Ahead of the 118th U.S. Open this week, we rank the top twenty players in contention per the bookmakers’ odds.
While conflicting thoughts abound on how difficult the set-up at Shinnecock Hills will be, we will focus on form, statistics, and event/course suitability in determining who is best placed to claim victory in the year’s second Major.
Here we rank the lower end of the top twenty.
11) Henrik Stenson
Best U.S. Open Finish: 4th (2014), Wins This Year: 0, Recent Form: 13-23-5-6-4, Odds: 33/1
The Swede’s momentum of three consecutive top six results earlier this year was halted, having only competed three times since the last of those at Augusta. Nonetheless, the Swede’s form hasn’t deserted him, going 23rd at The Players and 13th at Memorial (where he also tied for 3rd in GIR).
His record in this tournament pales in comparison to those in both The Open (winner in 2016), and the PGA Championship. Stenson’s stats all round are tremendous, though his penchant for not using the driver sees him way back in driving distance. The Gothenburg native will have to trust his longest club around a set-up that has been considerably lengthened since it’s last hosting of the event in 2004.
May be better placed elsewhere on the major schedule this year.
12) Tommy Fleetwood
Best Finish: 4th (2017), Wins This Year: 1, Recent Form: 23-20-7-MC-17, Odds: 50/1
The popular Englishman hasn’t quite made the transition to the very top tier that many were expecting after some great form at the turn of the year yielded the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Three top tens since have come at big events, but Fleetwood was nowhere near contention at either Augusta or Sawgrass.
His tee-to-green game is among the best in the world – across both Tours. He averages over 300 yards, which makes his superb driving accuracy all the more impressive. 2nd in GIR on the European Tour, 16th in sand saves in America, his game is pretty much complete, though putting isn’t his strong point. Came fourth in last year’s tournament at Erin Hills.
13) Patrick Reed
Best Finish: 13th (2017), Wins This Year: 1, Recent Form: 29-41-8-1-9, Odds: 40/1
The Masters champion doesn’t enter this week with much fanfare. His record here of 13-MC-14-35 suggests that this this event doesn’t suit him. Then again, Reed’s Masters win was preceded by Augusta form of MC-49-22-MC.
He followed up at the challenging Wells Fargo with 8th, and made cuts at The Players and Memorial, so his game hasn’t fallen off a cliff Willett-style just yet. The 27-year-old is faring well on and around the greens, but needs to improve on ball striking to contend. If he does, there’s not many better equipped mentally to see it home and emulate fellow Texan Jordan Spieth in doing the double.
14) Phil Mickelson
Best Finish: 2nd (1999, 2002, ’04, ’06, ’09, ’13), Wins This Year: 1, Recent Form: 13-MC-5-36-24, Odds: 33/1
As you can see from his US Open record, Mickelson has been through the ringer in attempting to claim the Grand Slam.
It looked for a while as though the opportunity had passed him, but despite the competition he faces, this represents one of the better chances ‘Lefty’ has of winning the elusive national Open. He gained his first win since 2013 in prevailing at the WGC – Mexico Championship, beating Justin Thomas in a play-off, no less.
While he will relish Shinnecock (where he finished 2nd in the 2004 hosting of the U.S. Open), thanks to his genius short game and improved putting, the ball striking has worked against him in this event. Poor driving accuracy may well be punished by deep rough and high winds, but a win here would be a fitting fairytale story.
15) Paul Casey
Best Finish: 10th (2007), Wins This Year: 1, Recent Form: 20-5-MC-15-17, Odds: 50/1
Casey’s eternal wait to follow up his maiden 2009 PGA Tour victory ended at the Valspar Championship. The coup was a deserved payoff for some much improved form, and while the Englishman hasn’t really kicked on since, his stats across the board are solid.
His peak isn’t as timely as some of those of his counterparts, but if Casey finds himself in contention at the weekend, he’s very much worth backing in-running.
16) Tiger Woods
Best Finish: 1st (2000, 2002, 2008), Wins This Year: 0, Recent Form: 23-11-55-32-5, Odds: 18/1
It is now ten years since Woods won his last Major in breathtaking fashion at Torrey Pines. Tiger, lucky to be walking with a knee injury, endured four full rounds plus 19 holes of a playoff. The effects stay with him to this day, but aside from a great 2013 in which he won five times, this, much like Mickelson, is Woods’ best opportunity for U.S. contention in a long time.
The highlights of his year were a runner-up spot at the Valspar, and 5th at Bay Hill. He hasn’t failed to make the weekend since, and his situation was illustrated perfectly at Muirfield.
The 14-time major winner couldn’t make a single putt, almost finishing at the bottom of the field in putting average. Despite this, he finished on -9, ranking first in several ball-striking categories, including Strokes Gained: tee-to-green, SG: approach-the-green, and proximity. He would have to maintain some driving form that has often been fleeting to contend, however.
17) Bryson DeChambeau
Best Finish: 15th (2016), Wins This Year: 1, Recent Form: 1-42-37-4-3, Odds: 45/1
A divisive character whose undoubted talent shone through at The Memorial. The win came after three top fours since March, and although a record here of MC-15-MC is uninspiring, his ball striking strengths are noteworthy.
With his confidence at an all-time high, the precocious star is primed to drastically bump up his poor major record.
18) Hideki Matsuyama
Best Finish: 2nd (2014), Wins This Year: 1, Recent Form: 13-16-MC-76-19, Odds: 30/1
The Japanese superstar arrives here under the radar. It’s been a quiet year by Matsuyama’s standards, with his only top ten coming in the first week of January. An MC at the Players has thankfully been followed by a pair of good outings, but his ball striking hasn’t been up to par, tied 46th in GIR at the Memorial and 76th in SG: off-the-tee on Tour.
The five time PGA Tour winner did finish runner-up in last year’s iteration, however.
19) Jordan Spieth
Best Finish: 1st (2015), Wins This Year: 0, Recent Form: MC-32-21-41-3, Odds: 18/1
Though 18/1 is still very low odds-wise, it’s likely the highest that Spieth has been available at since storming onto the scene in 2015. A case of bad timing here – Spieth did finish third at Augusta, but a storming final round negated some real putting woes (186th on Tour).
Had an MC in his last outing at the Memorial, and was playing far better prior to his win at Chambers Bay in 2015. Subsequent results at the U.S. Open of 37th and 35th were preceded by similar form, and while we’re admittedly liable to back him here for first round leader as he did at the Masters, with class being permanent, Spieth is unlikely to contend given the circumstances.
20) Sergio Garcia
Best Finish: 3rd (2005), Wins This Year: 1, Recent Form: MC-70-MC-MC-MC, Odds: 40/1
Sergio started the year off with a win over a weak field at the SMBC Singapore Open. Some good form carried over as far as late March, making the last 16 of the WGC Matchplay, but since then, three MCs and a 70th are a real cause for concern.
Garcia’s putting woes have come back to haunt him. At 150th on Tour in SG: putting, he has made 19 three-putts in just 28 rounds. His form may come back for two majors later in the year where he has had more success, but again, this one is bad timing.