-old, losing to David Chung. Of course he was also the defending champion, having won as a 17 year old, and after looking like a story of someone who peaked young, An's BMW win shows he's got the all-around game and valuable experience since his run at Chambers Bay. Look out.
Rising talent who played well in the 2010 U.S. Amateur before losing to teammate and eventual winner Peter Uihlein. Made the cut at the Masters and has one decent U.S. Open performance under this belt.
The Welshman won the Irish Open at Royal Portrush in 2013, secured Europe's winning Ryder Cup point, and seems to show up every time he plays. Ready for a major championship breakthrough.
Contended at the PGA Championship last year before finishing T-15 and recently had a shot to win the Irish Open at Royal County Down. Another emerging player who has tasted the major championship heat and seems ready to take the next step.