Eliminate all but Jason Day


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

Golfers Eliminated:
Daniel Berger
Lucas Bjerregaard
Zac Blair
Jonas Blixt
Anthony Broussard
Brian Campbell
Donald Constable
Graham DeLaet
Matthew Dobyns
Andrew Dorn
Victor Dubuisson
Andres Echavarria
Harris English
Oliver Fisher
Matthew Fitzpatrick
Oliver Goss
Cody Gribble
Simon Griffiths
Will Grimmer
Billy Hurley III
Shiv Kapur
Smylie Kaufman
Max Kieffer
Hyung Sung Kim
Kevin Kisner
Pablo Larrazabal
Kyoung-Hoon Lee
Tom Lewis
Wen-Chong Liang
Nicholas Lindheim
Joost Luiten
Nick Mason
Brandon McIver
Maverick McNealy
Sam Love
Kiyoshi Miyazato
Garth Mulroy
Henrik Norlander
Rob Oppenheim
Andrea Pavan
Aron Price
Clayton Rask
Patrick Reed
Jim Renner
Robby Shelton
Brett Stegmaier
Hunter Stewart
Justin Thomas
Chris Thompson
Brendon Todd
Brady Watt
Cory Whitsett
Bernd Wiesberger
Danny Willett

2. Nobody 38 or older has won the U.S. Open since Payne Stewart in 1999: 36 eliminated, 66 remaining

Golfers Eliminated:
Steven Alker
Robert Allenby
Craig Barlow
Angel Cabrera
Alex Cejka
Stewart Cink
Darren Clarke
Jamie Donaldson
Ken Duke
Ernie Els
Niclas Fasth
Jim Furyk
Stephen Gallacher
Retief Goosen
Thongchai Jaidee
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Zach Johnson
Justin Leonard
Jeff Maggert
Phil Mickelson
Joe Ogilvie
Rod Pampling
Kenny Perry
Ian Poulter
Fran Quinn
John Senden
Henrik Stenson
Steve Stricker
Kevin Sutherland
Toru Taniguchi
David Toms
Bo Van Pelt
Boo Weekley
Lee Westwood
Mark Wilson
Y.E. Yang

3. The past six major winners were ranked 21st or better in the World Golf Rankings: 52 eliminated, 14 remaining

Golfers Eliminated:
Aaron Baddeley
Ryan Blaum
Keegan Bradley
Paul Casey
Roberto Castro
Chad Collins
Nicolas Colsaerts
Erik Compton
Brendon de Jonge
Chris Doak
Matt Every
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
Rickie Fowler
Bobby Gates
Lucas Glover
David Gossett
Luke Guthrie
Bill Haas
Russell Henley
J.B. Holmes
Billy Horschel
Matt Jones
Martin Kaymer
Chris Kirk
Brooks Koepka
Scott Langley
Shane Lowry
Hunter Mahan
Graeme McDowell
Francesco Molinari
Ryan Moore
Kevin Na
Seung Yul Noh
Geoff Ogilvy
David Oh
Louis Oosthuizen
Ryan Palmer
D.A. Points
Marcel Siem
Webb Simpson
Brandt Snedeker
Kevin Stadler
Graeme Storm
Kevin Streelman
Brian Stuard
Hudson Swafford
Kevin Tway
Nick Watney
Cameron Wilson
Casey Wittenberg
Gary Woodland
Azuma Yano

4. The past five U.S. Open winners had never previously won a major: six eliminated, eight remaining

Golfers Eliminated: 
Jason Dufner
Rory McIlroy
Justin Rose
Charl Schwartzel
Adam Scott
Bubba Watson

5. Three of the past four U.S. Open winners had a top-10 finish at the latest PGA Championship: six eliminated, two remaining

Golfers Eliminated:
Luke Donald
Sergio Garcia
Matt Kuchar
Hideki Matsuyama
Jordan Spieth
Jimmy Walker

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