U.S. Open 2017: Pro Golf Now staff picks

Jun 13, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Rain beads off an Erin Hills umbrella as golf spectators watch players warm up at the range during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Rain beads off an Erin Hills umbrella as golf spectators watch players warm up at the range during a practice round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports /

The staff at Pro Golf Now makes their picks for the 117th U.S. Open.

The staff here at Pro Golf Now is gearing up for the U.S. Open and like we did for THE PLAYERS Championship, we’ve gotten together and made our own picks.

Beth Bethel: Jon Rahm played his first U.S. Open last year at Oakmont. He finished T23 and left with low amateur honors, a golf medal, and sponsor exemptions to six PGA TOUR events.  What a difference a year makes!

The 6’2″ 22-year old Spaniard is ranked 10th in the OWGR and heading into his second U.S. Open a viable contender. Here’s why: he’s equipped physically and mentally to challenge Dustin Johnson. He did it at the WGC-Mexico Championship and again at the WGC-Match Play. He mastered the Congressional track at warp speed and he showed how he can fight back, take risks, and prevail at the Canadian Open. I’ve never seen any player have so much fun as Jon Rahm did at the 2017 Masters.

He hasn’t rushed up to Erin Hills to play a few practice rounds because he doesn’t want to injure his wrists before the competition gets serious. Rahm has the big, powerful game it’s going to take to contend on the Erin Hills track and he has the mental game that’s necessary to contend and to dominate. We’ll see Rahm on the top of the leaderboard Sunday afternoon.

Luke Norris: The easy call here is Dustin Johnson but seeing as he’s the favorite and all, that’s not really much fun, is it? Rory isn’t fully healthy in my eyes so he’s out for me so I’m going to go ahead and go once again with Hideki Matsuyama. There’s just something I like about him this week and even though he burned me at THE PLAYERS, I’m gonna try again.

Brandon Raper: Rickie Fowler. I’m not exactly going out on a limb here, but I’m sticking with Fowler for a lot of the same reasons I loved him at The PLAYERS. No, I’m not thrilled about the T-60 at Sawgrass or the missed cut last week in Memphis. Then again, I’m not too worried about them, either.

Distance will be important at Erin Hills, and Fowler hits it long enough (33rd in driving distance) and straight enough (25th in driving accuracy) to be effective. More importantly, he’s putting as well as anybody on Tour today, ranked seventh in Strokes Gained: Putting. That will be his edge down the Sunday stretch.

This U.S. Open is shaping up to be as tough a test as any in recent memory, but I’m looking for Fowler to finally break through and take his first major this week.

Sam Belden: With rain in the forecast, Erin Hills could be a very soft golf course by the end of the week. For that reason, I’m looking for a big hitter to rise up and take this one, and there’s no bigger hitter than Dustin Johnson. The 15-time PGA Tour winner was solid at three of the four events he’s played since returning from a back injury.

The fact that he missed the cut in his last start, the Memorial Tournament, is a bit worrying, but the wet conditions could still put him at a major advantage this week. Let’s see if he can become the first man to win back-to-back U.S. Opens since Curtis Strange did it in 1989.

Carter Mackenzie: My pick is Jason Day.
1) His recent track record at the U.S. Open. He is one of only four players to make the cut in the last five consecutive Opens.
2) Length. Erin Hills will demand it off the tee over four rounds.
3) After a slow start this year, he seems to be peaking.
4) Whistling Straits. Day won his only major championship there. Whistling Straits is the closest thing to a comparable course as Erin Hills that’s hosted a major recently. He may find comfort in that.
5) Day has built his game to win majors. He seems to always be around on Sunday afternoon. Erin Hills and his recent form seem to be a great combination for Day to win this week.

More from US Open

Evan Singleton: Jon Rahm.

Rahm is playing at a great level. That much is apparent. His driving and putting are both on point as of late. Now, a big knock, and usual drawback on Rahm when it comes to majors, is the fact that he has little to no experience on any of the championship courses. However, most players on this week’s slate have barely any experience at Erin Hills.

I believe with the combination of his tremendous play, as well as experience not being a tremendous factor, Rahm will be able to edge out the competition in the 2017 US Open. My projection is that Rahm will win by a margin of 3 strokes. We shall see.

Next: U.S. Open: A complete guide to all 156 players in the field

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