The top 49 players in the world rankings all will tee it up. Out of that group, 34 still are seeking their first major title, and that’s a good place to start with players who have the hunger to break through.
Perhaps at the top of that list is Spaniard Jon Rahm, who is up to No. 4 in the world and has already tasted victory five times around the globe in just a two-year career as a professional. He hits it a mile and has shown to be pretty much fearless in any situation.
Hideki Matsuyama hasn’t had quite as good a form this season, but is at or near the top of any “best never to win a major” list.
Then there are the big names that have won majors. A couple of one-time winners in Justin Rose (the 2013 U.S. Open champ) and last year’s PGA champion Justin Thomas come in on good form. Rose won at Colonial before a top 10 at Memorial while Thomas has two wins and five top 10s on the season, propelling him to No. 1 in the world for a number of weeks until last week’s winner – and another serious contender – Dustin Johnson, regained the top spot over the weekend.
And don’t forget Phil Mickelson. He is one of a handful in the field to have played in two of those previous U.S. Opens here, and he finished in the top five both times, a T4 in 1995 and the tough runnerup finish in 2004. Were it not for an errant drive at the final hole that led to double bogey it might well have been Lefty’s second consecutive major and him hoisting the trophy instead of Retief Goosen.