Check out their picks below and be sure to tune in for all our coverage of the 117th U.S. Open, beginning Thursday at 11 a.m. ET on FS1.
Rob SchumacherUSA TODAY Sports
Who will win?
Bacon: Jordan Spieth
I initially was going to put Jon Rahm here, considering his insane length and ability to overpower even the roughest of golf courses with his driver. But after walking the course and seeing the conditions, I’m going Spieth. The 2015 champion is first on the PGA Tour in strokes gained approaching greens (which means he will have a lot better chance of making par when he inevitably misses these fairways) and he’s seventh amongst everyone in strokes gained total. If he finds fairways, he wins. Simple as that.
Chase: Francesco Molinari
A big name has won the Open in five of the last six years (Webb Simpson was the exception), a change from the not-so-distant days of Lucas Glover, Geoff Ogilvy and Michael Campbell. At Erin Hills, we'll go back to the future with a surprise, mostly unknown name holding the trophy aloft on Sunday night. Molinari, the 34-year-old Italian, has played on two Ryder Cup teams and has six wins worldwide. So he isn't exactly anonymous — but he's no DJ either. Nor is he the most accomplished Molinari. His younger brother, Eduardo, has 10 worldwide victories. So why Francesco? At Erin Hills, if you're not in the fairway, you're dead. The good thing is that the fairways are perhaps as wide as the Open has ever seen. Still, all it takes is one or two trips to put up some huge numbers that take you out of contention. So a look at the driving distance, driving accuracy and greens in regulation stats (which always matter, obviously) take on added importance this week, and Molinari does well in each. (Of the big names, I'd take Spieth above DJ, Rory, Rickie and Rahm.)
Schwartz: Sergio Garcia
Dustin Johnson is the clear favorite to win at Erin Hills, as he should be, but this is hardly a Tiger Woods-against-the-field situation.
Sergio Garcia is one of the best overall drivers of the ball in the field, and sits in the top 40 on tour in both average distance and accuracy. He’s always been an elite ball striker, and he’s in decent form. Since winning the Masters and wrangling the "best player never to win a major" monkey off his back, Garcia was in contention at the Players until a final-round 78 spoiled his tournament, and he’s posted two other top 20s.
Scott: Rickie Fowler
Why not this be the one where Rickie breaks through? The stat that jumps out at me right now is Fowler’s hit fairway percentage: He’s hitting fairways just shy of 70 percent of the time off the tee, which is top five on tour. With the way this course is set up, there’s no margin for error — you either hit the fairways or you’re done. If Rickie is accurate off the tee, and the putter gets going, I think this is his time.
Michael MadridUSA TODAY Sports
What will be the winning score?
I thought we’d get a double-digit winning score, but this fescue off the fairways is as brutal as any Open Championship venue. The weather looks like it will be a factor this week, so I’m going 7-under to win, slightly better than the last two U.S. Opens simply because of the added par-5s.
Has there ever been a U.S. Open with a wider range of possible winning scores? If there's no breeze, this scoreboard could look like the Safeway Open. If there's some heavy wind, watch out off the tee and on the dried-out greens, which could roll at stimpmeter numbers like the Opens of old. The course is the longest in Open history but it's also the first par-72 track we've seen in 25 years. Let's call it down the middle: A 280, 8-under wins it.
Over the last 10 years — excluding Rory McIlroy’s record-breaking demolition of Congressional — the average winning score is a couple strokes under par. Golfers will likely have to deal with windy conditions and rain delays as thunderstorms are in the forecast throughout the weekend, which should reduce roll on the fairways and make the course play even longer. If you miss a fairway, good luck.
Fowler wins it at -5.
Ross KinnairdGetty Images
Who's a sleeper contender for the title?
Bacon: Stephan Jaeger
Who, you ask? That’s fine, I’d expect most to do a double-take when checking Jaeger as my true sleeper. The 28-year-old has learned how to win and fast on the Web.com Tour, winning two of his last three starts, including this past Sunday. Jaeger isn’t the longest guy out there, but his 298.5 average would have him 33rd on Tour.
Chase: Lucas Glover
Wait, Francesco Molinari doesn't count? Another question: Can a former champion be a dark horse? Answer: He can when he's Lucas Glover! The surprise 2009 champion at Bethpage ranks 29th in driving accuracy and 51st in distance this year. He's coming off a T6 at The Players, a T7 at the Arnold Palmer and sits 42nd in the FedEx Cup rankings. Yeah, he's only made a total of eight top-10s in the past six years, has played on the weekend of a major just twice in the past six seasons and has missed his last five cuts at the Open ... wait, what were we talking about again?
Schwartz: Shane Lowry
To win at Erin Hills, you need to be long and accurate — not just one or the other. The big hitters on tour are typically toward the bottom of the fairway percentage list, and will have to contend with the supremely punishing fescue that lines the course. The most accurate players off the tee, meanwhile, generally won’t be long enough to navigate Erin Hills and still score competitively.
Lowry, like Sergio, is a great all-around player off the tee. He’s 28th in driving accuracy percentage and 68th in driving distance, which places him around the upper third of the field. Lowry’s decent with his putter, and sits just seven spots behind Dustin Johnson in strokes gained putting.
Lowry’s also proven he can contend at this event. He’s had back-to-back top 10s at the U.S. Open in 2015 and 2016, and last year at Oakmont Lowry started Sunday with a four-shot lead in the final group.
Scott: Kevin Kisner
Jon Rahm doesn’t count as a sleeper anymore, so I’ve got my eye on Kisner, currently going off at 63-1, via Vegas Insider. Not to be a broken record, but Kisner has one thing going for him this week that I like: He is accurate off the tee, currently ranked 12th on tour. I just don’t think you’ll be able to compete this weekend if you can’t keep the ball out of the long stuff. If Kisner can keep it out of the long stuff, he can hang around.
Getty ImagesSam Greenwood
Which favorites will disappoint?
Bacon: Dustin Johnson
While I think it’s his tournament to lose (I wrote so a day ago), I think he has so much going on outside the ropes that I could see his focus, maybe for the first time in his career, wane as the week goes by.
Chase: Dustin Johnson
It's all relative. For some players, a T20 would be a wonderful achievement. For Johnson it'd be a tremendous letdown — anything short of Sunday contention will be a disappointment for the reigning champion.
Schwartz: Jordan Spieth
Spieth has had a feast-or-famine type of year on tour so far. He was dominant in early 2017, recording four consecutive top 10s and a win in Pebble Beach, but has missed two cuts in his last four events, and three of his last seven.
He generally seems like a safe bet in any tournament, but Spieth hasn’t been as good on the greens in 2017 (40th in strokes gained putting from the guy once regarded as the best putter in golf), isn’t particularly long, and most importantly, is 127th in driving accuracy and susceptible to losing his swing at times. If that happens on Thursday or Friday, we might not see Spieth on the weekend.
Scott: Dustin Johnson
I’ll probably regret this, but I’m not in love with Johnson this week, for the reasons I keep mentioning. He may mash the ball farther than anyone, but he’s hitting fairways just 55 percent of the time this season. I don’t care how strong you are; if you get in that fescue, it’s over.