Can US Open Match the Magic of the Masters?
By Todd Wolff
When the ball dropped over the lip of the hole, Sergio Garcia crouched down with his fists clenched in celebration, ready to spring maniacally to his feet in the style of Basil Fawlty. Ultimately, the ever-popular Spaniard was more restrained as he returned to his full height, after his dramatic win at the 2017 U.S. Masters at Augusta, Georgia.
Billy Payne set the tone for the weekend with an emotional tribute to Arnold Palmer during the opening ceremony and the action didn't let us down afterwards. There were great moments - Matt Kuchar's hole-in-one at 16, and Russell Henley's second shot at five, which flew straight into the hole from 185 yards to everyone's disbelief - and downright bizarre ones, with the withdrawal of world number one, Dustin Johnson, who ricked his back on the practice greens.
The tournament set a high bar for the remaining Majors in 2017. It's the US Open next, which is this year being staged at Erin Hills in the city of Erin, Wisconsin.
Garcia's Masters win hasn't done him much good with the bookmakers, with Sportsbet.io - which you can visit now - seeing odds of +2500 for the Spaniard to repeat the trick. They have a point; El Niño delivered his first major in his 18-year professional career at Augusta.
Dustin Johnson is the overwhelming favourite. Never one to do things the easy way, his back injury at the Masters came a day after he was elevated to the ranking of the world's best. The 22-year-old from Columbia, South Carolina, is defending his US Open title which he won at the Oakmont Country Club.
His three-stroke victory earned him his maiden Major and a $1.8 million payday. So far this year, he has won the three PGA Tour wins, and with a third of the year gone, is already over halfway to last season's $9.4m prize money.
The bookies believe his biggest challengers will be Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. The Northern Irishman finished tied in 7th place in the Masters with Kevin Chappell, ending with a disappointing three under par overall score. The tag of second favourite flatters McIlroy at the moment; he has yet to win a tournament in 2017, with his best performance coming January's BMW SA Open at Glendower.
Spieth meanwhile, made a promising start to the year, winning at Pebble Beach in February. Since then, it's been downhill with his 11th place at the Masters being his best finish. The Texan, a former world number one as well as 2015 Masters and Open champion, is trading on former glories at the moment.
That was his "golden year"; he placed 4th at the British Open and 2nd at the PGA as well. It's unlikely he will be repeating those glories with his rollercoaster form, but a placing isn't beyond him.
If there is to be a challenge to Johnson, Justin Rose of this trio of former winners is the man to watch. A stunning 67 in the final round forced the playoff with Garcia at Augusta, signalling a return to form ahead of the only major he has won, back in 2013 at Haverford, Pennsylvania. Rose, incidentally, was the last over-par winner of the Open.
Revised: 04/20/2017 - Article Viewed 251 Times
Written By: Todd Wolff
Todd Wolff is a well traveled freelance writer on golf, beer and travel. In 2005, Todd joined GolfTrips.com as the first contributor. When he is not on the links, Todd is brewing his legendary craft beers. In addition, to golf writing he is a world renowned graphic artist who has won numerous industry awards in logo design and product packaging.
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