TODAY'S PAPER
Few Clouds 42° Good Afternoon
Few Clouds 42° Good Afternoon
SportsGolfUS Open

U.S. Open: Story lines, golfers to watch at Erin Hills

The 663-yard par 5, 18th hole at Erin

The 663-yard par 5, 18th hole at Erin Hills Golf Course. Photo Credit: Getty Images / David Cannon

STORY LINES

1. Erin Hills, the great unknown. No one has any idea what to expect of this first-time venue, although fierce storms in the forecast could produce soft conditions and very low scores.

2. Dustin Johnson’s next step. A father again as of Monday, the defending Open champion and World No. 1 is playing his first major of the season. He missed the Masters because of a misstep on stairs in his Augusta rental home. “I’ll slide down on my butt,” he said of the steps at this week’s digs.

3. Phil Mickelson’s whereabouts. Will Mother Nature cause a delay that will allow him to attend his daughter’s graduation Thursday and still make it halfway across the country to play?

4. Will Rory McIlroy (four majors) or Jordan Spieth (two majors) enhance a resume and resume a march toward dominance?

5. Sergio Garcia: The first to win the Grand Slam in a single year? Even he laughed at that prospect. He’s still overcoming Masters hangover and simply wants to play well.

DUSTIN JOHNSON SAYS . . .

1. Baby is River Jones Johnson, a name Paulina picked out, he said. River might be a play on Riviera Country Club, where he won and became No. 1. Jones is her mom’s and his grandmother’s surname.

2. Fatherhood helps his golf, he said, adding, “It gives you a different perspective on things.”

3. His game is getting close to where it was when he won three times this season.

4. He can’t keep up with Paulina’s dad, Wayne Gretzky, but he can skate a little: “I can stand up, at least.”

5. Will his length off the tee intimidate others on a behemoth course? “I hope so”

FIRSTS

1. Si Woo Kim, champion at the Players, is playing his first U.S. Open, qualifying him as a candidate for special distinction because . . .

2. The last player to win his U.S. Open debut was Francis Ouimet in 1913.

3. That streak ranks first among majors. Fuzzy Zoeller won his first try at the Masters in 1979, Ben Curtis won his British Open debut in 2003, Keegan Bradley won his PGA Championship debut in 2011.

4. The past eight U.S. Open winners had never won it before, the past six majors have gone to first-time major winners.

SECONDS

1. Mickelson has finished second in six U.S. Opens without a win.

2. Will Jason Day win a second major title?

3. Will Adam Scott or Justin Rose win a second major?

4. Ernie Els is the only one in the field this week who has won a second U.S. Open.

5. No one has won a second consecutive U.S. Open since Curtis Strange in 1989.

KEEP AN EYE ON . . .

1. Justin Thomas. Like Dustin Johnson, he has three PGA Tour wins this season.

2. Jon Rahm. Big, strong, talented. This might be Spain’s year.

3. Branden Grace. Came close at Chambers Bay, a similar layout.

4. Tommy Fleetwood. Won Abu Dhabi title, is a 175-1 shot at Bovado.lv (quite the possible payout).

SANDS OF TIME

1. Deepdale Golf Club member Stewart Hagestad, 26, the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and low amateur at this year’s Masters, tees off at 8:14 a.m.

2. Hagestad’s group includes U.S. Senior Open champion Gene Sauers, 54, the oldest competitor in the field. Sauers has overcome a rare skin condition, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, that required multiple grafts. He has not been in a U.S. Open in 30 years.

3. Huge irony: Kevin Na, a notoriously slow player, was quick to post a video complaining about the thick fescue rough.

4. USGA says target time for threesomes is 4 hours, 52 minutes. Lots of luck on that, given distances between greens and tees and effort it will take to escape deep, steep bunkers.

New York Sports