• Building up to one of the best weeks

    Brooks Koepka
    The big guns are out

    This is going to be one to remember… for many reasons as the world’s best get ready for the ultimate test.

    EPISODE ONE: Touchdown in the USA

    Taking a break from a day spent sightseeing this incredible city, it’s hard to kick the thought that we’re set for one of the best editions of the US Open. Obviously the setting is one thing and the history of the course was always going to lend itself to a spectacular Major, but there’re a number of storylines ready to reach a climax this week.

    Watching Phil Mickelson win yet again at Pebble Beach earlier in the year has set his chase up perfectly for the career slam. He thrives on the big occasion and loves it around here. It’s going to be fascinating to see how he goes this week, with a special place among the very, very best on the line. Phil’s getting older each year, so this presents one of his best chances. He’s among the top favourites for me.

    Tiger is another with a rich history. Firmly back as a winner, who could forget his dominant win here in 2000? To win by 15 shots is simply remarkable, and now that he’s got that form back, he will be desperate to close the gap on Jack Nicklaus.

    From ‘old’ to young, Brooks Koepka must be one of the hardest, most intimidating players to try and stop. He’s been far and away the best in Majors for two years, and after Bethpage and his start there he will be raring to go.

    The greens are tiny and the rough is up – it’s going to be a proper test, but that’s something that Koepka has passed time and time again in recent years.

    Talking to a fan on the tram earlier, he said he’s been down to the course and the rough is up and wild, much like Ian Poulter’s hairstyle back in the day. It’s not quite as bad as Bethpage, but it’s going to be a real problem for those wayward off the tee.

    Course setup is always on the lips around this Major, and everyone kinda loves to give the USGA a hard time. It’ll be interesting to listen to the speculation about the work this week, because the course is in absolutely perfect shape.

    They are playing for millions of dollars, so why should it be easy? As Jack Nicklaus used to say, if they cut a round cup around the back of an ice cream shop in an alleyway, he’d still enjoy playing the US Open like that.

    Good golf is likely to be rewarded as they stick to their guns about punishing poor shots. I hope they don’t get unfairly bashed this week, because from what I’ve seen so far, it looks like they’ve presented a great course, and it’s up to the world’s best to go out and execute.

    My bet? Brooks Koepka must be the one to watch. He’s in such a good frame of mind and he’s just shown how good he is on the most demanding courses. To believe you can beat the field by 10 is a great state of mind to enter the week, and he’ll be there late on Sunday for sure.

    As a South African, the tournament is going to be a special one with nine Saffas in the field. To walk alongside some of my mates in action is going to be a real dream realised, and then you add the form of Harding and Van Rooyen, and you get the feeling we could just sneak away with a memorable win, as Els and Goosen have managed in the past.

    The itinerary for me doesn’t stop with a helicopter flip around Alcatraz and a baseball game on the cards. It’s an exciting week for sure, on and off the course.

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