Golf’s Big 4 look as vulnerable as they ever have for US Open

Golf’s Big 4 look as vulnerable as they ever have for US Open

Golf has been spoiled for the past few years.

Not spoiled the way in which Tiger Woods’ dominance spoiled us for so long.

But spoiled in that, for the past 4 years, there has been a star player step forward and personal the game, assert himself because the transparent-minimize No. 1 in the world.

Rory McIlroy used to be the primary to do it, profitable 4 instances in 2014, including the British Open.

McIlroy then used to be succeeded by means of Jordan Spieth, who rattled off 5 wins in 2015, together with the Masters and U.S. Open. It looked for a while like Spieth, who gained two times extra in 2016, was once going to win each time he teed it up.

Then along got here Jason Day, who went on a tear that incorporated 8 wins between 2015 and 2016, highlighted by way of first occupation top title, the 2015 PGA Championship.

Day held the No. 1 rating for 47 weeks until a wet February week in La, when Dustin Johnson wrested control of the top spot by means of successful the Genesis Open at Riviera.

Johnson, who were regarded as an underachiever within the top championships thanks to a host of calamitous crashes, asserted himself ultimately 12 months’s U.S. Open at Oakmont, the place he in the end captured his first best. That U.S. Open identify used to be one in all six wins for Johnson for the reason that 2016 season and is a big reason why he’s the current No. 1 within the world.

But now, with the 2017 U.S. Open upon us this week at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, the top stage of the game is a little of a thriller again.

None of the 4 above-mentioned stars is regarded as the clear-minimize favorite to win this U.S. Open. Each And Every of them has proven his warts over the prior yr or so.

Johnson’s 2017 used to be derailed when he fell down some stairs at the house he used to be renting at Augusta and used to be compelled to withdraw from the Masters ahead of it all started as a result of a again disorder. He hasn’t regained the form he had entering the Masters, while he arrived at Augusta having gained his previous 3 starts and was once a significant favorite to win the green Jacket. Lacking the reduce finally week’s Memorial with ratings of 78-74 didn’t help clarify his standing as he attempts to become the first participant to protect his U.S. Open identify since Curtis Odd (1988-89).

Johnson, who is still ranked No. 1, went instantly to Erin Hills for an unscheduled apply spherical day after missing the reduce on the Memorial. Had Johnson now not three-putted from 12 feet on the ultimate hole of the 2015 U.S. Open, gained via Spieth at Chambers Bay, Johnson might be seeking to win his 3rd consecutive U.S. Open this week.

“It’s just a very, very tough event to win,” he said. “But i love really tricky golfing courses. I are inclined to focal point extra and play higher.”

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Day had been having an uneven 2017 until he flashed with a runner-up end at the AT&T Byron Nelson a couple of weeks in the past. After barely making the minimize on the Memorial, that’s performed in his adopted native land, Day rallied on the weekend to finish tied for fifteenth through going 7-under in his final rounds.

“i think like I’m actually with reference to placing the whole thing in combination,’’ Day mentioned at the conclusion of the Memorial.

on the Gamers Championship ultimate month, Day spoke approximately being within the “rebuild stage’’ of returning to No. 1, announcing “getting again to the top step by step will get tougher and more difficult and more difficult.’’ He said his purpose is “to have the only focus on playing and getting again to the No. 1 spot.’’

Spieth, like Day, has now not had a negative 2017 season, he merely hasn’t come with reference to assembly the lofty expectancies he set for himself after getting to No. 1. He has a win, a runner-up and third-position finishes this season. His runner-up got here only a few weeks ago at the Dean & Deluca Invitational, and he completed in a good tie for thirteenth at the Memorial.

“I’ve been hanging myself in position to shoot low scores,’’ Spieth said, citing his ball placing. “I just haven’t rather converted to the level i have in the prior.”

Like with Day, Spieth and everybody else round him expects higher.

Jordan SpiethGetty Images

So, too, does McIlroy. However he hs been slowed by way of a nagging rib damage that pressured him to withdraw from both the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and the Memorial so he may relax up for Erin Hills.

“i am in a position for Erin Hills and searching forward to taking part in there for the first time,” mentioned McIlroy, who has long past just about three years with out adding to his 4 occupation majors. “The previous few weeks have clearly been frustrating … but it used to be essential I got back to a degree of fitness where I felt like i could supply myself the most productive conceivable probability on the U.S. Open.’’

McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open winner, doesn’t have a win this yr. But he does have four top-10s in his six PGA Excursion begins, together with a tie for seventh at the Masters. So it isn’t like he has been cutting it up.

that can be mentioned of all 4 of essentially the most recent best avid gamers in the world. it’s just that the golfing global is waiting for considered one of them — or even someone else — to seize the highlight and change into dominant, even supposing just for a few fleeting moments, to electrify the game.

this is what awaits us at Erin Hills this week.

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