U.S. Open 2018: The top 13 picks to win at Shinnecock Hills
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The U.S. Open heads to Shinnecock Hills for the fifth time this June, but the historic track has undergone some substantial changes since it last hosted the championship in 2004. Most notably, the course has been lengthened by 449 yards, which means this year's leader board might not be as peppered with shorter hitters as it was when Retief Goosen held off Phil Mickelson to win his second U.S. Open title, when guys like Jeff Maggert and Fred Funk lurked. Who will hoist the trophy this time? Here's a look at our ranking of U.S. Open picks with current odds from Westgate Las Vegas Superbook (Did you hear the good news? You might be able to bet legally in your state soon!) as we approach the year's second major.
1. Justin Rose (14/1); Last week: No. 2
Reason to pick: If this event was held in January, Rose would have been the favorite following a blistering stretch of golf in which he finished in the top 10 in 10 consecutive worldwide events, including three victories. Even so, his most recent win at Colonial, plus the fact his lone major title came at this event in 2013, moves him way up our board.
Cause for concern: Rose shot 77-78 at Shinnecock to miss the cut at the 2004 U.S. Open.
2. Dustin Johnson (8/1); Last week: No. 4
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Reason to pick: Of all the long hitters, Johnson is the straightest, which is a big reason why he went T-4, runner-up, win in three consecutive U.S. Opens before missing the cut at Erin Hills last year, and why he's currently the odds-on favorite (A six-shot win in Memphis didn't hurt). Firm and fast conditions don't require much use of the driver, but those who do—and are accurate—reap big dividends.
Cause for concern: As well as Johnson played in keeping his No. 1 ranking for 64 weeks, it's kind of amazing it has been two full years since he won his first and only major. Now he's starting to face the "Yeah, but when will he win a second major?" questions.
3. Jason Day (16/1); Last week: No. 2
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Reason to pick: Doesn't it just feel like the Aussie is about to go on another big run? After a win at Torrey Pines, Day won again at the Wells Fargo before finishing T-5 at the Players. He's also on pace to post the best strokes gained/putting season since the stat was implemented in 2004.
Cause for concern: Day's latest ailment was a self-described "man cold" that caused him to lose 10 pounds in two days and WD from the Memorial pro-am. There will undoubtedly be something else that crops up along the way.
4. Justin Thomas (14/1); Last week: No. 3
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Reason to pick: The man who just spent a few weeks at No. 1 in the world is probably the most well-rounded player in golf right now has be prepares to enter an event designed to test all aspects of the game. Thomas and Rickie Fowler also made a trip to Shinnecock last year and according to JT, "both shot the easiest 65s ever." Must be nice.
Cause for concern: Shinnecock will be playing juuuust a tad more difficult—and faster—when he returns this year.
5. Rickie Fowler (14/1); Last week: No. 5
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Reason to pick: One of the most consistent players on tour and another accurate driver, Fowler nearly won his first major in April at the Masters.
Cause for concern: "Nearly won his first major" is becoming Fowler's middle name. Either way, he already had a productive trip to New York:
6. Jordan Spieth (16/1); Last week: No. 6
Reason to pick: We're not falling for Spieth's slow rolls anymore. It doesn't matter how he's playing entering a major (Although another missed cut at the Memorial wasn't great. . . ), he's still dangerous and deserves to be mentioned near the top of any U.S. Open picks list.
Cause for concern: Wait, he missed a putt from less than a foot?!
OK, that's pretty concerning … and as we saw in 2004, short putts are the scariest shots you'll face at Shinnecock.
7. Patrick Reed (30/1); Last week: No. 7
Reason to pick: He has irons that are properly fitted for him, contacts that allow him to see better, and a green jacket that he'll probably wear around New York again. This is the Year of Reed.
Cause for concern: Only six golfers have ever won the Masters and U.S. Open in the same season. Of course, there's no way Captain America will be intimidated by such a statistic.
8. Phil Mickelson (25/1); Last week: No. 9
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Reason to pick: The six-time U.S. Open runner-up (seriously, how is it possible to contend that many times without winning?!) is putting better than ever and enjoying a turn-back-the-clock season that included a win at the WGC-Mexico Championship and a final-round 65 in Memphis.
Cause for concern: Turning back the clock to what happened to Mickelson at Shinnecock 14 years ago might be a bit painful. Phil was tied with eventual winner Retief Goosen before a three-putt (from about five feet) double bogey on the penultimate hole. Also, he'll turn 48 on Saturday of the U.S. Open, making him nearly three years older than the tournament's oldest winner (Hale Irwin in 1990). Seeing Phil complete the career Grand Slam would be an incredible story, but it's asking a lot from Lefty at this point.
9. Tiger Woods (18/1); Last week: No. 8
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Reason to pick: Did you see Tiger's ball-striking at the Memorial?! Vintage!
Cause for concern: Did you see Tiger's putting at the Memorial?! Not vintage! Also, hasn't exactly been rock solid down the stretch of final rounds in his latest comeback and then there's that whole he hasn't won a major in 10(!) years thing …
10. Brooks Koepka (20/1); Last week: No. 10
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Reason to pick: He's the defending U.S. Open champ, and after a slow start due to a wrist injury, Koepka has fired three 63s in his past five rounds. The hot stretch led to a T-11 at the Players and a runner-up at Colonial.
Cause for concern: Shinnecock Hills' fairways are juuuuust a little tighter than the virtual cow pastures at Erin Hills.
11. Rory McIlroy (12/1); Last week: No. 11
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Reason to pick: McIlroy's putting is much improved, up to what is on pace to be a career-best 39th in strokes gained/putting. And the Northern Irishman showed he's still capable of spurts as good as anyone at Bay Hill when he birdied five of his final six holes to pull away from the field. He didn't pull away over the weekend at the BMW PGA, but his runner-up moves him up a spot here.
Cause for concern: Can you believe it's been seven years since Rory's eight-shot romp at Congressional at the 2011 U.S. Open? Since then, he has more missed cuts (three) than top-20 finishes (one, a T-9 at Chambers) in this event.
12. Jon Rahm (20/1); Last week: No. 12
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Reason to pick: We are nearly two years into the Spaniard's pro career and the results have been nothing short of spectacular. Rahm has two PGA Tour wins, another three victories on the European Tour and he's been ranked as high as No. 2 in the world. And following a fourth-place finish at the Masters in April, we can no longer say he hasn't contended at a major.
Cause for concern: In his first U.S. Open as a pro last year, Rahm threw an all-out temper tantrum on his way to missing the cut at Erin Hills. A few trips to Shinnecock's infamous fescue this year could prompt a similar reaction.
13. Tommy Fleetwood (40/1); Last week: No. 13
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Reason to pick: This ball-striking machine finished fourth at last year's U.S. Open. If he holds at 40-to-1 odds, he might be the best value on the board.
Cause for concern: Not much to worry about here. Putting remains the weakest part of Fleetwood's game, but his +.129 in strokes gained (ranked 91st) is the first time he hasn't been a negative in the stat. Hmm … 40-to-1, eh?