It’s the final day of the U.S. Open, and you’re settling in to watch some of the finest golfers on the planet challenge Erin Hills in Wisconsin. Only … who the heck are these guys? Where’s Dustin Johnson? Rory McIlroy? Jason Day? For Pete’s sake, where’s Jordan Spieth? (Answer: home, home, home, and teeing off hours before the leaders.) To help you with your Father’s Day U.S. Open viewing, we’ve prepared this handy guide to your 2017 U.S. Open top dogs.
Here’s what’s amazing: we’re almost certainly going to have a first-time major winner yet again, the seventh in a row. (2010 British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen and 2017 Masters winner Sergio Garcia, the top remaining major winners in the field, are tied for 17th, eight strokes off the lead.) So one of these new guys will likely be hoisting one of golf’s most treasured trophies on Sunday afternoon … or maybe Monday. Let’s begin:
Two PGA Tour wins, but very little in the way of major success; he’s only even made the cut in two majors before this one. Bad sign: he’s lefthanded, and no lefthander has ever won a U.S. Open. Trivia: Is one of only three players on the PGA Tour with two aces in the same round, a feat he pulled off in August 2015.
Best U.S. Open finish: N/A (Missed cut in two attempts)
Justin Thomas (-11)
One of the new breed of players who can hit the ball the length of an area code despite being thinner than a putter. Thomas posted the lowest score relative to par in U.S. Open history on Saturday, a round capped by an eagle on 18. That obliterated his previous finest achievement, a 59 he nabbed earlier this year in Hawaii. Coined the phrase “Be as good as you look!” on one of his approaches Saturday.
Best U.S. Open finish: T32, 2016
Brooks Koepka (-11)
Golf’s Next Big Thing for awhile now, Koepka appears right on the verge of breaking out. He’s only got one win on his resume, but four top-10 finishes in majors. Played his college golf at Florida State, if you’re into talking about the Noles. Beloved by golf Twitter, and will become an instant fan favorite if he pulls this off.
Best U.S. Open finish: T4, 2014
Tommy Fleetwood (-11)
English bloke with two European Tour victories to his credit. Has made the cut in exactly one major, the 2015 U.S. Open. Not related to Mick Fleetwood or any other member of Fleetwood Mac, but don’t stop thinking about ways to riff off his name.
Best U.S. Open finish: T27, 2015
Rickie Fowler (-10)
With Sergio Garcia now sporting a green jacket, Fowler is the consensus “Best Never to Win a Major” pick, a club you want to leave as quickly as possible. After finishing in the top 5 in all five majors in 2014, Fowler appeared on his way to superstardom, but he hasn’t quite broken through yet. Owned the first day and a half of this tournament, but floundered a touch and the field caught up. Sharing a house with Thomas this week, which will make for some interesting Saturday night discussion.
Best U.S. Open finish: T2, 2014
Si Woo Kim (-9)
Your basic 21-year-old golf phenom, the South Korean Kim has two PGA Tour wins, including the 2017 Players Championship, historically the event with the toughest field in golf. Tough times lie ahead: he will likely have to serve 21 mandated months in military service at some point in his future.
Best U.S. Open finish: N/A. This is his first U.S. Open.
Patrick Reed (-8)
One of the most purely American golfers ever, Reed hews closer to the WWE than to the legions of Arnie’s Army. He’s a Ryder Cup legend, with his one-on-one duel against Rory McIlroy last year already one of that event’s legends, but that to date hasn’t translated into major success; he still doesn’t have a single top-10 finish in any major. That ought to change this weekend.
Best U.S. Open finish: T14, 2015
Russell Henley (-8)
Like Harman and Reed, a former University of Georgia Bulldog; also like Harman and Reed, he lacks a major win. Henley has three PGA Tour wins, but hasn’t been able to do much damage in majors. Could his tie for 11th at the Masters earlier this year herald better times ahead?
Best U.S. Open finish: T16 (amateur), 2010
Charley Hoffman (-8)
A reliable Tour grinder (four wins) who always finds his way to the top of the leaderboard during majors, but never seems to hang on through to the finish. Earlier this year at the Masters, he had the largest first-day lead since 1941 (four strokes) but ended up finishing in a tie for 22nd. Held a share of the lead early in the day Saturday but let it slip away.
Best U.S. Open finish: T37, 2016
Oh, and on the very good chance that we don’t get a Sunday champion out of this crew, a playoff tees off on Monday, 18 holes followed by sudden death if necessary. We haven’t had a playoff since 2008, back when some guy named Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines, so we’re probably due.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.