The greatest test in all of golf is also one of its most fair. With a little luck and a whole lot of skill, you (but certainly not me) could go out and qualify for the U.S. Open through local and sectional qualifying rounds.
You might see your local club pro teeing it off with a chance to put their name alongside some of the legends of golf. It's a realistic chance to live out a golf fantasy and rise above the greatest golfers in the world.
So the U.S. Open field lends itself to names even the most dedicated golf fan has never seen before. If anybody tells you they are well-acquainted with Smylie Kaufman or Maverick McNealy, they're either a dirty, rotten liar or a blood relative of either.
This week, you're going to see a lot of picks for winners. Some will play a hunch and go with their gut, others will consult some stats. Many, out of habit, will continue to pick Tiger Woods.
But that's not how I do it. Instead of picking a sole winner, I go another route. Based on history, statistics and trends, I will tell you why 155 of the golfers cannot pull off the victory. By process of elimination, that leaves just one, making him the surefire winner.
I call it The Eliminator. Let's get down to business.
First of all, the U.S. Open is a unique test, and some experience is necessary. In fact, nobody has won in his first U.S. Open start since 1913, when Francis Ouimet pulled it off. We'll take out the 54 first-timers in this year's field.
Next up, let's take into account that this is a grueling test. In fact, the past 14 U.S. Open winners have all been 37 or younger, dating back to Payne Stewart's win in 1999, also at Pinehurst. Let's take out the 36 in the field who are 38 or older, including Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson.
I like an elite golfer this weekend, because that's how majors have been trending. Each of the past six major champions has been ranked 21st or better in the World Golf Rankings. That'll lop off a good chunk of the field, 52 in all, leaving us with 14.
Despite the elite golfers remaining, I'm going to take someone who's never tasted major victory. Each of the last five U.S. Open champions had never previously won a major. That'll trim another six off the field, guys like Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and the world's No. 1, Adam Scott.
Let's take another six off with this nugget. Three of the past four U.S. Open winners had a top-10 finish at the latest PGA Championship. We lose guys such as Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar, leaving just two.
Finally, it doesn't take a guy with boatloads of wins to win the U.S. Open. In fact, each of the past five U.S. Open champions entered the event with four or fewer career PGA TOUR wins. Dustin Johnson and his eight wins is out, which leaves us with just one.
This weekend, I'm going with a guy who's finished second in two of his three career U.S. Open starts, and is ready to move up one spot. Give me Jason Day.
Remember, the numbers don't lie.
The Eliminator -- step by step:
1. Nobody has won in his first U.S. Open start since Francis Ouimet in 1913: 54 eliminated, 102 remaining
Billy Hurley III
Hyung Sung Kim
2. Nobody 38 or older has won the U.S. Open since Payne Stewart in 1999: 36 eliminated, 66 remaining
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Bo Van Pelt
3. The past six major winners were ranked 21st or better in the World Golf Rankings: 52 eliminated, 14 remaining
Brendon de Jonge
Seung Yul Noh
4. The past five U.S. Open winners had never previously won a major: six eliminated, eight remaining
5. Three of the past four U.S. Open winners had a top-10 finish at the latest PGA Championship: six eliminated, two remaining
6. The past five U.S. Open champions entered the event with four or fewer career PGA TOUR wins: one eliminated, one remaining
Golfer Eliminated: Dustin Johnson
2014 U.S. Open Champion: Jason Day