Ben Coley provides an exhaustive guide to the entire field in the US Open, including players to swerve, outsiders to consider, and A-Z insight.
AN, Byeong Hun
Always wins the alphabetical competition but now five years since he won a golf one of note. Good recent form includes 12th at Southwind, when playing in final group, and 22nd in the PGA Championship, and few played better over the weekend at the difficult Olympia Fields. T16 in this last year was his best yet so a case to be made that he'll play well again, but my word can you imagine watching him over a three-footer on these greens? It's that which talked me out of a 150/1 with the basic ability to compete at this level.
Diminutive, accurate, gritty Mexican whose sole top-grade professional success to date came under the difficult conditions of an Australian Open. Putting well and staying out of trouble and he overcame a lack of power to finish 16th at Bethpage last spring. Something like that would be another good week and extend his cuts-made streak in US majors to a perfect four-from-four. Definitely a top ROW runner.
Hard to get excited about an amateur named John when we've had ones like Bryson, CoLLin, Maverick, Cole, Takumi and Viktor in recent years, and even Jon which is cooler, but this one did reach the final of the US Amateur in 2019 and has stayed on at college to take up the exemptions he earned in doing so. MC in the Heritage last year and down-the-field run in Maridoe during lockdown underline that he's got a job on to make the weekend.
Club professional who has missed the cut in the last three PGA Championships, including at Harding Park last month, and now makes his US Open debut. Says he's played around 50 rounds at Winged Foot but not sure they'll help him achieve a weekend tee-time. Will still make headlines, though, as he's employed Michael O’Keefe, the actor who played Noonan in Caddyshack, to carry his bag in a couple of practice rounds. Also notable for having won the Guatemala Stella Artois Open which sounds like it might be both dangerous and fun.
Fifth-ranked French golfer in the world who currently plays on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he's been in and out this summer with three top-threes and five missed cuts before a decent spin last week. That's how he qualified and he said that playing Winged Foot 'would be a great experience in my opinion'. Wonder if he'll alter that view come Friday.
One of the stars of 2020 having returned from injury to produce his best golf yet, better than that which qualified him for the 2017 Presidents Cup. Would be hard to leave out of a Ryder Cup side right now and I wonder whether he'll wind up being one of those players who is unfortunate never to play in the sport's greatest team competition. That won't be the case if he continues on his current path and look how strong he was through the bag in the 2020 season: 27th off the tee, 34th on approach, 28th around the green and 17th putting is exceptional. Best major effort yet came in the 2018 US Open, where he played in the final group at nearby Shinnecock, and he's a big runner everywhere at the moment.
Quiet South African who has been quietly impressive this summer, given he's adapting to life on the PGA Tour and presumably living out of a suitcase. Nothing special from his seven appearances post-lockdown, but he made four cuts, secured a few nice cheques, and in 22 rounds only once did he shoot more than 72. All of his best golf was powered by the putter which is a weapon of his, and to succeed at a course as meaty as this he will need to hit more fairways than he has been. Missed both major cuts so far but does know how to grind as evidenced by Valderrama win. Not sure that's worth enough.
Long, straight driver who made hay while the sun shone before the anchoring ban came into force. Hasn't been a factor at this level since and has one top-five finish on the PGA Tour since winning two years ago. On both those occasions he led the field in putting, a category in which he's ranked 185th, 178th and 174th over the past three seasons. Good luck trying to work out when exactly he'll come alive, though both have been in the north east on non-bermuda greens. Still, very hard to know when the putter is going to behave.
CABRERA BELLO, Rafa
Career has stalled since the 2016 Ryder Cup, in which he made a strong impression as a rookie on a losing side. Has won once in the interim but was gifted that and his form in 2020 has been poor. Adds a little to the top Spaniard market without looking like he's much of a threat and if you do want to back him, it ought to be over one round - he's managed a handful of really low ones and has that in the locker despite not managing a top-20 finish all summer.
Very similar profile to Rory McIlroy right now, as one of the few top-level golfers who haven't really come to the party since the PGA Tour returned. Took his time to come back and looked sharp initially, but iron play hasn't been up to scratch and undermines his consistently strong driving. Short-game was razor-sharp last time out when 12th in Illinois and if he does improve with his approaches then he has a nice profile, being fresh, proven on big, tough courses in this part of the US, and having major credentials. Could be worth benefit of some doubt but price hasn't quite moved enough.
Purist, philanthropist... probably a cyclist third, and arrives here ready to put in the hard yards having shown encouraging signs since September. Nobody in the field for the PGA Championship enjoyed Collin Morikawa's eagle at the 16th more than PC which, yes, is a little odd given that he was in second place at the time, but there you have it: there's more to life and all that. In all seriousness, perhaps that attitude is actually why Casey won tournaments in 2018 and 2019 and he is playing well enough to add another in 2020. Could it be this one? Yes, actually: he was 15th here in 2006 despite a nightmare start, 16th at Shinnecock, and has the required power.
Top-ranked American amateur and second in the WAGR to the outstanding Takumi Kanaya, so appears to be a player with an enormous future. Arrives with slight concerns over health, however, as he withdrew from the US Amateur citing extreme fatigue last month, where a couple of coronavirus tests came back negative. As you'd expect his swing is pretty and powerful and this won't be his last US Open.
Plays in his second US Open, having shared 32nd in his first, at Erin Hills, where he first wowed the likes of McIlroy and Louis Oosthuizen in practice courtesy of his awesome power. It really is a sight to behold and has already carried him to two PGA Tour wins, plus his first taste of contention in a major at Harding Park. That took him to 3-3 in terms of cuts made at the highest level and his power, and experience on poa annua, should both work in his favour. Hasn't quite found the consistency of his contemporaries but undoubtedly has the potential to become a major champion, likely at a course like this one. New caddie this week as John Wood begins what should be a lengthy and prosperous partnership.
Arguably the most reliable tee-to-green operator on the PGA Tour where his long, straight driving and quality iron play have helped lay the foundations for what will be a long and rewarding career. Just how much he squeezes out of it may depend on the putter, which has been his nemesis, and for now his short-game in general leaves him exposed at the highest level. That explains a poor record in majors and it could pay to take him on in the top Canadian betting where he'll again be favourite.
Popular Washington pro who has overcome cancer to make it on the PGA Tour, where he caused a stir by saying he'd be happy to keep winning loads of money without winning trophies. I admire a pragmatist and he knows he's not Rory or DJ, but his golf over the last couple of months demands increased expectations. Main issue is piecing all elements together - typically, when one thing fires, another does not - but can bag a fairly low-key title at something like the Sony Open or the Mayakoba or the Shriners. Probably not here, but was 10th in the PGA, carding four sub-70 rounds, and that form is worth something.
Four top-10 finishes from the Workday through to the PGA appeared to confirm that the former world number one was back, only for his troubles to return in the Playoffs. Played so well at Harding Park, the culmination of a month of confidence-boosting improvement as he led the field in approach play for the first time in half a decade, that typically being his weakness. Since then he's been poor again and maybe the problems which have crept in will be harder to solve without a coach, having parted ways with Col Swatton. That said has tapped up Tiger for advice and his form at Bethpage and elsewhere in New York and New Jersey reads well. Back out to pre-PGA price and tempting as a result for all the risks attached.
Returned from lockdown having consumed more protein shakes than the entire 2020 USA Wrestling cohort, thrashing his way to a run of top-10 finishes which included victory in Detroit. Five starts since have been 80 percent underwhelming, the exception fourth place in the PGA which is his best major finish by far. That came courtesy of a field-leading performance off the tee - his third in seven events at the time - but he's been average since, his approach play remains poor, and putter doesn't always save him. Can always be fancied to find answers as he pushes the needle but perhaps best supported when we've evidence that he's done so, especially as his touch will be tested here.
Tall, handsome Belgian with a voice smooth enough to coax a squirrel into parting with an acorn, and sufficiently talented to ensure this first major appearance sparks something. Has developed a nearly-man reputation lately but it strikes me as a little harsh, as his first couple of seasons were basically spent on the fringes of contention. Indeed he's never held a clear 54-hole lead on the European Tour and has only once so much has been in a share of it, so to me that's the bigger problem for all his missed putt on the last hole at Forest of Arden hurt. Achieved plenty as an amateur in the US college system and will believe he's capable of contending.
Accurate American who took down Webb Simpson to win the RSM Classic last year. That's his bag - short courses, bit of a breeze perhaps, no power pressure off the tee - and he struggled to make an impact at the PGA. Had made every other cut this summer until last week, without managing a top-10, and that sums things up nicely, although does have a notable US Open debut to call upon: he defied an opening 77 at Shinnecock with a second-round 67 to make the cut.
A triumph for perseverance and for understanding who you are and what you can do, having abandoned hopes to compete with the biggest hitters off the tee and, with that, found a return to his best. Lost years mean he's not won since 2013 but has done everything but in 2020, including when second to freakish DJ performance in Boston. Very similar to Berger in that he gained strokes in all departments last season and stays competitive off the tee despite not being among the very longest hitters, and has a similar enough chance. Thirteen cuts made in 16 major starts is impressive in its own right and he's never been a better player than he is today.
Fourth place in the PGA and subsequent fifth in the BMW Championship further underline that he's among the best tough-course players around, especially when the problem begins with length. That will serve him well at Winged Foot and he played alongside Berger in the final group at Shinnecock two years ago thanks to a Saturday 66 in the best of conditions. Still stuck on one PGA Tour win and a low-grade one at that, but when he does win again - and he surely will - there's a decent chance it comes not when he drops in grade to take on largely inferior players, but when he tackles the very best, on a big golf course, and things go his way. No reason that can't happen here and though a little underwhelming in the TOUR Championship, where he drove it poorly, that's probably a blip.
Arguably the best putter among the game's elite right now and has put that to use throughout summer, with top-six finishes at the Memorial, St Jude and BMW Championship, three of the most challenging events. Came up short in the PGA Championship and that distance gap he has to cover makes life difficult from the get-go, so much will depend on the real worth of finding fairways. On that score there is some encouragement to be taken from the 2006 leaderboard but broadly speaking, hitting fairways is arguably the most overvalued skill in modern golf. Capable of winning anywhere even so but will need to keep that putter hot and avoid disaster when he does find the rough.
Took something close to the Adam Scott approach to returning, waiting until the end of July where he missed the cut at the 3M Open. Soon put that behind him and was in the mix at the PGA after a sumptuous second-round 64, only to lose a ball up a tree when just threatening to make his move in the final round. Unfortunate though that was it is a reminder that his ball-striking hasn't been as good as we'd expect, especially his irons. Much, much better in Portugal though and like Scott, could well be that being a little fresher is of some benefit. Certainly has the game for this having been fourth at Erin Hills and second at Shinnecock, where his clubhouse total would probably have won it but for the leader on the course being Brooks Koepka. Massive runner again.
Friend of everyone who has become a bit of a twitter meme by virtue of the fact he always seems to be greenside, ready to welcome the winner home having himself flattered to deceive. That's all a bit harsh for a player with 10 major top-10 finishes and a PLAYERS Championship but right now he's a shadow of his former self, a move from the Harmon stable to John Tillery yet to really pay off. Just one full-field top-10 since last August is worrying and though he contended in Memphis, those swing issues were revealed in a final-round 73. Hard to fancy right now and could soon find himself outside the world's top 50 if not arresting the slide. Was good in the TaylorMade Driving Relief thing, tho.
Big-hitting New Zealander with a top-class sporting pedigree. Likes tough conditions and fared reasonably at Shinnecock, so having been playing nicely in Europe, he's one who could make the weekend and reward some kind of faith. Word is his wife is expecting but says he's playing the next four weeks so can only assume birth is not imminent. Needs to work out how to putt.
Turned 40 in January and no real signs that it might spark a final push at the biggest events, in which he's been a non-factor since winning the 2017 Masters. Indeed in his last 10 majors, Garcia has missed eight cuts and finished no higher than 52nd, which is a simply abysmal record for a player who remains more than capable. It took him about seven years of professional golf to amass seven missed cuts in majors so to manage as many since the end of 2017 demonstrates a serious loss of form in this grade. Perhaps he's simply done winning at the highest level and will now be seen to best effect when popping over to Europe and bagging a smallish prize, as he did in last year's KLM Open. MC in the 2006 US Open further underlines that if you want a short-priced banker, it ought to be Jon Rahm in the top Spaniard market.
Won a bizarre renewal in 2009, where foul weather early on caused a serious draw bias, and then Ricky Barnes looked like he might win by several, before Glover stood tall on the final day. Deserves enormous credit as do all major champions but hasn't ever looked a candidate to win two and Bethpage appears to be the tough, New York course he likes, versus others on which he has a poor record. Shot 75-77 here in 2006 and is badly out of form.
Frequent major contender five years ago including when very close to winning at Chambers Bay and Baltusrol, making nothing in the latter having hit a drive out of bounds when appearing the man to beat in the former. Not much to shout about since (bar that historic 62 at Birkdale in 2017) at the very highest level but was back to form late last year and at the start of this, finally winning the SA Open. Quiet this summer and tested positive for coronavirus recently when bang in the mix. Now gets into the field owing to a coronavirus-related withdrawal and form at correlating courses makes him somewhat interesting. Victory would be a fitting story for this year.
Made it all the way to East Lake thanks to a breakout campaign, albeit one which saw early-birds like this Houston Open winner at a distinct advantage. Played well for three rounds in the TOUR Championship thanks to a strong driver-putter combination and can at some stage collect a second win. Looks short of what's required at this level but 19th at Harding Park was very good on just his second major start and will appeal to those looking for cheap fantasy plays or speculative top-20 finish candidates.
Been a while since he was close enough to snap those fingers in any meaningful fashion and is very up and down, so often producing something close to the round of the day to go with three modest ones. Big positive is ninth in last year's US Open, which amounts to far more than his other seven major appearances combined. Easily opposed.
Became a father at the start of the year but no apparent bounce yet having failed to make the top 20 in all bar one start. The exception was on a short, low-scoring course in Detroit and this is an altogether different test. Generally not a factor in majors and shot 83-75 the last time he played this one, at Shinnecock.
One of the world's most talked-about amateurs a couple of years ago and reached the summit of the World Amateur Golf Rankings. Not so good lately and though he remains of potential, unlikely we'll see much of his promise here. Finished last but one in the 2015 US Open albeit was a teenager at the time.
Late-bloomer who followed some impressive Asian Tour displays with a final-round charge to win last year's Qatar Masters. Went from there to 12th place at Augusta and at the time was probably as good as anyone in the sport on and around the greens. That short-game prowess was back on display when third at Valderrama and if nothing else, he knows how to work hard for it. Fancy he might well make the weekend as he did in three of his four majors last year, which alone is enough to generate some interest against his compatriots and their various flaws.
Played David to Brooks Koepka's Goliath at the 2017 US Open, where he clung on admirably to share second place. That's by some distance the pick of his major efforts and came on a very different course, albeit one which still gave the advantage to the bombers. Playing nicely again at the moment with 11th in Boston followed by 12th in Chicago and given Bubba's struggles in this tournament, and Phil's final round in the Safeway, he could be an interesting top-lefty bet.
England's Berger, as a massively improved sort since returning from injury. That improvement was rewarded with a really likeable display to win the Arnold Palmer and in doing so he confirmed it doesn't always have to be about birdies, which had been the theme of four successes in Europe. More good stuff recently as he took fifth in the TOUR Championship (72-hole scores) where all aspects fired. Good sixth at Shinnecock is one of five top-10 finishes in majors and it's a myth that his occasional temper tantrums undermine his success. In fact they probably underpin it.
One of the surprise names on the 2006 leaderboard, finishing 32nd, but more likely to finish 132nd here after rounds of 75 and 84 at the Belfry last time. Lost almost 13 strokes tee-to-green there which would see him fail to break 80 at this course and he's probably the first player you should look for on the three-ball coupon.
Big-hitting Australian youngster who has established himself on the European Tour and broke through to win a demanding Dubai Desert Classic. Element of theft about that and he's only played twice since tour golf returned, both times suggesting he's best avoided until returning to a lower level.
Flattered by his world ranking which climbed to 91st after he held off Billy Horschel in the Wyndham. That's his third PGA Tour win and was his first top-20 finish since the second. In other words he generally either wins or finishes nowhere and as he's not going to win the US Open, that leaves you with... and he'll need to borrow his best mate's magic pencil if he's to win this.
Neat-and-tidy youngster from the Korn Ferry Tour, where he won his first tournament in Portland this summer. Likely to find the bridge to this level is blocked off for now.
Sparkling young talent from Denmark whose brother Nicolai is also of abundant potential, the pair both having made the top 10 in the world as amateurs. It's Rasmus who has taken to life as a professional, first winning the Mauritius Open via a play-off eagle and then winning another play-off at the Belfry, another eagle at the 71st hole helping set the target. Wonderful swing and natural power make him one of the best drivers of the ball on the European Tour already, and he's not yet 20 years old. We'll learn a little more about him here but while it's not unreasonable to get carried away about what he might do over the course of the next 20 years, let's be realistic with expectations. Making the cut would be a fine accomplishment before sights are raised next year and beyond.
Popular breakthrough winner last year and was in excellent form in the spring, regularly contending. Lockdown has stopped him in his tracks and while he's had a chance to win again at the 3M Open, his other nine starts show a return of zero top-40 finishes. His tee-to-green stats have deteriorated lately and the only real positive is that at his very best he's pretty good at grinding.
Played in this as a teenage amateur 14 years ago and didn't make the weekend, but has since established himself as a classy PGA Tour professional who can beat the best when at his best. He's also got a nice enough US Open record which began with fourth place in 2013, his first major as a professional, and has seen him make four of his subsequent five cuts and each time hovering around 30th. Quite a while since he was winning tournaments and spurned a great chance in the Wyndham, but said there he loves where his game is and there's reason for optimism. Just a shame his ball-striking as dipped just as his putter has become a weapon as he may need something akin to that Merion round where he hit all 18 greens if he's to spark a bid for this title.
Hardly missed a dance since golf returned and his game has been in excellent shape, hence a run of 11 starts over which he's played all 44 rounds. Week off prior to this comes at the right time and so does the return of his long-game, which had been startlingly good mid-summer and was back where it needs to be at East Lake. Would've said this is too soon but for seeing what Collin Morikawa did and that ought to rub-off on Hovland, who was 32nd and 12th in the Masters and US Open respectively as an amateur, and then 33rd in the PGA behind his college rival. Thick rough around greens may help his short-game which is the primary concern and if he continues to stripe it, why not?
HOWELL III, Charles
Taught-skinned veteran who would make a fine chief of staff, but for now is grinding it out in a sport dominated by youngsters. He was once one of the most promising around in his own right and is now famous for a lucrative career without winning often - although three PGA Tour wins isn't to be sniffed at. Record in the US Open sums things up: he's made an impressive eight cuts in 11, but is yet to better a share of 18th - and that came in 2002.
In the form of his life at 31 and produced four solid rounds for 51st in the US PGA, his first major, before contending in the Wyndham. Courses like Sedgefield are far more suitable than this one and missed cut last week was below expectations.
Pleased he's gone back to Mackenzie, having for a time demanded to be called 'Mack', which is the sort of move a 45-year-old uncle who has just discovered cycling and Coldplay might try to pull. He's been rewarded for seeing sense, too, with a string of impressive results this summer including top-10 finishes in the Travelers, Memorial, BMW and TOUR Championship. Putting has powered those and he has a Spiethian quality from range. Now he's made his first major cut he could be the one to go with in the Cannucks' market.
Hard-working youngster who charmed the pants off of everyone when saying he'd buy a nice house and put some money away for the future if we won *$15million* via the FedEx Cup. Begs the question - can he not yet afford a house? Really? Nonsense. Anyway, he hit the ball as well as he had for a while when ninth in the Wyndham and was in that sort of form again at the TOUR Championship. Seems to prefer classical, short-ish courses and certainly bermuda greens, which may explain missed cut at Harding Park. Still has a little to prove under these conditions but enormous potential, can win a US Open at some stage, and is a big price on ability.
Star of the Japanese circuit who was 38th in the world back in March, has only played once since, finished fifth, and is now 62nd. It's a cruel game but the message is he is yet to translate that form back home - four wins in the last three seasons - to the PGA Tour, where he has largely struggled. Big ask to correct that here.
One-time teen prodigy who carded a round of 58 the day Rory McIlroy won his first PGA Tour event, at which time there were forecasts of great duels in the years to come. Hasn't happened for Ishikawa - let's not underestimate how difficult it must be to take your game to the other side of the world, a different language, culture, and all the rest - but he has rebuilt his career in Asia lately. Two-over to miss the cut in the PGA Championship was no disgrace on his return but relies too heavily on the putter to be considered.
Classic example of a player who finds himself stranded in no man's land; too good for the Korn Ferry Tour, where he won again in Boise recently, but as yet unable to properly establish himself at the highest level. Known for his low-scoring and aggression and like Ishikawa has a tour-level 58 to his name. MC-60 in this and will probably only be the top German if Martin Kaymer relinquishes his citizenship before tee-off.
Jazz will do. Long considered highly talented and has soared since teaming up with Pete Cowen. Form largely confined to Asia where he was the dominant player in 2019, but did also feature in the PGA Championship at Bethpage where he fell to 14th after a closing 77. The trouble is that after all the success he enjoyed last year, the challenge of this one was to take it with him back to the US. He has failed to do so for now and will likely miss the cut.
PGA professional who turned 40 recently, but even I am not about to argue this is significant information to anyone outside of his friends and family. Apparently he designs clubs for PING, which is quite cool.
Every inch the best player in the world at the moment, which he most certainly wasn't from September 2019 to spring 2020, and over his last four starts only four players have finished ahead of him. Return to this sort of standard has been a slow process which included injury rehab and a swift return to working with Claude Harmon who, while undeniably annoying, is plainly excellent at his job - nepotism or otherwise. Anyway, I digress: DJ is a proven US Open performer with a win, a second, a third, and a fourth. His best efforts have come on big, hard courses whereas shorter ones like Olympic Club evidently and obviously suit less. In other words, he looks made for Winged Foot and arrives as the right favourite by any and every measure, particularly now he's back to firing his irons relentlessly pin-high. Providing a run of four in-the-mix Sundays in succession hasn't left a mark he's the one they all have to beat and though we're splitting hairs, it would be somewhat of a shame were he to end his career on one major.
"Shinnecock Hills is beautiful. Unfortunately, they’ve lost the golf course." What a moment it was when Zach, the gentleman's gentleman, Champion Golfer of the Year and former Masters winner, laid into the USGA at Shinnecock a couple of years ago. If he can't win this - and, while keen not to underestimate such a decorated player, he looks a huge price to contend - then let's at least hope he provides us with another golden TV moment. The best thing about that complaint, which was valid, is that it came as he finished 12th - a performance he's bettered in just one other US Open. What a man. What a player. What a moment.
Two-time Australian Open winner who has at times shown he can grind, that he plays well in the wind, that he doesn't mind tough conditions... and yet his US Open record is made up of only letters.
Brilliant amateur who won an event on the Japan Golf Tour in sensational fashion last year, edging out a quality operator in doing so. Made the cut in the Masters and having recently made his return to tour-level golf with a top-five finish, he'll be aiming to do so here. One of the most exciting young players around and increasingly they are deserving of our respect.
In-and-out winner of last year's Byron Nelson, after which he showed his adaptability with a top-10 in the PGA. Drives it well at his best but has been struggling technically and that meant he didn't have as much of an impact as he ordinarily does in the top Asian market at Harding Park. Second-round 80 at Sedgefield a real red flag and not one to be interested in this time.
A golden-armed god among men whose introspection, class and downright niceness are welcome now more than ever. Such a shame he wasn't able to land a popular win at the Belfry or at Valderrama and his winless run is now well over six years. Another way to view it is that he's a two-time major champion who could easily be coming here in search of a more immediate kind of hat-trick. That sort of generous thinking is what happens to people, none more so than me, when discussing the German, but make no mistake: he's on the way back, and he could win this.
Talented American who has been forced into Asian Tour exile having never delivered on his promise. Threatened to in 2017, winning four times and featuring in the Open, while last year saw him land the Japan Open in an over-par score. Wasn't far from making the weekend in the PGA, where he drove it well, and has the sort of profile which suggests he could surprise at some stage. Hard to know how to side with him, though. Top Kim?
KIM, Si Woo
Hasn't kicked on since winning the PLAYERS in such brilliant fashion, but lots of good signs lately having reaped the benefits of joining the Harmon stable. Should've ended his drought at the Wyndham only to come badly unstuck on Sunday, where his natural aggression and high expectations made for a nasty cocktail. Long-game really is impressing again, however, and after a nice prep in the Safeway (albeit poor iron play) he comes here as an each-way player. No doubting he has the mindset for all you'd like to have seen him take that chance at Sedgefield. Four major top-25s - he's playing well enough for this to be his first top-10 if his approach work is back on track.
Disgraced himself on twitter at the weekend, making light of someone else's misery, and it may not be easy to put that straight behind him in this day and age. Would have concerns about the course anyway and he'll need to hit it better than when failing to make an impression at East Lake.
Pound-for-pound one of the biggest hitters around and has put that to use to win twice on the European Tour, where he's actually been at his best under difficult and often breezy conditions. Goal will be to get himself established on the PGA Tour and he has the tools, as shown with a strong 68 to make the cut in the 2019 PGA. Out of sorts since returning though.
Among the best maidens on the PGA Tour and arrives here having found a nice run of consistency, with finishes of 15th, 13th and sixth across his last three starts. The last of those came at a long, tough course where power was vital and he certainly doesn't lack for that. Indeed he showed as much in the 2018 and 2019 PGA Championships and has made his last two cuts in this. Definitely on the radar even if winning for the first time appears unlikely. Top-20 perhaps but don't rule him out each-way with so many places up for grabs.
Nothing better than 18th since the resumption says a lot about the state of his game, having once been a top-10 conveyor belt. Top three in driving accuracy the last twice and the odd hint that he could be ready for a return to Mexico - gulp - but it's difficult to see him overcoming this challenge. Applications to carry his bag have been slow to arrive and it's just wonderful that John Wood said he was quitting to work on TV, and is now by Champ's side.
Stormed to victory at Celtic Manor a few weeks ago as the putts finally dropped, and has the mindset required to go on and become a hugely successful player - perhaps the best France has yet produced. Has made all three major cuts, two of which came during a brilliant amateur career, and is hitting it well enough to extend that sequence after what was a nice enough preparation at Valderrama.
Former US Amateur champion who has been a bit of an eye-catcher recently, flushing his approach shots last time and playing well for the first 54 holes of The Northern Trust before that. Withdrawal from Safeway merely down to preparing for this and opening 64 at Bethpage last year could be a clue as to how to play him if you want to. Will probably never prove up to this but has more wins in him in the near future.
Regular major contender for a time and one of many who will feel they ought to have won the Open in 2015, his third major top-five finish in relatively quick succession. Things have dried up since and the US Open remains his weakest: he's played it nine times and has one top-25 finish. Alarm bells ring loudly then and he's been abysmal since the PGA Tour started up again. His last two tee-to-green performances would have him missing the weekend by a margin and he's definitely there to be taken on in some form.
Two-time Portugal Masters winner who bossed a good field to add the Korn Ferry Tour Championship last year, thus creating a predicament: where to play. No doubt form suffered as a result but threatened to steal the WGC in Memphis and has generally played well since returning, but for the odd bad round here and there. Likely something similar occurs albeit short-game would be a serious concern.
One of the most surprising winners in recent history early in 2019 but has backed that up rather nicely and nearly doubled up in the 3M Open. That's more his level but solid ball-striking means he keeps making weekends.
Bet a pound to a penny he's described as swashbuckling if making the coverage, which he did for a time at the PGA having been bang in the mix at halfway. Not really a surprise he went backwards after that but a top-20 finish in the same event last year demonstrates that he has the right attitude for this, and a putter which can dig him out of some pretty deep holes.
Open champion who hasn't added to that and wouldn't be alone in experiencing a comedown of some description. Pressure taken off to some extent now the Ryder Cup has been delayed but that arguably makes Portrush less relevant and he'll need to up his game to achieve what's his biggest goal right now. Plain to see he's best when conditions are tough and he's got five major top-10s, including second at Oakmont. Concerns mainly relate to recent form which is patchy and while sixth at Southwind was encouraging, he had new clubs in the bag when missing the cut at the Safeway.
Likeable Australian who dominated the US Amateur at Oakland Hills and turned professional with the world at his feet. Showed flashes at a high level but more recently has been confined to the Korn Ferry Tour, where he was an out-of-the-blue winner in Ohio. Not many putt better but needs to become less erratic.
Enjoyed a fabulous albeit winless rookie campaign on the European Tour last year and is very much at the front of a wave of Scottish talent. Took his time coming out of lockdown and was tentative in heading over for the WGC and PGA, fighting hard to make the weekend in the latter. No great shakes on the European Tour since but his final 54 holes at Valderrama were good and he's a bit of a sneaky one here.
More frustrating than your bank's customer care line and continues to cash his own cheques without winning. Best summed up by being the player who carded a nine-under 63 at Sawgrass only to have it totally expunged from the history books. No real change to his profile except that he's shown the odd sign of putting improvement lately, and that's always going to be key. Still a worry he still doesn't quite understand how good he is and yet hard not to be drawn to a consistent and strong major record. He's made six cuts in seven US Open starts across a variety of courses and finished no worse than 35th when doing so. Chance. Always.
Solid enough Korn Ferry Tour player who hails from New York. Outclassed in this when shooting 80-78 at Pebble Beach a decade ago and though decision to skip last week's event might prove shrewd, it's all incidental.
Winner at the aforementioned Pebble Beach thanks to a seriously impressive Sunday as Dustin Johnson collapsed. Almost doubled up two years later at Olympic Club but surely needs those shorter US Open venues if he's to threaten again. Impressive how he conjured a renaissance last year but misfiring in all departments this summer.
Eight-shot winner of the 2011 edition at a soaking Congressional, an imperious display which he backed up with another eight-shot romp in the following year's PGA. Two more majors followed in 2014 but he's without one since, and this has been his weakest - two top-10 finishes over the last five years are set against three missed cuts. No doubting this sort of long and driver-heavy challenge could work for him and he's better at grinding than a twisting of the numbers can suggest, but equally it would be fair to say he would prefer softer conditions, a couple more par-fives, and a general easing of things. Good start vital for this new dad, who has played his best golf of summer across the BMW and TOUR Championship, but main factor here could well be quality of his approach shots. Needs improvement but foolish to dismiss especially at 16/1 or thereabouts.
Three-time winner who has taken the odd scalp but will probably find this more excruciating than the operation he had last year to remove a rib. Some decent golf this summer and the type to pop up at a price somewhere, just not here, not now.
Some back-story, which you can read about here, and this winner of the US Mid-Am played well for a while back home in the Australian Open last year. Friends with recent Korn Ferry Tour winner Luck but this is new territory.
Marketing professional who plays the odd golf tournament including on the Champions Tour, where he romped to victory on debut and has free money waiting for him should things, ahem, not go so well elsewhere. Apropos of nothing, William Hill report a massive bet placed on him. Clearly, Phil placed that bet. For it to cash he'll need better than last week's Safeway Open prep especially as he said Saturday's round of 70 at the Safeway Open was his worst in three months. Driver the issue there as it was when he made a mess of this in 2006, double-bogey at the last seeing him lose by one to Geoff Ogilvy. He's a big price but it's likely his quest ended with second place in 2013. He's been nowhere close since then.
Sparkling start to life as a professional, winning three times in little more than a year - including the PGA Championship. That came at Harding Park where he enjoyed a couple of good breaks before taking his chance with a glorious, tournament-winning drive to the 16th, which must be the shot of his career and may remain so until it ends in a couple of decades. Putter powered that victory in his home state and we need to be ruthless enough to say that, and to contextualise his wins. Clearly has the world at his feet but if it's the case that he needs to be the best putter to beat the big hitters on these big, tough courses, how easy will it be to repeat? Strongly suspect he has bags more to give regardless of course - his iron play is Woods-like - but nevertheless would rather support him when course isn't an absolute beast.
Progressive Colombian who won at the start of the season and has backed it up, ending the campaign with back-to-back top-10 finishes. Everything was good at East Lake and no longer is he all about the putter, so this is his best chance yet to make the weekend in a major on what's just his fourth go.
Two top-10s, two missed cuts, a withdrawal and a mixed bag otherwise mark it down as a stop-start summer for a player who once had problems starting. These days best known for striding after putts which are on their way in and it's been lovely to see him win the public over as, for all his demons (see: straight-jacket photo) he has always seemed like one of the good guys. Korean-language victory speech last year a real highlight and he has everyone's respect now. Likely to find this too long.
Lacks the consistency of some of his contemporaries and wasn't as impressive as Sungjae Im at the Presidents Cup. However, when he's on is a breathtaking ball-striker and we saw that at the BMW Championship where he gained an eye-watering 13.7 shots with his long-game. Those numbers are sensational and were generated on a long, hard course which may prove a decent form guide. Shame he didn't back up at East Lake and that's what you get. MC-MC-71-MC-MC in majors is the big issue but it really is a matter of time before he figures it out.
Sweet and hard-working Swede who looks like 'Dollar' Bill Stearn from Billions, or at least I thought he did - Google seems to disagree right now. Anyway, Noren is back playing good golf again and his dynamite short-game is a good fit for this. He'll have to work out how to stay in the conversation off the tee but your card is marked if and when he journeys back to Europe where titles have been won at regular intervals over the last three or four years. Came closest on the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines which bodes well but not quite at that level now.
Rock-solid South African who started well in the PGA. A little like Harding, he's made his name in Asia where his last win came in nine-under, and at 38 we know what he is.
Isn't this the name of a character in Robin Hood: Men in Tights? Perhaps not. Shot 77-81 at The Memorial and last year's winner of the US Amateur probably isn't quite ready for this.
Sweet-swinging tractor driver who has been second in every major since he won the 2010 Open. It really is one of the sport's most curious careers: he's yet to win anything in the USA, hasn't won in Europe since 2010 (all wins on the Tour since the Open have been in Africa, Asia or Australia) and basically hasn't won a proper, top-grade event of any description... except The Open Championship. Yet in coming so close, so often, seldom has he done anything wrong. Anyway, he arrives in nice form, the driver is working again since he went back to an old one he likes, and he led the field in scrambling in the tough BMW last time. Never one to pass over lightly in these.
Straight-hitting Spaniard who boasts the curious distinction of being a two-time European Tour winner without having won a stroke play title. Better known for being terribly slow so he'll be right at home here but no way the Pirate, as he's known, heads home with the treasure.
Another high-class amateur and one who is from not too far away in New Jersey. Impressed in the Walker Cup last year as he has done throughout his time at Florida State.
Won the Zurich Classic with Jon Rahm last year and chased home his team-mate in the Memorial earlier this year. That came after he'd shot 77-81 at the same coure a week earlier and he's pushed on, his short-game powering a run to East Lake. Probably as good as he's ever been at 43 and boasts top-30 finishes in all four majors, but this is the one in which he's struggled a little.
Lightning-quick Italian with good hands and now two European Tour wins to his name, having landed the British Masters really impressively. Can be wayward off the tee and form has regressed a little since; looks a candidate to exit early having made seven birdies and more than one seven.
Korn Ferry Tour player who has played well virtually every week for the last three months and fired a closing 66 on Sunday for 13th place. Hits it a mile which helps and is an interesting candidate in that fascinating - genuinely - top Canadian market.
Podcaster who used to write a bit and has two European Tour wins to his name, both on pretty difficult courses. Famously flew home while still a little drunk at Carnoustie two years ago to finish sixth and was 16th in this at Erin Hills. Two withdrawals and a missed cut since return 47th in the British Masters but has hit the ball well only to putt horribly.
Arguably the biggest victim, from a form perspective, of lockdown - he'd been in fine form prior to it and on course for a Ryder Cup debut; now, his Ryder Cup hopes are back to where they were before a brilliant end to 2019 and he needs to rediscover his game. The big positive is that he led the field in greens hit at Valderrama and ranked fifth in approaches, as it was ball-striking which powered his surge up the rankings, and ball-striking which had been the problem in the US. Could do OK if building on that as he's long, straight, and was 22nd at Harding Park.
Took his time to return having become a father just before the Celtic Classic, where he was third. Followed that with 15th at the same course and ranked fourth tee-to-green in both, his around-the-green stats particularly encouraging with this in mind. Could be that he's a run or two short but there's a fair bit to like otherwise: he's long off the tee, immensely talented, has two stateside top-six finishes in majors and was 23rd at Bethpage last year. Reservations as to whether he can curb his aggression and do what he has to do here but a big price.
Really impressive winner of his local event, the Wyndham, in 2019 - where he managed to play the entire tournament without making a bogey. Looked ready to kick on when 10th and eighth at the start of summer but has done the opposite, and it's hard to be competitive when you lose strokes with your approaches every week.
No signs of slowing down despite having turned 44 in January, and one of the eye-catchers at the PGA where he finished 22nd after an opening 73. Good for three rounds on sole subsequent outing but it's largely been courtesy of quality putting and that won't be enough here, for all he was 12th in 2006.
Looked on the verge of something two years ago when he built on an opposite-event win and contended for a WGC, but has been very poor throughout 2020. Better when 36th last week but that baby step would only have been relevant were we talking about another Barbasol, or a Sony, or something. In this he'll be exposed.
Relentless first four years as a professional - yes, it has only been four years - culminated in that brilliant Memorial win, as he stood tall while others failed to and conquered the toughest test of summer. Went on to win the BMW Championship with that absurd play-off putt and these are two of the most significant formlines we have. The fact that 13th place in the PGA Championship looks underwhelming says everything and the combination of a brilliant short-game and improvement in his approach work, which complements his driving excellence, makes him look the full package now. Third in this last year and one of the most likely winners. Very hard to find a genuine negative.
One of the best old-school operators around and was rewarded with third place alongside Rahm in last year's renewal. That came at a course he knows well and has gone close to winning on, but if he can overcome a lack of power he might enhance an already fine major record. Reavie has gone 22-12-14-75 in the last four editions of the PGA, 16-MC-3 in this, and those following in side markets have been rewarded handsomely. Third last week when flushing it again and while he'll need to be close to the top of the ball-striking stats to have any chance, that's very much his thing.
Loves playing in this part of the US having won at Bethpage and in New Jersey. Contended for the US Open at Shinnecock in the months following his Masters win and has the touch around the greens to scramble his way to this title if at the top of his game. Final-round 65 at the TOUR Championship came at an ideal time and saw him lead the field in scrambling and driving accuracy to suggest a strong bid for a second major may well be coming.
One of the standout Korn Ferry Tour talents and showed what he could do when winning in Texas in July. Less impressive recently but not out of the question his driver could carry him to the weekend.
Not at the very top of the tree when it comes to emerging South African players but suspect he's got a bright enough future. Form lately has been very poor with four missed cuts from four starts in the UK Swing.
Strangely, atypically in and out throughout summer. He started it with third in Texas and 14th at the Heritage before three missed cuts, then ninth at the PGA, another missed cut, and then weekend 67s for 25th in Boston. That he didn't make the top 70 in the FedEx Cup tells you how badly the pre-lockdown events had gone for this former world number one, who no longer works with Sean Foley and no longer represents Honma. Race against time to put the pieces together and get back to where he wants to be but that ninth place at Harding Park was laced with class and that's why he cannot be totally overlooked.
Spain's next big thing, potentially, but was found out at Valderrama when shooting 83-74 to miss the cut by a long way. Top-five in the world amateur rankings.
Another late entrant whose presence in the field will presumably force TV bosses into a change of schedule back in his home town of - checks notes - Bratislava. Twelve US Opens without cracking the top 40 which makes sense given he's a little impatient at the best of times.
Much the best at East Lake last time and rewarded with a return to the world's top 10. That was his eighth top-25 finish in succession and ninth in 10 starts since the resumption. Did very little wrong in the PGA when 10th and his major record is just absurd: 12 starts, 11 cuts made, eight top-20 finishes, six top-10s, five top-sixes. What can you say about that, other than 'wow'? It's why for all the price may look short, his form merits it at the each-way terms we're now presented with. He ought to relish the nature of this challenge and is another of the market principals whose claims are obvious.
Third in the Barracuda having decided to return to action in the US before heading to Europe for the UK Championship, where he was poor until the final round. Proper ball-striker who enjoyed a fine college career in the US and ought to be a breakout star of 2021 if he hasn't managed it before then.
Continues to do things his own way and not worry about adopting a light schedule, which is something he's generally stuck to since touring his Green Jacket back in 2013. That explains why he returned to action in the PGA Championship in what would otherwise be called a maverick move, and it was hard not to be impressed by a share of 22nd in the circumstances. Fairly promising in both starts since without hitting it as well as he'd like, and much depends on whether he's primed or proves short of a run or two. Shared 21st here in 2006 and all three of his US Open top-10s have come since 2014. Big player if able to improve just a little and hole his share from inside 10 feet.
There are high hopes for this Scottish amateur who had planned to turn professional this year but remains an amateur for now. Says his coach knows the course well which is something, but clearly this is a big step up on some good college form which includes a couple of wins.
Another promising Korn Ferry Tour youngster who owes his place in the field to a nice run of form post-restart. Led the field in scrambling en route to a top-10 finish at the weekend.
Hard to fault this former US Open winner who also has the PLAYERS Championship on his CV and has been superb all year, winning both before and after lockdown. Everything he does after the tee-shot is truly world-class, especially his approach play and putting. Always been good at avoiding three-putts which helps in any major and he won this one in an over-par score in 2012. The trouble is he's not really looked like going in again and his victory came on a course several hundred yards shorter, one ideal for shorter hitters who find fairways. That's why he's struggled to contend on longer courses subsequently and he'll likely produce another creditable top-25 without ever threatening to become a two-time champion.
Placed in a couple of majors before an excellent Presidents Cup performance late last year, rising to the challenge in his native Australia where he beat Thomas in the singles. Kicked on from that to pinch the Sony Open at the start of the year and, like Simpson, would be much more interesting on a course like Olympic Club. Not to say he can't wedge his way to victory as he's generally excellent on and around the greens bar a blip last time out. Iron play as good as it has been for a while and one to keep on the radar for the months ahead.
Quietly brilliant PGA Tour career includes nine wins and nine major top-10s, four of which have been in this event. Will love the challenge these greens present but his form throughout summer has been especially poor. Turns 40 in December and has more to give over the next couple of years, but needs to sharpen up considerably from tee to green first.
Winner of the 2015 edition at Chambers Bay, at which time he was halfway to the Grand Slam and with the world at his feet. Went on to win a dramatic Open Championship two years later and, at his best or close to it, is the best watch in golf, combining will and wizardry in an intense and loveable manner. Hasn't won anything since the Open and though popping up occasionally including in majors (contended in 2018 defence plus that year's Masters, and was close enough in PGA last year) he's working through some very serious issues off the tee. Whether or not he's able to solve them will determine whether or not he ends his career as a three-time major champion, a feat he'd achieved at the age of 25. Desperately hoping he works it out but this will be unforgiving and he's likely to his too many foul balls off the tee. Then again, he's 200/1 on Betfair.
Deserved and overdue major winner in 2016 and has hit the frame four times since, including when ninth at Pebble Beach. Won in the Bahamas at the end of last year, his first victory in two years, but six starts in 2020 amount to very little. Seems to be one who is happy enough to sit this out and take whatever comes along the way and not sure he's properly prepared for this. It's a shame, as his three-wood could be a massive weapon here and he played nicely in 2006.
Enjoying the best run of his career ever since chasing home DJ at the Travelers. Last week's third place in the Safeway Open might have been better - he made two double-bogeys in his first four holes and was outstanding thereafter - and his long-game is mightily impressive from an accuracy point of view. Record in this isn't great but has never been better and standout T13 came at Oakmont, so don't be surprised if he's thereabouts at some stage.
Back to his best on the Champions Tour lately and sixth here in 2006. Still, don't be ridiculous.
Last year's Amateur champion has missed the cut in all three tour-level starts, most recently in Oman back in the spring. Did himself proud at Portrush in fairness but this is a test which will be far less familiar.
Chirpy former Ryder Cup player who reminds me a bit of David Gray, you know, the way his head sort of wobbles around a bit? I don't think we'd click on a blind date but each to their own and he was a fabulously impressive winner of the English Championship recently. Low scoring his strength and it's two years since he played in the US, where he's yet to manage a top 10.
Youngster who won last year's US Junior Amateur and hails from a serious golfing family - his dad is Boyd, coach of Tony Finau, his uncle is semi-retired Daniel, his sister is apparently very promising and his grandfather played on the Champions Tour. At 18, he's a little way from being ready to compete at this level but nevertheless is set to enjoy a memorable week and, you'd think, a practice round or two with Finau.
Improving Scot who has contended several times this summer, most notably in Wales and Spain. Latter effort at Valderrama is at least comparable to this from a scoring perspective and he's got all the tools to enjoy a sustained European Tour career. Not sure his ceiling is as high as some of his contemporaries.
Perhaps the most up-and-down of the world's elite but a fabulous, hard-to-beat player when at his best. Among his many strengths, I'm not sure enough is said about his approach play, which is as good as anyone in the sport and sets up chance after chance when he's on song. Won the WGC in Memphis recently despite putting poorly and played well at East Lake, but there would be some concerns that these greens and this type of test are less suitable. Certainly, he looks more a PGA Championship player - tough, long, but with birdies out there - and can be a little disappointing when forced to grind in this type of scenario. Didn't take to Harding Park but says he fell in love with Winged Foot during a recent practice round with Tiger Woods, and at some stage he'll either win or almost win a US Open again having led after three rounds at Erin Hills.
Georgia Bulldog who put home-course advantage to use when an excellent 23rd in last year's RSM Classic. This is an altogether different kettle of fish.
Grinder who hits fairways and is sort of a Webb Simpson-lite, the two having been involved at the finish of the 2012 US Open. Thompson went on to grind it out in the Honda Classic at the expense of former US Open winners Geoff Ogilvy and Lucas Glover, so when conditions are right he is capable. Impressed with the way he got the job done in the 3M Open earlier this summer but whether or not he can keep up here is open to doubt - especially as his form has dipped since that surprise victory.
Fairytale stuff over the last 12 months as a player who could barely pull the club back reignited his career with victories in Bermuda and Mexico. Wouldn't have shocked anyone were he to fall off the face of the earth again after that fortnight but he's done the opposite, regularly competing with the best in the world. Opened with rounds of 64 at Southwind and 65 at Harding Park and first-round lead might be the way to play him if you want to hope he'll hit 17 greens and hole a few long ones, which he does startlingly often.
Heroic winner of the Oman Open in the spring, holing from 20 or so feet to force a play-off before going on to land silverware in his rookie European Tour campaign. Bags of potential and knows how to play in tough conditions, as he showed at Celtic Manor and Valderrama recently. All happening quickly but it wouldn't surprise anyone - or at least it shouldn't - if he rises to another challenge and makes the cut.
VAN ROOYEN, Erik
Positives include good final rounds in Memphis and at the PGA, the fact that he's driven the ball well all year, a top-10 finish at Bethpage in last year's PGA Championship, and the fact that he's made all five major cuts. Negatives concern finishing positions, more specifically the absence of anything better than 20th since the Tour returned, and the putter. Given that he was disappointing at a suitable course in the Safeway Open, it's those negatives which are more compelling.
PGA professional who made the cut when 80th at Quail Hollow in the 2017 PGA.
Winner of the 2016 PGA Championship whose career has been blighted by a battle with Lyme disease. Has been way off the pace for two years now and his US Open record is miserable bar one top-10 finish at Pinehurst, a very different test to this. Likely to spend far too much time in the rough to even threaten par.
Burst on the scene a couple of years ago and was miffed not to make the Ryder Cup side after a brilliant victory in Denmark. Hasn't won since as he attempts to bridge the gap to the PGA Tour where this summer's highlight was fourth place in a difficult edition of the Memorial. Likes to fight for it and having finished 12th at Pebble Beach and third in the 2019 PGA, a case can be made at huge odds.
Likeable and talented Englishman whose career has been beset by injuries. That's why he took time to emerge this summer and he's played nicely across all three starts, during which the putter has been his chief weapon. Limited experience stateside makes him hard to be interested in here but one to note for the remainder of the European Tour season and could go well at Wentworth.
Two-time Masters champion who also lost a play-off for the 2010 PGA Championship and has been a prolific winner over the last decade. Eye-catching form recently includes a top-20 at Olympia Fields, 18th at The Northern Trust and 25th at Southwind, but the blot - 71st in the PGA - tells us a lot. Away from Augusta his major record has been hopeless, particular in the US Open where he's made just five cuts in 13, missing five of his last six, and hasn't threatened since 2007. Suspect he'll down tools quickly once more.
Won the Baracuda after contending for the 3M Open and those low-scoring, low-key events are where he was always likely to emerge. Makes a lot of birdies and has a touch of class which should see him kick-on, but not yet at this level, and not on a course where pars will be hard to come by.
Veteran former world number one who won another big title in January to reignite hopes of another Ryder Cup appearance before he inevitably gets the call to captain. Skipped the PGA having decided it wasn't worth the risk so this is his first major since Portrush, where he was a distant fourth. Didn't play in the 2006 renewal of this, either, but US Open record is admirable: 15 cuts made in 18 and five top-10s. Does have course experience from way back in 1997 (T29) and progressive recent form (70-34-17-10) is enough to dare to dream.
Returned from injury in fine style last year with three wins to take his career tally to eight on the European Tour. Has experience contending for a major having played in the final group of the PGA in 2014 and short-game has hit new heights, so he's one of those at a big price who could threaten the top 20 and keep Rahm honest in the top continental European market.
Opportunistic but nerveless, deserved and brilliant winner of the Masters in 2016, confirmation of his big-time mentality. Suffered a serious and well-documented dip in form after that but has since added two big Rolex Series events to his list of titles and played well in this (T12) and the Open (T6) in 2019. Concern would be his recent form and late arrival having only flown out on Monday, albeit that worked fine at Augusta.
Absolutely flushed his way to fourth place in the PGA and sure to have seen Morikawa's win as further evidence of his own ability to win a major now, rather than in the years to come. Both subsequent appearances have offered promise and he closed out nicely at Olympia Fields, furthering the impression that he's getting better under tough conditions. Experience a potential issue at a course as demanding as this one, though.
Defending champion who was brilliant at Pebble Beach, holding firm against a Koepka charge and having faced Rose in the final group. Short-game improvements helped force open the door but he's been struggling with his long-game throughout this year, consulting a new coach in Justin Parsons (albeit a Harmon disciple) and tinkering with equipment. Just a little better lately and has an excellent Bethpage record but not sure this is ideal timing even for a player and indeed man of genuine class.
The hunt for major number 16 hasn't really taken off since he so famously and so fabulously reached 15 at Augusta last April, finishes of MC, 21, MC, 37 demonstrating he's been far from the top of leaderboards. Form here would be a concern (29-MC) although it should be noted his father had only recently passed away in 2006, and he just wasn't prepared mentally. Can certainly argue he'd relish this at his best and his iron play has remained strong throughout four starts this summer. However, his driving has not been and that's likely to undermine the rest of his play. Would never talk anyone out of it at 65 on the exchanges but suspect it's a case of getting in the right shape for a strong defence at Augusta in November as his body continues to hold him back just a little, just enough.
Very promising young pro whose amateur career was outstanding at Stanford. Won on the Korn Ferry Tour last time and is destined for bigger and better things, regardless of how this week close to his childhood home goes. The fact he's made five cuts in six on the PGA Tour, including as an amateur in last year's US Open, bodes well and his accuracy could earn him a weekend slot.
Another talented youngster with a stack of impressive amateur achievements, and a top-five finish at last year's Australian Open too. Missed the cut by a long way in this two years ago and in the Arnold Palmer in the spring and looks up against it.
The standout Korn Ferry Tour player at the moment and would be a PGA Tour rookie but for the bloody coronavirus. Top 10 for greens hit in every one of his 11 starts this summer, a quite ridiculous feat, and destined for success at the top. Don't be surprised if he's good enough to mix it already. I'm off for a lie down in a dark room.