GOLF.com conducts a weekly roundtable with its staff to break down the game’s hottest topics. And since it’s U.S. Open week, we are answering one burning question each night. Check in every Sunday evening for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation by tweeting us @golf_com.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club had the last laugh on Thursday on Long Island. Thick fescue, strong winds and tricky greens toyed with the best golfers in the world as one star after another signed a scorecard with one too many squares and not enough circles. A fraction of the damage: Phil Mickelson 77, Tiger Woods 78, Jon Rahm 78, Jordan Spieth 78, Jason Day 79 and Rory McIlroy 80. Which star has the best chance to rebound on Friday and get back into the mix?
Josh Sens: I would say Tiger Woods. Because no one grinds like him. He survived that disaster triple bogey start to play some solid golf for a lot of the day. I expect him to build on those positives Friday and will his way toward a bounce-back round.
Dylan Dethier: Tiger Woods. When he’s been going good, then he goes bad. When he’s been going bad, then he goes good. I’m not sure I have a more fact-based explanation than that but I don’t expect him to fade into missed-cutville without a fight, and I’d expect we’ll see some of the good ball-striking without (as many of) the big numbers come Friday morning.
Alan Shipnuck: Tiger did play beautifully in the middle of his round but it’s tough to win a U.S. Open with two doubles and a triple, and he did all of that in his first 13 holes. I’m gonna say Rory, because now all the pressure is off and he plays best when he freewheels it.
Jessica Marksbury: I’m going with Rory. His score of 80 today was shocking, and I can’t imagine we’ll see that again tomorrow. On the bright side, despite suffering three doubles, he also managed to snag three birdies. And we know he’s capable of getting it going when he has some momentum to build on (remember that back-nine charge to win at Bay Hill earlier this year)? So many players are over par that guys like Rory have to be thinking they’re still in this thing if they can post a good second round.
Jeff Ritter: Anybody but Scott Gregory. Poor guy. But from the stars, I’ll say Justin Thomas — if his 74 counts as brutal. He’s up for a fight, motivated to reclaim No. 1 and the course sets up well for his combo of tee-box power and clutch putting. He could make a few birdies Friday and jump right back into it.
Sean Zak: Considering DJ is among those they’re chasing, it’d have to be a rebound from someone with legit firepower. Sorry Phil. I think Jon Rahm is the guy for this task.
Josh Berhow: The player with the best chance to rebound is the player who can get hottest on the greens, and Jason Day is the best putter on Tour this season. He missed too many fairways and greens to give himself makable birdie chances Thursday, but if he gets a few more opportunities he can cash in.