With the Players Championship done and dusted, eyes are turning now to mid-June and the 117th US Open. Sawgrass was declared one of the deepest fields in golf to ever take the field simultaneously, and that trend appears to be continuing. This year is sure to be a tightly contested event between some of the greatest figures the sport has ever seen, and viewers are sure to see some memorable moments play out on their screens over the four days of play at Erin Hills. Read on to learn a little bit about some of the rising stars and established winners who could be gracing the podium this year.
Si Woo Kim
While only freshly crowned at the Players Championship in early May, Si Woo Kim has proven to be a capable and extremely level-headed golfer. Many pundits complained that the final day of the contest at Sawgrass bordered on tedious as Kim held such a commanding lead. With more established golfers such as Ian Poulter and Kyle Stanley falling away at the Players Championship and buckling under pressure, all Kim had to do was hold on – easier said than done when you’re the youngest golfer to ever graduate from the PGA Tour Qualifying School against a seasoned, practiced field.
Kim joins an elite and very small circle of players who have scored a win on the PGA tour aged 22 years or below, limited to himself, Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth, all of whom he’s likely to face in June. Like American Rickie Fowler, he qualifies for the US Open as a winner of The Players Championship in the previous three years.
Conspicuously absent from the 2017 US Masters after a freak fall the night before tee-off put him out with a back injury, world number one and 2016 US Open winner Dustin Johnson is expected to return to the men’s major golf championship circuit in fine form. Tying for 12th, Johnson put on a fine show at Sawgrass with a fantastic save on the 11th hole on day two of the championship, putting his first shot in the water but still making birdie.
The defending champ at Erin Hills, Johnson displayed a confidence and a certainty to his game and his general demeanour at the Players Championship that should see him in fine form this year. Will he join an elite circle of back-to-back US Open winners? Johnson looks stronger than ever but so does his competition.
Having finally converted his 74th major championship appearance into a win at the 2017 Masters Tournament, Spaniard Sergio Garcia looks set to wow at Erin Hills in June. With perhaps the most memorable shot of the entire championship – becoming one of eight players to hit a hole in one on Sawgrass’ iconic and famously challenging par-3 17th hole, Island Green – Garcia wowed the crowd and his competitors, and recaptured a lot of the fire he had at the Masters. Despite an otherwise perhaps weaker than expected showing at Sawgrass – tying for 30th – Garcia remains hot property and is sure to be a major contender at Erin Hills.
A ferocious showing on the final day of the Players Championship surely reminded any golf watcher what a threat this 32-year-old Spaniard still poses. While more of an outside chance than the other members on this list, Cabrera-Bello remains one of the most respected athletes in the sport. However he performs at Erin Hills and in all of his future endeavours, Cabrera-Bello’s place in history is assured, being the only player to ever record an albatross on the par-5 16th hole at Sawgrass, and the third in history to do so anywhere on the course.
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