Paulie and I decided to break down the favorites and see who each of us likes. We decided to draft our teams of 8 for the U.S. Open (over text message) and why we think they are a good or bad pick.
Andy: Alright Paulie you got first pick.
Paulie: Jason Day, going to be employing a similar strategy to the one he used when he won The Players. Takes advantage of his length by using 2 iron off the tee, which he hits close to 300.
Andy: I will go with Rory, with the expected rain the course will soften allowing him to knock down flags and make just enough putts.
Paulie: I think Rory MCs this week. My next pick is Jordan Spieth, hard to not like a guy who can grind it out and has one of the best mental games in golf.
Andy: Pretty good when you haven’t finished outside of the top 5 in a major since the 2014 PGA…I am going to go with Dustin Johnson next, you know he is going to be at the top of the leaderboard, it’s just a matter of if the ball will bounce his way for once.
Paulie: Give me Stenson, one of the best ball strikers in the world, can dominate the course from tee-to-green.
Andy: Wowza, better hope he hits it really close this week.
Paulie: Common misconception that Stenson is a bad putter. Has been top 3 on tour this year and in 2015 inside of 5 feet.
Andy: Shut down. With that I will go with a shaky putter of my own, Sergio Garcia. Been a long time since he did or said something stupid, maybe he is finally at peace with himself and ready to win his first major.
Paulie: You stole my Sergio pick!!!
Andy: Plenty of guys out there still.
Paulie: I got Koepka, great combination of strength and putting. Will be able to hit iron off a lot of tees and have the strength for the thick rough when needed. He also led the tour in putting from 5-10 feet.
Andy: I will go with Rickie, unlike the Masters he comes in with low expectations due to recent poor play. Few have his combination of distance, accuracy and putting if he gets it going again.
Paulie: Matt Kuchar, hard to go against a grinder who has 4 straight finishes in the top 6.
Andy: He wears Sketchers. And never wins.
Paulie: Yep! Lots of good finishes though!
Andy: Next for me is Patrick “top 5” Reed, hasn’t won this year but has been really close a bunch and has the all around game for a U.S. Open.
Paulie: Also like Reed, near the top of the tour in bogey avoidance and leads in top 10s. For my pick I am going with Lee Westwood, I can’t believe I just said that. But, he has 4 straight top 15s including a 2nd at Augusta. His great ball-striking and recently improved putting couled yield that elusive major and Tiger isn’t here to steal it from him.
Andy: Only 1 of the 8 winners at Oakmont has only won 1 major, Westwood’s gonna make that 2? But hey, I guess it’s a Ryder Cup year.
Paulie: Said the same thing about Cabrera (Oakmont winner in ‘07) and now he has 2 after winning the Masters in ‘09.
Andy: Gimme Adam Scott, I like my value at 12. He’s among the best from tee-to-green and if he gets his putter going like the Florida Swing it could be major #2 for him.
Paulie: Rafa Cabrera-Bello is near the top of the world in tee-to-green game which will keep him in the mix all week. Has shown that he is not scared of the spotlight, evidenced by his play at the WGC Match Play.
Andy: Love Rafa, turned himself into a world class player this year. Speaking of world class, I am going with Danny Willett. If I had to guess which major he would win at the beginning of the year it would have been the U.S. Open.
Paulie: Solid all around game should suit him well.
Andy: Yep, finished 3rd at Wentworth and he does everything well, something you need at Oakmont. Speaking of I know you want Phil…
Paulie: I thought you took him already?? Crap, well too late. For my last pick, I’ll take the qualifying medalist at the 2003 U.S. Amateur which was held at Oakmont, any guesses?
Andy: hmmmm Ryan Moore?
Paulie: Not Moore, shot the lowest round at Oakmont in the event with a 70, later was eliminated in the round of 16.
Andy: Paul Casey?
Paulie: No, has 7 top 13’s this year....
Paulie: Yes, J.B. Holmes.
Andy: I got Hideki at #16, best iron player in the world.
Paulie: Sleeper pick because of his missed cut at the Memorial, but rest of his record is solid and he is even keeled.
Andy: Alright wil will end it here, with an asterisk for your Phil pick.
Paulie: Yes please, I was just so thrown off by you taking Rory 2nd, it took me awhile to recover mentally.
Paulie's Team: Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, J.B. Holmes & **Phil Mickelson**
Andy's Team: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott, Danny Willett & Hideki Matsuyama.