The United States Open comes to the state of Wisconsin for the first time in golf history. Erin Hills Golf Club, a public course in Erin, Wisconsin, will play host this week to the 117th edition of the nation’s championship.
Not only is it a new course for the players but also to the fans of Major Championship golf. The course is a massive piece of property, a heartland course that stretches to as much as 7800-yards. Located 35-miles northwest of Milwaukee, the property sits in The Kettle Moraine Forest in an area formed primarily by glaciers. 90% of the design maintains how Mother Nature has formed the terrain. It looks very much like a links-style design with its rolling contour, very few even lies, and knee-high, wispy fescue grass heather bordering very wide fairways.
The golf course opened to the public eleven years ago and was designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry, and Ron Whitten. The greens are of average size and don’t feature much undulation but are in excellent condition and should run extremely fast this week. Surrounding the greens, the fall off areas are shaved down, looking much like Augusta National and Pinehurst #2. 138 incredibly unique sand bunkers exist at Erin Hills and they are brutal, with all different kinds of lies and predicaments facing players who find the sand this week.
For the first time since Pebble Beach in 1992, The U.S. Open will be played to a par of 72. In this wide-open spread of Wisconsin heartland, and not even half a dozen trees on the course, one can expect plenty of wind and that should go a long way in producing scores that look more like a typical U.S. Open golf course. Heavy wind is not currently in the forecast but a couple of days worth of thunderstorms are. Mother Nature did most of the design here and she may go a long way in determining the winning score come Father’s Day afternoon.
Dustin Johnson (+8.98 Pinnacle) The defending U.S. Open Champion will be playing in his first Major of the season having missed The Masters with injury. The number one player in the world has already won three times this season and his length off of the tee will be a big advantage this week. DJ has finished Top 5 in three straight U.S. Opens.
Jordan Spieth (+1617 Bookmaker) Spieth has been up and down so far in 2017 but currently he looks to be on the up with a 2nd at Colonial and a 13th at The Memorial since switching back to his old putter. He is 2nd on Tour in Scoring and 1st in Strokes Gained Approaching the Green. He has played this course before as a teenager in the 2011 U.S. Amateur.
Rory McIlroy (+14.06 Pinnacle) It has been a month since we have seen McIlroy play in the states, when he took 35th at The PLAYERS. He finished 4th at Bay Hill and 7th at The Masters but a rib injury suffered back in January has limited the number two player in the world. However, Erin Hills should be an excellent fit for the 2011 U.S. Open Champion.
Jon Rahm (+2129 Bookmaker) This is only the second time Rahm has played a U.S. Open, bursting onto the golfing scene last year with a 23rd place finish at Oakmont. He won earlier this year at Torrey Pines, another U.S. Open golf course and has six additional Top 10 finishes this season. An incredible ascension, Rahm has vaulted up the rankings to number ten in the world.
Justin Rose (+2578 Bookmaker) A U.S. Open winner at Merion in 2013, Rose comes to the second Major the of the season having lost in a playoff to Sergio Garcia at The Masters. He has four Top 10 finishes on the season but the last time we saw him, he took 65th at The PLAYERS.
Adam Scott (+30.25 Pinnacle) An exquisite ball striker and good wind player, the Australian’s game has taken on very good form as of late, finishing 9th at The Masters, 6th at The PLAYERS, and 10th just last week at The FedEx St. Jude Classic. Scott has two Top 10’s and a Top 20 in his last three U.S. Opens.
The Long Shots
Brooks Koepka (+4800 5Dimes) After getting off to a shaky start this season, Koepka has been playing at a very high level since The Match Play in March. He has plenty of length to tackle this week’s beast and a deft putting touch to go along with it. Koepka is another who has played here in the 2011 U.S. Amateur. His last three U.S. Open starts have gone 13-18-4.
Jason Dufner (+74.09 Pinnacle) A very accurate driver of the golf ball, Dufner very much fits the mold of a U.S. Open type player. He is coming off of a win two weeks ago at The Memorial, bringing his opening odds of 150-1 down to just 50-1 to win this week. In the last five U.S. Opens, Dufner has two Top 5’s and a Top 10 finish.
Steve Stricker (+18500 5Dimes) The Wisconsin native is thrilled to be here for this Championship in his home state. Without an exemption, Stricker had to go through the qualifying stages to get into the field. This will be his 20th time playing The U.S. Open, a Major at which he has compiled four Top 10 finishes. Stricker took 7th three weeks ago at Colonial.
Rickie Fowler (+22.61 Pinnacle) Fowler has had an excellent year, winning The Honda Classic, taking 4th in Phoenix, 3rd in Houston, 11th at The Masters, and 2nd just two weeks ago at The Memorial. His stats are some of the best on Tour across the board; 11th in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, 7th in Strokes Gained Putting, 3rd in Scoring, 1st in Sand Saves, and 22nd in Scrambling. Fowler is an excellent wind player and I like The American to continue the trend, claiming his first Major Championship victory this week in Wisconsin. Six of the last eight U.S. Open winners have been first time Major winners and the last six Majors in a row have been won by a first timer. After finishing 10th at Merion in 2013 and 2nd at Pinehurst in 2014, Fowler has missed the cut at the last two U.S. Opens. I like him to win the National Championship this week.
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