Tuesday 25 October 2016

US Open contenders

Published 10/06/2016 | 07:51

Rory McIlroy won the US Open in 2011
Rory McIlroy won the US Open in 2011

Jordan Spieth will defend his US Open title at Oakmont next week as the year's second major championship takes place from June 16-19.

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Here, Press Association Sport looks at five possible contenders for one of golf's biggest prizes:

1. Rory McIlroy

Before hosting the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open last month, McIlroy had been frustrated at failing to turn good performances into victories and was annoyed at what he felt was "negative spin" being put on those performances. However, the four-time major winner then triumphed at the K Club with a birdie-par-eagle finish in the final round and then finished fourth in the Memorial Tournament. McIlroy's driving and putting were particularly impressive at Muirfield Village and he will need both to function as well at Oakmont.

2. Jason Day

Day also entered the Memorial Tournament on the back of a win, the Australian's victory in the Players Championship making it seven wins in 17 starts. A closing 74 left the world number one down in a share of 27th, but the 28-year-old has finished second, fourth and ninth in the last three years at the US Open, as well finishing a distant runner-up to McIlroy in 2011. The US PGA champion has also not finished outside the top 10 in any of the last four majors.

3. Jordan Spieth

Spieth fared even worse than Day at Muirfield Village, finishing well down the field after rounds of 74 and 73 over the weekend. However, since 2015 his record in major championships reads 1-1-4-2-2 and he won the Dean & Deluca Invitational in his home state of Texas on his third appearance since squandering a five-shot lead with nine holes to play in defence of his Masters title at Augusta. How well Spieth copes if he gets into a similar position at Oakmont remains to be seen, but his putting will be a major asset.

4. Dustin Johnson

A player not usually renowned for consistency, Johnson has not missed a cut in 11 events on the PGA Tour in 2016, recording five top-five finishes. The big-hitting American also recorded three top-seven finishes in the majors in 2015, but three-putted the 72nd hole in the US Open at Chambers Bay to miss out on a possible victory and then a play-off with Spieth. Question marks persist about his mental strength under pressure.

5. Brooks Koepka

Koepka has been tipped for the top since winning three tournaments on the Challenge Tour in 2013 and the Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour the following year on his way to being named rookie of the year. In 2015 he won his maiden PGA Tour title in Phoenix and finished 10th in the Open at St Andrews and fifth in the US PGA at Whistling Straits. The 26-year-old also comes into the US Open in good form having lost a play-off to Sergio Garcia in the AT&T Byron Nelson on his last start.

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