We have reached the midway point of the United States Open Golf Tournament at Shinnecock Hills in the year of our Lord 2018. It’s time to start rooting against Dustin Johnson!
DJ sits at four under par with a four shot lead and is in danger of depriving the golf world of any intrigue or drama this weekend. It’s akin to when Tiger Woods was dominating golf tournaments in the early 2000’s. I never understood why it was fun to watch a guy win by ten shots. There is nothing better in sports than a major championship being tightly contested on the Sunday of a major championship. Who will thrive and who will wilt under the intense pressure of the final 9 holes?
That’s what sports are all about.
Who besides DJ’s immediate family (he still has not married Paulina Gretzky) would like to see him run away with this tournament? Only terrible people, if you ask me. I will say many golf fans wanted to see Tiger blow away the field which I always found odd….and possibly un-American.
Shinnecock has held up beautifully as a U.S. Open course. It is getting rave reviews from fans and golfers alike. It’s a fair test that that uses every club in your bag. The New York fans have changed though. I haven’t heard any caustic wit or barbed comments. Walking with the group of Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, all I heard was gushing praise and enthusiasm for each player. “New York loves you Phil”, “happy Birthday Phil!”, “great shot Jordan!”, “you the man Rory”… this praise all being heaped on a group that was a combined 25 over par. If you haven’t got anything negative or at least funny to say at a golf tournament, why say anything at all?
The best bets to challenge Johnson and give the sporting public something interesting to watch this weekend are as follows: Justin Rose- the ever-steady Englishman.
He looks like he could be the headmaster at Eton with his polite manners and sincere demeanor. He’s a great ball striker and particularly excels on second shots into the green. He’s rarely out of position, which is a prerequisite for success at Shinnecock. If DJ slips up, this is the guy who could step in and steal this major championship.
Tommy Fleetwood- another Englishman, but one who looks like he would get kicked out of Eton. He’s a great ball striker who contended at the US Open last year at Erin Hills. Fleetwood can get really hot and he will need to in order to chase down DJ.
Rickie Fowler- the people’s choice to win this tournament. If Fowler has a chance on Sunday, he will have the tedious (more on this later) crowd behind him. He has 8 top 10’s in majors in the last 5 years without a win. He’s newly engaged to viral pole-vaulter (not a euphemism) Allison Stokke so he has a lot going for him…which is nice.
Ian Poulter- Another GD Englishman! Poulter was only one off the lead before soiling his knickers by finishing triple bogey, bogey on the last 2 holes. He has come through in big situations before but really only in the Ryder Cup, never in major championships.
Brooks Koepka- The defending U.S. Open champion is still putting on quite a show. Koepka fired a tournament-best four under on Friday to vault himself into contention. He’s also DJ’s workout buddy and pal, so it would be fun to see those two big palookas go at it on Sunday afternoon.
Henrik Stenson- The sturdy Swede, as I call him but nobody else does. Henrik is a ball striking monster. That kind of play works well at the U.S. Open. He will not be intimidated by DJ as he already has a major and as proven himself under intense pressure.
Hopefully DJ will spit the bit and bring these formidable foes back into contention as I don’t have a lot going on this weekend (I assume you don’t either) and would love to watch some pressure-packed golf.
Follow Dan Redmond on Twitter @danfromdc