Golf: Five players to look out for at the US Open

(Clockwise from left) Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlory, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsumaya are the players to watch for the 2017 US Open.
(Clockwise from left) Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlory, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsumaya are the players to watch for the 2017 US Open.PHOTOS: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Los Angeles (AFP) - Here are the top five contenders for the 2017 US Open that starts at Erin Hills on June 15:

1) DUSTIN JOHNSON (US)


Dustin Johnson watches his tee shot on the 14th hole during the second round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 2, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Age - 32 World ranking: 1 Major titles: 1 (2016 US Open)

After his breakthrough US Open win last year, Johnson seemed poised to take a stranglehold on the men's game this season after scoring three PGA Tour victories and two top-10 finishes in the build-up to the Masters which helped him ascend to the top of the world rankings.

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But a freak back injury on the eve of the opening round in Augusta derailed his serene progress.

Nevertheless his big-hitting should ensure he is in contention on Erin Hills demanding par-72 layout, set to be the longest Major championship course in history.

2) RORY MCILROY (NORTHERN IRELAND)


Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot on the first hole during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship at the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 14, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Age - 28 World ranking - 2 Major titles: 4 (2011 US Open, 2014 British Open, 2012 and 2014 US PGA Championship.

The Northern Irishman's preparations for Erin Hills have been interrupted by a niggling rib and back injury which have curtailed his appearances on the PGA Tour.

McIlroy however is looking forward to returning to the Open, which was the scene of his maiden major championship triumph in 2011.

McIlroy also hopes to benefit from stability in his private life. He married Erica Stoll in a private ceremony in Ireland in April.

3) JORDAN SPIETH (US)


Jordan Spieth watches his tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 4, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Age - 23 World ranking - 6 Major titles: 2 (2015 Masters, US Open)

Spieth became the youngest US Open winner in 92 years at Chambers Bay in 2015, just two months after claiming the Masters.

The young Texan also went close in the British Open, but predictions of a Tiger Woods-style era of dominance proved premature.

A patchy 2016 was best remembered for his dramatic back-nine meltdown on the final day of the Masters when a five-shot lead evaporated.

Nevertheless, a solid start to 2017 began with three top-10 finishes before his first victory of the season at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

4) JON RAHM (SPAIN)


Jon Rahm of Spain watches his tee shot on the third hole during the first round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 1, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Age - 22 World ranking - 10 Major titles: 0

The big-hitting Spaniard has made a smooth transition to the professional game after an amateur career that included a 60-week spell at world No. 1.

He signalled his talent at the US Open at Oakmont last year when he tied for 23rd place while still an amateur.

His 2017 season began with a superb victory at the Farmers Insurance Open in January, when he rolled in a 60-foot eagle putt on the last to claim his first PGA Tour win.

Finished two behind winner Dustin Johnson at the WGC-Mexico Championship and also pushed the American all the way in the final of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

5) HIDEKI MATSUYAMA (JAPAN)


Hideki Matsuyama of Japan hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during the second round of the Memorial Tournament on June 2, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Age - 25 World ranking - 4 Major titles: 0

Matsuyama increasingly looks the likeliest bet to join South Korea's Yang Yong-Eun as the only Asian-born man to win a Major championship.

Matsuyama had a mixed record in the Majors in 2016, posting a seventh place finish at the Masters before missing the cuts at the US and British Opens.

He then earned a fourth place finish at the PGA Championship.

This season, he retained the Waste Management Phoenix Open with a play-off win over Webb Simpson and performed solidly at Augusta with an 11th place finish.