Daily Explainer & Trending Quibbls
By Sports Editor Kahlil Ellis
With the Master’s in hindsight, what may seem like yet another golf major could potentially go down as the most intriguing of the year. The 2017 U.S. Open, this year with 156 competitors, began on Thursday morning, held in Erin, Wisconsin, not the likeliest of destinations for the prestigious tournament.
Not a Golf Fanatic?
Why all Sports Fans Can Get Excited for the U.S. Open…
- Because it’s the U.S. Open: Not is only is it one of only four major championships in professional golf, it’s also one of the most-watched sporting events across the world each year. Simply put, regardless of the year, this is an event you do not want to miss.
- Erin Hills is no joke: This rural course just north of Milwaukee is relatively new, opened to the public in 2006. It has never staged a major championship before, making this only the third instance in over 20 years in which the United States Golf Association has picked a first-time U.S. Open venue. In addition to being fairly unknown to the competitors, Erin Hills is also very long and challenging. At 7,693 total yards (~1.46 miles), it is the longest course to ever host the Open, with a number of players and officials remarking on its thick roughs and deep, wide fescue (Read more here).
- Biggest prize… ever: This year’s prize pool tallies at about $12 million, a tournament record.
- There are the exciting yet obvious favorites to win: Prior to the tournament, bookmakers in Vegas released odds for every “notable” player, with 2016 U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson being the projected favorite with odds of 29/4 (or 7.25/1). Johnson was followed by 2015 winner Jordan Spieth (9/1), Jason Day (11/1), Rory McIlroy (12/1), and John Rahm (18/1) to round up the top five picks to win it all. Sergio Garcia, coming off his win at the Master’s in early April, is also a popular selection.
- But… weather could change it all: The Open could very well take a turn for the worse in its final three rounds, with forecasts nearly unanimously projecting poor weather conditions all weekend.
- Round 2 (Friday): Scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon, high of 84
- Round 3 (Saturday): Scattered showers and thunderstorms from dawn past dusk, high of 74
- Round 4 (Sunday): Early showers with overcast skies later in the day (40% chance of rain), high of 68, winds WNW at 15 to 20 mph
While the shift in weather will not lead to a rainout of any sort, conditions will certainly not be ideal for the competitors. It may play a role, along with the length and difficulty of Erin Hills as a golf course, but the kind of effect these factors will play is still up for debate. Will they help equalize the level of competition among the players? Or… will they further distinguish the best of the best throughout the rounds?
Round 1 Recap – 5 Takeaways From Day 1
- Mr. Nice Guy Says No: Early Thursday morning, Phil Mickelson officially withdrew from the U.S. Open. Instead, the five-time major championship winner attended his daughter’s high school graduation in California on Thursday.
- Rickie Fowler Sets the Standard: Fowler dominated the course, closing out the opening round on top with a seven-under 65, the only person to earn a seven-under opening round since Tom Weiskopf and Jack Nicklaus in 1980.
- A small army close behind and within striking range: Paul Casey and Xander Schauffele are tied for second with 6-under 66, while Tommy Fleetwood, Brian Harman, Brooks Koepka are tied for fourth, each with a 5-under 67. There are also four golfers within three shots of Fowler, and another seven within four.
- Day 1 weather was ideal: Thursday’s conditions were stellar, especially in the morning when there were calm winds and the course was drying out.
- Dustin Johnson off to a slow start: He shot a three-over 75, finding himself 10 shots behind Fowler.
- Numbers Never Lie? Will Dustin Johnson, the favorite, rebound from his slow start and be within 5 shots of the lead at the end of the day on Friday?
- Will he win it all, earning his second consecutive U.S. Open title?
- Underdog for the win? Will a golfer not named Dustin Johnson, Justin Spieth, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, or Sergio Garcia win this year’s U.S. Open?
- Can Fowler keep the heat? Starting off red hot, can he manage to maintain the lead through the four rounds to win it all?
Learn More: Hot Takes and Notable Coverage
- While it’s easy to root for the big dogs, Kyle Porter says there are five sleepers you cannot overlook: [Link to CBSSports]
- Among the picks is former Oklahoma State Cowboy Jordan Niebrugge, who is actually from the state of Wisconsin and is familiar with the Erin Hills course. While his projected odds are 250/1, a few years ago at the Open Championship, he finished in the top ten as an amateur. In addition, he has been playing very well as of late.
- Chuck Culpepper walks you through the history and development of Erin Hills: [Link to Washington Post]
- It was a long and difficult process, but what was once 652 acres of cattle farming is now the venue for the 2017 U.S. Open. 37 miles northeast of Milwaukee, it is safe to say the course is in the middle of nowhere, but it has held a high level of value for one particular family over the years.
- What is the U.S. Open, and what made it what it is today? Answered by Ethan Trex: [Link to Mental Floss]
- The first-ever U.S. Open took place in 1895, hosted by the Newport Country Club of Rhode Island with just eleven competitors. While it is called the U.S. Open, it was not until 1911 that Americans claimed their own, when John J. McDermott of Philadelphia won the major championship by three strokes. Today, the U.S. Open is regarded as one of the most prestigious championship sporting events on the planet, with this year’s cash prize summing at $12 million.
- Alex Lewis shows you how even the Amish manage to play a role in this year’s U.S. Open: [Link to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
- While the course’s “fine fescue” is locally regarded as the course’s signature component, it shares a special connection with the community’s least public inhabitants. In fact, each fall, Erin Hills rids of its masses of fescue and deliver it to the local Amish community to use as feeding material for their horses and cattle. The Amish, in return, construct furniture for the course.
Want to keep up with news quibbls, top articles and special contests? Join the Quibbl Facebook Group