Expert picks: U.S. Open


The PGA Tour heads to Merion Golf Club the 113th U.S. Open. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner. They are joined by former 'Saturday Night Live' star Norm Macdonald, who will serve as a celebrity guest.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Tiger Woods: This might not be the week he wins, but you sure as heck want him in your lineup if he captures major No. 15.

Group 2: Charl Schwartzel: As steady as they come, with 11 top-10s in his last 16 worldwide stroke-play events.

Group 3: Billy Horschel: Last week’s T-10 in Memphis was his sixth of the season. The most important stat, though: He’s second on Tour in birdie average.

Group 4: John Peterson: Nearly won last year at Olympic and is the best flier in a weak group.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Graeme McDowell: The Northern Irishman was born for U.S. Opens, and he ought to be entering with confidence having won two worldwide events this year.

Group 2: Steve Stricker: Terrific wedge game and putter will give him a lot of birdie chances at Merion.

Group 3: Michael Thompson: Remembering Thompson's tie for second at The Olympic Club last year, his victory at the Honda Classic this year.

Group 4: John Peterson: Tied for fourth at The Olympic Club last year; tough young competitor full of confidence.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Tiger Woods. He wasn’t at his best at the Memorial (T-65), but that performance last month at TPC Sawgrass was every bit a tune up for Merion, where finding fairways, not 15 extra yards, will be a premium. 

Group 2: Lee Westwood. He’s come close at the U.S. Open before, not finishing outside the top 25 in his last five starts, and his improved short game may be the final ingredient to push the Englishman over the Grand Slam hump.

Group 3: Paul Lawrie. This may not be the Open where many would pick the Scot, but he’s been steady this season and has the type of ball control game that will play well on the East Course.

Group 4: Shawn Stefani. Although he came up short last week in Memphis (T-7) there is something to be said for momentum and the Tour rookie has plenty of that right now.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Adam Scott: After getting his first major under his belt, he has the confidence, peace and patience to endure Merion. He finished T-13 at Muirfield Village in his last start and has the stats for Merion to warrant a pick here, including 19th on the PGA Tour in rough proximity and 25th in greens in regulation.

Group 2: Charl Schwartzel: He tied for eighth at the Memorial for 11 top 10s in his last 16 worldwide stroke play events. The former Masters champ can and will win another major.

Group 3: Ryan Moore: He had such a stellar amateur career, and with this USGA event steeped in such history, I could see a player like Moore emerging from the masses. He finished T-13 at the Memorial and ranks 27th on Tour in driving accuracy, which points to momentum for Merion.

Group 4: Rory Sabbatini: Out of the players in this group, along with Shawn Stefani and Justin Hicks, he had the best finish last week in Memphis with his T-7. He’s been streaky this season but also has experience in major championships, unlike many players in this group.