PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — It’s time for the most difficult test in golf.
The world’s best have gathered on California’s gorgeous Monterey Peninsula for the 119th U.S. Open, which begins Thursday at the iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links. The year’s first two majors delivered in a big way, with Tiger Woods completing a comeback for the ages at the Masters and Brooks Koepka continuing his historically brilliant run of major championship golf at the PGA.
Woods and Koepka are among a host of players who will like their chances to win this week—so who will hoist the trophy come Sunday evening? That’s anyone’s guess, but SI.com has ranked the top 100 players in the 156-man field and analyzed their chances.
100. Ollie Schniederjans
Age: 25 | World Ranking: 238 | Best U.S. Open finish: T42, 2015
Former world No. 1 amateur has all the potential in the world, and he’s recently started working with Butch Harmon, so odds are he’ll convert that potential into results eventually. It just probably won’t be this week. Fairways are a must, and he is dead last in driving accuracy.
99. Brian Stuard
Age: 36 | World Ranking: 165 | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in all four appearances
Journeyman has made five cuts in a row but has missed the weekend each of the four times he’s played in a U.S. Open.
98. Nick Taylor
Age: 31 | World Ranking: 254 | Best U.S. Open finish: T36, 2009
Canadian has made 11 of 15 cuts this year but hasn’t been anywhere close to contending for a victory.
97. Austin Eckroat (a)
Age: 20 | World Ranking: N/A | Best U.S. Open finish: Making first appearance
Recently finished his sophomore season at powerhouse Oklahoma State, where he was part of the team that lost in the semis of the NCAAs. Overshadowed a bit by teammates Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland but had a fine season himself, averaging under 71 and representing the U.S. at last week’s Palmer Cup.
96. Anirban Lahiri
Age: 31 | World Ranking: 253 | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in both appearances
Indian player reached as high as 33rd in the world back in 2015. He’s in danger of losing his PGA Tour card if he doesn’t rally late in this season, as he currently ranks outside the top 150 in the FedEx Cup.
95. Brandon Wu (a)
Age: 22 | World Ranking: N/A | Best U.S. Open finish: Making first appearance
How’s this for a month? On May 29, Wu helped Stanford win the NCAA team championship. On June 3, he qualifies for the U.S. Open in a sectional site filled with PGA Tour pros. On June 7, he represents the U.S. in the Palmer Cup. On June 13, he’ll tee it up in his first U.S. Open. If he makes the cut, he’ll have a bit of a conflict—Stanford’s graduation ceremony is on Sunday.
94. Harris English
Age: 29 | World Ranking: 309 | Best U.S. Open finish: T37, 2016
Long-hitting Georgian snuck into the field after finishing as one of the alternates at the Canada sectional qualifying site. Broke into the world top 50 in 2015 and has two PGA Tour wins but hasn’t played well in a few years, with no top 10s in 15 starts in 2019.
93. Cameron Young (a)
Age: 22 | World Ranking: N/A | Best U.S. Open finish: Making first appearance
Recently wrapped up an impressive career at Wake Forest, where he was All-ACC this year.
92. Julian Etulain
Age: 30 | World Ranking: | Best U.S. Open finish: Making first appearance
Argentine has made 11 of 16 cuts on Tour this season but may struggle to meet Pebble’s ball striking demands—he ranks 167th in strokes gained off the tee and 132nd in strokes gained approaching the green.
91. Chun An Yu (a)
Age: 20 | World Ranking: N/A | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in only appearance
Rising senior at Arizona State finished third at the NCAA individuals last month.
90. Kyoung-Hoon Lee
Age: 27 | World Ranking: 238 | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in only appearance
South Korean rookie has two top 10s on the season, one of which was a T7 at the difficult Honda Classic.
89. Chesson Hadley
Age: 31 | World Ranking: 102 | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in only appearance
Lanky Georgia Tech grad is struggling with his game, having missed five of his last six cuts.
88. Luke Donald
Age: 41 | World Ranking: 514 | Best U.S. Open finish: T8, 2013
Spent more than a year as the world’s top-ranked player before experiencing a shocking loss of form; he fell outside the top 700 in the world as he tried hitting the ball farther and dealt with back problems. Donald picked up his first PGA Tour top 10 since 2016 at the Valspar while playing on a sponsor’s exemption. He’s made two more cuts since then and played his way into the field through the stacked Columbus sectional qualifying site.
87. Aaron Baddeley
Age: 38 | World Ranking: 180 | Best U.S. Open finish: T13, 2007
Once reached as high as 16th in the | World Rankings but hasn’t been inside the top 100 since 2013. He missed the cut in each of the past two times the U.S. Open was at Pebble, in 2000 and 2010. Has experimented with different swings, including a period of stack-and-tilt, but through it all has remained one of the best putters on Earth.
86. Marcus Kinhult
Age: 22 | World Ranking: 122 | Best U.S. Open finish: Making first appearance
Young Swede had a decorated amateur career and picked up his first European Tour victory at last month’s British Masters, where he outlasted Englishmen Matt Wallace and Eddie Pepperell to win by a stroke.
85. Ryan Fox
Age: 32 | World Ranking: 89 | Best U.S. Open finish: T41, 2018
The Australian is one of the longest hitters not on the PGA Tour, averaging more than 321 yards off the tee last season. Picked up his first European Tour victory in February.
84. Kyle Stanley
Age: 31 | World Ranking: 55 | Best U.S. Open finish: 53, 2009
He’s missed the cut in 11 of his 18 major starts. Withdrew from the Canadian Open early in the week and missed the cut at the Memorial before that.
83. Stewart Hagestad (a)
Age: 28 | World Ranking: N/A | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in both appearances
Played golf at USC before before taking a real estate job in NYC. He’s emerged as perhaps the best mid-amateur in the country and is the first amateur in 34 years to have qualified for three straight U.S. Opens. Took home low amateur honors at the 2017 Masters.
82. Ernie Els
Age: 49 | World Ranking: 354 | Best U.S. Open finish: WON, 1994, 1997
Two-time U.S. Open champion is eligible for the senior circuit in October. He got into the field via a special exemption from the USGA, and it’s not hard to see why, given his history at this venue—he finished T2 at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach (15 strokes behind Tiger Woods, mind you) and T3 when the Open returned in 2010.
81. Patton Kizzire
Age: 33 | World Ranking: 112 | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in only appearance
This doesn’t seem to be the greatest fit for Kizzire, who won twice to start the 2017-18 season and hasn’t done much of anything since. He has zero top 10s in full-field events anywhere since January 2019, though he did post a more-than-respectable T18 at Augusta. Here’s the thing, though—you can miss off the tee at Augusta, and you can’t at Pebble, and he ranks 195th in strokes gained off the tee.
80. Jason Dufner
Age: 42 | World Ranking: 145 | Best U.S. Open finish: T4, 2012, 2013
The 2013 PGA Champion fell outside the top 200 in the world before a T4 finish at Quail Hollow last month. He added another top-10 at the Memorial two weeks ago and appears to be working his way back. Can be tough to watch with the putter in his hands, but his simple swing still produces plenty of shots that go right where he’s looking.
79. Shugo Imahira
Age: 26 | World Ranking: 75 | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in only appearance
Perhaps the smallest player in the field (5’5”), he continues to have success on his native Japan Golf Tour, which has bumped his | World Ranking up and gotten him into huge events. He missed the cut at both the Masters and PGA, and neither was particularly close.
78. Bernd Weisberger
Age: 33 | World Ranking: 143 | Best U.S. Open finish: T16, 2017
Won his fifth European Tour event last month in Denmark and got one of the last three spots in this field (he was an alternate from the European sectional qualifying site).
77. Thomas Pieters
Age: 27 | World Ranking: 93 | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in only appearance
Looked destined for stardom after being one of Europe’s few bright spots in the 2016 Ryder Cup, but he’s dropped to the point of needing to play a 36-hole qualifier to make the U.S. Open. Credit to him, though, because that’s exactly what he did. An American-style bomb-and-gouger, he could struggle to find Pebble’s narrow fairways.
76. Jhonattan Vegas
Age: 34 | World Ranking: 82 | Best U.S. Open finish: T41, 2018
Solid ball striker hasn’t had much major success in his career. Three-time Tour winner played his way into the field via sectional qualifying.
75. Jimmy Walker
Age: 40 | World Ranking: 104 | Best U.S. Open finish: T9, 2014
Former U.S. Ryder Cupper and 2016 PGA Champ hasn’t been quite the same since coming down with Lyme disease in spring 2017.
74. Scottie Scheffler
Age: 22 | World Ranking: 132 | Best U.S. Open finish: T27, 2017
Graduated Texas last spring after leading the Longhorns to three Big 12 titles, he’s hit the ground running in his professional career. Currently ranks second on the Web.com Tour moneylist, with a win and two runner-up finishes, all but guaranteeing his PGA Tour card for next season. Took low amateur honors two years ago at Erin Hills.
73. Joel Dahmen
Age: 31 | World Ranking: 81 | Best U.S. Open finish: Making first appearance
Cancer survivor had his best-ever PGA Tour finish, a solo second, at the Wells Fargo last month. The following week, he made the cut in his first-ever major at the PGA.
72. Chez Reavie
Age: 37 | World Ranking: 63 | Best U.S. Open finish T16, 2017
William Chesney Reavie finished T2 to Cinderella champion Ted Potter Jr. at Pebble in 2017. The best part of the relatively short hitter’s game is his irons, as he ranks fifth in approaches from 150-175 yards this season.
71. Erik van Rooyen
Age: 29 | World Ranking: 87 | Best U.S. Open finish: Making first appearance
Big, fit South African plays mostly on the European Tour. He looks the part and has played nicely on this side of the pond recently: a T8 at Bethpage and a T20 last week in Canada.
70. Thorbjorn Olesen
Age: 29 | World Ranking: 60 | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in both appearances
Long-hitting Danish player made the 2018 European Ryder Cup team, but he’s not playing anywhere near his best at the moment.
69. Byeong-Hun An
Age: 27 | World Ranking: 58 | Best U.S. Open finish: T23, 2016
Ranks inside the top 50 in strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained approaching the green, and he’s third in strokes gained around the green. It’s the on the green stuff that gives him trouble—statistically, there are only three worse putters on the PGA Tour this season. An has also never played in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, opting to skip the California swing in recent years.
68. Aaron Wise
Age: 22 | World Ranking: 72 | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in both appearances
Reigning rookie of the year is in a bit of a sophomore slump, with his only top 10 this season coming in the fall. He’s missed the cut in both of his last two starts, as well as missing the weekend in both of his previous U.S. Open appearances.
67. Daniel Berger
Age: 26 | World Ranking: 98 | Best U.S. Open finish: T6, 2018
Played in the final group alongside Tony Finau at last year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock en route to a T6 finish. A finger injury caused him to miss four months last fall but there have been some positive signs since his January return, including a T2 in Puerto Rico.
66. Danny Willett
Age: 31 | World Ranking: 80 | Best U.S. Open finish: T37, 2016
Won the 2017 Masters then fell off the face of the planet, falling outside the world top 400 before winning the European Tour’s year-end event in Dubai. Finished T8 last week in Canada.
65. Keith Mitchell
Age: 27 | World Ranking: 57 | Best U.S. Open finish: Making first appearance
Georgia alum picked up his first victory at the Honda Classic, sinking a 15-foot birdie putt to beat Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler by a shot. Missed the cut at AT&T in February.
64. Luke List
Age: 34 | World Ranking: 64 | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in all four appearances
Vanderbilt grad has long felt like a bit of an underachiever, given how well he drives the ball (12th in strokes gained off the tee). Had by far his best major ever at last month’s PGA, where he played in the penultimate group on Sunday and finished T6.
63. Rory Sabbatini
Age: 43 | World Ranking: 115 | Best U.S. Open finish: T30, 2011
Sabbatini has as many PGA Tour victories (six) as Brooks Koepka, but none have come since 2011. He’s quietly made 10 cuts in a row and has four top-20s in his last five starts. Played his way into the field through sectional qualifying.
62. Collin Morikawa
Age: 22 | World Ranking: N/A | Best U.S. Open finish: Making first appearance
Recently wrapped up his senior year at California-Berkeley, where he starred and reached No. 1in the world amateur ranking. Turned pro right after the NCAA championships and had a more-than-impressive professional debut last week, finishing T14 in the Canadian Open. Must be pretty sweet, making $125,000 in your first week as a working adult.
61. J.B. Holmes
Age: 37 | World Ranking: 51 | Best U.S. Open finish:
Crawled his way to his fifth PGA Tour victory at Riviera—he’s on the shortlist for slowest player on Tour—but has been abysmal since, missing four of six cuts and finishing no higher than T62 in a stroke-play tournament.
60. Abraham Ancer
Age: 28 | World Ranking: 66 | Best U.S. Open finish: Making first appearance
Oklahoma grad who represents Mexico got off to a torrid start to his season, posting two top-five finishes in his first three starts last fall, but doesn’t have a top 10 stateside since. He did win the Australian Open, the most significant title of his career, in December and ranks an impressive 20th in strokes gained off the tee.
59. Lucas Glover
Age: 39 | World Ranking: 77 | Best U.S. Open finish: WON, 2009
Has made a habit of placing between 10th and 20th this year, with seven such finishes already this season to go along with three top-10s. Won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black but has missed the cut in the last seven U.S. Opens.
58. Andrew Putnam
Age: 30 | World Ranking: 50 | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in only appearance
Pepperdine grad grinded on mini tours for years after turning pro and eventually picked up his first PGA Tour win at last year’s Barracuda Championship. He already has a solo second and a T3 this year, mostly thanks to his putter—he ranks second in strokes gained putting but 200th in strokes gained off the tee.
57. Emiliano Grillo
Age: 26 | World Ranking: 53 | Best U.S. Open finish: T54, 2016
The 2016 PGA Tour rookie of the year picked up his first top 10 of 2019 at the Memorial two weeks ago. The Argentinian’s ball striking is terrific—22nd in strokes gained off the tee, 10th in strokes gained approach, 17th in strokes gained tee-to-green. The issue is once he gets close to the hole, as he ranks 146th in strokes gained around the green and a putrid 192nd in strokes gained putting.
56. Si Woo Kim
Age: 23 | World Ranking: 56 | Best U.S. Open finish: T13, 2017
The South Korean is the youngest Players champion in history and finished T4 at the AT&T here in February. When you watch him swing, it’s hard to understand how he ranks outside the top 130 in both strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained approaching the green. He’s made up for it a bit with an improved short game, which is how he’s managed three top-four finishes on the season, including on poa annua greens at Riviera.
55. Justin Harding
Age: 33 | World Ranking: 47 | Best U.S. Open finish: Making first appearance
He summoned an impressive stretch of golf on the European Tour—a win followed by a runner-up—to qualify for the WGC Match Play…then made the knockout rounds at the match play to qualify for the Masters…then finished T12 in his Augusta debut to ensure a return to Magnolia Lane next year.
54. Alex Noren
Age: 36 | World Ranking: 41 | Best U.S. Open finish: T25, 2018
The Swede reached as high as world No. 8 and played his way onto last year’s Ryder Cup team, but he’s been steadily slipping since then. It hasn’t been just one issue, either—he ranks outside the top 100 in strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained approaching the green and strokes gained putting.
53. Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Age: 29 | World Ranking: 46 | Best U.S. Open finish: 15, 2018
The Barn Rat has made the cut in six of his last seven major starts, including a solo 15th last year at Shinnecock. The loveable Thai player is a fan favorite at every tournament he plays in and has three top-fives this season.
52. Zach Johnson
Age: 43 | World Ranking: 95 | Best U.S. Open finish: T8, 2016
For a player with such an impressive résumé—12 wins, two majors, five Ryder Cup teams—his U.S. Open record is surprisingly poor: he has just one top 10 in this tournament and has missed the cut five times. His best days might be behind him, as he’s 43 and dropped all the way to No. 95 in the world. Still, Pebble won’t play too long for him, so it wouldn’t be totally shocking to see him manufacture a solid finish.
51. Tyrell Hatton
Age: 27 | World Ranking: 42 | Best U.S. Open finish: T6, 2018
Outspoken Englishmen played quite solidly en route to a T6 finish at Shinnecock last year, but he only just picked up his first top 10 in a stroke-play event this season at Colonial.
50. Viktor Hovland (a)
Age: 21 | World Ranking: N/A | Best U.S. Open finish: Making first appearance
Reigning U.S. Amateur champion won four times this year at Oklahoma State and is the top-ranked amateur in the world. He’ll forego his senior season, turn professional right after the U.S. Open—forfeiting his exemption into the British Open—and make his pro debut at next week’s Travelers Championship. Found himself inside Butler Cabin with Tiger by finishing T32 and taking low amateur honors at the Masters.
49. Cameron Smith
Age: 25 | World Ranking: 34 | Best U.S. Open finish: T4, 2015
Babyfaced Aussie has had some major success, with a T4 at the 2015 U.S. Open and a T5 at the 2018 Masters, but he’s gone MC-T64-MC in his last three starts and the ball striking is a bit too erratic to like his chances here.
48. Bubba Watson
Age: 40 | World Ranking: 20 | Best U.S. Open finish: T5, 2007
He’s perhaps the ultimate horse-for-the-course player, as his style (curving the ball 30+ yards off the tee) only plays well on certain tracks. U.S. Opens aren’t his jam, as he’s missed the cut in four of the last five, and he isn’t one to grind particularly hard when he knows he can’t win. More likely to miss the cut than finish in the top 20.
47. Cheng-Tsung Pan
Age: 27 | World Ranking: 47 | Best U.S. Open finish: T45, 2013
Former world No. 1 amateur took some time to find his footing on Tour, but he won his first event at the RBC Heritage in April and finished T3 at Colonial to crack the world top 50.
46. Charles Howell III
Age: 39 | World Ranking: | Best U.S. Open finish: T18, 2002
Put together one of the best stretches of his career earlier this season, returning to the winner’s circle for the first time in 11 years at the RSM Classic and notching six top-20 finishes in the seven starts after. He’s hit a bit of a wall, though, with three missed cuts and a withdrawal in his last five starts. Hasn’t played Pebble in a U.S. Open but has made 5/5 cuts in his starts at the AT&T.
45. Rafael Cabrera Bello
Age: 35 | World Ranking: 38 | Best U.S. Open finish: T32, 2016
He’s a top-25 machine and his game is quite elegant—beautiful swing, even demeanor, chiseled physique—but you get the sense he many things proficiently but not one thing super well. At 35, he’s running out of time to take his game to the next level, which would include winning for the first time on the PGA Tour.
44. Billy Horschel
Age: 32 | World Ranking: 39 | Best U.S. Open finish: T4, 2013
The 2014 FedEx Cup champ is fiery and always up for a challenge, which is a good attitude to have at USGA events. He’s having a solid if unspectacular season, with just one missed cut in 14 starts but just two top 10s, one of which came in his last start at the Memorial.
43. Branden Grace
Age: 31 | World Ranking: 54 | Best U.S. Open finish: T4, 2015
He tends to play majors well—the South African has finished T18 or better in all four majors, has two top-fives in U.S. Opens and is the only man in golf history to shoot 62 at a major championship. This year, however, has been a slog—he hasn’t finished better than T53 in a stroke-play event since February.
42. Lucas Bjerregaard
Age: 27 | World Ranking: 45 | Best U.S. Open finish: T40, 2014
Long-hitting Dane turned pro in 2011 but didn’t rise to prominence until recently—he won one of the European Tour’s signature events in 2018 and beat Tiger Woods in the quarters of the WGC-Match Play in March. A proper ball striker, he finished in the top 25 this year at both the Masters (T21) and PGA (T16).
41. Kevin Kisner
Age: 35 | World Ranking: 27 | Best U.S. Open finish: T12, 2015
Secured the biggest victory of his career at the WGC-Match Play but has been just okay since. He continues to do his best work on the greens—he’s 26th in strokes gained putting—he plays well in majors and Pebble won’t be too beefy for a guy who ranks 164th in driving distance. Reason for optimism, right? Not so much—if you take him for his word, he’s not going to be a factor come the weekend. Earlier this year, he said on the Fore Play podcast, “I could play decent…if the USGA wasn’t running it.”
40. Keegan Bradley
Age: 32 | World Ranking: 37 | Best U.S. Open finish: T4, 2014
One of four players to ever win in his first major championship start (2011 PGA), Bradley has risen from a slump that saw him dip as low as No. 122 in the world. Has missed just three cuts since winning the BMW Championship last fall but only has one top-10 in that same period.
39. Scott Piercy
Age: 40 | World Ranking: 59 | Best U.S. Open finish: T2, 2016
Missed the cut last week in Canada, but he played some fantastic golf in the spring. While finishing second at the Byron Nelson, he became the first player since 2010 to complete a full 72-hole event without a bogey. He’s an awesome ball striker with a trusty fade, which he rode to a second-place finish at the U.S. Openiest U.S. Open venue, Oakmont.
38. Haotong Li
Age: 23 | World Ranking: 40 | Best U.S. Open finish: T16, 2008
Chinese player figures to play his first President’s Cup in December. He continues to do his best work outside of the U.S., but he’s got the raw talent and right attitude to excel in the biggest events over here. Just a matter of time.
37. Patrick Reed
Age: 28 | World Ranking: 23 | Best U.S. Open finish: 4, 2018
In his first major after winning the Masters, Reed made a Sunday charge before fading a bit to finish solo fourth last year at Shinnecock. He hasn’t had a better tournament stateside since and has yet to post a top 10 anywhere in 2019. The issue has been ball striking—124th in strokes gained off the tee 147th in strokes gained approaching the green—but the short game remains world class.
36. Jim Furyk
Age: 48 | World Ranking: 49 | Best U.S. Open finish: WON, 2003
Due to his duties as the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, he scaled back his playing and practice schedule and fell outside the top 200 in the world toward the end of last year. He has played terrific golf since, finishing solo second at the Players and racking up four more top 25s since. He hits a ton of fairways, which helps to explain why he’s fared so well at classic U.S. Open setups—he won at Olympia Fields in 2003 and has six other top-10 finishes in this tournament. Finished T16 at the U.S. Open here in 2010.
35. Sergio Garcia
Age: 39 | World Ranking: 30 | Best U.S. Open finish: T3, 2005
He has some really solid finishes this year, including a solo second at Quail Hollow and a quarterfinal loss at the match play, and he ranks second in strokes gained approaching the green. But—and this is not a typo—he has missed the cut in seven straight major championships. Woof.
34. Martin Kaymer
Age: 34 | World Ranking: 97 | Best U.S. Open finish: WON, 2014
One of the streakiest players in the world, he’s capable of stretches where he’s an absolutely elite player. It feels forgotten that he reached world No. 1 in 2011 and is a two-time major winner…including winning the 2014 U.S. Open, at a classic venue in Pinehurst No. 2, by eight shots. Eight! The form has dropped considerably in recent years, and he ranked 186th in the world before a solo third two weeks ago at the Memorial…so was that solo third a blip on the radar or a harbinger of another world-class stretch? Given his propensity to rip off electric periods and his T8 finish here at the 2010 U.S. Open, he’s absolutely a player to keep an eye on.
33. Matt Wallace
Age: 29 | World Ranking: 26 | Best U.S. Open finish: CUT in both appearances
Seems like last year’s festivities at Le Golf National will be the last time the Brit misses a Ryder Cup for the foreseeable future. So much to like about his game, from his picture-perfect swing to his ability to close out tournaments. Followed up a runner-up at the British Masters with a T3 at the PGA Championship. Get used to seeing this name.
32. Kevin Na
Age: 35 | World Ranking: 31 | Best U.S. Open finish: 7, 2016
The King of Walking In Putts won his last start at Colonial, his second victory in 10 months after going nearly seven years without one. He grew up in California and thus should feel comfortable on poa annua greens. He tends to fare best on shorter courses with smaller greens, so Pebble is a nice fit.
31. Graeme McDowell
Age: 39 | World Ranking: | Best U.S. Open finish: WON, 2010
He hoisted the trophy the last time the U.S. Open was at Pebble Beach, so apart from Tiger and maybe Phil, no one in the field has better memories of this place to fall back on. McDowell is another player who has found his game after a period in the depths—he fell outside the world top 250 before winning his first Tour event in nearly four years in the Dominican Republic in March. A T8 finish at the Canadian Open last week was good enough to book a spot in the British Open at Royal Portrush, where he grew up playing.
30. Bryson DeChambeau
Age: 25 | World Ranking: 9 | Best U.S. Open finish: T15, 2016
He was the talk of the town late last summer, when he won four events in nine starts. The science-inclined Californian has cooled down considerably since then, with no top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour since January and missed cuts in three of his last four starts. He did post a final-round 67 in his last competitive round, at the Memorial, so perhaps he’s on the mend.
29. Hideki Matsuyama
Age: 27 | World Ranking: 29 | Best U.S. Open finish: T2, 2017
He doesn’t have a victory since August 2017, so it may seem as though he’s fallen off a bit while other 20-somethings continue to shine. He is, however, playing very consistent golf, having made the cut in all 15 of his starts this season. The ball striking statistics are beautiful as always—third in strokes gained tee to green, sixth in strokes gained overall—but he continues to struggle on the greens, ranking 128th in strokes gained putting this season. If the putter gets hot, he’s certainly a threat to win his first major. But that’s a sizable if.
28. Matthew Fitzpatrick
Age: 24 | World Ranking: 36 | Best U.S. Open finish: T12, 2018
He hits a ton of fairways and rarely beats himself, a style that generally fares well at U.S. Opens—it’s no coincidence, then, that he’s made the cut all four times he’s played it. He also has good memories of USGA events, having won the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club as an 18-year-old in 2013.
27. Gary Woodland
Age: 35 | World Ranking: 25 | Best U.S. Open finish: T23, 2011
Checks all the statistical boxes and has some impressive finishes this year, including a top 10 at the PGA. He just doesn’t seem to get everything out of his game that he should, mostly due to a balky putter (he ranks outside the top 145 in strokes gained putting, one-putt percentage and three-putt avoidance).
26. Tony Finau
Age: 29 | World Ranking: 14 | Best U.S. Open finish: 5, 2018
With an electric game and effervescent smile, he’s become a household name and a crowd favorite. He’s also played fantastic golf recently, with five runner-up finishes over the past three years and top 10s in four of the last six majors, including last year’s U.S. Open. But he’s still searching for just his second Tour victory and first since the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, an opposite-field event. Finished second at Colonial but missed the cut in his last start at the Memorial.
25. Ian Poulter
Age: 43 | World Ranking: 32 | Best U.S. Open finish: T12, 2006
The Fiery Brit is having a solid year, with five top-10 finishes in 13 worldwide starts. He’s a gritty competitor who thrives when things get difficult and was in fine position last year at Shinnecock before shooting 11 over on the weekend. He’s running out of time to add Major Champion to his résumé, which is currently headlined by Ryder Cup Legend.
24. Henrik Stenson
Age: 43 | World Ranking: 43 | Best U.S. Open finish: T4, 2014
A bit jarring to see him so low in the World Rankings, particularly so since he’s still one of the premier iron players in the world. But scores are scores, and he has just one top 10 in stroke play events this year, though it did come last week at the Memorial. He finds a ton of fairways with that trusty 3-wood—he’s sixth on Tour in driving accuracy—and that will be a weapon this week, as the shorter layout won’t punish him for refusing to hit driver so often.
23. Louis Oosthuizen
Age: | World Ranking: 22 | Best U.S. Open finish: T2, 2015
Owns perhaps the purest, most rhythmic swing in the sport, and he’s finished second or better in all four majors. But he flies a bit under the radar because his 2010 British Open title remains his only official PGA Tour win. He does, however, have nine European Tour victories and does not feel the least bit out of place on the first page of major leaderboards.
22. Marc Leishman
Age: 35 | World Ranking: 21 | Best U.S. Open finish: T18, 2016
Presidents Cup stalwart from Australia has five top-10 finishes in majors, but none of those have come at a U.S. Open. He’s having a characteristically, lowkey solid season, with a win and six top 10s in 14 starts including a solo fifth in his last go at the Memorial. Missed the cut in the U.S. Open here in 2010.
21. Shane Lowry
Age: 32 | World Ranking: 32 | Best U.S. Open finish: T2, 2016
Good-natured Irishman has found a nice run of form recently, having finished T3 at the RBC Heritage, T8 at Bethpage Black and T2 at last week’s Canadian Open. He has a terrific short game, which will be an asset given Pebble’s tiny greens, and he has two top 10s in previous U.S. Opens, including a runner-up at Oakmont in 2016.
20. Phil Mickelson
Age: 48 | World Ranking: 24 | Best U.S. Open finish: 2, ’99, ’02, ’04, ’06, ’09, ‘13
A U.S. Open is the only thing missing from Mickelson’s already Hall of Fame résumé. He’s been so, so close so, so many times, with six runner-up finishes in this tournament. Realistically speaking, this may be his last best chance to finally win this thing and complete the career Grand Slam. The stars are aligned to an almost comical extent: he’s won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am five times, including in February; he finished T4 here in the 2010 U.S. Open; and he turns 49 on Sunday, Father’s Day. A victory here would the feel-good story to end all feel-good stories, but it looked a lot likelier to happen four months ago than it does now. His last three starts are MC-T71-MC. Finding fairways is going to be vital this week, way more so than during the Pro-Am, when the rough isn’t nearly as long and the fairways aren’t as narrow. While Phil is hitting bombs these days—he led the field in driving distance at the Memorial and is 17th on Tour for the season—he’s 206th out of 207 qualifying players in driving accuracy. There’s also the simply but quite pertinent fact that he’d be the oldest major champion ever by more than two years.
19. Justin Thomas
Age: 26 | World Ranking: 7 | Best U.S. Open finish: T9, 2017
Missed the cut at the Memorial in his return from a wrist injury but was better last week in Canada, shooting 65 on Friday and finishing T20. He’s probably had the best season of anyone on Tour without a victory and played in the final group at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills. That was a different type of layout, though, and this feels a little too close to the wrist injury for comfort.
18. Jason Day
Age: 31 | World Ranking: 16 | Best U.S. Open finish: 2nd, 2011
He’s not playing close to the best golf of his career—he won five times and a major in 2015—but Day tends to play well in big tournaments, and he tends to play well at Pebble Beach, where he took T4 this year and T2 in 2018. But those finishes came on a course setup by the PGA Tour, not the USGA, and while Day posted five top 10s in his first six U.S. Opens, he has missed the cut in this event each of the past two years.
17. Brandt Snedeker
Age: 38 | World Ranking: 44 | Best U.S. Open finish: 8, 2010, 2015
If you’re looking for a sleeper pick, he might be your guy. He’s won twice at Pebble Beach, in 2013 and 2015, and finished eighth at the U.S. Open here in 2018. And while he’s a great putter anywhere, he’s especially good on poa annua. He also comes in off three-straight top 20s, highlighted by a T4 last week in Canada, where he held a share of the 54-hole lead. You get the sense he could plot his way around, hole some putts and find himself in the last couple groups come Sunday.
16. Jon Rahm
Age: 24 | World Ranking: 13 | Best U.S. Open finish: T13, 2016
He has all the talent in the world and no one doubts that major championships are in his future. If recent form is any indication, though, this week might not be in the cards—he’s missed the cut in each of his last two starts. He remains an elite ball striker (fifth in strokes gained off the tee) and can absolutely contend here should he keep his head about him, which he hasn’t always done.
15. Tommy Fleetwood
Age: 28 | World Ranking: 18 | Best U.S. Open finish: 2, 2018
Ball strikers rise to the top of U.S. Open leaderboards, and Fleetwood certainly fits that description. He finished solo fourth in 2017 at Erin Hills, and his final-round 63 last year at Shinnecock finished one stroke out of a playoff. He’s been a trendy pick at the last couple majors and for good reason, so it’s a bit curious that he still hasn’t won a tournament on U.S. soil. What gives? He’s struggled to burst through the door when given the chance.
14. Rickie Fowler
Age: 30 | World Ranking: 11 | Best U.S. Open finish: T2, 2014
Still in pursuit of that elusive first major championship. He’s been close a number of times but not particularly so at a U.S. Open; when he finished T2 in 2014, he was eight shots back of champion Martin Kaymer. Interestingly enough, he’s only played one Tour round at Pebble Beach, and it happened way back in 2012, when he missed the cut at the AT&T. With all that said, it wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprising to see Fowler get the monkey off his back this week. He already has a win and a runner-up this season, and he has eight top-five finishes in majors.
13. Paul Casey
Age: 41 | World Ranking: 15 | Best U.S. Open finish: T10, 2007
The Englishman is having one of the best seasons of his career. In 15 starts on this wraparound season, he has 10 top-25 finishes, five top-10s, a win and a runner-up. That runner-up came at Pebble Beach, where he held the 54-hole lead before being chased down by Phil Mickelson. Withdrew from his last start at Colonial, citing the flu, but should be good to go this week.
12. Webb Simpson
Age: 33 | World Ranking: 19 | Best U.S. Open finish: WON, 2012
His lone major championship victory (sorry, the Players does not count) came on a shorter-than-average U.S. Open venue that put a premium on finding fairways. It was Merion, but it certainly sounds a lot like Pebble. He finished T2 last week in Canada and, with his armbar style, he has blossomed into one of the better putters anywhere. With just one missed cut in his last 23 starts, he’s a virtual lock to play the weekend.
11. Xander Schauffele
Age: 25 | World Ranking: 10 | Best U.S. Open finish: T5, 2017
Southern California native has had a fantastic start to his major championship career—in nine major starts, he has two runner-up finishes, including at the this year’s Masters, four top-six finishes and six top 20s. The U.S. Open history, albeit brief, is also impressive: T5 at Erin Hills in 2017 and T6 last year at Shinnecock. He has two impressive victories this season, one a World Golf Championship and the other at the Tournament of Champions, which came by way of an 11-under-par final round. He doesn’t say or react much. He simply goes about his business, plays well-rounded golf and inches his way up leaderboards. Sounds like a future U.S. Open champion to me.
10. Justin Rose
Age: 38 | World Ranking: 4 | Best U.S. Open finish: WON, 2013
He does have a victory this year, at Torrey Pines, but the facts are he’s been less consistent since switching from Taylormade to Honma at the beginning of 2019. In 23 worldwide starts in 2018, he had 15 top 10s, one missed cut and and just two 72-hole finishes outside the top 25. In 11 starts this year, he has just four top 10s, two missed cuts and four 72-hole finishes out the top 25. He’s struggling to hit fairways (162nd in fairways percentage) but he hasn’t lost his ability to take it low, highlighted by a 63 at Muirfield Village two weeks ago. He’s fighting a newfound tendency to post a tournament-killing round. If he can summon the steadiness that saw him reach world No. 1, a second U.S. Open is a distinct possibility.
9. Adam Scott
Age: 38 | World Ranking: 17 | Best U.S. Open finish: T4, 2015
He’s swinging the club as well as he did when he summited the World Rankings, and it’s absolutely gorgeous to watch. Few players wear out the sweet spot like Scott does, a quality that travels to any style of golf course anywhere in the world. He finished solo second in his last start at the Memorial and was T18 or better in each of his three starts prior. The only perceived issue is with the putter, as he’s been constantly changing styles over the past year or so, but the stats say he’s been more than fine on the greens (20th in strokes gained putting this year). If you’re searching for a reason why he can’t win this week, you may find yourself searching for quite a while.
8. Francesco Molinari
Age: 36 | World Ranking: 6 | Best U.S. Open finish: T23, 2014
He’s won three PGA Tour events in the last 11 months, including the British Open, and he looked for all the world to be headed for a green jacket before a making two double-bogeys on Augusta’s back nine. When he’s on, he’s a relentless fairways-and-greens machine, so his lack of success U.S. Opens—no top 20s, four missed cuts, including here in 2010 here—is a bit curious. But this version of Molinari is a completely different player than the pre-summer 2018 version, and this version of Molinari has a game that suits Pebble well. It should be noted, however, that since Augusta he has gone MC-T48-T53
7. Jordan Spieth
Age: 25 | World Ranking: 28 | Best U.S. Open finish: WON, 2015
Finally, the slump appears to be a thing of the past. After going 18 starts without a top 10, he has three straight finishes of T8 or better, including a T3 at a Bethpage track that really didn’t suit his game. The main reason for this resurgence has been the putter, as he was unconscious on the greens at the PGA and Colonial. The ball striking still isn’t where it was during his world-beating 2015 stretch, but the work he’s been doing with coach Cameron McCormick is beginning to show returns. If the putter stays hot, he’s in with a shout.
6. Tiger Woods
Age: 43 | World Ranking: 5 | Best U.S. Open finish: WON, 2000, 2002, 2008
He returns to the place where he put forth the most dominant performance in golf history, winning the 2000 U.S. Open by a hard-to-fathom 15 shots. He’s also a past champion of the AT&T Pro-Am and finished T4 here when the Open returned in 2010, despite his game being pretty spotty at the time. His game is in better shape now—if you throw out the PGA, where by his own admission he wasn’t prepared, his last three finishes are T5-WIN-T9, and his ball striking at the Memorial was right where it needs to be. One cause for concern in his recent struggles on poa annua greens—his two worst putting weeks this year came at Riviera and the WGC-Mexico, both on poa.
5. Rory McIlroy
Age: 30 | World Ranking: 3 | Best U.S. Open finish: WON, 2011
Before Brooks went all Brooks, McIlroy was considered the consensus best player in the world earlier this season. When he won the Players Championship in March, McIlroy capped a T4-T5-T4-2-T6-WIN streak and entered the Masters as something of a clear favorite. Then he had a meh week at Augusta and another one at Bethpage, where he backdoored into the top 10 but looked headed for a missed cut after 27 holes. The momentum was gone, it seemed…and then he summoned an electric final-round 61 on Sunday to win the Canadian Open by seven shots, and all the sudden he’s back among the handful of players most likely to win this tournament. Pebble might not be the best fit, but there’s no course on Earth than can defend itself from McIlroy when he’s flying it 320 down the middle and putting as well as he did in Canada. And that great putting week north of the border came on poa annua greens, the same surface he’ll navigate at Pebble.
4. Matt Kuchar
Age: 40 | World Ranking: 12 | Best U.S. Open finish: T6, 2010
If you’re judging solely by the quality of his golf, Kuchar is having a phenomenal year. He already has two wins, two runner-ups and four other top 10s this year, including a T4 last week in Canada, and he finished T12 at Augusta and T8 at Bethpage Black. Consequently, he’s your FedEx Cup leader. But it’s impossible to discuss Matt Kuchar in 2019 without acknowledging the oddly scandalous year he’s had: El Tucan, the Sergio gimme-that-wasn’t, and most recently, begging for a drop when the whole world knew he didn’t deserve one. It’s already been the most eventful season of his career, so why not highlight it with his first major championship? He finished T6 the last time the U.S. Open was here.
3. Patrick Cantlay
Age: 27 | World Ranking: 8 | Best U.S. Open finish: T21, 2011
His breakout win was a longtime coming. It finally arrived two weeks ago at the Memorial, where he shot a bogey-free 64 on Sunday to win Jack Nickalaus’ tournament. You may despise how long it takes him to hit a golf ball, but you’d do well to find a more well-rounded player than Cantlay, who ranks inside the top 30 in all key strokes gained categories and is third in strokes gained overall. His game seems tailor made for major championships, and he’s one of three players (along with Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka) that posted top 10s in both the Masters and PGA earlier this year. His last four starts are T9-T3-T3-T1—both the stats and the eye test suggest he’s one of the very best players in the world, and this major couldn’t come at a better time for the native Californian.
2. Brooks Koepka
Age: 29 | World Ranking: 1 | Best U.S. Open finish: WON, 2017, 2018
He’s the two-time defending champion at this event. He’s the No. 1 player in the world. He’s won four of the last eight majors he’s played in. When you’re on a streak like that, you’re the favorite at any major championship so long as it’s being played on an 18-hole golf course. Granted, Pebble isn’t the perfect fit for Koepka on paper, as his length won’t be as advantageous as it was at Erin Hills or Shinnecock or Bellerive or Bethpage. He’s also only played a tournament at Pebble only once, a T8 at the 2016 AT&T. He also labored to a T50 last week in Canada. Those all sound like reasons to believe someone else will host the U.S. Open trophy, but Koepka’s ability to flip the switch for major championships cannot be understated. If an opening round 65 on Thursday would surprise you, you haven’t been paying much attention to golf over the past two years. And once he’s in that position, he’s shown time and time again that he’s more than comfortable closing the deal. A win here would be a third consecutive U.S. Open and a fifth major in nine tries. Let that sink in for a second.
1. Dustin Johnson
Age: 34 | World Ranking: 2 | Best U.S. Open finish: WON, 2016
It’s hard to believe that his victory at Oakmont in 2016 remains his only major championship. He’s won 20 times, he’s been a fixture atop the World Rankings, and after a solo second at the PGA he has now finished runner-up in each of the four majors. The good news for Johnson is he’s still squarely in the prime of his career and he has a terrific history at Pebble Beach. DJ carried a three-shot lead into Sunday here at the 2010 U.S. Open before playing his first four holes in six over par and shooting 82. He’s also won the AT&T twice and finished runner-up two other times. He cruised to a T20 last week at the Canadian Open, where he looked more concerned with the overall state of his game than his finish in that event. A threat to win every tournament he tees it up in, this feels like a particularly good situation for DJ to finally win major No. 2. It’s long overdue.