Welcome to the 2018 US Open. For the fifth time in tournament history, this year’s tournament takes place at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Shinnecock Hills, New York, roughly 90 miles east of New York City on Long Island.
Brooks Koepka’s victory last season at Erin Hills marked the third straight time an American has won the US Open after Dustin Johnson won in 2016 at Oakmont and Jordan Spieth’s win in 2015 at Chambers Bay in Washington. All three will be back in the field for this year’s version looking to become the 22nd player to win multiple US Opens.
Of the 119 winners in US Open history, 83 hail from the United States. Scotland ranks second on that list with 13 US Open champions while the last non-US born player to win was Germany’s Martin Kaymer who won at Pinehurst in 2014.
Let’s take a closer look at this year’s tournament as well as some players to watch for.
Shinnecock Hills is a 7,445-yard, Par 70 links-style course that, as mentioned, sits on Long Island. The course last hosted the US Open in 2004 when Retief Goosen won by a two-stroke margin over Phil Mickelson with a -4 for the tournament.
Other previous winners at Shinnecock include Americans Corey Pavin (1995) and Raymond Floyd (1986) as well as Scotland’s James Foulis way back in 1896, the fifth year of the course’s existence. Shinnecock is scheduled to host the US Open again in 2026.
This year’s field is expected to feature 156 players including four Masters champions, three Open Championship winners and four PGA Championship winners.
As per usual, many of golf’s top players are expected to be at Shinnecock Hills on Thursday, and that includes three-time US Open winner Tiger Woods. In fact, every US Open champion from 2008 through 2017 is expected to be teeing it up Thursday on Long Island.
Two multiple US Open winners are expected in the field as Woods (2000,2002,2008) and Ernie Els (1994,1997) are among those listed as participants.
Players to Watch For
Jason Day (+1400)
Day is no stranger to leaderboards at Majors, especially the US Open. He won the 2015 PGA Championship and enters this year’s US Open as the eighth-ranked player in the world. He’s had a good year so far, winning the Farmers Insurance Open in January and most recently took home the Wells Fargo Championship in May. All told, Day has 12 career PGA Tour victories on his resume.
As mentioned, he’s fared very well at this tournament in his career. Day finished eighth in 2016, ninth in 2015, fourth in 2014 and was the runner-up in both 2013 and 2011 when he lost to Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy, respectively.
Justin Thomas (+1400)
Thomas enters the US Open as the PGA Tour’s Money List leader for 2018 thanks to two victories and a runner-up finish on his 2018 resume. At the age of just 25, Thomas is certainly one of the best young players in the world and is going to be a threat at major tournaments for years to come.
Thomas finished in the Top 10 at ninth in last year’s tournament at Erin Hills after a 32nd-place finish in 2016 and missing the cut in 2014. Obviously, the University of Alabama product’s career has taken off over the last couple of seasons as he enters the US Open as the world’s second-ranked player. With how Thomas has played this season and his ninth-place finish at last year’s tournament, it would be of little surprise to see Thomas in the final grouping on Sunday.
Bryson Dechambeau (+4000)
After winning last weekend’s Memorial Tournament in a playoff, the 24-year-old Dechambeau is primed for contention again at Shinnecock. With the victory, Dechambeau moved up 16 spots in the world rankings to 22nd, tucked in alongside Webb Simpson and just two spots back of Phil Mickelson.
In 16 events this season, Dechambeau has racked up six Top 10 finishes while he enters play ranked fourth on the Money List for 2018. In fact, Dechambeau has finished in fourth place or better in four of his last seven events. He has missed the cut in two of his three US Open events in his career, however, he placed an impressive 15th in 2016 as a 22-year-old.
Clearly, this guy is coming into his own as he looks to take down his first Major Championship of his PGA Tour career.
Webb Simpson (+6000)
Let’s get at least one previous US Open champion on this list. Simpson won at the Olympic Club in San Francisco in 2012, edging out both Graeme McDowell and Michael Thompson by a single stroke to win the tournament.
In his most recent outing, Simpson missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational, however, that was just one week after winning the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Unlike others on this list, Simpson’s results at this tournament since that 2012 victory are nothing to write home about.
That said, he has five Top 10 finishes in 15 events this season and took the Memorial Tournament off, and likely this weekend’s St. Jude Classic, to rest up for this one.
His game appears to be back in order after a tough 2017 season, so let’s look for Simpson to regain that 2012 form and get back into contending at the US Open.
If you are looking for a longshot to take down this year’s tournament, Hadwin (+12500) seems like a realistic play. He has just three Top 10 finishes in 16 events this season, but two of those have come over his last eight events. Hadwin has four Top 16 finishes over his last eight events and finished a respectable 24th at the Masters after firing an opening round 69.
Hadwin has one career PGA Tour victory on his resume after winning last year’s Valspar Championship by one stroke over Patrick Cantlay. Other top finishes include second and third-place finishes at the CareerBuilder Challenge in 2017 and 2018.
A Canadian has never won the US Open, but the Abbotsford, British Columbia native enters play as a Top 50-ranked player and could sneak into contention if he can start strong like he did as this year’s Masters.
Other longshot plays I like are Jason Dufner (+15000), Ryan Moore (+15000) and Graeme McDowell (+15000).
Of the players above, my favorite play, like many others, is Thomas. He’s the world’s top-ranked player and 2018 Money leader for a reason. It’s certainly a competitive field like all majors, however, Thomas is playing the best golf of his young career and I would be shocked if he wasn’t a serious contender or at least within arm’s length of the lead on Sunday afternoon.