Who will be King of the Hills?
Six writers, six simple questions. Dan Murphy, Alex Perry, Mark Townsend, James Savage, Steve Carroll and Keel Timmins put their heads together for NCG’s US Open preview…
What will be the main talking point of the 2018 US Open?
Alex: Tiger and the USGA – both for pretty obvious reasons, I feel.
Dan: It will be Tiger because it’s always Tiger. It will be the USGA because it’s always the USGA in US Open week. It will be a stellar leaderboard because the course is so good and I think the best players are collectively in better form than they were coming into The Masters.
Keel: Tiger’s game looks in terrific shape, and if he can avoid the big miss off the tee and tidy up his short-range putting, he has a brilliant chance. I don’t think anyone will disagree with me in saying that it would be the biggest golf story we’ve ever seen if he wins another major.
Mark: After going off piste the last few years with Chambers Bay and Erin Hills you might imagine that the USGA would want to show off an old American classic. But then this is the USGA and, as recently as the US Women’s Open, they still wouldn’t play clean and place despite having biblical rainfall in the week.
So probably the USGA…
Steve: We could be ploughing old furrows here. With temperatures baking for most of the week, it could be a question of which green goes first. Surely the USGA won’t make that mistake again…
James: On the equipment front, I imagine a number of players, including Justin Thomas, will be using the brand new Titleist driver which isn’t due to launch until the autumn…
What are you most looking forward to at the 2018 US Open?
Steve: I’ll be there, so seeing the course in the flesh. If it looks a fraction as good as it does in pictures it will be epic.
Alex: I’ll also be there, and I’m most looking forward to seeing Tiger Woods in the flesh for the first time since the 2014 Open at Hoylake.
Mark: Pretty simply seeing the course again and re-acquainting myself with it. It’s one of the greats and all we seem to talk about is watering the greens and Corey Pavin’s 4-wood.
Keel: There are plenty of good storylines, but what I’m most looking forward to is a week of tough but fair golf, on one of the best courses on the planet.
Dan: Seeing one of the world’s great golf courses presented in its best light and presenting a subtle, strategic test that identifies the very best players. Over to you, USGA.
James: Is there anything better than wall-to-wall TV coverage of live action from a major?
Which player will be the surprise flop?
Dan: I’m not sure about either Rory’s form – though there have been some recent flickers – or his suitability to this particular venue. I like his US Open chances better at somewhere that is hot, steamy, green and very long.
James: I’d never be surprised at any player missing the cut in a US Open, but I’ll say Jordan Spieth just for the fact he’s currently ranked 190th on the PGA Tour for Strokes Gained: Putting.
Keel: Spieth normally raises his game for the big events, but I don’t expect him to contend here. He’s the shortest off the tee of the ‘elite’ players, and his putting is still a huge concern.
Mark: Tiger, purely on the basis that there has to be a bit of a lull before he wins again, I don’t think he’ll hit enough fairways and he’ll spend the weekend on his nearby yacht. Come Carnoustie I think he’ll go very close.
Steve: Even though he’s been in excellent form this year and desperately wants to win his national open, I think Phil Mickelson is more likely to miss the cut.
Alex: Mickelson for me, too. Like Rory and The Masters, I fear it just won’t ever happen.
So which player from these shores will finish highest? And who will win? NCG’s US Open preview continues on the next page…