U.S. Open: Five bold predictions

Dustin Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Dustin Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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The outcome of the 117th U.S. Open will be determined only in part by the strength of the field – 5 other factors are in play.

The 117th U.S. Open is moving quickly to the center of the golf world and as we all focus on this most challenging and difficult of national championships we naturally begin to speculate about who will hoist the 18 inch high, 8.5 pound, double-handled silver jug.

It’s a beauty of a trophy, engraved with a laurel wreath surrounding a scene of four golfers, with a lip topped by a winged figure representing Victory. Unfortunately, the original U.S. Open trophy was lost, destroyed in the fire that burned the Tam O’Shanter clubhouse to the ground in 1947. Tam O’Shanter was 1946 U.S. Open champion Lloyd Mangrum’s home course and he was keeping the trophy at the club for everybody to enjoy during the year he had possession of – and responsibility for it.

Dustin Johnson will be bringing the replacement trophy – it’s an exact replica of the original – to Erin Hills and while he’s the oddsmakers favorite to take the trophy home again, I’ll leave the speculation about winners and runners-up and sleepers to my colleagues.

My U.S. Open predictions focus on some related matters: the weather, the Rules of Golf, the venue, and the mental condition of the field.  These are not small and insignificant matters. To the contrary, all have the potential to influence the outcome of the 117th U.S. Open.

Let’s begin with the least predictable factor of all, weather on the American Great Plains in mid-summer.