The world’s No. 1 ranked player has won three tournaments since the PGA Tour re-start in June. One of the longest hitters in the game, Johnson has made a strategic change to help him keep the ball in the fairway. He likes to fade his driver left-to-right off the tee, but Winged Foot has several dogleg lefts that require a right-to-left hook. Johnson added a 2-iron he could hook but then took it out of his bag and will go with 3-wood or even 7-wood.
Quotable: Explaining a dramatically improved putting routine, Johnson said: "If you’re going to have a good week, you’ve got to putt well. I started using a line (drawn on the ball), and it’s definitely helped me out a lot, especially inside 10 feet, starting to make a lot more of those."
No. 2 Rahm has won twice in tough conditions at Muirfield Village in the Memorial and at difficult Olympia Fields in the BMW Championship, where he won a head-to-head playoff with Johnson.
Quotable: The Spaniard has yet to win a major, but he said the U.S. Open would hold special significance for him. "In the past, maybe this type of golf wasn’t my bread and butter, but based on the two events I’ve won this year, I’m pretty much ready. . . I’m not going to lie, there’s something extra special to be possibly the first Spanish player to win a U.S. Open. That would be amazing. So, that’s an extra bit of motivation to play good this week."
Since the re-start in June, Thomas has one win plus three more top-10 finishes in seven events. The 2017 PGA champion played two practice rounds two weeks ago at Winged Foot to gain familiarity with a venue he never had seen and described it as a "fun" challenge.
Quotable: Thomas is paired in the first two rounds with close friend Tiger Woods and current PGA champion Collin Morikawa, but he said he anticipates a much different experience without fans: "When there’s not fans, it’s definitely easier because they’re definitely not out there to watch me. They’re out there to watch one person and deservingly so…It’s just easier because you don’t have a lot of commotion."
In eight appearances since the re-start, No. 6 Simpson has one win and three top-10 finishes and he also won in January in Phoenix. Simpson has the best combination of driving ability in terms of length and accuracy and he ranks No. 1 in avoiding bogeys, which will be key at a course expected to play over par.
Quotable: Describing his affinity for the U.S. Open, Simpson, who was 2012 champion at Olympic Club, said: "I’m coming in confident, I’ve been playing good golf for a while, and I always have loved this tournament…I love the idea patience matters here. Every golfer is going to make tons of bogeys this week, so it’s kind of a marathon mentality of who can hang on and play 72 holes as well as they can."
No. 9 DeChambeau is ranked first in driving distance, 140th in driving accuracy, fourth in birdies, fifth in total shots gained and 10th in shots gained putting. He won once after the re-start, and his driving feats make him wildly entertaining.
Quotable: DeChambeau admitted he is least likely of the big hitters to dial it back at Winged Foot: "I’m hitting it as far as I possibly can. Even if it’s in the rough, I can still get to the front edge or the middle of the greens with pitching wedges or 9-irons That’s the beauty of my length and that advantage. Certain holes I might lay up, but I’m going to go after it as much as I possibly can."