It's been about 48 hours since our preview, and very little has changed in terms of my impressions of the course. I am now pretty convinced that driving accuracy is absolutely irrelevant, so I'm not interested in total driving. Just driving distance. What has been confirmed is the creativity needed to play the course, including putting from well off the green.
It's also been nice to hear a number of players offer the take that the course should play fair as long as the expectations coming in are in tune with this not being anything like a regular U.S. Open course.
Creativity and attitude are important.
With that as the backdrop, here we go:
- Rory McIlroy - I see this as a no-brainer. A 7,800 yard layout playing to a par of 70 is right up his alley. The width of the fairways will allow him to confidently bomb the driver. It will come down to his putter. If we see a confident McIlroy with the flat stick, it's hard to think he won't be in contention on the back nine Sunday afternoon.
- Jordan Spieth - Let me start by saying that this has very little to do with his caddie being a local. Spieth is a local to the HP Byron Nelson, and that hasn't translated into a win, so why would his caddie being a local to this layout matter that much more? What does matter is how strong he's been all year and how he should fight his way into the mix this week.
- Rickie Fowler - Look at his record in majors the last year and a half and consider his win at THE PLAYERS and ask yourself who below him should really be above him.
- Phil Mickelson - This checks a lot of boxes for Phil. He's clearly in good form, and this course should allow him to hit the driver without fear of reprisal. Add to that, he is a creative genius, so the slopes and curves of this course should have his full attention and stimulation.
- Hideki Matsuyama - His stats are as appealing as anyone's and he showed, especially early in the week, that he was in nice form two weeks ago at Memorial.
- Sergio Garcia - The Spaniard has played majors very well throughout his career. Included in that is several close calls in Open Championships, which is what Chambers Bay will resemble. While he's a course horse at TPC Sawgrass, and his big week there was not a surprise, it does show that he's on point.
- Henrik Stenson - Could be the steal of a weekly draft in the seventh spot given his history on links courses and his pedigree, but rocky form well after his flu battle around the Masters hasn't lifted. Very dangerous with the irons, which won't hurt him this week.
- Dustin Johnson - His value would be higher if not for the weird WD at the FedEx St. Jude last week due to illness during a very bad first round, but my guess is that people may fade him a little too far. Bomber can bomb this week.
- Brooks Koepka - Another bomber that enters the week on a roll to boot, Koepka has the advantage of seeing this course in competition in the U.S. Amateur back in 2010.
- Justin Rose - This would favor him a bit more if the tee shots were a bit more demanding, but he's shown his class over the last two months in the U.S. and should be plenty dangerous.
- Bubba Watson
- Jimmy Walker
- Paul Casey
- Bill Haas
- Ian Poulter
- Jim Furyk
- Brandt Snedeker
- Billy Horschel
- Francesco Molinari
- Ryan Palmer
- Matt Kuchar
- Jason Day
- Ryan Moore
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Lee Westwood
As for the one-and-done, I'm going to throw the whammy on Rickie Fowler as my pick. He's been so clutch in majors and now has a ton of additional confidence after winning THE PLAYERS.
If it helps the cause, will someone please tell him that I think he's the most overrated player in golf? That worked well for motivation at TPC Sawgrass :) !
Best of luck to all!