SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – After a wild third round at the U.S. Open, there are four players tied for the lead at 3-over 213. Eleven other players are within four shots.
So who will walk away with the trophy at Shinnecock Hills? Our writers debate:
REX HOGGARD: Brooks Koepka. The more difficult things got on Saturday at Shinnecock Hills – and difficult may not do those conditions justice – the more the defending champion’s confidence grew. There are players and there are U.S. Open players, and Koepka is the perfect version of the latter.
RYAN LAVNER: Dustin Johnson. That Saturday 77 was his bad round … and listening to DJ afterward, he didn’t even think it was that bad. Because it wasn’t. He still hit 11 of 14 fairways and found 13 greens. After leading the field in putting over the first two days, rolling in putts with what Tiger Woods said was perfect pace, he took 38 swipes Saturday on bumpy greens that were dead around the cup. The putting surfaces should be in better condition Sunday – or USGA setup man Mike Davis is in for even more criticism – and Johnson will get back on track.
RANDALL MELL: Dustin Johnson. He is one tough hombre, and he will use every ounce of that toughness Sunday to win the U.S. Open. He knows how mentally strong he will have to be to beat a guy who is his rival in toughness, Brooks Koepka. These guys have combined to win the last two U.S. Opens, with Koepka the defending champ this year. They are paired together Sunday, part of a four-way tie for the lead. Johnson has become the total package, strong in every facet of the game. Importantly, that includes the mind and attitude it will take to survive the punishment Shinnecock Hills will dish out. Johnson didn’t complain about Saturday’s brutal setup. He won’t give in.