US Open predictions: Schauffele's time to shine

Steve Palmer
Xander Schauffele will be seeking a first Major title this week
Xander Schauffele will be seeking a first Major title this week

The US Open swings into action at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, today.

Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, who battled for the Canadian Open title on Sunday, are among the favourites for victory in the third Major of the season.

The Masters was won by Scottie Scheffler in April before Thomas claimed US PGA glory a month ago as Americans continue to dominate at the highest level.

Will it be the same story at the famous Country Club which hosted their Ryder Cup triumph on home soil in 1999?

Schauffele the man for the big occasion

Xander Schauffele seems an obvious candidate for success if there is to be a fourth consecutive Major winner from the United States.

Schauffele relishes the US Open and has recorded remarkably consistent results of 5-6-3-5-7 in the toughest Major of them all.

US Open chiefs pride themselves on creating the ultimate golfing test, with narrow fairways, thick rough and firm, fast greens, meaning the event is typically a battle to avoid disaster.

Keeping your scorecard as clean as possible and churning out pars is the name of the game — and Schauffele is a master at grinding in such a fashion.

The calm Californian has no statistical weakness. He is a rock-solid all-rounder and that strength in all departments shows up better in a US Open than in any other event.

This tournament places demands on all aspects of your game and Schauffele can approach the assignment with confidence.

He played well in the 2013 US Amateur Championship at Brookline, so should be able to hit the ground running from that perspective too.

Two recent victories have probably helped Schauffele gain the self-belief to potentially become a Major champion on Sunday.

He won the Olympic gold medal last year and was one half of a triumphant Zurich Classic team in April.

His Ryder Cup debut also went extremely well last year with three points won from four matches, so he has proven himself a man for big occasions.

Niemann can lead overseas challenge

Joaquin Niemann could be a man to look out for at Brookline
Joaquin Niemann could be a man to look out for at Brookline

Perhaps Joaquin Niemann could lead the overseas challenge this week and threaten to become Chile's first Major champion in the process.

Mito Pereira, a great friend of Niemann, almost got over the line in the US PGA last month but Niemann has always been considered the most likely Chilean to claim Major glory.

The 23-year-old was a teenage prodigy and he was the world No1 amateur for 44 weeks in his formative years. 

Given the way he won the Genesis Invitational from the front at the Riviera Country Club in February, there seems every chance that the 23-year-old is beginning to come of age as a golfer.

The Genesis boasted an elite field and Niemann blew his rivals away, so he has shown he is capable of beating the best. 

He was third in the Memorial Tournament last time out and, like Schauffele, has an ideal tee-time on Thursday morning to take advantage of the forecast early calm conditions.

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