U.S Open Preview: Gettin’ Funky at Shinnecock

Written by Ryan Sura (@ryansura18)

 

For my debut article on notasportsshow.world, I figured I might as well scribble some nonsense down about the second major tournament on the PGA Tour circuit. Hello, and welcome to a 2018 US Open Preview, written by your favourite Ryerson Golf Team member.

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

 

Where in the world are they playing?

The professional golf ball whacker guys will be playing the 118th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills this weekend. This oddly named course is located in the town of Southampton on Long Island, New York. This links-style track held the 2004 U.S. Open where Retief Goosen won his second major with a score of 4 under par. Runner-up was none other than Phil Mickelson. This was one of Mickelson’s 11 runner-up finishes at a major, a tough stat for the lefty. The 2004 U.S. Open was some Freaky Friday shit, as two canucks placed in the Top 10 (Mike Weir and Stephen Ames). There is some potential Canadians that could make a splash in Long Island this weekend, but don’t get your hopes up.

Shinnecock Hills plays quite long as a Par 70 at 7,440 yards. There are some extremely long par 4s on the course, but the USGA will get funky with the tee boxes and layout to make it shorter on different days. Since 2004, the course has had a couple of changes. The fairways have been made a little wider and a lot of trees have been removed to create even more of a links-style feel. Keeping the ball in play is an obvious key to every golf course, but the thick rough and countless bunkers will really make you pay when missing the fairway. Just to give you avid golf fans an idea, last year at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, the field averaged 74 percent of fairways hit. In 2004 at Shinnecock, players were only able to hit 50 percent of the fairways all week. So, obviously, this course is not easy to play.

The first person to tell you how hard this track is would be Mr. Woods: “It’s really dependent on weather. Wind blows there, and the winning score’s over par”. Short and to the point for Eldrick. Woods finished 17th last time the U.S. Open was held at Shinnecock in 2004, let’s see if he can muster up a solid week after going through what feels like fifteen surgeries in the past five years. Guy is pretty much Iron Man at this point.

 

Groups you need to follow:

1:47 PM – J. Thomas – D. Johnson – T. Woods

This group has electric written all over it. All three of these pros are top 25 in driving distance and could all be considered Houdini with all the magic tricks they pull out of their bags. Just take a look at DJ’s shot from the friggin’ pond last week in Memphis:

 

While Thomas and Johnson battle out for the number one spot in the world, Woods is still trying to find his first win this season and what better way to do it than at the U.S. Open.

 

1:47 PM* A. Scott – H. Stenson – M. Kaymer

An Aussie, a Swede, and a German walk onto the 1st at Shinnecock Hills together to play the 118th U.S. Open… Well, we won’t know how this joke ends until the tournament is over but you better believe that these guys will make some noise this week. This course plays perfectly for Stenson the Swede, as most of the long par 4s will be playing downwind, which will allow him to keep his big dog in the bag. Stenson is an absolute weapon with is 3 wood, which will allow him to hit a lot of fairways and make a lot of birdies.

I mean, just look at the guy:

1_Henrik_Stenson

 

8:13 AM* – R. Fowler – M. Leishman – H. Matsuyama

This group has some hidden firepower. Leishman had a second place finish just two weeks ago at the AT&T Byron Nelson and along with Matsuyama’s slow backswing, he is having a steady year so far. However, the big talk in this group is Rickie Fowler. Rickie has finished second in almost every single major, except the PGA Championship where he finished third one year. I think with his scrambling ability he could get it done this week at Shinnecock.

 

Golf guys are BIG Sabermetric guys:

Golf has many statistics that measure what a golfer is great at and what they are bad at. These are my four most important stats to look for in the players this week:

-Fairway Percentage

-Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green

-Approaches from 175-200 yards

-Scrambling

The last two are key stats that players need to be careful of this week. A lot of the approach shots are going to be from a hefty distance because of the long par 4s and the choice to not use driver off the tee to keep it in play.

It is tough to make birdies on this track, especially with the deceiving greens. A lot of the greens at Shinnecock Hills have false fronts and run-off areas so players will have to be able to scramble to save par when missing greens.

 

Predictions:

Favourite: Rickie Fowler (20/1) or Henrik Stenson (35/1)

These two picks are guys I really believe have a chance to be at the top of the leaderboard come Sunday. Fowler has been knocking at the door his whole career for a major victory and he could finally get it done in Long Island. Fowler is seventh on the Tour in scrambling, and if his putter gets hot like it can he will be able to control the tough task of Shinnecock.

Henrik Stenson fits this course like a glove. He is second on Tour in approach shots from 175-200 and is first on Tour in strokes gained: approach-the-green. This means Stenson will have the opportunity to make a lot of birdies, his putter will just have to cooperate. I already mentioned how lethal Stenson is with his 3 metal, so Stenson should be set up for a solid week.

 

Darkhorse: Graeme McDowell (200/1)

McDowell has already won a U.S. Open, which means he knows how to win on the big stage. He also finished second at the U.S. Open in 2012. The Northern Irishman has struggled in 2018, but he has a couple of top 25 finishes and his putter has been consistently solid. Absolutely not a sure thing, but McDowell has proven to be a sneaky little bugger when it comes to these bigger tournaments.

gmac

 

 

 

Ryan Sura plays for the Ryerson Men’s golf team so he is extremely entitled. He is also studying Sport Media at Ryerson, which leads him to believe he knows everything about sports. He believes Kemba Walker has potential to be a top 5 point guard and that the Cincinnati Bengals are a “successful” sports franchise. I know right, what a lunatic. 

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