Faceoff: Who's ready for the U.S. Open?
PHERSY: Mr. Feldman, as golf fans, it's a wonderful time of year. Apparently soccer fans are excited about some big event, too. But for us, it's time to talk about the U.S. Open. By the time people are reading this, most players will have completed...
PHERSY:Mr. Feldman, as golf fans, it's a wonderful time of year. Apparently soccer fans are excited about some big event, too. But for us, it's time to talk about the U.S. Open. By the time people are reading this, most players will have completed their first round at Pinehurst. Feldy, there's no "U.S. Open" style rough on the course any more; they went with some sort of odd dead-pan mixture. Without eight-inch rough to contend with, do you anticipate a low score winning the Open? Or will under par still be an incredible round?
FELDY:It's still the U.S. Open and anytime the USGA is in charge of a national championship, it won't make things easy. They could play the Open in your backyard and the best players in the world would still shoot 80. It'd be a short course, but the USGA would find ways to make it frustrating. Phersy, doesn't this event become just as much a test of the golfers' mental toughness as their ability?
PHERSY:It does and it's another reason this is one of my favorite sporting events. When golf was invented, par was supposed to be a good score. But then technology happened, and it quickly got out of control. The athletes are bigger, stronger and more technical. And they start playing competitively at a younger age. Suddenly, par wasn't a good score any more. But once a year, the USGA sets out to make par a good score again. I love it. And every time a player whines about the course, I bet the USGA secretly loves it, too.
FELDY:Let's talk favorites now, Phersy. Adam Scott, the No. 1 player in the world has to be at the top of the list, along with Rory McIlroy, who has been established as the favorite by oddsmakers. I'd like to get on the McIlroy bandwagon, but he's adopting a "hit the middle of the green at all costs" approach this week, and I don't trust his putting if he's leaving himself too many 20- or 30-footers. I'll go with the big Swede Henrik Stenson. He's very even-keel emotionally and he is very good at churning out pars, which is a bonus at the Open.
PHERSY:I'd love to go with the kid, Jordan Spieth, this weekend; he's been one of my favorite young players since he chipped in at the John Deere last summer. But Spieth has become the trendy pick, and I don't do trendy. Bubba Watson might be the smart play. Yes, he'll make some big numbers. But Bubba can make more birdies than almost anyone in the field. If I have to pick a favorite, I'm going with Bubba. Plus, I like saying Bubba. ... Feldy, go off the grid and give me your dark horse pick.
FELDY:Sometimes it's difficult to distinguish between a dark horse and a long shot, and Harris English is probably more of a long shot this week, but I'm taking the 24-year-old as my sleeper. This is his first U.S. Open, but he has six top-10 finishes in 19 events this season and has two Tour victories in his year and a half as a pro. Plus, he's a good dude, giving $250 for every birdie he makes in a Tour event to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
PHERSY:Feldy, your boy Brandt Snedeker is at 66-1 to win it. I would have accepted him as your long shot. Graham Delaet is a 100-1 right now, and believe me when I say he has the game to win this thing. He's a great pick as a long-shot. But so is Kevin Na. Maybe his game isn't made for Pinehurst, but Na is playing well and I feel like he's already shown this season he's the real deal. Yes, he's an off-the-grid pick, but those are my favorite types of U.S. Open stories.