The U.S. Open is golf’s ultimate exam.
It’s also a pretty good test for anyone trying to pick a winner.
As an expert prognosticator for GOLF.com, Andy Lack is here to help us with that task.
Lack is a data analyst for OddsChecker and RickRunGood.com; creator of Inside Golf Podcast, and co-host of “The Scramble,” a twice-weekly golf handicapping show.
That pedigree puts him in good position to give us tips for our friendly wagers and office pools.
While supplying us with picks for this week’s national championship, at The Country Club, in Brookline, Mass., Lack is also taking part in a game we play on Chirp.com. Chirp, an affiliate of GOLF.com, is a free-to-play mobile game that offers a range of weekly contests, including a Trifecta competition that calls for users to pick three players: a favorite, a contender, and a long shot — all categories based on the Official World Golf Rankings.
Nearly 1,000 users have already signed up for this week’s Trifecta, a healthy sample size that gives us a sense of where public opinion is leaning.
In the “favorites” category (players ranked 1-20 in the OWGR), Rory McIlroy has the most support among Chirp users, with 20.24 percent of the vote. He’s followed by Scottie Scheffler (18.81 percent) and Justin Thomas (16.90).
Among the “contenders” (players ranked 21-60 in the OWGR), Bryson DeChambeau has the most backing, with 17.62 percent of the vote. Next comes Harold Varner, at 11.67 percent. Kevin Kisner sits in third place, with 10.60 of the votes.
As for the long shots, Davis Riley leads the way, at 25.24 percent, followed by Stewart Cink (13.10 percent) and Gary Woodland (12.74).
That’s how the people see it.
But what about the pro?
Check out Lack’s picks — and his reasoning — below.
Favorite: Patrick Cantlay (OWGR: 4)
Despite a recent letdown at the PGA Championship, Patrick Cantlay is simply too good of a player to continue to disappoint in major championships. The reigning FedEx Cup champion is coming off an impressive third-place finish at the Memorial, where he gained strokes in all four major categories. Forget his subpar record in the majors. He possesses the well-rounded skillset I am looking for this week.
Contender: Shane Lowry (OWGR: 24)
Lowry has done just about everything this season other than win. In eight starts this year, his worst finish is a 32nd. The 2019 Open Championship winner is playing some of the best golf of his career, and he has already proven his U.S. Open mettle with a runner-up finish in 2016 at Oakmont. I expect the Boston crowd to get behind the Irishman this week, and for Lowry to be firmly in the mix come Sunday afternoon.
Long Shot: Gary Woodland (OWGR: 113)
Out of all the tournaments on the schedule, the U.S. Open does the best job of weeding out the pretenders from the world’s best. For this reason, when selecting a sleeper, I want a player who has proven that they can succeed under these conditions, and the 2019 U.S. Open champion certainly passes that test.
Click here to enter Chirp’s free-to-play Trifecta game for yourself.
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