Sam Torrance's US Open 2017 preview: Why Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm are my players to watch at Erin Hills this week

 
Sam Torrance
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Dean & DeLuca Invitational - Round Three
Garcia has had time to settle into his status as a Major champion (Source: Getty)

Predicting the winner of this week’s US Open is made even trickier by the relatively new nature of the course, Erin Hills, which is hosting the tournament for the first time and has only existed since 2006.

It looks a magnificent venue but the rough seems diabolically bad and, should the wind pick up, it could become harder still and even less easy to predict the outcome.

The United States Golf Association has come in for criticism over its venue selection in recent years, though they were unfortunate in 2015 with Chambers Bay, which I think is a wonderful course that deteriorated because it got burnt.

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The US Open has always been the Major with the hardest and fairest set-up. It is extremely difficult and level par is considered a great score.

I have no problem with that and think that Erin Hills looks a superb course.

Dustin Johnson remains the man to beat by dint of being world No1, despite the fact that his brilliant form has faded since he injured himself on the eve of the Masters in April.

Johnson is a great wind player too, so if that becomes a factor it will only strengthen his claims.

Why Garcia can bag Major No2

He will justifiably start as favourite but second, for me, should be Sergio Garcia, fresh from his breakthrough Major victory at Augusta.

The rough at Erin Hills looks very similar to that at Carnoustie, where Garcia almost won the Open in 2007, losing in a play-off to Padraig Harrington.

The Spaniard is a fantastic ball-striker, and that can be a telling factor on the most difficult courses or when conditions become more challenging.

Garcia has had time to settle into his status as a Major champion and enjoy it with friends and family.

He will have been buoyed by his compatriot Rafael Nadal’s winning of a 10th French Open tennis title at the weekend too, and will be bursting to get out there and play.

McIlroy, Spieth, Rose and Day

I fancy one of the big names to prevail on Sunday, and Rory McIlroy has waxed lyrical about how good he’s feeling.

He’s yet to win this year and as he gets older his course management needs sharpening a touch, but he is certainly more than capable of landing this prize for a second time.

So too is Jordan Spieth. Like most of the favourites, the 2015 winner’s form has been patchy of late but he posses a wonderful short game, which could come in to play on a course as tough as this.

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
Spieth knows Erin Hills better than most, having played there as an amateur (Source: Getty)

Spieth also has a slight advantage on the field in that he has played Erin Hills before, at the 2011 US Amateur Championship.

England’s Justin Rose, who narrowly missed out to Garcia at the Masters two months ago, is a beautiful driver of the ball, makes a habit of rising to the big occasions and has a definite chance.

You also have to consider two-time runner-up Jason Day, who has shown signs of returning to form, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson.

Outside bet Rahm

Dean & DeLuca Invitational - Final Round
Rahm has taken the PGA Tour by storm in his first full season (Source: Getty)

But my other player to watch would be another Spaniard: Jon Rahm.

The 22-year-old has already risen to 10th in the world rankings on his first full season on the PGA Tour, so he is certainly capable.

His displays this year – one win and five more top-five finishes in 11 events – have been super impressive.

It would be a big ask for an outsider to win but Rahm is so good he has to be in the running.

I can’t wait to watch it.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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