The 117th U.S. Open begins next week, and it will take place at Erin Hills Golf Club, in Erin Hills, Wisconsin.
Over the next number of days, you will hear the big names thrown around such as Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, etc, as potential winners. Instead of that, here are some dark horses who could win the 117th U.S. Open.
Si Woo Kim
While nobody was paying attention, Si Woo Kim won the Players Championship last month, at the ripe old age of 21. He was the second Korean to win the Players Championship, with the first being K.J. Choi back in 2011. He also won the Wyndham Championship last August, posting a score of 21 under par. The U.S. Open is a tough 72-hole mental grind, where 72 pars will win, and the Players Championship proves that Kin can handle that.
His road to the 2017 U.S. Open was an interesting one. After Tiger Woods began to drop off the mat at the turn of the decade, Stricker got his career in order. He did two things, he quit drinking, and he got into the gym. This resulted in Stricker rising the World Golf Rankings in his 40’s, and becoming one of the game’s best players for a while. However, Stricker gave up on that after a few years, and became a part-time player. He asked for an exemption from the USGA so he could play in this U.S. Open, as he is from Wisconsin, but the USGA said no, so Stricker had to go through sectional qualifiers. He made it, and don’t be stunned if he makes some noise, as at the age of 50, I expect him to give it everything he has, in what will probably be the last major championship of his career.
I don’t think there is a more undervalued, under-appreciated golfer in the world than Jason Dufner. He has won five times on the PGA Tour, and he is a gamer. He just battles, and battles, and battles some more. The kind of game and attitude that plays well to the U.S. Open. Maybe after two fourth place finishes in 2012 and 2013 he can finally break through.
There is not a nicer more authentic man in American sports than Matt Kuchar. Win or lose, he is just all smiles, all the time. Kuchar looks to finally have put his back issues behind him, and his play gets better and better with each week. In his last two tournaments, he finished 12th at the Dean & Deluca, and he finished fourth at the Memorial. He is the kind of veteran who can remain calm for four rounds at the U.S. Open. If he wins, the crowd may very well come unglued like we have never seen before.
Personally I think any of these guys has as much of a chance as everyone else, as the U.S. Open is just about the hardest tournament to predict in golf, which is fitting, because it is also the best.