Ben Coley provides an exhaustive guide to the field for the 118th US Open, which takes place at Shinnecock, New York, from June 14-17.
Tough start. Unexposed Japanese player having the time of his life of late, bagging a US Open spot via sectional qualifying and adding an Open Championship place with victory in the Mizuno Open, his first as a professional. Reckons iron play is his strength and that he goes well in the wind, comments made in reference to Carnoustie but may point towards a certain comfort here. Yet to play on a non-Asian golf tour though and likely to struggle. Blood type: O
AN, Byeong Hun
Beaten in a play-off at the Memorial, his second such defeat on the PGA Tour and a likely venue for him given how much of a tee-to-green test it is. That will serve this former US Amateur champion well in his fifth US Open as he looks to improve upon a modest major return so far. Winner of the BMW PGA Championship in remarkable fashion and while frustrating he's not built on that, it won't be long.
Everyone's favourite Thai golfer (sorry, Thongchai), who just loves life, driving around Bangkok in his bright white Ferrari, wearing one of his treasured watches and a brand of expensive trainer I'm not familiar with. On the course, said he made everything inside 15 feet at Wentworth recently and then finished 13th in the Memorial, his best stateside finish in two years, although struggling in Memphis. Has barely put a foot wrong over the last 12 months and 15th in the Masters coupled with 25th in the 2013 PGA Championship says he can compete. Nice touch for a big man.
Yet to look like a major champion in two decades as a pro, but did recently end a 12-year winless run with victory on the Web.com Tour - albeit had fortune on his side with final round washed out. This the only major he's played and does have a top-10 finish to his name from 2008, but otherwise poor and as he knows better than most, a decade is a long time.
Missed the cut when bagging a start on the Canadian Tour last year and expected to produce some big numbers despite taking second behind Lucas Herbert in the Oregon qualifier.
Just three cuts made in nine US Open starts, but on each occasion has made it count with a top-30 finish. Best effort undoubtedly at Oakmont in 2007, when he led after 54 holes but got off to an awful start on Sunday and could not recover. Currently on a run of missed cuts and the putter, which he's put to use better than most, has been strangely cold. Much to prove.
I can find no evidence that he's qualified but two good sources have him listed in the field. I'm going to regret doing this. Kindly, Phil Casey tells me that he did in fact come through qualifying in California. Bravo.
BARBAREE Jr, Philip
LSU junior who was evidently widely sought after among college coaches. Already sighted at Shinnecock having teed it up there a couple of days after earning his place and while this is very early in his progression, is a name we'll be hearing more of.
May benefit from having not won the week prior to the US Open, which he did in both 2016 and 2017, given that his best performance in the event was his debut and only other start, when tied 28th at Pinehurst in 2014. That's probably a decent pointer towards success at Shinnecock but Berger's game has deserted him of late, with his effort on home soil at the PLAYERS a notable disappointment. Play-off defeat at the Honda and back-to-back St Jude titles do hint that he can cope with the demands of a major-like challenge but difficult to fancy for now.
BERGERGON, Jacob (a)
Tied with fellow LSU star Barbaree for top spot in Texas qualifier and was a top-20 junior who has a bright future all things being equal.
PGA professional who features in his second US Open, having carded rounds of 79 and 77 at Oakmont in 2007. Also failed to make the cut in two PGA Championship appearances but yet to shoot higher than 79, although rounds of 81 at Riviera and 86 at Torrey Pines are in the copybook.
Remains a supreme ball-striker despite being winless since 2012, when he added a WGC title to the previous year's PGA Championship shock. All his success built around quality driving but the anchoring ban has hurt him badly, particularly from close range. Made four cuts in six US Open starts and expect him to make that five having found form lately, but a top-20 finish likely as good as it gets.
Came through qualifying in Japan, where he spends much of his playing time these days. Showed some nice form when fourth behind Cameron Smith in the Australian PGA last December but that's as good as it gets for a 44-year-old who will be making his first start in the event, some 22 years on from his previous appearances (of which there were two) in the US.
Big-hitting South African who has started to contend for decent events now that he's a European Tour winner, a success which came in his homeland. Solid form lately, including 12th at Wentworth, and there's encouragement to be taken from his WGC starts - 30th in Mexico, 35th in China - on what will be his major debut. May be running before he can walk if he finds himself in contention.
This year's star of the sponsors' invite on the PGA Tour, where he got the opportunity to play alongside Tiger Woods and has impressed many observers. No surprise given his amateur achievements and nor was it that he dropped down to the Web.com Tour and bagged a win. Bombs it, holes putts and could be anything.
CABRERA BELLO, Rafa
One of the many Europeans on the periphery of the Ryder Cup side, not that it'll prove a distraction here. Considered a good putter in the US due to some hot rounds with the flat stick, but European Tour students know all too well that the bemuscled Spaniard makes his money from tee to green, after which things can get a little ugly. Still, it's clear that the short-game has improved over the last couple of years and it helped secure an overdue third European Tour title in last summer's Scottish Open. A fourth is on its way and while arguably too nice to stare down the best here, has made three US Open cuts in four. Consider backing him to down a couple of occasionally impatient compatriots in the top Spaniard betting.
All-round talent whose game has no real weaknesses, so perhaps not surprising that following years of injury struggles he has made a seamless transition back to PGA Tour golf - barely missed a cut since making his return last spring and victory in Vegas had been coming. Has spurned a couple of opportunities to double his tally since and looking less impressive in the mix as had been expected, but it'll likely come together at some point. Absolutely has the game to become a major champion, but makes Kevin Na look fast and wouldn't be a particularly popular winner as a result.
Must be getting old and soft, because he's really growing on me. How can you not like PC? Film-star smile, forearms as wide as The Wash, long-game to rival anyone's and proof that being 40-something need not mean haggardness. Finally ended a lengthy winless run by stealing the Valspar Championship from under the noses of Tiger Woods and the subsequent Masters champ, but progress halted since by back injury, on which he said: "No disc issue. No other issues whatsoever. It's just purely inflammation. And there was no trauma, nothing that caused it. No crashing of bicycles or snowboards." Sounds like the outlook is positive and the worry is therefore a modest US Open record, with 10th place at Oakmont some 11 years ago his best effort.
Like PC, an injury-plagued ball-striker who hasn't won nearly enough titles. Did finally get off the mark on the PGA Tour last spring when taking the Valero Texas Open at the expense of future US Open champ Brooks Koepka, but not really kicked on since. A host of missed cuts heading in is far from ideal preparation and suggests that while he does have a couple of top-10 finishes in the event, it's asking too much for him to contend again.
Hypochondriac who has returned to his best this year, winning the Farmers Insurance Open for a second time and then adding the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, a venue which so often proves a reliable US Open form pointer. Stumbled to 44th in his final start prior to this, his worst finish in the best part of a year, but wouldn't be overly concerned as he was probably happy enough to start well and put the finishing touches to his preparations. Nearly won the US Open at Merion in New Jersey, where he has won The Barclays, and has an almost as impressive record in New York, and now is a good time to strike while the putter is hot.
Scientist first, golfer second, probably an entertainer third. Charmed the life out of me after winning the Memorial Tournament, especially when telling reporters that he basically puts the win down to Finding Nemo. That second PGA Tour success had been coming and further underlines that those who wrote him off because he missed a couple of cuts after turning professional were stupid to do so, but it's all about the #numbers isn't it? Stripes the ball whatever the club and putting looks better than it ever has, so the sky is very much the limit for this would be Ryder Cup star. It's 19 years since the late Payne Stewart last won the US Open and there's half a chance that a man with the same headwear does the same.
Qualified as an amateur but plans to turn pro before tee-off. Says he hasn't played the course and plans to arrive early, but still likely to be caught out however much homework he does.
Unlikely candidate for PGA Tour's leading hat fashionista but this is 2018 and anything goes. Also a superb ball-striker whose putting has taken a notable leap forward, and is of course a former major champion (2013 US PGA), but might prefer a more classical test to this. Recent form is a little off-putting although were he to win, we'd all look back at his fifth place in the PLAYERS as being particularly prescient. Twice fourth in the US Open but both on courses which demanded accuracy, which may not be quite so important here, and there's a risk we may only get two caps for our money.
ELLIS, Harry (a)
English youngster who has struggled to make an impact outside of amateur golf, missing cuts at The Open, the Masters and the recent Memorial Tournament. Three of those six rounds were 80 or higher and has plenty to prove as things stand.
One of the all-time greats with over 70 professional titles to his name, including four major championships. Won this one at Oakmont (1994) and Congressional (1997), two classical and extremely demanding tests. Also finished ninth here at Shinnecock in 2004 when carding a closing 80, but was at the top of the sport then and just isn't any more; it's less than two years until he can add to his major tally on the Champions Tour and until then, will struggle to make an impact. Last sub-70 round in this event came when fourth at Merion five years ago and the torch has very much been passed on.
Floppy-hat-wearing Englishman who lost a play-off for the final Walton Heath spot but gets in as an alternate. Busy time of it this year but a best of 11th in Sicily confirms that he's still adjusting to European Tour level.
Prolific swordsman who ought to have won more than one PGA Tour event, given that his game is modern and nearly complete. Still plenty of time for that, however, and he's putting together a quietly impressive major record which shows two top-10 finishes in eight attempts and just two cuts missed. Most recent of those was of course 10th at Augusta, which came after he'd made a bit of a fool of himself by twisting his ankle celebrating a hole-in-one in the par-three tournament on the eve of the Masters. He's recovered, physically and mentally, and if this does turn out to favour power players should go really well.
High-ball hitter who contended for majors in 2009 and looked back in that sort of form throughout 2017. Perhaps significantly, 2009 was the year the US Open last came to New York and Fisher's fifth place behind Lucas Glover could be a sneaky pointer towards his prospects. Hard to think he's a major champion in waiting, though, and one top-10 since the opening week of this year is a poor record for one of his credentials.
Former winner of the US Amateur Championship who then embarked upon a college career at Northwestern, quickly deciding that it wasn't for him and instead turning professional, which has proved a wise move. Four European Tour wins at the tender age of 22 demonstrate an ability to close the door which will serve him well, especially as he's hardly the modern professional given a slender build and lack of power from the tee. Makes up for it in spades elsewhere and has a bright future, which may well include success in this major, the only one in which he's yet to miss a cut. Has hit a few too many double-crosses for comfort over the last fortnight, however, and isn't putting as well as he can.
Probably the most likeable golfer on the circuit, one who ended a four-year winless run in the 2017 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, a title he defended earlier this year. Between those two successes came another at the Open de France, plus contending performances in events as big as this one last June, where he held it together well enough on Sunday to finish fourth. Strikes the ball as consistently well as anyone owing to a compact, repeatable swing and that long-game prowess has made this major his most productive so far. Solid each-way chance given that he'll do what he does, accept what the course throws at him and, more likely than not, be around for the weekend.
Rivals Fleetwood for nicest golfer on the circuit but I'd like to see him snap, and perhaps it'd help him get over the line in a major. So far it's nine top-10 finishes in 33 starts without yet managing a win, with an active cuts-made streak of seven and nothing worse than 22nd since the end of 2016. It's an impressive return and one which will likely yield a first major triumph at some stage, especially if his putting returns to the levels of last year. In truth, 2018 has so far been a little underwhelming with one exception - an excellent, brave second place at the Masters, a performance which again promises plenty with this in mind. All-or-nothing US Open record of late (10-2-MC-MC-5) and given his Masters effort and record in New York, there's plenty of evidence to suggest it could really be time for 'all'.
Stormed through the field to finish eighth in the Italian Open, putting an end to a fairly mediocre run since third place in Malaysia back in February. That's further evidence this son of an All Black can win on the European Tour, but translating it to the USA and major championships will be an altogether different test. Did shoot a second-round 66 in the PGA Championship last year and also showed positive signs at St Andrews in 2015, so don't be surprised if this monster hitter blasts his way to the weekend. It's business time.
Two-time European Tour winner, both in low-grade company, and continues to grow into his frame as a golfer who took a little while to remember how to play after college. Former Texas Longhorn has plenty of experience out in the US but his form has suffered for his new international schedule and he's not had a chance to win since the end of January. Narrowly missed the cut in the Masters and this week will be considered a success if he can rectify that.
Ryder Cup captain who struggles to mix it these days, with just one top 10 over the last 18 months and focus very much switching to September already. Well down the field here in 2004 but in fairness, that was his first start in five months following an injury and he's better judged on win at Olympia Fields the previous year, plus brace of runner-up finishes in 2006 and 2007 and, more recently, a well-held second behind DJ at Oakmont. Were he the player he was then, he'd be a potential contender in an event which suits, but he isn't so he isn't.
Costa Rican who came through local qualifying after a coin toss, for reasons which aren't immediately clear to me. Capitalised in no uncertain terms by leading the way at the famed Bear's Club in Florida to earn his place in the field. Currently at LSU and has a big reputation.
Just two missed cuts in 18 starts in the US Open and flirted with the top of the leaderboard at Oakmont two years ago. Finished 20th here in 2004, shooting a final-round 80 under extremely demanding conditions, and has also gone well at Bethpage in New York where he's finished fourth and 10th. Two wins at Westchester, another course in the region, highlight how comfortable he is in the region, but he's played some of his worst golf in years of late. As things stand would need a Ryder Cup wild card so Thomas Bjorn will hope to see an improvement from a man who'd have been expected to play a key role in Paris.
Short-hitting type whose game has rather been swallowed up by the sport, making it all the more remarkable that he can still make a living - and occasionally contend - on the toughest circuit in the world. That said, hasn't been able to do that at this level, with seven missed cuts in eight US Open starts and a best of 63rd at Congressional. Note of caution for three-ball predators, however: he opened with a round of 69 here in 2004, sitting 14th.
Minor tour player who narrowly missed the cut on the Web.com a couple of weeks ago, a start he earned by winning the Biggs Golf Classic and its $12,000 first prize. That underlines what he's up against on his major debut having come through qualifying, but a top-10 finish in last summer's Air Capital Classic hints at an ability to prove somewhat competitive.
GHIM, Doug (a)
Top amateur at the Masters, finishing a more than respectable 50th, and has since graduated to the top of the World Amateur Golf Rankings. Also won prestigious Ben Hogan Award and completed his career with the Texas Longhorns with five wins this season. As we've seen lately with Joaquin Niemann and previously with Jon Rahm, these top-class amateurs are ready to compete with top-class professionals so don't rule out another weekend appearance on his first US Open start.
More off-course drama in the life of this former US Open winner of late. Hard to know how much of a bearing that's had on his play, but what's clear is that this supreme ball-striker who struggles with the putter is not scoring right now. Victory in this event did come in New York, but it's the anomaly on an otherwise poor record - in fact, it's his only top-40 finish in 12 tries. The 2009 US Open felt like a curious affair at the time and that remains the case.
GOODWIN, Noah (a)
Well inside the top 50 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and winner of the prestigious US Junior Amateur Championship in 2017, having lost the previous year's final. As reported by GolfWeek, his achievements in the unpaid ranks are made all the more remarkable by the fact that, aged nine, he was diagnosed with pituitary dwarfism and to help his growth, Goodwin injects a hormone into his leg nightly. "It’s like watching a Rocky movie," his father, Jeff, said. "Rocky gets knocked down and gets back up. When Noah was younger and much smaller in size, he got knocked down over and over and over again." Unfortunate perhaps to be overlooked for the Walker Cup last year but, as is clear, he's quite good at dealing with setbacks. That'll serve him well in the face of this challenge.
Born winner who landed 'Africa's major' in late 2017 and has played nicely since; in fact, his last missed cut came on his most recent trip to New York in last year's renewal of The Barclays. Two top-five finishes this spring came on courses made for him and there's a chance that Shinnecock will prove to be, given its open, expansive nature, the potential for the elements to play their part and the hope that it plays somewhat firm. Under those conditions, Grace is right up there with the best in the world and he's shown it at the highest level, threatening to win the US Open at Chambers bay and placing in four other majors. Massive each-way player.
GREGORY, Scott (a)
Qualified at Walton Heath despite having struggled when playing on invites on the Challenge Tour this year. So far featured in three majors, missing the cut on each occasion, and this winner of the 2016 Amateur Championship still looks to be learning on the job. Talked up his prospects of qualifying in the run-up to qualifying and says his game is better than his results show, but it'll have to be.
Struggled on the PGA Tour this year, but benefited from a drop down to the second tier with second place in the Nashville Golf Open when defending champion. That performance must've been a huge factor in his qualifying via a really competitive Tennessee section a day later, so he arrives here playing his best golf of the year - or at least that was the case until he plummeted down the Memphis leaderboard. Those searching for positives might note that his best effort on the PGA Tour this year came when 12th at Torrey Pines, a US Open venue albeit one very different to Shinnecock.
Unofficially in the field, as he is mathematically guaranteed to be inside the world's top 60 at the end of the week prior to the US Open. Deserves his place having shown up well for much of the year, including at Colonial recently when third. Second at Bethpage reads well and already has top-20 finishes in three of the four majors despite playing just nine in total. This is so far the exception but that will change as he looks to emulate compatriot Angel Cabrera and become a major champion.
GRIMMER, Will (a)
Shot 77-80 at Pinehurst when qualifying as a 17-year-old and now back for his second crack at a US Open having topped a (relatively weak) section in Ohio. Some way down the World Amateur Golf Rankings and it's by all accounts been a quiet year on the college circuit, so chances are he struggles again.
Son of Jay who, at the start of the decade, was a solid, frequent PGA Tour winner whose swing was always much admired. More recently, at risk of becoming a back-number - not helped by his involvement in a serious car accident in Los Angeles during the week of the Genesis Open. Golf being golf, his overall downturn has coincided with something of an upturn in his top-tier performances. In his 27th major, Haas secured his first top-10 finish at the 2016 Open and it took less than a year for him to add to it with fifth place in last year's US Open. He's also showed up in a couple of WGCs and a FedEx Cup Playoff event and is one to consider at a big price for something like a top-20 finish as a result.
Lanky finger-snapper who was completely lost until, almost exactly a year ago, second place close to home on the Web.com Tour provided something of a eureka moment. Since then, he's confirmed his return to the top level with two Web.com wins and wasted no time securing his card with three top-five finishes in the first three events of the PGA Tour season. More big weeks have followed, including 11th place at Sawgrass, and it would be no surprise were he to appear on any leaderboard this summer. This his first US Open start and three majors elsewhere amount to very little, but he's a much better player these days.
Mixed bag in the US Open so far, with two rounds of 80-plus and two sub-70s, but this fairly straight-shooting Canadian should be better suited to Shinnecock than he was Erin Hills last year. Finished a promising 24th in the Masters, his best major performance in a handful of starts, and would've been of some kind of interest here but for a run of poor efforts of late. Putter is particularly worrying - he's fallen 100 spots in the rankings from last season to this - and needs immediate improvement to cling onto his place inside the world's top 50.
HAGESTAD, Stewart (a)
Only 27, but no pretensions of turning professional as he pursues a career in real estate here in New York. Still finds time to hit the links with great success, bagging the Mid-Am in 2016, and capitalised on Masters invite earned there by finishing an excellent 36th. All that will help him and having come through qualifying he'd be a dangerous one to completely dismiss in terms of three-balls and so on, despite shooting 77-75 at Erin Hills last summer.
Bulldog in every sense and gave it his best in the face of Brook Koepka's gorgeous power at Erin Hills last year, just one of several big performances in elite company. Closed with a round of 81 at Quail Hollow recently and disconcerting that he carded 80 in round two at Sawgrass on his next start, but the slide was halted with 14th place at Colonial where a third-round 64 will have done his confidence the world of good. Could do with the USGA proving less in the pocket of the power players this time around because it took a seriously sharp short-game to finish second in the 2017 US Open, but will relish the challenge regardless.
Tends to be either very good or very bad, something demonstrated again this year: he's bagged four top-15 finishes, but all of his others are worse than 40th. That hit-and-miss nature can make for a decent punting proposition, but a player whose patience has been questioned many times in the past might not prove particularly well suited to the US Open, even if his form on exposed golf courses offers some hope. Three missed cuts is no way to prepare for Shinnecock and course-record 62 back home in what he described as 'the monthly medal' has to be considered fairly insignificant. Caddie change another worry and one to oppose.
Auburn graduate in the middle of his second Web.com Tour season, the first having finished with a trip to Q School. Says his favourite course on that circuit is Victoria National, which is surely the most demanding and where he's finished fifth and 11th, and his love for a genuine test was underlined by his US Open sectional where he only needed to shoot two-under to share medallist honours. Plenty on his plate though.
Made an immediate impression on the PGA Tour with runaway success in the Sony Open and has followed it up with a couple more since, landing the Honda Classic and the Houston Open in the tenacious style which has underpinned his success. Currently on a six-event run of cuts made in majors and seven top-30 finishes in his last 15 starts speaks to a game which can adapt to any challenge. In terms of the US Open specifically, yet to match 16th place as an amateur at Pebble Beach in 2010 but 27th last year was a step back in the right direction. In the middle of a solid but unspectacular year but one to keep an eye on if he does force his name into the conversation early, something he's struggled to do lately.
Seriously promising Australian who hits the ball a long way and has a very tidy short-game. Showed as much on a fairly regular basis over the last six to nine months, including when a semi-finalist in the World Super 6 and third in the Sicilian Open, when closing with a dangerous 63. Yet to discover consistency, not helped by playing on invites all over the world while also holding a card on the PGA Tour China, but impressed in winning Oregon qualifier and Aussie education could serve him really well here if it gets fiery.
Scottish youngster who grabbed one of two sectional qualifying spots when coming through a local qualifier at New Mexico State University Golf Course, then took full advantage when finishing just ahead of Hagestad in New Jersey. Interestingly, after graduating from Western New Mexico University he opted to stay on and become an assistant coach to the golf teams while trying his hand on some minor tours, so it would seem he's far from certain to embark upon a professional career. Long odds-on to miss the cut.
Contended for majors, qualified for the Presidents Cup team and generally had the year of his life in 2017, so there's been an element of 'after the Lord Mayor's show' to 2018, a year in which he's yet to bag a single top-10 finish. Doesn't appear to be anything seriously wrong with his game, just small downturns across the board not helped by niggling injury issues, and likely he'll start to improve at some stage in the near future. Unlikely it's in time for this, however, despite good major record, five cuts made in six US Open appearances and last year's eighth at Erin Hills.
Youngster from Japan who only turned 22 in May and gets in here as an alternate. Yet to win but fifth place last time right up there with the pick of his efforts, others including sixth in a competitive Singapore Open last January. Probably has a bright future on the Japan Tour.
HOWELL III, Charles
Just two sub-70 rounds in 30 attempts at the US Open, where his best two finishes have been in New York yet confirm that he's an unlikely contender - 18th at Bethpage and 36th here, when one of several to struggle badly on Sunday with a round of 83 which saw him fall from 13th place. Known as one of the circuit's underachievers although his bank manager has strong evidence to the contrary; rather, he's a victim of the fixation most of us have on winning, when really it's a remarkable thing that he's been a PGA Tour player for so long, producing consistently excellent golf. I'm defending him because of his taut, golden skin, knockout smile and willingness to engage in conversation, during which he'll express his considered opinions which are usually right. He's great.
HUANG, Franklin (a)
One of four amateurs who progressed in California versus just one professional, and another who is some way down the world rankings. Described by his coach as "the heart and sole" of his Stanford team, which he's just departed, but reading between the lines that reflects his personality rather than his game and he may well find the step up to professional golf a serious challenge. Recent form a concern and big numbers likely.
Zero top-10 finishes in 45 starts since he won a five-man play-off for the RSM Classic, soon after he'd earned his PGA Tour card for the very first time. Far from alone in taking time to adjust to such a swift rise and there have been some positives lately, including three good rounds in four at Colonial, two at the PLAYERS and two more in US Open qualifying. Early success appeared to be built on his short-game and that's gradually coming round, so watch for continued improvement in the coming months. Could upset the odds for top Canadian if nothing else.
HUMPHREY, Theo (a)
Led Vanderbilt to their first SEC title last year and stormed up the World Amateur Golf Rankings, where he currently sits 10th. Set to turn professional soon and experiences such as his play-off success in US Open qualifying will serve him well, but for the time being difficult to know what to expect on his major debut.
Became the second youngest winner in Web.com Tour history when he took the season-opening event in the Bahamas, and graduated to the world's top 100 when second one week later. Form cooled for a month or so thereafter, but second again in Knoxville to solidify his place atop the Money List and is well on his way to the PGA Tour. Now 20, he'll make his major debut at Shinnecock where he'll need his iron play to remain in control if he's to make an impression.
Appropriate that when his first major finally arrived in the 2016 US Open, there was no shortage of drama. After all, he'd made headlines with a series of prior heartbreaks, including in the previous edition where three putts from no distance at all handed the title to Jordan Spieth. Recently lost top spot in the world rankings but remains a freak of nature who one would expect will add another major at some point, with this one surely the most suitable. So good that a bad week is anything outside the top 10 so run of 16-17-8 since the Masters (not including Memphis) shouldn't be used as a real positive, but doesn't appear to be far from a big display with everything geared towards the majors. Weakness this year, such as it is, has been his iron play so would like to see an upturn in the St Jude as he rounds off his preparations.
The antithesis of DJ as a player who doesn't hit it far, relies on a stock draw and basically has to scrap for every pound and every point. Yet, it's Zach who has two majors and he's one of an elite group to have won at both St Andrews and Augusta, making his career the envy of many. Winless since the 2015 Open Championship but there have been positives this year, with his usually trustworthy putter probably the difference between solid weeks and spectacular ones. Largely struggled in this event but eighth at Oakmont.
Affectionately known as Beef due to his hair, which to some of his friends apparently looks like a big bit of beef. It's probably helped make him one of the better-known European Tour players over in the US, but chief among the reasons he's so popular is that he's quite clearly one of the good guys. On the course, has always been a fine ball-striker and a re-dedication to professional golf has helped produce solid results throughout 2018. Six major starts across 2016 and 2017 reaped five made cuts and one injury-based withdrawal, which underlines the fact that difficult challenges suit (see: Valderrama win). Could go well.
Blink-and-you'll-miss-it type who won the 2014 Shell Houston Open thanks firstly to a gift from Matt Kuchar, and then from the shot of his life - an across-the-green bunker shot which found the hole. That sole PGA Tour win probably eclipsed by his 2015 success in the Australian Open, one which came at the expense of Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth. Surprising, then, that he's gone backwards since although some encouraging signs have emerged this spring, including in qualifying. Contended at the 2015 PGA Championship until fading to 21st and has made six major cuts in succession, but struggled so far in the face of this one's particular challenge.
Lathered Lothario who is a dual major champion, including in this event having given a front-running masterclass in the 2014 renewal at Pinehurst. Easy to think that Shinnecock could represent a similar test and its rugged, exposed nature may also conjure memories of his major breakthrough at Whistling Straits, even if this will be undeniably tougher. Showed signs in Italy that his game is returning along with his fitness but it's undeniably disconcerting that he's now four years without winning, and has looked shaky enough in contention - not what you'd expect given achievements in the early stages of his career. Never a player to underestimate but looks to have some deep-rooted issues around confidence, particularly in his short-game.
Last year's PLAYERS champion who went well thereafter in the US Open, eventually finishing 13th. Winless since but two titles at 22 is a very decent start and all the more impressive when you consider that he's been battling a variety of injuries since graduating from the Web.com Tour, where he also showed a willing attitude in contention. Followed 24th in the Masters with second in the Heritage, which he would've won but for missing all sorts of short putts, but has kept making cuts since which is pleasing to see. Always worth considering as an exchange saver if nothing else but here at Shinnecock could also be a player in the top Asian market.
Defied some shocking statistics to take second in the WGC-Match Play, a performance which he rode to 28th at Augusta and seventh in the Heritage. Since then, however, this fairway-finding southern drawler has nosedived again and there's nothing in his recent form which suggests he can get close to matching seventh place at last season's US PGA, his best major performance to date. Very much a player to admire but on current form, a world ranking of 30th is flattering.
Flori-Scot who understandably felt aggrieved not to make the European Ryder Cup side a couple of years ago but, having been largely disappointing since, has next to no chance of atoning for that in September. Of course, victory here would shake things up and a couple of top-20 finishes in Texas serve as some encouragement, before he produced a so-so Memorial effort and then qualified for the US Open with a seriously game effort, including a lengthy, must-make putt at the final hole. That tenacity is a real asset and could trigger a return to his 2016 best soon, but even that saw him play solid but non-contending golf at the highest level. If he plays really well he'll likely finish 25th having hit a lot of greens.
Shock winner of the RBC Heritage earlier this year when benefiting from a series of missed putts by Kim, and then making a bomb to take the play-off. Three missed cuts in five starts since confirm that the Japanese is struggling to adjust having secured his PGA Tour playing rights and that's understandable, as he's still learning the language and playing courses he's far from familiar with. Major performances have been solid over the last couple of years, including at Erin Hills on his US Open debut, and ability to tough it out will stand him in good stead. Quietly fancied to make the weekend.
Missed much of the season with a wrist injury but, in typical fashion, back with a bang and has already gone close to adding to his collection when giving it his best shot against an irrepressible Justin Rose at Colonial. Shinnecock seems sure to prove a more suitable venue and his major record extends way beyond his romp in last year's US Open - in fact he's on a run of 10 top-25 finishes and hasn't missed a cut since the 2013 Open Championship, probably the event which suits him the least. Worst result last year was 13th in the PGA and it's really hard to find negatives, beyond the fact he's the defending champion. Might not stop him.
Not quite the smiling assassin, more the smiling... lover? Yes, the smiling lover, or The Joker if you prefer his official nickname, one given due to a perceived likeness to the character from the Batman films (think Jack Nicholson rather than Heath Ledger). Generally considered the type to roll over and have his belly tickled when put under pressure on Sundays but that wasn't the case at Birkdale last year, albeit he might've been a little too accepting of Jordan Spieth's half-hour drop on the way to second place. US Open record shows eight cuts made in succession, which is enviable, but so far he's not threatened to win it, although that could change with his short-game set to prove a big weapon here. Fun fact: his favourite line in cinema history is "he then orders an Aristotle of the most ping pong tiddly in the nuclear sub and switches back to his footer."
Former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year who took a long time to put it all together, but did so in no uncertain terms in 2017 with two wins (tripling PGA Tour tally) and a host of high-class performances. No doubt that his major performances can be divided into two categories: comfortable at Augusta and in the Open Championship, less so in the US Open and PGA, reflected in results which include a best of 18th in this event. That said, a recent formline of 18-27 in the US Open is solid and his all-round talents lend themselves to this sort of challenge. Understated but deserves his place inside the world's top 20 and can be a factor if he takes to the venue.
The standout candidate when it comes to getting a French player on the European Ryder Cup side in Paris, having dedicated himself to the cause and, impressively, churned out results to turn the head of Thomas Bjorn. Fifth European Tour victory arrived in Morocco which showcased his ability to win under demanding conditions, having previously been considered something of a flat-track bully. That said, his wins are all fairly low-grade and five missed cuts in seven majors confirms that he doesn't have it all figured out just yet. Big week here would go a long way to securing that Ryder Cup berth but with form having taken a hit, it's more likely that he will struggle.
Once the bright young thing of English golf, with a sweet swing, quiet assurance and amateur CV which was the envy of many who've progressed past him since. In retrospect, perhaps winning the Portugal Masters so soon after turning pro hurt him but the chief reason for his long-term malaise can be found in the short-game, which has at times been a horror show. Some signs that things are turning and there are many different roads to the top, however a US Open test right now looks likely to expose confidence and technical issues.
At the front of a wave of talented young Chinese golfers and, aged just 22, is already a six-time professional winner. The first five of those successes were all in the Far East, but he took a big step forward by taking down Rory McIlroy in the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year. That event has an impressive roll of honour and it's expected that Li proves a fairly frequent major contender in time, adding to last summer's sensational third place at the Open Championship which came courtesy of a sensational Sunday 63. Penchant for a low one when it matters most is worth noting.
While Li was still in nappies, Liang was showing what could be done, in turn following on from the exploits of Zhang Lianwei. Liang has a major top-10 to his name having fired an excellent 64 en route to eighth in the PGA Championship but otherwise it's a fairly bleak return and he's just not up to this standard. Players like Li have much to thank him for, though.
Slow-burning big-hitter who was unfortunate not to win the Honda Classic earlier this year, bumping into a relentless Justin Thomas as he settled for second place. That's one of a number of close calls for the 33-year-old whose first win seems likely to arrive very soon, given that he's married an impressive short-game with his trademark power. Record of MC-MC-MC in the US Open isn't pretty but it's 11 years since the last of them, which came soon after he'd been a key part of a seriously talented US Palmer Cup side (DJ, Simpson, Harman, Lovemark, Horschel, Kirk). Expect better even if a lower-scoring test would be preferable.
May not have fully recovered from missing out on the 2016 renewal at Oakmont, where he struggled on the back-nine even if it would in retrospect have taken a mighty performance to stop Dustin Johnson that day. Goes to show the difference between winning at any other level and winning at this one, as he didn't blink when taking the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, just as he hadn't when famously winning his national open as an amateur a decade ago. As well as second at Oakmont had been ninth at Chambers Bay and is suited to the season's second major, but few positives to be found in 2018 efforts to date.
LUMSDEN, Ryan (a)
Scottish amateur who is a junior at Northwestern and did incredibly well to come through qualifying in Ohio, when you consider that players like Lowry, Knox and Adam Scott were there alongside him. Prior to qualifying had started well at the NCAA Championships, sitting second after an opening 67, but closed that competitive event with a round of 80 and has enough on his plate.
Carries the weight of a nation on his shoulders, with a huge Japanese media contingent following his every move and often asking every other player in the field if they think Hideki can and will win a major. Invariably, the answer is 'yes' and that's easy to understand, having shown that when everything clicks he can be unstoppable. We saw as much when he lapped the field to win the Bridgestone Invitational last summer and started favourite for the following week's US PGA as a result, an event he looked likely to win until dropping to fifth over the closing holes. Six top-20 finishes in succession in majors now and seven top-10s in just 22 starts, so he's well-versed in contending and it really does look a matter of time. Would put this third on the list when it comes to which best suits but if the putter gets hot at the right time he can win anywhere, anytime. Form looks to be improving steadily following early-season injury.
Winner of the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach, where he had to see off Tiger, Phil and Ernie - plus Gregory Havret - during the final round, one which started with Dustin Johnson in a clear lead. That effort spoke to his tenacity and love for a coastal challenge, so watch for him if this does turn into a real windswept grind. Eight years on and he's way down the world rankings having been in the doldrums since 2015, but 12th at Wentworth followed by fifth in the Italian Open demonstrates that there's still fire in the belly with the Ryder Cup - for which he's down to be a vice captain - set to be played at a golf course he loves. Still a couple of winters away from 40, he's got more to give and it's hoped that he can earn a place at Carnoustie, where he'd be a sneaky outsider for sure.
Excites and infuriates like no other in the sport. Some take issue with the notion, oft repeated, that 'Rory's best is the best' and it is fair to challenge that assumption - after all, when do we see the top five players in the world all firing at the same time? Almost never. Perhaps a better description, then, is that Rory makes the game look easier than anyone else when on-song and that's harder to debate - there are few prettier golfers in history. What's more, while we can talk DJ and JT and the rest, it's Rory who has four majors, more than any real contender bar Woods and Mickelson, and two of them came by eight shots. Is he not as good, half a decade on, or has the competition improved? Arguably a bit of both but I'm convinced he wins at least a couple more. As for the US Open, he'll need to stop the rot with missed cuts in 2016 and 2017 but New York is a good part of the US to do that and he can be a big factor here. Probably still the man to beat and motivated to take care of business having missed a big opportunity at the Masters.
Bespectacled Illinois graduate who will be making his professional debut here. Some stage on which to do that but has a history of upsetting the odds as an amateur and recently bagged a top-five finish at the NCAAs. Ranked fourth in fairways hit when making the cut (finished 74th) in the Valspar Championship earlier this spring, an indication perhaps that he can avoid the worst of the bother without ever looking a threat.
Continues his quest for a career grand slam in the event which matters most to him. So far it's a US Open career littered with heartbreak, notably when making a meal of the last at Winged Foot as he hacked his way to second place, after which he said "I'm such an idiot." That remains his best chance to win, but there have been many others: second at Bethpage, second at Merion, fourth at Pebble Beach. Merion in particular looked like it would finally fall his way only to bump into Justin Rose in unbeatable mode and there's no doubt Phil would be a worthy champion should he finally do it. Best form in US Opens is in the north east, including runner-up to Retief Goosen here in 2004, and victory in Mexico earlier in the season sets him up perfectly for another crack. Best chance in five years would be further enhanced if he stopped wearing dress shirts.
Qualified as an amateur but has since turned professional and, at the time of writing, is making his paid debut in Canada where he started off with a respectable round of 69. "It's absolutely surreal to me," said the Penn State graduate of earning a US Open debut. "It's the best way that you can start your pro career." We wish him well.
Good at qualifying, having done so in 2016 and again earlier this month. First attempt in the US Open didn't go well as he shot 72-81 at Oakmont but a recent 11th place on the Web.com Tour plus the fact he's from nearby Brewster suggests better things could happen here, albeit he confesses to never having played at Shinnecock. Any price you like to win and will surely be overjoyed if he's around on the weekend.
Won a World Golf Championship way back in 2009 but easy to argue that his most impressive form has been over the last few weeks, after he put on a masterclass in closing to win at Wentworth before finishing a brave second in the Italian Open one week later, his national championship and one he's won twice before. All of this form comes via courses suited to his tee-to-green precision and it can be argued that the US Open's tendency towards power makes life hard for him, a fact reflected in a modest record of four cuts made, four missed. That said, all four cuts made have returned top-30s and he's at the top of his game, which means he isn't to be ruled out. Also has the benefit of producing his best major performance in the 2017 US PGA where alongside Patrick Reed in second. Inspiration?
Not to be confused with the god-awful singer of the same name, this Surrey swinger seems a likeable enough sort - that is, unless you are involved in Celtic Manor, which he labelled "a dump" once upon a time. Only played this event once, missing the cut, and largely struggled recently. Did win the Open de Espana under difficult conditions and did well at Walton Heath qualifying but the positives begin and end there.
Extremely talented youngster who hits the ball an absolute mile, even by today's standards. Very kindly flubbed his way to second behind Andrew Landry in the Texas Open where his performance over the closing couple of holes was disappointing, but will be all the better for that first real opportunity to win on the PGA Tour and should improve on it next time. Ninth in last year's US Open, his sole major start to date, thanks to an excellent weekend (69-68).
Colombian who looked set to be the second from his nation to win on the PGA Tour when leading the Greenbrier Classic, until a combination of nerves and the irrepressible Xander Schauffele got the better of him. That effort came courtesy of a ridiculous week with the putter and it's possible he could ride it to a fast start here, having topped his qualifier. Last three opening rounds on the Web.com Tour read 64, 65, 64, so watch for him at a price in the first-round leader market. Probably should've kept that to myself.
Descriped by Golf Digest as the 'Missouri journeyman' and has been doing the rounds on the minor tours for a decade now. Qualified in sensational fashion, finishing with an eagle to force a play-off which he then won, and a top-10 finish on the Web.com Tour this year hints at a decent level of ability. Would still represent the biggest shock in the history of golf, if not sport.
Sweetheart Swede who has elevated himself to elite status over the last couple of years, backing up a glut of European Tour wins with some high-profile efforts in the US, including play-off defeat to Jason Day at Torrey Pines. Also third in the Honda and third in the Match Play before another third at Wentworth, where defending champion, and while still prone to the odd shocker is generally reliable. Game built on a push fade but more to it when he needs it and doesn't have many weaknesses, bar inability to take spin off the ball owing to a ridiculously steep attack. It is absolutely ridiculous that I'm analysing the swing of the world number 17. As for his US Open record, there you'll find the big negative. He was 51st at Congressional and has missed all four subsequent cuts, with a best of 73.
Tanned talisman of Danish golf who is good at winning, as demonstrated by a career-best victory in the Italian Open despite the best efforts of Molinari. Came through qualifying a day later despite being tired and hungover and two major top-10s from just 14 tries mark him down as a potential candidate for another. Tends to be hit and miss though and if the driver isn't firing he'll be in trouble quickly.
Completed the career grand slam of major runner-up finishes with second at the PGA Championship, having lost play-offs for the Masters and the Open and taken second in this event at Chambers Bay. That effort in particular was remarkable as he'd started with a round of 77 and does need to wake up a little sooner if he's to add to his 2010 Open triumph. Flew home for 13th at the Memorial after fifth place at Colonial so form looks to be there, but it's over two years since he last won and, bar St Andrews, his victories have all been in fields he's entitled to beat up. Still one for the shortlist given how often he's in there pitching at the highest level.
PARK, Sung Joon
Fell off the face of the earth last year, evidently struggling for fitness as he called it a day after a run of missed cuts and withdrawals on the Web.com Tour. Resurfaced to scrape through a weak qualifier and while that's encouraging long-term, this will be his first top-grade start in a fair while and he should be found out. Once a runner-up on the PGA Tour but for now has serious questions to answer and one to oppose wherever you can, with rounds in the mid-80s considered very much a possibility.
Firefighter by day who won the US Mid-Amateur and with it invites to the Masters and the US Open. Bagged some practice with Tiger Woods at Augusta and very much living the dream, even if he shot 81-79 in the event proper. History suggests he will again struggle to get close to making the cut her but handy guy to have on the premises. Once told Miguel Angel Jimenez off for lighting up in a wooded area.
Young Frenchman who played some really nice golf on the European Tour last year and started this one encouragingly, contending in Malaysia and Oman. More recently, though, his form has fallen off a cliff with one cut made in six starts and that a share of 64th at Wentworth where he closed 74-77. Did well then to come through qualifying a day later but still hard to warm to his prospects.
Ended last year inside the world's top 20 thanks to victories in the 2016 OHL Classic and 2017 CIMB, both fairly low-grade events but nevertheless difficult to win. It's been downhill since he started 2018 with fourth place in Hawaii, with 20th his next best effort, and easy to think he's now peaked as a professional. On the other hand, did fare well enough here in 2004 when 12th at halfway, thanks to a brilliant second-round 67. Hitting fairways and greens but not scoring.
Winner of last year's US Senior Open in Massachusetts and still capable of mixing it on the main tour, you'd think, even if he missed the cut in the Memorial recently. Ought to have won the Masters back in 2009 and is defending a run of five cuts made in the US Open, albeit this will be the first he's played since 2014. Perhaps significantly, that last missed cut was at Shinnecock, where he also failed to make the weekend in 1995, and that makes him one to swerve for top senior.
Among the more likely 11th-hour entrants in some respects, having finished second behind DJ at Oakmont and in the following month's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, while also taking fifth at the 2013 PGA Championship. Some really good long-game numbers, too, and possible withdraw from St Jude Classic was down to knowing he was in the field (note: pure speculation). On balance, form doesn't look strong enough right now.
POTTER Jr, Ted
Somehow won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am this year, demonstrating once again that once he has a sniff of a trophy, he's very good at standing tall. Form since has been very weak, however, and attempting to work out when he next pops up is a job for someone with powers beyond the human.
Back in business in this, a Ryder Cup year, and finally won his first stroke play title on US soil in the Houston Open. Remained in form since, making every cut, shooting 69 on Sunday at the Masters, bagging another couple of top-10s and even doing good things at Wentworth, a course he's never really liked. US Open is the only major in which he's yet to manage a top 10 but was 25th here in 2004, when he produced four very solid rounds. Finished 14th and 22nd in last year's two major appearances and 44th at the Masters was respectable. Must have half a chance given that he's at the top of his game, gaining strokes in every department.
Elder brother of Andrew, both having so far proven to be very good Web.com Tour players without quite managing the step up. Finished 35th at Erin Hills last year and has made three cuts in five US Open starts, but hasn't been playing well for quite a while now and performance in qualifying nowhere near enough to convince that he's turned a corner.
Leading amateur at the 2016 US Open, by which time it was already clear that we were looking at something special. Turned professional soon after and threatened to win immediately, before doing so in February of last year at Torrey Pines - a venue usually considered too big, too tough for a rookie looking to break through. Rahm is a rule-breaking talent, though, and has since added victories in all kinds of scenarios - the Dubai desert, the Irish links, the Californian pro-am, the national championship. Missed the cut at Erin Hills and possible to argue that he's the type to get frustrated with demanding conditions such as these, whereas the last two champs, while similar in skills, are more take it as it comes types. The fact that you have to search for such a negative says it all.
Fairways-and-greens machine who won the US Amateur Championship in 2006, a victory which came at Hazeltine. Played well for 22nd at Birkdale last summer but that's very much the pick of his major efforts so far and suspicion is he lacks the power and the putting to really compete here. That said, a determined type who has shown much of his best form under demanding conditions.
RANK, Garrett (a)
Remarkably, this 31-year-old amateur is a full-time referee in the NHL. Finished 77th when given an invite for the 2016 Canadian Open though so can clearly play, and deserves all the credit in the world having fended off cancer towards the start of the decade. It will be one of the stories of the week if his name reaches the first page of the leaderboard.
RASMUSSEN, Rhett (a)
Another amateur who came through qualifying soon after finishing way down the leaderboard at the NCAAs. Credit due for getting this far but plays for one of the lesser-known college operations and is well down the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
RAZA, Sulman (a)
Lithuanian-born, baby-faced 23-year-old, whose adopted dad is an ex-professional cricket player for Pakistan. Amateur career has had its fair share of downs, but helped guide Oregon to NCAA success against the odds in 2016 and downed some seriously big reputations along the way, earning himself one as a closer. Reportedly had some serious issues with the driver over the last year but things have started to turn, and one former coach had him down as one of the straighest hitters he'd seen. Hard to know what to expect but a bi-linguist with balls, no doubt.
Old-fashioned PGA Tour professional who earns his living from tee to green. Approaching 10 years since he dominated the Canadian Open from the off for his sole PGA Tour success so far, but he's gone close a number of times lately, including at Pebble Beach and Scottsdale earlier in the campaign. Missed cut at Colonial a real worry given how suitable that place should be but did make his US Open return with 16th last year. Do well to match it.
Masters champion thanks to a really impressive display at Augusta, where you get the impression his chances were enhanced by the fact that he had Rory McIlroy to deal with on Sunday. Certainly the type to relish being the underdog, it'll be interesting to see how he goes now that he carries the mantle of major champion; his worst round since Augusta has been 73, so the signs are positive. US Open record nothing to shout about but neither was his Augusta record and did win The Barclays at New York's other US Open venue, Bethpage. Ryder Cup team-mate Jordan Spieth followed his first major win with his second straight away and Reed could do the same.
REITAN, Kristoffer (a)
Well regarded Norwegian amateur who decided not to head to the US college system, despite agreeing a deal with Texas, a couple of years ago. Reports at the time suggested he did so in favour of a professional career, but at the time of writing remains an amateur. Followed Walton Heath qualifying with a solid round of 70 on his European Tour debut and looks the part.
Left for dead by friends like Justin Thomas, having been a record-maker during his college days at Stanford - where he matched many of the achievements of Tiger Woods. Hard to know why it hasn't quite happened for this modern machine, especially as he's putting well these days, but remains a candidate to suddenly step up a gear. Qualifying came at a nice time as he'd just finished eighth at the Memorial and big courses like this one will certainly suit. T46 on US Open debut in 2016.
Not, as previously reported, the uncle of One Direction star Niall Horan, but does like to surround himself with the great and the good from the world of entertainment, and why not? On the course, he's a golfing machine who won this event five years ago at Merion, when everything converged to present him with an opportunity he was brave enough and good enough to take. Long, straight, hits it sky-high and better around the greens than has previously been the case, so the one concern would be that he's definitely better suited to big, parkland courses like Congressional. Not to say he can't go well here and arrives in great form. Once paid John Terry £10,000 for a behind-the-scenes tour of Chelsea's training complex (this is also not true); that and some poor eye-wear choices are the only blots on his copybook.
Enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last year, triggered by fifth place at the US Open after which he won twice in a dozen starts, including the lucrative TOUR Championship. Close-season equipment switch stalled progress a little but appetite for the big-time confirmed with second at Sawgrass, after which he started well and then started playing like an amateur at Fort Worth. Back-to-back missed cuts are a worry for this supreme driver of the ball who eats par-fives for breakfast.
Capless wonder who recommends using both shampoo and conditioner. One of many brilliant youngsters from the USA who arrived on the PGA Tour as if it was just another game at college, which shouldn't surprise us given his top-15 finish in the Open as an amateur. That came on the back of 42nd at Chambers Bay and this will be his first major start as a professional. Making cuts (10/13 in 2018) without threatening much, although did go close in the Phoenix Open. Surname worth a whopping 25 points in Scrabble, but be warned: it is not an actual word.
Birdied the last four to win the 2011 Masters, otherwise famous for being the edition which Rory had control over until Sunday. Took him five years to add to that victory in the US, something he did with a play-off victory at the Valspar, but recent exploits include a top-five at the PLAYERS Championship and various other pieces of excellence. US Open top-10s have come via Congressional and Chambers Bay and just one missed cut this decade, which came under the lower-scoring conditions of Erin Hills. Despite recent upturn, outside the top 100 on the PGA Tour in all the major strokes-gained categories and a lowly 181st in greens. Not sure he's done enough to warrant interest here.
Running on empty, he managed to keep alive his streak of playing in every major since way back in 2001 by coming through qualifying the Monday after the Memorial Tournament. Said there that this has been a huge weight on his shoulders and clearly would like to get back into the world's top 50 and avoid a repeat further down the line. The 2013 Masters champion has offered some hope that he's getting back to his best of late even if he'll likely never quite get there now the anchoring ban is well established. US Open by far his least productive major but week off will have done him good and not dismissed.
Promising enough Aussie who won his first professional event back home late last year, and followed it with top-20 finishes in the Australian Open and Australian PGA. Sixth place in the Dubai Desert Classic his best effort since but 2018 has largely been quiet, and while 21st in Italy was followed by solid 36 holes at Walton Heath, he's likely making up the numbers.
Younger than he looks at 21 and rapidly developed into a quality operator, dominating the Joburg Open for a first European Tour win, adding a second from off the pace in Malaysia and then flirting with the front in the WGC-Mexico Championship. All of those efforts on parkland tracks where his precision and putting can be unleashed and victories in 23- and 21-under demonstrate that the US Open asks an altogether different question. It's all happening very quickly, perhaps too quickly, but no reason he can't keep on improving and establish himself at a global level. Little sister Vandini wrote a brilliant diary of her experience at Augusta. Talented family.
Faith underlined by remarkable win at Sawgrass, where everything seemed to go his way. Hard to begrudge him that success, his first since in almost five years, and in fairness he'd long since turned the corner with the previously wayward putter. Career highlight to date came with victory in this event in 2012, a particularly demanding renewal albeit on a shorter, fiddly golf course. That said, Martin Kaymer did the PLAYERS/US Open double in 2014 and a repeat is possible if you're willing to forgive an unlikely missed cut at Colonial. Note, his earlier US Open win came after a pair of missed cuts.
First caught the eye when playing on the Asian Tour but entered wider consciousness with top-five finish in the 2015 US Open, where his Aussie education no doubt helped cope with the demands of that particular test. Since then has gradually climbed the ladder, winning alongside Jonas Blixt in last year's Zurich and then taking the Australian PGA Championship. Next step is a first PGA Tour success on his own but on a run of missed cuts and shooting some very high numbers right now.
Good egg with nine major top-10s to his name, most notably the 2008 Masters which he might have won, and the 2012 Open which he led for a good while early on. Yet to recapture best form since missing five months of last year through injury, largely because of his approach work. Some positives at Colonial last time as he carded a five-under weekend, but hard to remember when he last had a chance to add to his impressive tally and that's unlikely to change here.
Cancer-surviving Southend pro who wears his heart on his sleeve, as the world saw when sixth in last summer's Open Championship. So far has only played in that major, with 12th in 2016 and a missed cut in 2014, but earned his spot here through qualifying - something he's very good at. Some of the skills which make him such a fine links exponent could be called upon here and he's the type to raise his game under the gun, so wouldn't be a totally surprising contender.
The most prolific major winner in golf right now, having won three of his last 13 dating back to the start of 2015 when he broke through in the Masters - an event he could've won a year sooner, don't forget. Took this title at Chambers Bay when his own shocking mistake at the 17th hole on Sunday was forgotten when DJ made an even more significant one soon after, and added the third leg of the career slam when taking last summer's Open Championship. Despite reputation as a putter and just a putter, is in fact a proper shot-maker and it's the flat stick which provides real cause for concern at the moment. Dangerous to underestimate but has looked a long way below his best for much of the year. The exception? The Masters, where he was third. Hold on a second...
The multiple PGA Tour winner you've never heard of. Even managed to escape global sporting headlines when incurring a three-month drugs ban, although it was a supplement he took without checking the banned list and he reported himself to the PGA Tour. Nothing to see here. Two of his wins have been on tough tracks but he's surely not up to winning a US Open.
No longer living a double life after superb UK band Wild Beasts called it a day, this flusher is able to focus on his golf and confirmed again that he's a threat when ball-striking matters most by losing a play-off for the Memorial Tournament. Rallied impressively there after his chance appeared to have gone and that tough streak dates back to his famous Phoenix win some years ago, which came a week after he'd made an eight on the final hole to gift the Farmers Insurance Open to Snedeker. Goes about his business very quietly but a serious player who would be world-class if he could putt.
Gangly Californian who has won the last two editions of the Frys.com Open, with his other success coming way back in 2011 in Texas. That was his rookie year and he went on to contend for the PGA Championship won by his friend Keegan Bradley, until falling to a respectable 19th which didn't do justice to his play. Since then, has added three more top-20 finishes in majors and his US Open record is a progressive CUT-15-13. Confidence with the driver could be a serious weapon.
Could hit a sixpence at 300 paces such is his accuracy off the tee, but just occasionally that faith in the three-wood can cost him as he plays approach shots from a good way short of rivals who are happy to thrash driver. Always a heart in mouth moment when he does reach for the big stick but ought to have more confidence in it and wonder if that's partly why his US Open record is fairly poor. Withdrew from Oakmont, missed the cut at Erin Hills and his best effort came at Pinehurst, where the firm and fast nature suited this would be Open champion. Similar circumstances could help him here and form is trending in the right direction.
STRAFACI, Tyler (a)
Freshman at Georgia Tech who got a dose of reality when shooting 75-76 in the Valspar Championship, having won a spot in that field at a course he says he's played 20-plus times. Not to say that was a disastrous performance by any means but it does underline the fact that he has a bit to learn before competing at this level.
Now 51 and a dual winner on the Champions Tour, both this year, but don't let that fool you - Stricker is still a contender at this level. His run of major cuts made is one of the more ridiculous sequences in non-Tiger golf - Stricker hasn't missed a weekend since the 2009 PGA Championship, some 26 events ago. That makes him one to watch for you fantasy golf players and don't worry about his missed cut here in 2004 - he was in the doldrums at the time and is better judged on a T13 at Shinnecock more than two decades ago. Unlikely to win but a top-20 finish is there to be had and a shoo-in for top senior.
Still haven't forgiven him for winning the 2016 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, such a seismic shock that they scrapped the tournament as a solo event. Hits it straight and, for that week only, made 57 consecutive putts inside 10 feet. Still. Haven't. Forgiven. Him.
Some luck, more genius in his breakthrough major triumph at the PGA Championship, a fitting victory given that his father and coach, Mike, is a PGA professional. Thomas had already demonstrated an insatiable appetite for titles and hasn't rested on his laurels since, already adding two more and producing his best Masters effort yet despite a cold putter. Like most of the world's best he's gone a little quiet since but that's with half an eye on Shinnecock, and viewed strictly on wins-to-runs over the last couple of years he's the most likely champ here. Not sure it's quite that simple but coped with a real grind at Quail, where his length was a weapon, and something similar (albeit firmer) could unfold here.
THORNBERRY, Braden (a)
Sounds like a character from a JD Sallinger novel but is in fact the world's second-ranked amateur, one who finished fourth on his PGA Tour debut last summer. A shade disappointing in round one of this year's renewal of the same event, but it came days after he'd come through a 36-hole qualifier for this and can be forgiven. Expected to return to Ole Miss for his final year whatever happens and looks a likely contender for US Amateur honours at Pebble Beach. First, his focus will be here and there's no reason he can't make the weekend. Potentially top-class.
Up-and-down type who won on the Web.com Tour late last year, securing his PGA Tour playing rights. So far he's missed seven cuts but three top-fives, including twice recently, mean he's done enough to keep hold of his card for next season. Next aim will be to properly contend as he gave himself too much to do at Quail Hollow and Muirfield Village but major record of zero top-40 finishes in eight attempts leaves much to be desired.
VARNER III, Harold
Seventh at the PLAYERS came out of the blue and he's generally struggled this year, with 38th his next best performance. Work to do if he's to avoid demotion to the Web.com Tour as a result but has the right attitude and something about him, so could be the type to spring to life just in time at something like the Wyndham. In the here and now, making too many mistakes to be considered.
Dual winner on the Latin American PGA Tour but really struggled throughout 2017, and sole start in 2018 saw him miss the cut by a long way in his native Mexico. Among the favourites if there's a market on who will finish last.
Flashes of his brilliant best of late, notably opening 67 at Sawgrass and opening 64 at Colonial, and capable of turning it on from nowhere as he's shown by winning the last two renewals of the Canadian Open. Also third on his last visit to New York in The Northern Trust and battled back really well after an opening 77 to make the cut at Augusta. Needs a better start here and not the sort you'd say is made for the test.
Fond memories of this side of the US having won the PGA Championship at Baltsurol, New Jersey, holding off Jason Day to become a major champion. Things haven't gone to plan in the intervening two years, largely because he was hit hard by Lyme disease, but that's all behind him now and results are returning: he's managed six top-25s in succession for the first time since 2014, and it's upon this sort of platform that previous wins have been built. Best US Open effort came at Pinehurst during excellent 2014 campaign and, following 20th at the Masters, must be on the radar.
Fine advert for the Alps Tour, where he was dominant to earn a Challenge Tour card and then won a co-sanctioned event in double-quick time to secure his European Tour status. Already demonstrated that he belongs at this level, winning the Indian Open earlier this year having contended for events like the Italian Open last year, and no surprise he breezed through qualifying. Short game has made a big impression but he also gives it some whack and while this is soon in his development, he's a quick learner.
Better than he's been able to show owing to a number of niggling injuries, and this is an overdue debut in the US. Likely to be found out even if, at his best, he's a wonderful driver of the ball.
Twice a winner this season having sagely decided that playing golf at the highest level is hard enough without using novelty equipment. Fifth at the Masters not much of a surprise given the way he'd prepared but two starts since have been a little disappointing, albeit the first was at Sawgrass which is a course unsuited to his game. Went well at Oakmont in 2007 but his recent US Open record is abysmal, just like his record in the Open Championship. Given what we know about this temperamental character, that all adds up and takes him off the shortlist.
Second at the low-grade Barracuda Championship last summer but little to shout about since, although did tough it out well enough for 11th place in the Texas Open in April. Struggles for distance and also failing to hit fairways consistently at the moment, so there's not much we can use to build a case for a player who was the statistical average putter last season, gaining precisely zero strokes on the field.
Veteran New Zealander who was 61st on his US Open debut two years ago and will again find life tough on his return.
Masters champion two years ago thanks to a seriously impressive final round, which meant he was in position to capitalise when Spieth made a mess of things. That was a surprise but not a shock - he'd become a more regular winner on the European Tour, taking the Dubai Desert Classic, and contended for the WGC-Cadillac Championship earlier in the spring, and it's important to remember this context before writing him off. No doubt things have gone badly since Augusta with plenty of on-course upheaval, but showed something at last in Italy and it's to be hoped he can build on that. Success here would still be making the cut.
2014 NCAAs winner who appeared to have the world at his feet, but this left-hander hasn't gone on and has been scrapping around on minor tours. Coming through qualifying for this will surely do him good but the road to the top, once considered straight and smooth, is proving extremely hard to tread.
Clinic in closing when he won the Byron Nelson, which came on the back of an excellent effort at Quail Hollow. No real surprise he's won during his rookie campaign as he was contending on invites as an amateur and raced through the Web.com Tour. Hits it long and putts, so he's the sort to keep on climbing the ladder given that he's still just 21. Grounded by his upbringing, which began in Cape Town, and the sky is the limit.
"Wise man say only fools rush in." I'm running on empty, and so will Timbo be if he makes the weekend. Hard to think he will at 1472nd in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Emotional winner of the Phoenix Open, an overdue success for one so talented. Form dipped afterwards but there was plenty to like about his 23rd place in the Memorial Tournament, where his driving and approach play was outstanding. Comfort levels at that course helped but nevertheless a timely return to something like his best ahead of his 26th major start. Still looking for a first top 10, but I remain in the camp expecting him to contend for one at some stage.
What a return to the PGA Tour it has been from Tiger Woods, even if there is still something missing - another of those all-important wins on which his career will always be judged. Most now believe it is coming, which was far from certain a year ago as he privately contemplated whether the end was nigh. The hallmark of his strong form this spring has been brilliant iron play and razor-sharp work around the greens, with the driver and the putter the missing pieces of the jigsaw. It's the latter which has most worried after he ranked 72nd in putting at the Memorial, producing some of the worst numbers of his career, but he'll work it out. He always works it out. US Open record includes a so-so 17th here, but 10 years on from his one-legged defeat of Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines, what a time it would be to return to winning ways. It looks increasingly possible if his wayward drives are not too harshly punished.
YU, Chun An (a)
Promising amateur from Chinese Taipei whose scoring average in his Freshman year at Arizona State is second only to a certain Jon Rahm. Made the quarter-finals of last year's US Amateur and has played nicely of late. A contender for top amateur honours, no doubt.
Formerly top-class amateur who has struggled a little playing on invites this season, but nevertheless did well to earn this, his first major start, through qualifying.