Sarah Stirk: Koepka looking very strong as world's top three depart

Sarah is sticking with one of her pre-tournament picks Brooks Koepka ahead of Moving Day
Sarah is sticking with one of her pre-tournament picks Brooks Koepka ahead of Moving Day
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There are a number of high profile absentees - including the world's top three - at the halfway stage of the US Open at Erin Hills, but Sky Sports' Sarah Stirk is still liking the chances of one of her pre-tournament picks...


"Keopka played the US amateur here in 2011 and there's definitely a comfort factor on the course. He's also finished inside the top 20 in the last three US Opens and mentally says he thrives on the challenge the majors present."

It's been a big surprise to see the world's top three miss the cut at Erin Hills. Less of a surprise for Rory McIlroy given how little he's played this year due to injury but for Jason Day and Dustin Johnson it was a course tailor made for them both.

Butch Harmon - Dustin's coach - cites probably just a bit of a lack of focus given the world number one has just become a father for the second time.

The top of the leaderboard is extremely tight and it looks like we could see a first time major winner. I'm still liking my pre-tournament pick Brooks Keopka. His game matches up so well to this layout as he's a long hitter but he's also putting beautifully this week.

I spoke to Brooks post round yesterday and he's sounding so confident. He's also been really motivated by his good friend DJ and if he's right in the mix come late Sunday I really do expect him to step up to the plate. Keopka played the US amateur here in 2011 and there's definitely a comfort factor on the course. He's also finished inside the top 20 in the last three US Opens and mentally says he thrives on the challenge the majors present.

Koepka also said at the start of this week if it gets really firm this course could get a little unfair. We are not seeing typical US Open conditions and it's still fairly soft and with rain in the forecast today and overnight it's unlikely to get really firm and fast over the weekend. I think that plays into Koepka's hands and also Paul Casey's.

The Englishman is in such a good place mentally and even a triple bogey eight in round two couldn't derail him. He responded with five straight birdies from the 17th to keep right in the thick of things. The dangerous thing for the rest of the contenders as far as Casey is concerned is how sharp his wedge play and putting is. Ball striking has never been an issue but with every facet working well, he's a huge threat.

Jordan Spieth predicted 5-10 under par would win and this is looking very good. Pins will get tougher over the weekend but with soft conditions birdies are out there. It's a tight leaderboard and there are two par 5's down the stretch so expect late drama on Sunday. Koepka or Casey for me and I'm hoping it's the former!


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