2023 U.S. Open: Picking a Winner Between Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy & Scottie Scheffler on Sunday

2023 U.S. Open: Picking a Winner Between Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy & Scottie Scheffler on Sunday article feature image

Via David Cannon/Getty Images. Pictured: Rickie Fowler of The United States plays his second shot on the first hole during the third round of the 123rd U.S. Open Championship at The Los Angeles Country Club on June 17, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

LOS ANGELES – Following the third round of this 123rd U.S. Open, I had the opportunity to interview the top-five players on the current leaderboard for the U.S. Open radio coverage.

Here’s the Cliffs Notes version of what they each said:

Rickie Fowler (+275) feels more comfortable on the course this week than he has at any event in a long time – non-majors included.

Wyndham Clark (+300) thinks another round with his friend Fowler will help his comfort level in an unfamiliar situation.

Rory McIlroy (+225) will be trying to stay in the moment, rather than thinking about winning his first major in nine years.

Scottie Scheffler (+400) is hoping to feed off the momentum of his eagle-birdie finish, and Harris English (+4000) is going to continue reminding himself that he loves playing difficult golf courses.

Unfortunately, though, none of ‘em told me who was going to win.

I’ll finally chalk up the L on my week-long Cameron Smith support (though I have a feeling he plays well enough to tease us as to what might’ve been), and I don’t think I’m enticed to have much belief in Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele or anyone else five or more strokes off the lead.

That leaves those aforementioned five contenders, though obviously some are more appealing than others.

Clark, tied for the lead at 10-under, has been really impressive not only on the course, but also in the way he’s carried himself. It doesn’t look like the moment is too big for him, and he’s a dude who’s brimming with confidence. That said, it’s tough to imagine that a golfer who didn’t finish better than T75 in his first six major appearances can suddenly topple some of the game’s best players.

English, at 6-under and four back, struggled during Saturday’s home stretch, making bogey on four of his final eight holes. It’s similarly tough to envision him chasing down those ahead in what would have to be a round of 68, at the very worst.

That leaves three remaining contenders for the title.

Now, I know you came here in hopes that I’d gaze into my crystal ball and offer my five-star super-lock of the weekend, but I’m sorry to disappoint you. Instead, I’ll try to help you come to your own conclusion.

If you’re looking to play a live outright entering this final round, the decision-making process might be less about which player you like the best and more about which metric you believe is most important.

On approach shots, Scheffler has the advantage. While much has been made about his switch to a slightly different putter this week, which has resulted in three consecutive positive putting rounds, once again his irons have done the loudest talking, as he ranks third in the entire field on approach shots – more than a half-shot per round better than Fowler and twice as proficient as McIlroy’s number.

If you think this one is coming down to chipping and putting, though, Fowler is the man. He’s well ahead of the other two in both strokes gained around the greens and putting, combining to gain 2.72 strokes per round in these two categories over the first three days.

Again, it might come down to which metric you trust the most to help one of these players to the title.

If you do want a more actionable play, though, check out the straight forecast market on bet365. Rickie to beat Rory is +650, Rory to beat Scottie is +1400, and Scottie to beat Rickie is +2000. It’s a little bit of a guessing game, but narrowing our selections down to these three contenders should offer at least an educated guess toward which one might cash.

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