PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – It may be cold, misty, gray and grim in Monterey, Calif., this week, but the fans are still hot to pick two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka and others instead of second- and third-round leader Gary Woodland, who stands at 11 under par, one shot ahead of 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and four shots ahead of Koepka, 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuiizen and Chez Reavie.
We polled the fans and asked them who they think will take the trophy home tomorrow and why.
Marc (52) from Staten Island, N.Y.: “I’m taking Koepka. He’s the defending champ two times in a row, he’s playing better than anyone in the world at the big tournaments, and he’s strong enough to cut through the rough. Woodland will fold like a card table chair.”
Sal (45) from Sacramento, Calif.: “I’ll take Rose. He’s got the calm demeanor to win the U.S. Open. He showed that when he won in Philadelphia. He’s close enough to the lead to move past Woodland and to out last Brooks. He’s a great iron player, and that wins U.S. Opens.”
Rick (39) from Los Angeles, Calif.: “I’ll pick Rory. He knows what it takes to win majors, especially the U.S. Open. He’s strong physically and he’s strong mentally, and you need that to deal with the pressure. Woodland will remember where he is tomorrow, take that to the bank.”
Sandy (34) from Lake Tahoe, Nev.: “I want Stenson, because he’s handsome.”
Ron (54) from Haverford, Pa.: “I think Woodland is going to do it. It’s his time. He’s paid his dues in the past and has learned how to win. Look at all those killer shots he hit down the stretch. And he’s four ahead of Koepka, which is plenty as long as he isn’t late for his tee time or something stupid like that.”
Erin (29) from Galway, Ireland: “I’ll pick Matt Kuchar. He isn’t wild, he plays well in the wind, and he won at Sawgrass, which should count as a major. Plus I want him to shut up all the jerks that have been mean to him about that whole Mexico caddie thing.”
Grant (32) from Pittsburgh, Pa.: “Koepka has to be the pick. He’s winning everything. He's got Woodland and Rose right where he wants them. Now he just has to carve them up and eat them like this Ruth Chris steak sandwich baby!”
And then, finally, this conversation with two young fans.
Liam and Tyler (ages 8 and 6) from Laguna Seca, Calif: “We’re rooting for Tiger Woods. He’s going to win!”
Me: “He’s 11 shots back and behind 26 players. What about the other golfers?”
Liam and Tyler: “What other golfers?”
Me: “The other golfers who are playing against him. Do you think any of them have a chance to win?”
Liam and Tyler: “We don’t know any of the other golfers…”