ESPN predictions: Can anyone beat Dustin Johnson at the U.S. Open?


Dustin Johnson is the hottest player in the world. He’s already picked up the U.S. Open trophy once. Sure, he’s the favorite this week at Winged Foot, but there are plenty of other strong choices to claim the year’s second major title.

Our experts landed on a wide variety of options. Here’s what they think:

Matt Barrie, ESPN
Winner: Jon Rahm
Why he’ll win: It’s his time. He’s been No. 1 in the world. He’s playing as well as anyone. And perhaps most importantly, he’s matured in spots you need for the four-day grind of a major championship.

David Bearman, ESPN Sports Betting
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Why he’ll win: The toughest tournament in the world demands the best golfer in the world. Right now, that is Dustin Johnson. Sure, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm have won their share of tournaments. We all know Rory McIlroy and many others can win this, but hard to bet against what Johnson is doing right now. His past four events: two wins, two runners-up. DJ is a drive/sand wedge/putt away from being a four-time major winner. He gets No. 2 this week.

Michael Collins, ESPN
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Why he’ll win: Now that DJ has something Brooks Koepka does not have — a FedEx Cup — he’s setting his sights on catching up to Koepka in a different area. After this week, DJ will have just as many U.S. Open titles as Brooks, and, oh yeah, the Masters is still on the horizon!

Michael Eaves, ESPN
Winner: Xander Schauffele
Why he’ll win: He’s too good of a player and has too many good performances in majors not to have won one by now. Plus, in his three previous appearances at the U.S. Open, he’s finished T-5, T-6 and T-3. In other words, it’s his time.

Chris Fallica, ESPN Stats & Information
Winner: Jon Rahm
Why he’ll win: He’s won twice in his past six starts and is one of the few players who can stare down Dustin Johnson right now. His weekend scores the past four weeks are 68-66-67-65-66-64-66. He probably won’t put up those types of numbers as the course will be brutally tough, but a matured Rahm is playing terrific golf and is on the verge of capturing his first major win.

Charlotte Gibson,
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Why he’ll win: It’s crazy to call Johnson, the man who has two wins and two runners-up finishes in his past four starts, an underdog. But … the fact that he’s won only one major with 43 major starts — despite posting four top-four finishes in the U.S. Open over the past six years — makes me feel like he’s not a definite top dog against the field this week. DJ is going to have to really ride that FedEx Cup victory into Winged Foot if he wants to go from “maybe he can do it again” to “he did it again” at the U.S. Open. All of that is to say, I think he can do it.

Bob Harig,
Xander Schauffele
Why he’ll win: The four-time PGA Tour winner has had a relatively quiet year, although he shot the lowest 72-hole score at the Tour Championship and tied for second in the FedEx Cup. He also quietly tied for 10th at the PGA Championship, has six top-10s in 12 major starts and has never been out of the top 10 at the U.S. Open, where he was tied for third last year. Schauffele has been good on tough courses and Winged Foot might be the toughest.

Doug Kezirian, ESPN Sports Betting
Winner: Jon Rahm
Why he’ll win: Winged Foot is set up to be an extremely challenging course, even by U.S. Open standards. Rahm has won twice this year in similar conditions (BMW Championship and The Memorial) and seems poised to break through for his first career major.

Peter Lawrence-Riddell,
Winner: Xander Schauffele
Why he’ll win: I said before the PGA Championship that I was just going to pick Rory McIlroy until he won one, but I’m changing my mind (which means he’ll probably win this week). Schauffele has finished T-6 or higher in the past three U.S. Opens and seems to have a game that’s tailor made for the tough, demanding conditions that are surely waiting for the players at Winged Foot. His track record at recent majors is solid, and he looks ready to win his first soon, so why not this week.

Anita Marks, ESPN
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Why he’ll win: No golfer has been hotter than DJ the past few weeks. Two wins in his past four tournaments, three wins in his past 10 and two second-place finishes as well. Winged Foot is going to be tough. It’s not for the weak at heart — tight fairways, ridiculous rough and fast greens are what is in store. Only two players out of 750 who have competed here in a U.S. Open have broken par. Only the best of the best will be in contention come Sunday — and DJ is THE BEST right now. Long and accurate off the tee, hitting greens in regulation, mental strength, and good putting will all be needed to win, and DJ’s entire game comes in on point. I’m going chalk!

Sean McDonough, ESPN
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Why he’ll win: He is playing dominant golf right now. He won his U.S. Open at Oakmont, an incredibly difficult golf course. Winged Foot is similarly challenging. His remarkable ability to drive it long and straight will lead to his second U.S. Open title.

Andy North, ESPN
Xander Schauffele
Why he’ll win: So solid in all aspects of his game. You must drive it in the fairway at Winged Foot — and he can. He’s a great putter, which is also important at Winged Foot — especially in an Open.

Ian O’Connor,
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Why he’ll win: I’ll go out on a long and unsteady limb on this one. But seriously, how do you not pick this physical freak who is currently on fire, and who has already proved he can win a U.S. Open? Next time Brooks Koepka takes a shot at his ex-friend DJ and his lack of major titles, he’ll have to say, “He’s only won two.”

Nick Pietruszkiewicz,
Winner: Viktor Hovland
Why he’ll win: He likes events run by the USGA. Remember that when you hear so many players whining about how impossible Winged Foot is playing. Hovland has won the U.S. Amateur. At last year’s U.S. Open, at Pebble Beach, he was low amateur and finished T-12 overall. Also, he posted the best 72-hole score of any amateur in the history of the event. Plus, we’ve had evidence already this year that it’s never too early to start winning majors. Collin Morikawa did it at the PGA Championship; Hovland does it at the U.S. Open.

Mark Schlabach,
Winner: Webb Simpson
Why he’ll win: The 2012 U.S. Open champion at Olympic Club won twice on the PGA Tour this past season and collected more than $5 million. He hits fairways (ranked 18th in driving accuracy), avoids big mistakes (No. 1 in bogey avoidance) and is a stellar iron player (11th in greens in regulation). Those are all necessities at Winged Foot, one of the most difficult tracks in the game. Only one of the previous five U.S. Open champions there finished under par (Fuzzy Zoeller was 4-under in 1979).

Marty Smith, ESPN
Winner: Justin Thomas
Why he’ll win: On a course like Winged Foot — which as host of five previous U.S. Open tournaments has produced just one winner who finished the tournament under par — consistency will be king. Therefore, due to his consistency both in length and accuracy, I’m going with Justin Thomas to prevail at 2 under. And if, in fact, JT does not prevail, I’ll yell something like, “Dude, you’ve got to be kidding me!”

Curtis Strange, ESPN
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Why he’ll win: He’s best player in the game today and he is playing well. Tough course requires complete game. DJ has it all.

Tom VanHaaren,
Winner: Justin Thomas
Why he’ll win: Thomas is heating up at the right time after finishing T-2 at the Tour Championship. His lone major win came in the 2017 PGA Championship and it’s time he adds another to his résumé. Thomas has the all-around game and length to navigate this course and should be in the hunt all week.

Scott Van Pelt, ESPN
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Why he’ll win: Because why make this difficult?

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