2019 U.S. Open Picks, Including the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

After some side-stepping, cash-grabbing, deviations from “the norm” of the U.S. Open rota, it was nice to see the USGA return to one of the great U.S. Open venues last year in Shinnecock and this time go controversy free….oh wait a tic, they screwed it up again.

Hopefully this year, the USGA won’t put a mustache on the Mona Lisa and will actually setup the venerable Pebble Beach fairly. We all know the course, even though it’ll play far, far different than it does during the annual stop at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. At least we don’t have to deal with jabbing our retinas with an ice pick this week, aka watching Ray Romano and Chris Berman hacking their way up the coast for hours on end.

Anyway, enough already. Let’s hop into some picks:

LOCKZILLA (Last week: Kuchar t-4th)

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Adam Scott- I’ll first start off by saying that I had Koepka in this Lockzilla spot 2 years ago at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills (BOOM = winner) and DJ last year (close but no cigar = 3rd). So, you could say that I’ve been on a wee bit of a roll here at our nation’s biggest tourney. For this year’s U.S. Open, I’m rolling with Adam Scott. Putting with the flagstick in has totally changed his game, as he’s having one of the best putting seasons of his career (currently 21st in Strokes Gained-Putting) and is striking it absolutely beautifully right now. His form is top notch as well, with that runner-up at the Memorial in his last start running into the “buzzsaw” that was Patrick Cantlay on Sunday (Jack Nicklaus labeled it as such), which followed a t-8th at the PGA Championship at Bethpage. I would be shocked if he ended his career with just one major title, as he’s just so damn talented tee-to-green. Also, the fact that Stevie Williams is on Jason Day’s bag this week makes for a hilarious story in advance if Adam wins this week while Stevie is looping for someone else. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie all the way this week!

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Noren t-63rd)

Hideki Matsuyama– Shhhhhhh. Don’t look now, but the 27-year-old from Japan is playing some mighty solid golf again. He’s trended straight upwards since the Masters, going t-32nd, t-31st, t-23rd, t-16th (PGA Championship) and 6th at the Memorial in his last start. Oh yeah, and his U.S. Open record ain’t too shabby either, as he has 4 finishes of t-18th or better in 6 appearances, highlighted by a t-2nd a couple Junes ago at Erin Hills. He’s never played in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which isn’t ideal, and he also carries the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders (wow oh wow does he ever draw enormous media attention, which will be all the worse since the tourney is in California this week), but with his current form and tourney history I like for him to contend this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: DJ t-20th)

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Brooks Koepka– Yep, you read that right. I’m all out fading Brooksy this week. Back-to-back U.S. Opens, 4-time major winner. Still playing with a chip on his shoulder as he doesn’t garner near the media attention that some of the other top players do. But, even though it’s hard to call this anything more than just a gut feeling, I am not on the Brooks train this week. He went all the way from PGA Championship Sunday until Tuesday of the Canadian Open week (2 weeks and 2 days) and while I’m sure he certainly enjoyed his break (and it was definitely well-deserved), he was mighty rusty last week at the Canadian Open. He still made the cut, but his putting was suspect and he was very loose at times both off the tee and with his short irons. Pebble is not a course that you bash driver only every hole. It requires extreme positioning off the tee and a deft touch around the greens. Obviously Brooksy had that totally dialed in last year at Shinny, and the year before at Erin Hills as well, but I just don’t see it this week. If I’m wrong, I’ll eat my words later. But I’m on full fade mode on Brooksy this week. Stay away and thank me later.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last week: Knous t-56th)

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Billy Horschel– Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten his spazzed out reaction at Chambers Bay in 2015, sarcastically doing the wiggle worm with his arm after becoming so frustrated with the greens. Don’t worry, Billy. You weren’t the only one who didn’t enjoy the surfaces that week (they really were like putting on broccoli or cauliflower like Henrik Stenson described). Billy came out and apologized after that and even though he always poses the risk of running hot and self-imploding on the course, he has a solid record at our national championship, with a t-4th in 2013 at Merion and two other top 25s. He’s played extremely consistent golf all season, with just one missed cut in 19 events, including a t-9th at the Memorial in his last start. I absolutely would not be surprised to see Billy Ho in one of the final groups on Saturday or Sunday.

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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