The 2017 US Open has teed off with favourite, and reigning champion, Dustin Johnson looking for another title. This year’s tournament is taking place at Erin Hills Golf Club in Erin, Wisconsin, and it is the course’s first time to be the host of a major tournament. Can Johnson master the course for another title?
Johnson comes into the event as the favourite and last year’s winner hopes to knock off the 156 entrants to this year’s US Open. Johnson was in good form entering the open and has already won three PGA Tour competitions in 2017. In fact, since he won the 2016 US Open, Johnson has won five tour events.
Rory McIlroy is right behind Johnson as the sports bookies’ favourite in Wisconsin. The big talking point, however, was McIlroy’s dismay over the cutting of grass in the rough areas this week. Still, the world No. 2 will be expected to do well at the US Open. McIlroy won the tournament in 2011 and it was the first of his three major wins.
Some feel Spaniard Jon Rahm is anything but an underdog going into this weekend’s tournament. Rahm finished tied for 23rd last year, but did so as an amateur. Since turning pro weeks later, Rahm has been on a meteoric rise in the golf world. His only tour win so far was the Farmers Insurance Open. However, his 321-yard average drive is perfect for the the Erin Hills course.
Masters winner Sergio Garcia is another outsider looking in at this year’s event. Garcia finally won a major when he tasted glory at Augusta. His best finish at the US Open was in 2005 when he finished tied for third.
Another Masters winner sneaks into the tournament as an underdog, and that is Bubba Watson. The Florida-native is currently ranked 37th, and though he hasn’t won a PGA event since February 2016, Watson can’t be overlooked as an underdog this weekend.
Erin Hills has never hosted a PGA Tour tournament, which means this course is an “unknown quantity” to the players that are playing it. The wide, long fairways have thick rough areas, hence the reason some of the grass was cut, so there is a lot of space to play.
Players who are more technical and rely less on power should do well on the course. Anyone expecting to get to the green in one long powerful tee shot will be punished by the course. Erin Hills is reportedly the longest golf course in PGA major history. Although long shot hitters would be expected to do well, it is thought by many that due to the bunkers, rough and hazards, that those golfers will be fooled. Expect this course to play the golfers as much, if not more, as the golfers play the course.
The weather forecast has called for rain all weekend of the US Open, and Thursday’s opening round is the only day that is expected to be dry. The course directors have cited the wet weather as the reason the rough grass was cut, as the rain will only make it thicker and more difficult to play. The weather combined with the layout of the course could be the deciding factor in the US Open winner.
Even though many expect Johnson to walk away with another US Open title, I really like Jon Rahm and what he has done in the last year. My money is on Rahm to win at +2000.