The U.S. Open is a tournament like no other. For four days, the best golfers in the world are made to look like weekend amateur hacks. At this tournament, the winner simply survived as oppossed to scorching the golf course with birdies.
Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania will host this year's event for the 9th time. Some consider Oakmont the most difficult challenge in golf. The last time it was hosted here in 2007, Angel Cabrera won with a final score of +5. Rory McIlroy is on record stating that +3 will win in 2016.
Oakmont is a short course but very narrow. The green complexes are extreme and golfers who aren't deadly accurate will struggle. Therefore, everyone will struggle becaues it's near impossible to deliver precise shots for 72 straight holes. Of course, the rough is also ridiculously long. Par is a golfer's friend this week, unlike most weeks on the PGA Tour.
So, who is going to win? What attributes must a golfer have to survive at Oakmont?
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He needs to be mentally tough. Professional golfers by nature don't like to bogey, because they rarely do it. Bogeys will be easy to come by at this U.S. Open. They're going to happen, a lot. Even the winner will have his share of bogeys. Par is their friend, and birdies or better are a huge bonus. Players who can bounce back from bogeys will have an upper hand on the field, because this course will grind the pro's down if they let it.
Accuracy is also a premium and the winner will be near the top of the field in fairways hit and proximity to the hole. However, there's talk that the bombers will let it rip and if they find the rough, they'll have irons in. That's an interesting strategy, but I'd prefer a guy who has a fairway lie 70% of the time.
And finally, the winner needs to drain a lot of putts. That sounds like a no brainer, but in a week where players will be scrambling for par, a hot putter will save a lot of strokes. The greens are difficult, but fair if the pro's can place the ball in the right parts.
Statistically, very few fit into the categories above that also have the game to win a major championship. U.S. Opens produce a lot of random winners because the conditions level the playing field. Most pro's don't have the ability to shoot 65 and below on a regular basis like the top players in the world. For the onces who can't go low for four rounds in a row, the U.S. Open format provides a unique opportunity where Par is a strong score.
Who will win the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont? Here are ten players to keep an eye on: