Erin Hills Golf Club, Erin, Wisconsin, 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee
7,741 yards, par 72
Purse: $12 million
Winner's share: $2,160,000
Defending champion: Dustin Johnson, -4, Oakmont
2014 champion, Martin Kaymer, Pinehurst
2015 champion: Jordan Spieth, Chambers Bay
Weather: Thursday: 86, partly sunny, 25% chance, wind 8-13 MPH; Friday: 80, 25% chance, 8-12 MPH; Saturday: 85, 49% chance, 8-13 MPH; Sunday: 75, 60% chance of showers, 16-29 MPH.
TV: Thursday-Friday, Fox Sports 1, 10 AM-5 PM CT, 5-8 PM CT FOX; Saturday, 10 AM-7 PM CT FOX; Sunday, 10 AM-7:30 PM CT, FOX.
Key tee times: All times Central
7:07 AM-Charley Hoffman, Jason Dufner, HIdeto Tanihara-The reason I mention this group is because Duf is playing so well right now. He just won the Memorial and has really gotten it turned on with his game. Duf has a shot here. He's got the complete game to win it if his putter is clicking.
7:18 AM-Brandt Snedeker, Alex Noren, Tyrrell Hatton-The key guy here is Noren. He's a darkhorse to me. He's won 5 times on the European Tour in the past year. I like him as a factor this weekend.
7:51 AM-Rafa Cabrera Bello, Thomas Pieters, Brooks Koepka- All 3 of these guys have a shot. Cabrera Bello seems to always be in contention on tour, Pieters is a young talent from Great Britain who was superb in the Ryder Cup and gave it a good run at the Masters. Koepka is close to getting a breakout victory.
7:51 AM, 10th tee-Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm- This is a blockbuster group. Hideki was en fuego earlier this year and is highly capable. The question with Fowler is, will he ever capture a major. He's still young at 28, but at some point he needs to convert. Rahm has a major ahead of him, possibly 3, 4, or 5. The guy is a massive talent. All 3 of these guys can be right there on Sunday.
8:02 AM- Gary Woodland, J.B. Holmes, Jason Kokrak- These guys are all major bombers, which is really essential for this extremely long track. I don't see any of these guys winning, but their driving will be worth watching. They can flat out destroy the golf ball.
8:13 AM- Tee 10-Danny Willett, Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera- These guys are all major champions, so they know what it takes. Willett is the 2016 Masters champ, Zach won the 2007 Masters and the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews, and Angel won the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont and the 2009 Masters, so I like their experience in winning majors.
8:24 AM-Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel, Branden Grace-See all 3 of these guys being factors. Horschel recently won the Byron Nelson in Dallas, and Kisner won the next week at the Dean & Delcuca in Fort Worth. Grace is a heckuva player.
8:24 AM, Tee 10-Matt Kuchar, Francesco Molinari, Patrick Reed- Kuchar has been close a lot this year, but don't see him having enough length on this course, though his driving accuracy and putting are superb. Molinari is like Cabrera Bello, he's been in the hunt on tour events all season. Reed has not been great this year, but his Ryder Cup performance still makes me think he's got an outside shot.
8:35 AM- Webb Simpson, Ernie Els, Lucas Glover-Webb, Glover and Ernie are all previous Open champions, Ernie won it twice, though a long time ago in '94 at Oakmont, and '97 at Congressional, along with his 2 Open Championships in 2002 (Muirfield) and 2012 (Royal Lytham and St. Annes). Still a great player, though don't see the 47 year old South African keeping up with the younger guys. The 31 year old Simpson won the U.S. Open in 2012 at Olympic CC. The 37 year old Glover was an Open winner in 2009 at Bethpage Black and has shown signs of a resurgence.
8:35 AM- Tee 10- Martin Kaymer, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson-Powerhouse group here of the last 3 U.S. Open winners. Kaymer has 2 majors, the '14 Open at Pinehurst and the 2010 PGA at Whistling Straits. Spieth had the huge year in 2015 winning the Masters and the Open at Chambers Bay. Dustin's been through the roof good in the last year ever since winning last year's Open at Oakmont.
1:03 PM-William McGirt, Keegan Bradley, Kevin Na-These guys are all pretty good and Bradley won the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club as a rookie. Na brought up a lot of controversy about Erin Hills this week as he posted a video Sunday of the fescue rough off the fairways that is 3 feet high and very thick. Some are saying it has prompted the USGA to cut some of it down on holes 4, 7 and 12. Jack Nicklaus always said if there was a competitor complaining about the course in a major, he knew it wouldn't be a problem beating that guy.
1:14 PM CT-Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia- Sergio is playing with so much confidence that I consider him a factor here. Bubba has kind of fallen by the wayside, but his length will help him here. Scott maybe.
1:47 PM- Henrik Stenson, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Louis Oosthuizen-All could be factors. All 3 are major winners, with Charl winning the 2011 Masters, Louis winning the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews, and Henrik winning the Open Championship last year at Royal Troon.
1:58 PM-Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas, Paul Casey-Walker won the PGA Championship at Baltusrol last year, Thomas had been tearing it up in the winter and finished tied for 4th, 2 weeks ago at the Memorial. Casey has been threatening to win a PGA event, but hasn't gotten over the hump.
2:09 PM- Jason Day, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy- McIlroy is a 4 time major winner at 28 and looks to have his game face on this week. Rory was asked about the fescue and the complaints some of the players have made about it, and he said the fairways are 50 yards wide, world class players should be able to deal with that and handle it. I liked it. Rory won the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional CC, the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, and 2012 and 2014 PGA Championships at Kiawah Island and Valhalla CC respectively. Justin is the 2013 U.S. Open champion played at Merion GC. Day won the PGA in 2015 at Whistling Straits and seems to be playing better. This is a headliner, marquee threesome as well.
2:20 PM-Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink, Phil Mickelson-The interesting thing here is will Phil be able to make it from his daughter's high school graduation to the Open. The graduation is at 10 AM PT, so he'd have to have a 4 hour rain delay to make it. There is a pretty good chance of bad weather in Erin today and tonight, so that could hold it up. The 46 year old is the 2004, 2006 and 2010 Masters Champion, the 2005 PGA Championship winner at Baltiusrol, and the 2013 Open Championship winner at Muirfield in Scotland. Cink won the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry in an epic major as he defeated then 59 year old Tom Watson in a playoff. Stricker has been playing well lately at 50 years old and has won 12 times on tour, and this is his home turf. I don't see him having enough to win at Erin Hills, though he could get in contention.
The length of this course really favors the power guys. There are 4, 600+ yard par 5's. The 18th can play as long as 663 yards. Like one of the bombers to get it done here. Sunday could be a grueling day if the weather forecast is accurate. Will take a lot of perseverance.
This young gun is tied for 11th on tour in driving distance at 305, he's 12th in greens in regulation, he's 29th in strokes gained putting, and while his accuracy is 161st, Dustin's is 160th, and with the width of these fairways, and all the rain the course has been getting, which will prevent a lot of roll out into the fescue from the fairways, he should be fine. His strokes gained total is 6th on tour. DJ is first. He's tied for 1st with Jon Rahm in top 10 finishes this season. While Dustin is always the favorite these days, he hasn't gotten a chance to play as much with the birth of his second son on Monday, so I'm going with the 24 year old from Goshen, Kentucky by way of the University of Alabama, a 3 time winner on tour this season. Like this young stud to capture the 117th United States Open.