This week some of the Last Word on Golf’s writing team tackle our 2019 U.S. Open predictions. For more insight from each member of the Last Word on Golf panel make sure to follow them at their mentioned Twitter handle. Don’t forget to follow @LastWordOnGolf on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and let us know your U.S. Open picks and predictions.
LWOG U.S. Open Predictions
Kyle Walton (@TheKCWalton)- Graeme McDowell (80 to 1)
The biggest underdog I’ve picked this season comes back to a familiar locale this week at the 2019 U.S. Open. Northern Ireland’s own Graeme Macdowell was the last man to win a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach back in 2010. Earlier this season the 39-year old found himself back in the winner’s circle at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship.
McDowell’s recent form has been on the upward trajectory as he finished tied for 29th at the PGA Championship and currently sits 5th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting (an essential stat with this week’s tricky poa annua greens). This past week at the RBC Canadian Open McDowell gained a momentous boost of confidence after sinking a clutch putt on the final hole to punch his ticket back home to Royal Portrush and The Open Championship just over a month away.
See you all at Royal Portrush! ??
— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) June 9, 2019
Josh Mullenix (@TheJMULL_)- Matt Kuchar (50 to 1)
Not entirely sure you can consider Kuch an underdog, but he certainly isn’t a favorite. Pebble Beach isn’t that long of a golf course. What comes at a premium is hitting fairways and accurate approach shots to these small, undulated greens. Kuchar does both of these things beautifully and his lack of power won’t hurt him on a golf course that is only going to play 7,075 yards.
He ranks inside the top-10 on the PGA Tour in both driving accuracy and strokes gained: approach the green. Apart from a missed cut at the Memorial, Kuchar hasn’t finished outside the top-12 since the Players in mid-March.
Biggest Name to Miss the Cut
Walton- Jon Rahm
Entering the U.S. Open, Spain’s Jon Rahm sits at a 28-to-1 favorite and in many cases is a top-10 consensus to perform. However, the often emotional (and sometimes volatile) Rahm is coming off two straight missed cuts, including at the PGA Championship.
Going up against a tricky USGA layout at Pebble Beach may prove too much to handle for the immensely talented 24-year old rising star. Thus far this season Rahm sits 110th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green, 72nd in Strokes Gained: Approach and 71st in Scrambling.
The narrowed fairways and troublesome misses could play equalizer to the accuracy and length off the tee. While he is more than capable of making the proper adjustments, Pebble Beach has a way of humbling even the game’s greatest competitors which could mean an early return home for Rahm from one of the most iconic courses in all of golf.
Mullenix- Phil Mickelson
I really want Phil to win this week and complete the grand slam, but I just don’t see it happening. Since Mickelson won the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach earlier this year, his best finish is a tie for 18th at Augusta, he’s missed four cuts in nine events, and only has two rounds in the 60s since the beginning of the Masters.
He is 208th on tour in driving accuracy and is 102nd in greens in regulation percentage. Those stats don’t add up to a player that is going to make the cut at the toughest test in golf. Mickelson has been far too inconsistent this season and he’ll miss the cut at the 2019 U.S. Open despite his successful history at Pebble Beach.
2019 U.S. Open Runner-Up
Walton- Brooks Koepka
It’s incredibly difficult to bet against the Major prowess of Brooks Koepka. Not much can be revealed that hasn’t already been hammered home this past week, and even this past year. Not even 30 yet and he is coming off a tie for second at this year’s Masters as well as a successful title defense at the PGA Championship.
Add in that Koepka is already the reigning back-to-back U.S. Open champion and the facts and figures make it nearly impossible to not make him the frontrunner on every poll. That being said, chalk this prediction more up to a gut reaction. The three-peat is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplishment in golf especially coming into a course like Pebble Beach.
I still believe Koepka will turn in a solid, contending performance this week but I just don’t see him winning his 5th Major, at least not yet.
2019 U.S. Open Champion
Walton- Rory McIlroy
Simply stated, Rory is on a roll. In 13 events played this season McIlroy has finished top-10 in 10 of those tournaments. Six of those were top-5 performances including two victories. Just last week he took home the RBC Canadian Open by a staggering seven strokes following a final round of 61 (which could’ve been a 59) to finish with a tournament total of 22-under par.
Speaking to his stats he currently sits first in Strokes Gained: Total, Off the Tee and Tee to Green as well as the best on tour average for eagles made. Additionally, since 2014 McIlroy currently sits in the top three performers on poa annua greens at 2.93 strokes gained total. (behind Dustin Johnson and Jason Day)
The Northern Ireland native knows what it takes to battle against heavy hitters like Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka. This week, with momentum on his side and his confidence at an all-time high, McIlroy is undoubtedly a front runner to win his second U.S. Open and his 5th major championship.