The US Open kicks off tonight and several Aussies are in the mix for one of the most lucrative biggest prize pools in golf.
A highly anticipated US Open kicks off tonight, with several big winners and Aussies competing on an extremely challenging course.
The US Golf Association has allowed players from the rebel-backed LIV Golf Series to participate, rather than banning them as the US PGA Tour did.
As a result, the likes of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau will be among the LIV stars who stall in a quest for a major title in the first LIV-PGA showdown.
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The US Open is held at the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts – a course with shorter holes but dense rough and smaller greens.
“The golf course requires a golfer who is really boring and someone who is really hitting it straight and playing really good iron,” Fox Sports golf expert and host of Your golf show Paul Gow told news.com.au.
“The golf course is not for someone who is a long hitter. It is for someone who can find their way around the golf course.
“My choice (to win) is Patrick Cantlay. He’s been there in majors, he’s won golf tournaments on the US tour. He’s one of those methodical players and that’s what this golf course needs.
“My next best is Matt Fitzpatrick, the number 17 in the world, a 28-year-old from England.
“He’s just one of those guys who gets better every year.”
Australian contenders who can win
The players’ short game will be key on the shorter holes, favoring Australian Cameron Smith, who goes in as one of the favourites.
“The short game is everything,” Gow said.
“That’s why Cam Smith is in the middle of it, because he has the best short game in the world.
“Cam Smith loves this podium. He’s had some top fives in the majors, second at the Masters this year, fourth at the US Open in 2015 in Chambers Bay – that’s where he really came into his own, that’s where we started to know who Cam Smith was.
“And he’s a rough type of player. He put a new driver in the bag this week and when he puts the ball on the fairway we know how good his iron game is and his short game is now known as the best in the world.
“His chipping, putting and throwing will come to the fore and it showed at the Players Championship when he got those up and down on the last one which was pretty sensational.
Gow also believes fellow Aussie Marc Leishman could be a smoker to win a breakthrough this weekend.
“He sends the ball well, his iron game is great,” he said.
“Contrary to popular belief, his wave this year has been really solid without being fantastic. “It just comes down to a few putts here and there and if he can make some puts watch out. And at 125-1 it’s probably a good bet.”
Stars who want to break through a major drought
PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas is one of the favorites, as is four-time major winner Rory McIlroy.
The 33-year-old hasn’t won a major since 2014, but recently rediscovered his best form, winning at the Canadian Open last week.
“That will be the interesting thing. What confidence he will draw from that, how much energy that took him this week, because a US Open week takes a lot of energy,” said Gow, who participated in two US Opens.
“You have to be patient and reserve your energy for day four, so it will be interesting to see how he pulls that off and how much pressure he puts on himself to win another major.
“It’s been around for a long time. In 2014, it looked like he was unstoppable and would win 10 majors. I expect him to play well. I’m not sure if he’s going to win.”
Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth left pre-tournament training early due to illness, but the American looms as a dangerous contender.
“We thought his game was gone two years ago, but he’s back,” Gow said.
“He is winning events, he is competing every week and his wells are back.
‘I wouldn’t calculate him. Always watch out for the sick golfer or the injured golfer because their expectations are lower. If he starts to hole putts, we know he can win majors.”
‘Ridiculous’ course to challenge the world’s best
Gow describes the Country Club in Brookline as a quintessential US Open course “on the verge of ridiculous”.
“It’s extremely difficult,” he said.
“It’s long, the vegetables are firm, they’re inverted saucers, and it’s tough. Over par wins the golf tournament. In this they differ from the Masters, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship.
“It’s a shorter course, the rough is still on, the greens are a lot smaller, but they don’t have that much undulation. There are many blind shots. It is a rough type of golf course.
“I expect players who are good with their irons, straight hitters, will be in the fray.
“The color contrast we’ll see from the rough to the fairways and the bunkers to the greens will look great on Fox Sports.”
How to watch the US Open
The US Open is live and exclusively in HD on Fox Sports and Kayothe only place to see all four golf majors live.
All the action will be shown on a decimated pop-up channel, Fox Sports 503. The channel will broadcast 60 hours of live US Open coverage, including all four rounds and feature groups shown live.
The channel also shows classic US Open final rounds.
What is the prize money?
A record purse of A$25 million is up for grabs at the US Open, with the winner taking home a whopping A$5 million.
Australian round 1 tee times
21:29 – Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Max Homa
22:02 – Marc Leishman, Keegan Bradley, Aaron Wise
2:30am – Jed Morgan, Taylor Montgomery, Sean Crocker
03:25 – Min Woo Lee, Seamus Power, Joohyung Kim
3:25pm – Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Scottie Scheffler
04:09 – Lucas Herbert, Harris English, Jason Kokrak
04:21 – Todd Sinnott, Jonas Blixt, Bo Hoag
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