Can Dustin Johnson top Brooks Koepka at the U.S. Open?

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May 28th, 2019

After securing his second straight PGA Championship on May 19, Brooks Koepka is set to play another major tournament he’s already claimed back-to-back. In 2017 and 2018 Koepka won the U.S. Open at Erin Hills and Shinnecock Hills, respectively, to spark what is now a streak of four major titles since the 2017 season.

Should Koepka win at Pebble Beach Golf Links June 13-16, he will become just the second golfer to win the U.S. Open in three consecutive tries. The last to do so was Willie Anderson, who won the tournament from 1903-05 at Baltusrol Golf Club, Glen View Club and Myopia Hunt Club.

The newly crowned No. 1 golfer in the world is the clear-cut frontrunner to win at Pebble Beach, with odds listed at +650. The second favorite and world No. 2, Dustin Johnson (+800), came up two strokes short from taking Koepka into a playoff in the PGA. He also lost his spot atop the world rankings as a result.

Koepka may look like an easy bet, considering his form in the 2019 season. Since March he’s earned four top-five finishes. He did, however, miss the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in mid-March, placed 56th at the Players Championship the following week and 22nd at the Zurich Classic, a team event Koepka played with his brother, Chase Koepka.

While he’ll likely perform well at Pebble Beach, his good friend Dustin Johnson is far more experienced with the course and has enjoyed quite a bit of success on the Monterey Peninsula.

Past Performances at Pebble Beach

In his only appearance in the tournament, Koepka finished eighth at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which is played on three courses: Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Monterey Peninsula Country Club and Pebble Beach Golf Links. Johnson has won at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am twice (2009 and 2010), finished second in 2014 and 2018, third in 2017, fourth in 2015, fifth in 2012 and seventh in 2008. The last time the U.S. Open was held at Pebble Beach, Johnson was the 54-hole leader but finished eighth.

Just looking at 2019, Johnson’s form has been more consistent than Koepka’s. If you throw out his 28th-place finish at the RBC Heritage in April, Johnson has finished in the top 10 in every tournament since the Genesis Open in February. He won the WGC-Mexico Championship, finished fifth at the Players, sixth at Valspar and tied for second at the Masters (with Koepka) before his runner-up finish in the PGA.

Looking at strokes gained tee to green, proximity to the hole around the green and scrambling, Johnson fares much better than Koepka. It’s time for Johnson to step back into the forefront and reclaim glory over his closest competitor. Look for DJ to have a solid shot at securing his second major championship, but if nothing else, he’ll top his friend in the third major of the year.

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