US Open 2022: Jon Rahm names nine golfers most likely to win championship at The Country Club


US Open 2022: Jon Rahm names nine golfers most likely to win championship at The Country Club

BROOKLINE, Mass. – Jon Rahm left the 17th green with venom in his eyes. He just hit a cute little spinning wedge to within yards and poured it in for his third straight 3 and third birdie over four holes. Suddenly he had the solo lead at the 2022 US Open when he hit the 18th tee on his 54th hole of the tournament.

Three shots from bunkers resulted in a final double bogey, and all the work Rahm had done on the back nine — a golf course that seemed to erase three decades of frustration in a single day — was undone. Rahm is now moving back from a deficit into Sunday’s Round 4, which is two shots better than last year when he won his first major championship at Torrey Pines.

Rahm sounded ambivalent after his third round.

“I’m very satisfied,” said Rahm. “I’m not going to lie. It’s kind of annoying to end up like this how well I played those holes. But like I kept telling myself when on the 14th.” [hole] If you tell me you can post 1 over par and not play the last five holes I would have run to the clubhouse because it was so difficult to play. I would have taken it, asked no questions.

“I think I have to keep that in mind. I’ve got 18 holes and I’m only one shot behind. That’s the most important thing.”

It is the most important thing, and who is sitting in front of Rahm is also important. In addition to having zero major wins, Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick also have zero PGA Tour event trophies. Rahm thunders and you will surely hear his footsteps as he honks home over the old racecourse on which part of the country club was built.

Despite bundling No. 18 and converting a one-shot lead and last pairing into a one-shot deficit and the penultimate group, Rahm must still be considered a favorite. Though Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick’s stat profiles are better indicators of a champion, Rahm is a compelling champion who looks like a man desperate to have Ben Hogan, Curtis Strange, and Brooks Koepka as the sole back-to-back Champion join the US Open since World War II.

That doesn’t mean he’s going to win – and he’s not the favorite behind Zatoris and Fitzpatrick at 4-1 according to Caesars Sportsbook – but if you’d told me earlier in the week that Rahm would be back one Sunday I would have said, he’s the guy to beat no matter who’s in front of him. That he’ll be chasing down two players with great talent but little success only reinforces that fact.

However, Rahm’s chaotic 3-6 finish proved one thing. The 122nd US Open is a long way off and we won’t be able to crown a champion early. I thought Rahm’s birdie in 17th place coming under 5 in Round 3 was the beginning of the end of this tournament. That’s how it felt. As it turns out, the way he closed was a reminder that things are only getting started.

Here are the rest of the golfers to take home Sunday’s US Open.

2. Will Zalatoris (-4, co-leader): I’m not sure if that came across on TV, but Brookline felt like an Open Championship on Saturday. It was colder than it should be in June and windier than expected. And Zalatoris scored a 67. A 67! “I mean, 67 from Will out there today is incredible,” said Rory McIlroy, who shot 73. “Such a good result.”

As of early 2021, Zulatoris has as many top 10 players at majors as the current top 10 players in the world Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Viktor Hovland, Sam Burns and Cameron Smith combined, so he is no stranger to this stratosphere. Being as close as he was to the 2021 Masters (lost to Hideki Matsuyama to a stroke) and the 2022 PGA Championship (lost to Thomas in a playoff) should serve him well on Sunday.

3. Scottie Scheffler (-2, two back): The Masters champion had a wild Saturday. He holed for Eagle on the par 5 to lead by two but ended the day two down. He’s trying to become the only golfer with Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth to win the Masters and the US Open in the same year and the best thing he has for him is driving himself insane from crashes this event.

“I think the US Open is very demanding mentally and physically,” said Scheffler. “I think that’s all that makes this tournament so entertaining. You will be tested in various ways, be it physical, mental or whatever. This golf tournament will put you to the test. That’s why I show up here. I think that’s kind of the fun of it. If every golf tournament was like this, it would be a long season for all of us. A few times a year I think it’s a lot of fun. ”

4. Matt Fitzpatrick (-4, co-leader): The 2013 US amateur champion on this course hasn’t had quite the huge amount of success that Zalatoris (or certainly Scheffler) has shown, but his game has improved tremendously over the past year and he’s quietly had no putts so far this week did. Fitzpatrick leads the field in shots won from tee to green and was essentially an average putter in the field. When they start falling for one of the better putters in the world on Sunday, he’ll be repeating on an even bigger stage what he did in 2013 become the first non-American to win both the US Am and the US Open.

5. Rory McIlroy (-1, three back): McIlroy played his final 12 holes on par even when 3 overs or 4 overs seemed more likely. He called Saturday “one of the toughest days on a golf course I’ve had in a long time,” and that’s what it felt like to be out there. He pulled some Houdini-level magic out of the woods in 13th, pacing for par from 170 yards. He hit a 9-foot on No. 15 and an 11-foot on No. 17, both for par. He dodged bogeys and then literally dodged a turkey going down one of the holes near the end of his round. McIlroy’s grand final was a No. 18 decision that gave him relief under a tree. Somehow he had a glimpse of birdie on this hole but settled for par and is somehow (sort of!) only three behind going into Sunday.

“Even though it’s been such a tough day and I feel like I fought well,” McIlroy said. “To still only be three back [Sunday] i feel good about myself … I just held my own in the tournament. That’s all I’ve tried. Just stay tuned. I felt like I did well to be under par for the tournament at the end of the day.”

Who wins at Brookline? Rick Gehman and Greg DuCharme recap a wild Saturday at the country club. Follow and listen to The First Cut Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

6. Sam Burns (-1, three back): Burns has kind of sneaked around this week and finds himself one of only nine golfers under par. However, he is the only one in this group to lose shots off the tee. If that doesn’t improve on Sunday, he probably won’t have a chance. However, Burns is a total threat and just came back from seven losses to win the Charles Schwab Challenge. He will go down swinging and should be a nice touch in the final.

7. Keegan Bradley (-2, two back): The New England native will be among the fan favorites on Sunday and he’s certainly hitting the approach shots well enough to win. Only Scheffler and Matsuyama win more shots. Bradley is technically a big winner, but it’s been a while. He won the first major he ever played and was winless in his last 34. It wouldn’t be shocking if he won on Sunday, but it would be a bit of a surprise.

“[The reception I got on No. 18 today] was one of the most amazing moments of my entire life,” Bradley said [Boston] Garden to play at Gillette Stadium. I felt like a Boston player there. That was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life and I appreciate the fans giving me that and I hope they cheer again [Sunday].”

8. Joel Dahmen (-1, back three): The good news for Dahmen is that he defeated his playing partner and two-time Major winner Collin Morikawa on Saturday. The bad news is that Morikawa shot 77. Dahmen did well to grind a 74 because of the rush going the other way, and he’s still at it, even if he needs a little miracle lap on Sunday to skip McIlroy, Rahm, Scheffler, Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick. “If you’d told me on Thursday morning that I was only three back into a US Open Sunday… I like where my game is,” he said. “I felt good out there. Maybe I can sneak up behind her [Sunday].”

9. Adam Hadwin (-2, two back): For the second year in a row, a Canadian is at the bottom of the US Open. Despite being third in the field from tee to green so far this week, Hadwin would be the most surprising winner of the top 9.

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