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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the US Senior Open

Today I make my picks for this week's US Senior Open. Gene Sauers is the defending champion.

Vijay Singh and Bernhard Langer

This week's major is being held at Salem Country Club in Peabody, Massachusetts. It's a Donald Ross course, first opened in Salem MA in 1895 and moved to Peabody in 1925. Among the events that have been played there, there have been two US Women's Opens (1954 and 1984) and the US Senior Open was there once before in 2001.

So a course like this isn't likely to produce a fluke winner. This is a quality course and, if you don't mind me overusing an old turn of phrase, we can be pretty sure that the cream will rise to the top. And who might that creamy goodness turn out to be?
  • Well, it's hard to make this kind of list without including Bernhard Langer. Ironically, he's only won one US Senior Open, back in 2010 at Sahalee. He's already got three wins this year, including the first two majors. Despite his record in US Senior Opens, it's hard not to make him the favorite.
  • Believe it or not, I have to put defending champion Gene Sauers on this list, even though he only has one win on the Champions Tour -- this major. But that win came at Scioto Country Club, which is another Donald Ross design, he was a runner-up in this event back in 2014, and he's been playing well coming in to this week. Maybe this major just suits his style of play.
  • Scott McCarron is $800k behind Schwab Cup leader Bernhard Langer, but that puts him #2 on the list. And he's playing some seriously good golf this year. Leave out his T23 last week, and you'll see him coming off three Top5s -- two of which were this year's majors (T2 and T5). You've gotta take him seriously.
  • Miguel Angel Jimenez. He's got a win and sits #4 on the Schwab Cup list. He's only got one Top5 since his win earlier this season although, granted, that was a T3 at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. But, with one exception -- his very first event of the year -- his scoring has been consistently between -8 and -13 all season. I think that score can win a US Senior Open.
  • And my flier... Fred Couples is coming off a win. And though he hasn't played that much -- roughly half the starts of McCarron (7 vs 12) -- he's got two wins and trails McCarron by only $9k. If his back holds up, Freddie's dangerous!
And my choice is... surprise! I'm taking Jimenez over Langer this week. As good as Langer has been, US Opens (on any tour) seem to give him a lot of trouble. Jimenez's consistency should loom large this week.

Remember that, since this is a USGA event, the US Senior Open will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 for the first two rounds and the regular FOX affiliates over the weekend. Thursday's broadcast should start at 2pm ET.

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