Fairways And Roughs Title

Power Rankings: U.S. Open

By PGA Tour News
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It'd be cute and corny to phrase who has the mettle or brain for the kettle moraine, but it's still the proper thought in advance of the 117th edition of the U.S. Open. Erin Hills Golf Course, an other-worldly slice of land northwest of Milwaukee, is hosting Wisconsin's first-ever U.S. Open. Sculpted primarily by the convergence of glaciers – if you pay attention this week, you'll learn more about geological evolution than you probably ever wanted – it's a bona fide rival to any other natural site for golf. All it's missing is history and tradition, so start the clock. Published at 7,741 yards and like most modern designs, the stock par 72 will reward length and accuracy off the tee. However, neither isn't a prerequisite due to generous fairways and rolling terrain. The fescue fairways are defended by the potential for severe, uneven lies, while rough (also fescue) very well may be a competitor's friend as long as it prevents wayward strikes from reaching some of the gnarliest second cut you'll ever see. More importantly, with only five trees on the course, the virtual absence of targets on horizons emphasizes the value of preparation and course management. Since Tiger Woods' last victory in a major at the 2008 U.S. Open, 22 of the 35 winners in majors have been first-timers, including six in the U.S. Open (2009-2013, 2016). Each of the last six majors overall crowned first-timers. Take these facts and trends into consideration when reviewing who gets the nod at No. 1 below. The stars are aligned. Despite hiccups, he's in the best form of his career. His only weakness is the same as his motivation: Clearing the hurdle to win his first major. Prefaced his win at Oakmont last year with a T4 in 2014 and T2 in 2015. Tops on TOUR in numerous categories. Also second in par-5 scoring and third in bogey avoidance. Personal distractions have given way to the kind of form expected of him. Followed P2 at TPC Four Seasons with a T15 at Muirfield Village. Five top 10s in six U.S. Open starts. Six top fives in 11 starts since Farmers breakthrough. The 22-year-old Spaniard is a driver, a scorer and a scrambler. Inexperience hasn't mattered, and it won't at Erin Hills. Discomfort in his ribs has limited playing time in 2017. That just means he's fresh. New putter in the bag could be the wild card. The rest of his game is ideal for Erin Hills. Erin Hills caters to aerial attack. Led SJC in strokes gained: off-the-tee and ranked second in strokes gained: tee-to-green en route to a T10. T9-T4-T18 in last three U.S. Opens. Title at Chambers Bay in 2015 is his only top 15 in five U.S. Open starts, but that will change. Since returning to his old putter, T2 at Colonial and T13 at Muirfield Village. Always a threat in the majors even though he never really trends. Solo third at the Masters. Warmed up for this week with a T2 at TPC Southwind. The 2013 champ (at Merion). Playoff victim at the Masters in April finally "recovered" with a T12 at the BMW PGA Championship, but he's been in great form for most of 2017. Fulfilled months of trending with a win at Muirfield Village where he flashed vintage form. Three top 10s and another top 20 in the last five U.S. Opens. Has gone three straight starts without a top 20, but his game off the tee deserves respect. Leads TOUR in par-5 scoring and ranks T8 in bogey avoidance. Backed up his win at Colonial with a T6 at Muirfield Village. Inside the top 40 in every strokes-gained measurement. Also T9 in proximity to the hole and 28th in scrambling. Finally cooling, but that only makes him more dangerous. Proven his comportment as winner of several top-shelf tournaments, including the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Muirfield Village had his number until a T4. Leads TOUR in birdie-or-better percentage, par-4 scoring and putts per GIR (in which he's 12th). Zero top 15s in majors. Yet. The forgotten co-runner-up at Chambers Bay in 2015 replicated that result at TPC Sawgrass a month ago. Terrific greenside touch is overshadowed by tee-to-green profile. Capturing the season's first two majors may seem as unlikely as him winning his first, so don't rule it out. Second on TOUR in total driving and out front in adjusted scoring. Continues to perform like he's at his peak, the 34-year-old ball-striker recently finished T6 at TPC Sawgrass and second at Wentworth. Fifth on TOUR in adjusted scoring. This is his last debut in a major. Placed T4 in his first Masters two months ago. The 25-year-old is rare in that he's known equally as both a long hitter and great putter. Since missing the cut at Oakmont a year ago slotted outside the top 100 in the OWGR, the Swede has won five times and arrives at No. 8. Placed 10th at THE PLAYERS. Sure, he'll turn 39 on June 21, but age didn't get in the way of T4s at the Masters and Memorial. Top 15s in five of last seven starts. Sits 14th on TOUR in bogey avoidance. POWER RANKINGS: U.S. OPEN RANK PLAYER COMMENT Many notables are playing well enough right now to appear above, but they've been bumped to Tuesday's Fantasy Insider. That group will include Wisconsin native Steve Stricker, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Shane Lowry. Despite opening just 11 years ago, Erin Hills isn't a stranger to the USGA. The U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links sparked the relationship in 2008. The U.S. Amateur came to town in 2011 when Kelly Kraft defeated Patrick Cantlay for the title. Both are currently PGA TOUR members, but neither qualified this week. Still, both would attest to the steep test of the bentgrass greens. Surfaces average 6,500 square feet – emphasis on "average," for the actual sizes hole by hole vary significantly enough to remind you that an average is but the result of simple math – and will be prepped to roll 13 feet on the Stimpmeter. That matches or at least served as the baseline for the measurement in 2011. There are 138 bunkers, most (all?) of which are legitimate hazards due to depth, elevation change and the possibility of a lie in the sand up against rough. There are ponds on the course but water doesn't come into play. Because Erin Hills is exposed, wind is a natural defense. Then, because there are few if any cues to determine its direction, the challenge is compounded. A prevailing wind from the west and southwest is expected throughout, but its impact on club selection may be relevant only with the proximity of storms that are forecast early on both Thursday and Friday, and again later on Friday. Gradually decreasing daytime highs could land in the mid-70s for the conclusion on Father's Day. That's one tradition that's already embedded into this tournament no matter its location. ROB BOLTON’S WRITING SCHEDULE PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Columnist Rob Bolton will be filing his usual staples leading up to this week’s event. Look for the following columns this week. MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings TUESDAY*: Sleepers, The Confidence Factor, Fantasy Insider WEDNESDAY: One & Done THURSDAY: Ownership Percentages in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf and One & Done presented by SERVPRO * - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO, which also publishes on Tuesdays


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