The PGA Tour heads north this week for the U.S. Open. A field of 156 players will tackle Erin Hills as it hosts a major championship for the first time in its brief history.
Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.
Dustin Johnson won this event last year by three shots over a trio of players. Here are 10 names to watch in Wisconsin:
1. Dustin Johnson: Johnson nearly won this event two years ago, and he took care of business emphatically last year at Oakmont. That sparked a torrid 12-month stretch that sees Johnson return this week as defending champ, world No. 1 and an understandable favorite after reeling off three straight wins earlier this year.
2. Rickie Fowler: After a run of six straight first-time major champs, this could be Fowler's turn in the spotlight. A win at the Honda Classic began a stretch of five straight top-16 finishes, and Fowler was a runner-up two weeks ago at the Memorial. At second on Tour in total strokes gained and 11th in strokes gained tee-to-green, he should avoid much of the trouble at Erin Hills.
3. Jon Rahm: Many are waiting to see Rahm prove himself on a major stage, but he clearly has all the attributes to contend. After his breakthrough at Torrey Pines, Rahm compiled five more top-5 finishes including a runner-up at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational. He also tied for 23rd last year at Oakmont as an amateur.
4. Jordan Spieth: The "what's wrong with Spieth?" storyline was deservedly short-lived. Spieth showed at Colonial that he can still flourish when his game is firing on all cylinders, and he is only two years removed from winning at Chambers Bay. The uneven lies expected in the fairways should play to his advantage, but as is often the case his success will be largely dictated by his efficiency on the greens.
5. Jason Day: The Aussie lost in a playoff at the AT&T Byron Nelson last month, and his U.S. Open record includes a remarkable run of four straight top-10 finishes. Day was a runner-up at both Congressional (2011) and Merion (2013) and he seems to successfully embrace the more grueling aspects of the USGA's marquee event.
6. Adam Scott: Scott, like Day, has been consistent in an event where it's hard to come by. Each of the last three years have ended with Scott at T-18 or better in this event, and he tied for 10th last week in Memphis with Steve Williams back on the bag. The pure greens could help mitigate some of Scott's weakness with the putter, and his tee-to-green prowess will likely shine through.
7. Sergio Garcia: The Masters champ will make his first major start as a major winner, and it's in an event where his trademark ball-striking could pay dividends. Garcia tied for fifth last year at Oakmont, and while it's unlikely he can repeat the Spieth double-dip from 2015, don't be surprised if a relaxed Garcia works his way up the standings over the weekend.
8. Justin Rose: Rose had one arm in the green jacket two months ago, and now he returns to an event where he made his major breakthrough at Merion four years ago. The Englishman missed the cut last year, but that ended a run of four straight top-30 finishes in this event and he tied for 12th at Wentworth before heading to Erin Hills early for extra prep.
9. Rory McIlroy: The Ulsterman brings plenty of questions with him to Erin Hills, from his health to his ever-changing equipment. McIlroy hasn't played since re-aggravating a rib injury at TPC Sawgrass last month, and the ailment will limit his prep somewhat this week. But his ceiling is nearly unmatched, and should his new putter begin to cooperate it wouldn't come as a shock to see him contending for major No. 5 come Sunday.
10. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar has been his rock-solid self in this event recently, with four top-20 finishes since 2010 and only one result outside the top 30. He rallied for a T-4 finish at the Masters, one of five top-12 finishes over his last seven overall starts. That run includes a T-12 result at Colonial and a tie for fourth at Memorial his last time out.