Will Jon Rahm be ready, Brooks vs. Bryson and other big U.S. Open questions and answers


The U.S. Open arrives with loads of drama. Jon Rahm has been in isolation since having to go away the Memorial. Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka have been feuding. And there is Phil Mickelson, recent off his inconceivable win on the PGA Championship, arriving in his hometown trying to find that elusive U.S. Open title.

So, no, there isn’t a scarcity of storylines for the week forward.

How will the layoff after his optimistic COVID-19 check and withdrawal from the Memorial impression Jon Rahm’s possibilities to win his first main?

Bob Harig: He examined destructive two days in a row final week, that means he obtained to go away isolation previous to the 10-day quarantine interval. That is much better than getting caught in Ohio till Tuesday with out the flexibility to appropriately apply. These issues ought to be gone. Rahm’s recreation is in wonderful form, as famous by his 65-64 scores earlier than testing optimistic. And so long as he had no signs, he ought to be good to go. Rahm is aware of the course (he received there in 2017), and he might be extremely motivated.

Michael Collins: Fortunately, he now has the time to arrange. The U.S. Open shouldn’t be the place you wish to play catch-up in preparation. No time to be burdened, simply play.

Mark Schlabach: So long as he stays asymptomatic, I do not assume it’ll hassle him a lot. If something, I might see the state of affairs motivating Rahm much more as he makes an attempt to win his first main. Do not forget that Rahm did not arrive on the Masters in April till the day earlier than the beginning of play; his spouse gave start to their first little one the earlier Saturday. He did not get in a apply spherical and mentioned he hadn’t performed Augusta Nationwide since November. Nonetheless, he performed properly sufficient to complete in a tie for seventh. I would not be shocked to see him win his first main this week. He received his first PGA Tour occasion at Torrey Pines 4 years in the past and putts on poa annua greens in addition to virtually anybody.

Kevin Van Valkenburg: I will take the contrarian function right here and say I do assume it’s going to harm his possibilities, a minimum of considerably. The U.S. Open is all the time about endurance and composure, however significantly once you catch what seems like an unfair break. The one factor holding Rahm again in majors up to now has been his temperament. I do not assume he’ll really be harm by the restricted prep, but when one thing goes incorrect early within the championship, I think he’ll rapidly start guilty what he sees because the unfairness of all of it. He has to determine a strategy to perceive that everybody will get unhealthy breaks, not simply Jon Rahm.

Tom VanHaaren: I agree it in all probability would not impression him a lot, but when it does, I’d assume it would assist him. He was enjoying very well with a 6-shot lead on the Memorial, so he has that confidence going into the U.S. Open. He has had success at Torrey Pines earlier than, so I think about he’ll focus extra on the optimistic of how properly he is enjoying than on not having the ability to end at Memorial. If I have been him, I would be itching to get again on the course and preserve the momentum I’ve going into a significant.

Bryson DeChambeau vs. Brooks Koepka: Who has a greater week?

Harig: Each gamers have struggled at Torrey Pines in the course of the Farmers Insurance coverage Open performed right here, however the situations this week might be nothing like they’re in January. Given Koepka’s means to virtually will himself to the highest of leaderboards in main championships, he will get the benefit right here in opposition to DeChambeau. Koepka gained confidence from his tie for second on the PGA Championship, and mentioned his proper knee is feeling significantly better. He thrives in main situations, and search for him to take action once more.

Collins: C, not one of the above. One man ending thirty fifth and one man ending fortieth to me shouldn’t be the definition of a “higher week.” The one approach it will get fascinating is that if they find yourself paired collectively Saturday or Sunday. Now, should you positively, completely, will need to have a solution to who performs higher, I will take Brooks proper now. He is motivated, and regardless that his document is not nice at Torrey for the Farmers Insurance coverage Open, this ain’t that match. No approach Brooks needs to listen to the social media chatter if Bryson wins. Is it incorrect for me to be rooting for that?

Schlabach: Neither certainly one of them has an incredible observe document on the South Course, they usually have largely prevented Torrey Pines all through their careers. Koepka missed the lower there on the Farmers in 2017 and 2021; he was forty first in 2015. He was below par in solely certainly one of his earlier eight rounds. DeChambeau has been even worse, lacking the lower in his solely two begins on the Farmers — in 2017 and 2018. I will go along with Koepka, the four-time main champion. DeChambeau hasn’t carried out properly within the majors since successful at Winged Foot final yr, and his type hasn’t been nice since March.

Van Valkenburg: I believe Bryson. I like watching Brooks, however can we be frank for a second? He hasn’t closed properly in a significant for the reason that 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive. He has lots of bravado and lots of bogeys when it counts of late. I believe Bryson could have his typical benefit if everybody misses fairways, which they are going to. Hitting a wedge that is the size of a 7-iron is likely to be the sport’s secret weapon in the intervening time.

VanHaaren: Koepka got here shut on the PGA Championship, and as Bob identified, his knee is barely getting stronger. If the knee is not a problem anymore and he is getting again to 100%, I would have to present him the sting over DeChambeau. Plus, Bryson can say he is not bothered by followers calling him “Brooksie,” however he has been requested about it continuously and hasn’t been in a position to keep away from it. Sooner or later, that has to begin to put on on him and knock him off his focus. I do not know if that can impression him right here, but it surely’s unavoidable, and including in any further psychological stress to the U.S. Open shouldn’t be a very good recipe for fulfillment.

Can DeChambeau bomb-and-gouge his approach round Torrey Pines like he did at Winged Foot final yr?

Harig: It would not seem so. What he did at Winged Foot was wonderful, however all indications are the tough might be way more penal at Torrey Pines. Already there are experiences of 5-inch tough and really troublesome lies. That may actually change, though even when the grass is considerably decrease, it will not be straightforward. DeChambeau might want to discover extra fairways, and whereas he’ll nonetheless have some success from the tough due to his power, he has to deliver different points of his recreation to the shape they have been at Winged Foot.

Collins: Nope. Torrey Pines South Course is a unique kind after all from Winged Foot. The “bomb” half is nice, however the “gouge” half would not work in such a tough. The largest situation might be how the ball reacts coming from the tough when it lands on the greens. Bryson’s quick recreation was wonderful at Winged Foot — and has not been pretty much as good since. The expectation that it will magically seem once more this week is not an incredible wager.

Schlabach: John Bodenhamer, the individual from the USGA who units up the course, has indicated that there might be a premium on hitting tee photographs on fairways, with agency and quick poa annua greens and heavy, thick kikuyu tough, which does not bode properly for DeChambeau if that is certainly the case. DeChambeau leads the tour in driving distance (322.7 yards), however he is 172nd in driving accuracy (54.4%). Hitting method photographs onto bouncy greens out of high-and-thick tough will not be straightforward, so DeChambeau cannot bomb away and has to hit fairways.

Van Valkenburg: I believe there may be this misperception that each one Bryson did was nuke the ball at Winged Foot. He was third within the discipline in strokes gained/method, second in strokes gained/across the inexperienced and second in strokes gained/placing. The truth that he is quietly turn into a top-10 putter within the recreation is without doubt one of the largest surprises, much more than his prodigious size off the tee. I believe if he chips and putts properly, he is a lock to complete within the high 10 and will simply repeat.

VanHaaren: I watched DeChambeau hit a 3-wood out of some fairly thick tough from 285 yards out on a par-5 on the Rocket Mortgage Basic final yr. He hit a lower over some tall timber and put the ball on the entrance of the inexperienced. I used to be trying round to see if anybody else noticed what he did from the tough as a result of it was unimaginable. I do know Torrey Pines goes to be thicker and harder than Detroit Golf Membership, however I do not doubt he can discover a strategy to bomb it and recuperate if he must. I do not assume he’ll have the success he did at Winged Foot, however I do assume he has the boldness to stay to his blueprint.

Which favourite do you belief the least this week?

Harig: Bryson has not precisely been stellar since successful the Arnold Palmer Invitational. His lone top-10 end was at Quail Hole, the place he left as a result of he thought he missed the lower, returned early Saturday morning and put collectively a robust weekend that noticed him sneak into the highest 10. It was an admirable efficiency, however he was not in competition. And he is been out of the highest 30 in 4 of his previous six begins.

Collins: If we’re speaking betting favorites, I do not see Rory McIlroy placing 4 good rounds collectively. Both Thursday or Saturday there’s gonna be a crash-and-burn, as a result of that is been his MO in majors recently.

Schlabach: DeChambeau has only one top-10 end since March and was thirty eighth or worse in 4 of his previous six begins on tour. He is trying to turn into solely the second participant to go back-to-back on the U.S. Open since Curtis Unusual in 1988-89 (Koepka did it in 2017 and ’18). I do not assume he’ll be round for the weekend.

Van Valkenburg: Justin Thomas. He is placing so poorly this yr, and it is gone largely unnoticed, however he’s struggling big-time on the greens (122nd in SG/placing this yr). Erin Hills is the one U.S. Open the place he is ever contended, and that was barely a U.S. Open. For somebody who’s clearly one of many recreation’s greatest gamers, he no-shows in majors far too usually. Even with all of Jordan Spieth’s struggles, he has contended in a significant extra lately than JT.

VanHaaren: Mark mentioned just about every thing I used to be going to say. I simply do not see DeChambeau successful back-to-back, and I believe there are too many different golfers enjoying properly to place my chips in on him. The opposite identify I would throw in there may be Thomas. He completed T-42 on the Memorial and T-40 at Charles Schwab, and missed the lower on the PGA Championship. Thomas has solely two top-10 finishes in his six U.S. Open appearances and has missed the lower twice.

Is there a how-in-the-world-did-that-happen winner like Phil Mickelson hiding on this discipline?

Harig: How about Gary Woodland? It has been simply two years since he received the U.S. Open at Pebble Seaside, however his recreation has suffered to the purpose that he is dropped out of the highest 50 on this planet. A lot of that has needed to do with harm points that he is lastly beginning to overcome. Though he missed the lower on the Memorial, Woodland began displaying indicators at Quail Hole, the place he tied for fifth. He is proved he has the sport for robust situations, and we will see if he is ready to get all the way in which again.

Collins: There is a newlywed to look at. That might be 48-year-old Lee Westwood and his caddie/bride Helen Storey, who obtained married in Las Vegas this week. So, why not add a U.S. Open?

Schlabach: Would there be a greater story than Charley Hoffman successful his first main at Torrey Pines? Hoffman, 44, was born in San Diego and attended close by Poway Excessive Faculty. He was a two-time California state highschool participant of the yr and certified for the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines thrice as an beginner. Few gamers know the course in addition to he does; he has 71 aggressive rounds there since 1994. He has 4 top-25s on the Farmers Insurance coverage Open, together with solo ninth in 2020.

Van Valkenburg: Does Justin Rose rely? With him at age 40 and taking a look at 40-1 odds, I believe he qualifies. I might see Rose contending. He would wish a scorching placing week, however he nonetheless has the iron recreation and the demeanor to tug off an unlikely second main.

VanHaaren: The best way qualifying works for the U.S. Open, that is the match to get that kind of win. Jack Fleck beat Ben Hogan in 1955 after qualifying for the match. Steve Jones received it in 1996 after getting in from a last qualifier, and Michael Campbell beat Tiger Woods in 2005 in an inconceivable win. I would like to see one of many qualifiers do it once more and win. I do not understand how possible it’s, however Chez Reavie was 12 below over 36 holes to play his approach into the match. He advised me he has lots of confidence from his play and feels good about the place he is at, and he completed T-3 on the U.S. Open in 2019 at Pebble Seaside. So, I will throw him within the ring.

Oh, about Phil: Does he have any probability this week?

Harig: This can be a huge ask. However his win on the PGA ought to present him with confidence and a spark, and the hope is that he rides the momentum from Kiawah Island. Sure, he missed the lower in Fort Value, however that was straightforward to grasp the subsequent week after his huge win. The secret’s hitting each the motive force and his modified 2-wood in play. He was additionally planning a very good little bit of prep time at Torrey Pines, and that ought to assist. We did not give him any hope at Kiawah, however the expectations are raised right here.

Collins: I will say no, hoping it will be reverse psychology. As a lot as I like the man and notice what a tremendous story it might be, Phil has extra demons in regards to the U.S. Open than Tom Brady has Tremendous Bowl appearances. Even when Lefty finds a strategy to get into competition Sunday, somebody will play Stewart Cink to his Tom Watson.

Schlabach: Most likely not. With its slim fairways, agency situations and heavy tough, Torrey Pines is likely to be an excessive amount of for him. In fact, we thought the identical factor about his possibilities at Kiawah Island.

Van Valkenburg: What’s fascinating to consider, trying again at Phil’s close to miss at Winged Foot in 2006, is how poorly he drove it off the tee. It was his quick recreation that stored him in it lengthy sufficient to break down on the final gap. He is really higher off the tee at age 50, however worse across the greens. May he summon a magical week with a wedge? Something is feasible, I assume. However I do not know that I consider he can keep centered for 4 rounds, two majors in a row. Jack Nicklaus used to say he believed he might nonetheless hit all of the photographs deep into his 50s; he simply could not keep razor-sharp focus for 4 hours.

VanHaaren: I do not assume so. It is too huge of a psychological drain too near the PGA Championship. What he did at Kiawah was unbelievable, however we should not overlook that up till that win, he was going to get into the U.S. Open on a particular exemption. Within the 11 tournaments he has performed in since January, he has missed the lower 5 occasions and has solely three top-25 finishes. I do not wish to take away from what he did within the PGA Championship, but it surely appears extremely unlikely he repeats that efficiency at Torrey Pines.


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