Jun 7, 2015; Dublin, OH, USA; Jack Nicklaus greets Francesco Molinari after the final round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
When it comes to the US Open, there’s nothing more enjoyable in life than coming up with your own “sleeper list.” It’s a lot like being your town’s weather man. You can basically say whatever you want and no one is going to be mad at you, or even hold you accountable when you are inevitably wrong for that matter. Anyway, I’ve put together a short list of a couple US Open “sleeper” picks that could find themselves in contention at Chambers Bay next week.
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While comprising this list, I looked at stats like the golfers driving accuracy and greens in regulation and tried to pick some studs that are halfway decent at both. That should be the formula for tackling the mystery course on the outskirts of Tacoma, Washington.
Very little is known about the course from what I’ve been gathering. What we do know is that it’s a links course designed by Robert Trent Jones so chances are you’re going to see some squares on your card at the end of the day. Links style courses often favor the golfer with a more creative approach to the game in terms of their shot making ability, so this played into my list as well.
Lob and Smash
At the end of the day, I might as well have thrown a dart at a list of names and hoped for the best. The weatherman and I would have had something in common!
Let’s start with a man who has yet to win on the PGA Tour. It wouldn’t be a “sleeper” pick anyway else, but I think Francesco Molinari has the tools to contend this week in Washington.
Molinari ranks 1st in driving accuracy, and 6th in greens in regulation on the tour (PGATour.com). Both of these stats are crucial when it comes to scoring on a links golf course. The spotlight shouldn’t be too big as he’s won 3 times on the European tour, and stood toe to toe with some guy named Tiger at the 2012 Ryder Cup. That match clinched the title for the Europeans that year by the way, no pressure.
Molinari has had success in links golf as well, when he finished runner up in the 2012 Scottish Open, and we know Scotland is the birth place of links golf. Molinari’s lack of distance off the tee has always hurt him, but with his driving accuracy, and some craftiness using the contours of the course, look for Francesco to roll his way toward the top of the leaderboard this Sunday.
Brendon de Jonge is another unlikely name that could be in the mix at the Open this weekend. The former Virginia Tech Hokie is currently 30th in the FedEx cup standing and is putting together a successful 2015 campaign.
He’s an accurate driver (21st on tour), and can also hit a green in regulation (43rd on tour). Again, he’s also not the longest hitter off the tee, but the rolling fairways, and the fescue grass popular with links golf will provide some extra yardage with the big stick.
As of late, de Jonge hasn’t been playing his best golf. He’s missed 2 cuts in his last 4 tournaments, which would make me look like even more of a genius if he puts up a big number at Chambers Bay!
That guy Phil Mickelson has a pretty creative golf mind too. I’ll leave you with that thought…