Time flies by so fast. It’s already time for the second major of the season when the best golfers on the planet take to the Oakmont Country Club for the 2016 U.S. Open. Jason Day was first on the scene as the first official player to register for the major. He’s in good company with Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy also in the field.
Oakmont remains one of the trickiest golf courses out there, meaning that unheralded players could come out and steal the favorites’ thunder. Read on as we take a look at the golfers to keep an eye on heading into the U.S. Open. For more on the field of competitors, check out our features for the best long shot and sleeper picks.
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2016 U.S. Open Preview
Where: Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont
When: June 16-19
TV Broadcast: Fox Sports
Jason Day (+600)
Day imploded in last year’s U.S. Open, crashing out after the second round. He now has his eyes set firmly on the prize as he was the first official player to register for 2016’s second major.
Jordan Spieth (+650)
Jordan Spieth wouldn’t want to be himself right about now. He imploded at the Masters Tournament in April, shooting a superb 66 in the first round but shot 74, 73 and 73 in the next three rounds. The 22-year-old golfer then missed the cut a tournament later at the PLAYERS Championship. Spieth did win the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational, but followed that up with a 57th-place finish at the Memorial Tournament.
There’s one thing going for the Dallas-born golfer, though—he’s the defending U.S. Open champion. Spieth won the title last year with a five-under 275. However, he may have a more difficult time this time around in the crazy Oakmont Country Club, designed to produce high scores for competitors on the field.
Rory McIlroy (+750)
Rory McIlroy has been solid this year with five top 10 and three top five finishes, but he is yet to win a tournament in the PGA Tour. He did win one overseas—the Irish Open—in May, but the U.S. Open is a whole different ball game especially as it’s being played at the Oakmont Country Club. What could save the Northern Irishman is his putting, a game which he changed up at the Memorial Tournament.
Instead of making his left hand his low hand for three months, McIlroy went back to a conventional grip in the first round of The Memorial Tournament at Muifield Village. He opened with a one-under and finished fourth with a 13-under 275. The one-time U.S. Open winner could be gearing up for his best performance this season as there’s seemingly no pressure on him to win.
Branden Grace (+4,000)
Pay no heed to his missing the cut at the Masters; Branden Grace has been solid since then with a victory at the RBC Heritage and a ninth-place finish at the Valero Texas Open. Grace also finished 57th at the PLAYERS, but that was more the result of just one bad round of playing. The South African is already on a pretty good run; he also excels in the necessary categories for a possible win at Oakmont with accuracy in his irons, excellent scrambling and a consistent putting game.
Charl Schwartzel (+5,000)
Charl Schwartzel is being criminally underrated heading into the U.S. Open. He’s a former Masters winner and also has two U.S. Open top 10 finishes. The 31-year-old South African won’t be fazed by the daunting Oakmont course, especially when he’s blistering in some key points in his game right now. Schwartzel ranks in the top 10 on tour in both strokes gained tee to green and strokes gained approaching the green. He also possesses capable scrambling and putting ability when needed.
McIlroy (+750) wins his first PGA Tour title of the year but not without a handful of challenger on his tail.
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