Golf

U.S. Open 2019: History says one of these 10 golfers will win major title

Golf

PEBBLE BEACH -- Through 36 holes at the 2019 U.S. Open, Pebble Beach hasn't played like a typical U.S. Open course. 

With help from a blazing hot putter, Gary Woodland fired a second-round 65 to take the solo lead at 9-under-par Friday at the iconic venue. He's two shots clear of Justin Rose, three ahead of Louis Oosthuizen and four ahead of Rory McIlroy and Aaron Wise. There are 45 players currently sitting at even par or better. 

It hasn't played like a typical U.S. Open, but that doesn't mean we can't look at history to tell us who likely will be lifting the hardware on the 18th green come Sunday. 

In 22 of the past 23 U.S. Opens, the winner has been inside the top six after the second round. Only Webb Simpson, who took home the title at Olympic Club in 2012, was outside the top six when moving day began. 

At the conclusion of Friday's round, there are 10 players tied for sixth or better: Woodland, Rose, Oosthuizen, McIlroy, Wise, Chez Reavie, Chesson Hadley, Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka and Matt Wallace. 

Now, to whittle that down even further, if you like, 21 of the past 23 champions also have been within two strokes of the lead after Friday. 

That, of course, leaves us with just Woodland and Rose, who will be Saturday's final pairing. 

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While history is a useful tool to try and predict the future, both Woodland and Rose have been boosted by their short game through two rounds. Woodland (7.16) and Rose (6.31) are first and third, respectively, in Strokes Gained: Putting through the first 36 holes. While both players have been wielding the flat stick with aplomb, neither have had the sharpest iron play. Woodland ranks 38th (1.73) and Rose ranks 76th (.13) in Strokes Gained: Approach after two rounds. Woodland did strike the ball well Friday, though, picking up 2.07 stokes on the field on approach. 

For comparison, two-time defending champion Koepka, who is five shots back, leads the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, picking up 5.82 strokes on the field with his irons. Kopeka, however, is ranked 117th in Strokes Gained: Putting, losing 1.32 strokes on the field when on the green. 

U.S. Open history appears to be favoring Woodland and Rose, but putting can flip in an instant. With the USGA no doubt preparing to toughen the course, the leaderboard could be in for a massive shake-up Saturday,