Golf’s third major takes place this week at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. You can’t expect to use course history here considering the last event at this course was way back in 1988 and has since seen two major restorations.
The Country Club is a par-70, over 7,200 yards but because of heavy rains this week, it could play longer. Typical to that of major events, this course has some really thick rough, really small greens and undulated fairways. There are two versions of U.S. Opens — ones that utilize accuracy off the tee a bit more like Torrey Pines or Pebble Beach and the others that benefit long hitters but perhaps less accuracy like Winged Foot. I’m looking to use a bit of both because of the small greens, but bombers get a bump because of the rain.
There are two players I like to contend for a top-40 spot.
Patrick Reed +100
As expected, Reed is now part of the LIV Tour. However, last week, the USGA released a statement that players who qualified will still be able to participate in the U.S. Open. Reed hasn’t performed his best as of late, with only seven top-40 finishes this year. Two, though, did come in comparable events with either small greens or the need to keep it in the fairway. Those two events were back-to-back top 40s with a 34th in the PGA Championship and a T7 in the Charles Schwab Challenge, where Reed gained strokes ball striking, around the green and putting.
Since 2018, Reed has played in 17 majors and has only three missed cuts while never finishing worse than T36.
Aaron Wise +100
It was a bit ago that I stopped backing Wise in the top-20 market and instead turned to the top 40. It’s been a fine plan. In the last 20 rounds, Wise is top 20 in strokes gained tee to green, has gained strokes ball striking in eight straight events since March, and perhaps more importantly considering this course layout, he's gained strokes around the green in six of his last eight events, an area of his game he was previously lacking. All of which have led to a 23rd-place finish in the PGA Championship and a runner-up finish in the Memorial. Typically part of “team no putt,” Wise has also gained strokes with the flat stick in four of his last five events, so there is some upside.
He does also have a T35 in the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, a course that requires a bit more accuracy off the tee with smaller greens to target and I would definitely consider Wise a much-improved player now compared to then. The trust lies in his ball-striking ability.