By Ryan Herrington
These guys aren’t among the favourites this week at Shinnecock Hills—surprisingly in some cases—but under the right circumstances, they could all find themselves in contention come Sunday. Looking to round out your U.S. Open fantasy lineup? You could do worse than pick from among these tour pros.
1. Patrick Cantlay
The 26-year-old has been the proverbial model of consistency over the last 18 months, recording nine top-10s in 27 PGA Tour starts (including a win in Vegas) and missing only two cuts. He ranks 19th in strokes gained/total, which is pretty impressive given his 133rd ranking in strokes gained/putting. His patience and low-key competitiveness could serve him well in the U.S. Open, where he’s made the cut twice in two appearances, but is playing for the first time as a professional.
2. Bryson DeChambeau (main picture)
A missed cut at Erin Hills became a turning point for DeChambeau after a disappointing start to his pro career. Since then, the 24-year-old former NCAA and U.S. Amateur champ has won twice on the PGA Tour (including his recent triumph at Memorial) and has six top-five finishes in 25 starts. This will already be his fourth U.S. Open, and his best finish, T-15 at Oakmont, came the one time he played a more traditional Open course.
3. Sergio Garcia
The Spaniard continues to play with house money in majors after his 2017 Masters win, but the U.S. Open might be his best bet to add a second title. He has played in 18 and made the cut 16 times, including his last 10 appearances. That streak includes three top-10s. He has five top-10s overall, and would have had a sixth in 2004 at Shinnecock if not for a closing 80 that left him T-20. A little revenge, anyone?
4. Zach Johnson
The two-time major winner has quietly missed just one cut in 16 starts this season and has eight top-25 finishes. He’s 29th in strokes gained/tee-to-green and 23rd in strokes gained/around the green. With major wins at Augusta National and St. Andrews, the 42-year-old knows from winning big events at big-time venues. Why not add Shinnecock to his collection?
5. Matt Kuchar
It took a little while for Kuchar to find a rhythm at the U.S. Open, missing the cut in five of his first seven starts. But since 2010, he has played the weekend every time and has an impressive Sunday stroke average of 71.75. The soon-to-be 40-year-old (June 21) has struggled in 2018 off the tee but has made up for it around the green and with his putting.
6. Louis Oosthuizen
The 35-year-old South African comes into Shinnecock with a T-5 and T-13 in his last two PGA Tour starts. He also has a nice U.S. Open record, having made the cut the last four years, including a T-2 at Chambers Bay. His major track record is, well, sneaky good (he’s finished first or second five times, including the 2017 PGA), so he seems like a nice sneaky pick this week.
7. Xander Schauffele
He has a small U.S. Open sample size, but his one start was an impressive T-5 at Erin Hills. The reigning rookie of the year has had a quiet sophomore season on the PGA Tour after winning twice in 2017, but a T-2 finish at the Players (and only three missed cuts in 17 starts) hints he might have the ability step things up under the spotlight.
8. Webb Simpson
In the minds of many, a victory at the Players Championship in May validated Simpson’s surprise 2012 U.S. Open triumph at Olympic Club. More importantly for Simpson himself, it continued a solid 2018 season in which he had four other top-10 finishes in 14 starts. Beyond the Olympic Club win, Simpson has made the cut in five of his other six Open starts. And nine of his last 15 rounds on tour have been in the 60s. It’s a good combination.
9. Steve Stricker
The 51-year-old made it through Sectional Qualifying for a second straight year, but this time doesn’t have the pressure of playing in his home state of Wisconsin. Stricker’s Open record is strong: 20 starts, 18 made cuts and four top-10s. And he’s got two wins on the PGA Tour Champions this year when he’s moonlighted from the PGA Tour.