U.S. Open 2018 preview: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson looking to suppress major demons

Phil Mickelson (Getty Images)

The season’s second major has arrived as the U.S. Open heads to Shinnecock Hills in New York.

Patrick Reed won the Masters back in April to claim his first major championship, and this week’s field once again looks wide open. Brooks Koepka is trying to become the first person to successfully defend his U.S. Open title since Curtis Strange after winning last year at Erin Hills.

Phil Mickelson, a six-time runner-up at this event, is still trying to erase heartbreak and get his career Grand Slam. He has returned to form this year with five top-6 finishes and heads into the week with back-to-back top-15 finishes.

Tiger Woods will occupy most of the headlines this week. The 14-time major champions has finally returned to the top 100 in the world ranking while returning from his fourth back surgery since 2014. He is trying to win his first major since the 2008 U.S. Open.

The Course

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, a 7,440-yard par 70, is considered the oldest incorporated golf club in the United States, as it was formed in 1891 and was one of five founding members of the U.S. Golf Association.

Retief Goosen won the last U.S. Open hosted by the famed Long Island course, but the current course layout dates back to 1931.

Defending Champion

Koepka held off Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Brian Harman last year to earn his first major win. The powerful former Florida State star missed three months this year with a wrist injury, but he has a t-11 and a runner-up finish since his return.

No one has won back-to-back U.S. Opens since Strange back in 1988-89, but Koepka has the power and short-game poise to contend again.


Dustin Johnson again became the top player in the world ranking with his win last week in Memphis. The 2016 U.S. Open champion has nine wins in the last two years, making him a potent threat this week.

Justin Thomas, now No. 2 in the world, and Justin Rose also look like prime threats to contend. Rose has only finished outside the top 23 once since last year’s PGA Championship. 

Watch out for Rory McIlroy and Jason Day. McIlroy has been a bit volatile this year, winning at Bay Hill and finishing second at the BMW PGA, but also missing some cuts. Day has two wins and a runner-up finish already this year.


Can a three-time major champion be a sleeper? Yes, and Jordan Spieth is this week. Spieth has flown under the radar in recent months, as his best form has eluded him. But Spieth has been averaging a major championship win a year since 2015, and should be comfortable at Shinnecock.

It seems like someone surprising contends at the U.S. Open every year, so watch out for Kyle Stanley. Ranked 28th in the world, Stanley has two top-5 finishes this year, including a t-2 at the Memorial Tournament.