Dick Harmon: Utah's golf pros project this year's U.S. Open field
Charlie Riedel, AP
Who do the local experts think will win the U.S. Open this week at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in North Carolina?
Some experts are picking Rory McIlroy. Others say two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson or Dustin Johnson will claim the top prize. Jimmy Walker has been sitting atop the FedExCup standings since day one of 2014, and Webb Simpson, who hails from North Carolina, was the 2012 U.S. Open champion.
Some, including former BYU All-American Keith Clearwater, say that Jordan Spieth has the aura, self-confidence and game to win the nation’s championship.
“There’s just something about him," said Clearwater. "It’s like a younger Tiger Woods. He just knows that he is destined for big things.”
Here are some U.S. Open picks from a handful of Utah’s most notable professionals. This A-list of Utah golf gathered to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Provo Open at East Bay Golf Course this week:
Bruce Summerhays, 70 (Three-time Champions Tour winner with more than $9 million in prize money, former University of Utah golfer and coach at Stanford):
“First of all, I think they’ll all be playing from the same place off the green. They’ve taken away the big bombers with the (Ben) Crenshaw corps making changes. They’ve taken away the rough, acres of it, but someone said it will be maniacal to try and hit it up there about 320 yards (by the greens).
“I think Jim Furyk is really going to have a chance because he hits it really straight and he’s just a junkyard dog when it comes to making shots around the green. You say the guy who hits the most greens is going to have the best chance, but that’s not true at Pinehurst. It will be who gets up and down the most because you just are not going to hit those greens. You have to really have imagination around the greens because there isn’t rough, but wire grass. You will have to have great imagination and luck will come into play big time.”
Clearwater, 54 (Medalist of North-South at Pinehurst as a collegian, two-time PGA winner and member of BYU’s 1981 national championship team):
“Guys don’t like to put pressure on themselves, but I love that Phil Mickelson has put out extreme expectations that he wants it and even put out a commercial about his need to win it to complete the grand slam. I think he’ll be competitive.
“It will come down to all the guys who are really great at completing shots around the green because they will hit less than 50 percent of the greens at Pinehurst. It will take a great short game, bump and runs, little chips and a great imagination. Beyond Phil, Matt Kuchar is doing everything well. As far as a foreigner, I’d like Sergio (Garcia) but he’s not good enough around the greens. It will take a peacock, someone who struts around with great confidence. I don’t think Adam Scott is that guy, although he’s a great putter and tremendous player.“
Clay Ogden, 30 (2005 Public Links champion, 2006 Masters participant and All-MWC player at BYU):
“Zac Blair. Actually, I’m going to take Adam Scott. He’s on fire right now. I’ll take him.”
Tony Finau, 20 (Two-time Provo Open Champion, No. 29 on the Web.com money list in 2014 and participant on Golf Channel’s “Big Break”):
“I think it’s just wide open. I don’t think there is a favorite by the way the season’s gone. Nobody’s won twice yet. I don’t know. Adam Scott is always a solid pick because he always plays well. Phil Mickelson hasn’t been playing well of late, but he’s always played well at Pinehurst and maybe he’ll find a spark there. I wouldn’t be surprised if a first-time winner would win this week. If you put a gun to my head, I’d say Adam Scott.”
Daniel Summerhays, 31 (PGA Tour veteran, 40th in 2014 FedExCup points and $1.2 million in earnings so far this year):
A regular competitor against most of the U.S. Open field week to week, Summerhays, from Farmington, kept it real simple. “Adam Scott, because he’s No. 1 in the world.”
My pick? Bubba.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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