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Who emerges, who fights and who wins on Sunday at the US Open

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BROOKLINE, Mass. — There has been drama at this US Open from the moment the players arrived on the property. Before it started, it wasn’t about golf. It was about the state of golf. Now, it’s all about golf, with a leaderboard that has a mix of stars, up-and-comers and a few contenders.

So what happens on Sunday? Our experts take your best photos.

Mark Schlabach: Before he struggled on the back nine, Scottie Scheffler would have said. He is the number 1 player in the world and has won more than any other player on tour this season. His game has slowed down a bit recently, but what happened during a five-hole stretch on Saturday, when he blew a two-shot lead and returned five shots, was pretty amazing. McIlroy ranks fifth on the PGA Tour in final round scoring average. He shot 62 on Sunday last week in a win at the RBC Canadian Open, 68 in the final round of the PGA Championship and 64 on Sunday at the Masters.

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Michael Collins: Jon Rahm still thinks he is number 1 in the world. He is the defending champion and he wants to do what Rory did last week, but for an even stronger field: remind them who is the best. And when he starts to “feel it,” he’ll putt looooong because that’s what he does.

Kevin VanValkenburg: Rahm. It hasn’t been the season we all thought it could be for Rahm, but he still has the most complete game of those three. The putter is warming up, finally. Scheffler and McIlroy can get irregular, and that includes making a lot of bogeys when things get off to a bad start. Rahm feels that he has learned to channel his anger into an extreme approach. If Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick slip, I think Rahm walks away with back-to-back US Opens.

Pablo Uggetti: Rahm is the safe answer here, but since my co-workers have explained why, I’ll try to defend McIlroy. It’s been an up and down week for the face of the PGA Tour, but the fact that he’s still only 3 shots away after overcoming several bad shots makes me think he’s not done yet. If nothing else, the 2011 US Open champion won’t stop making it interesting.

There are also plenty of players in the mix looking for that first major title. Who has the best chance of getting it?

Schlabach: I’ve been very impressed with Fitzpatrick’s development this year. He is playing with much more confidence and is more than capable of winning on Sunday. He won the US Amateur in 2013 at The Country, so he obviously likes the place. He tied for 14th at the Masters and tied for fifth at the PGA Championship. He doesn’t hit the ball very far, but he hits it straight and is great on and around the green.

Collins: Fitzpatrick. The weather will make you feel at home. He already won here. He will also understand that you don’t need perfect golf to win. He is a patient player, and that is what wins tournaments like this in really challenging conditions.

VanValkenburg: Zalatoris. He was my pick at the start of the week, and I’m sticking with him, although I’ve been very impressed with Fitzpatrick. Zalatoris has an obvious weakness, his putt, but he never seems to be afraid of the moment with his ball shot.

Uggetti: Zalatoris feels that he deserves it. The guy has come this close more than a few times and has the game to play in tough conditions. The putt looks — uh, it’s working — better, and that may be enough to finally put him on top.

Which name in the ranking do you trust the least?

Schlabach: Nick Hardy, who played in Illinois, has a very bright future in golf. He is not quite ready for this stage. The qualifier has been a great story, but he returned 3 shots on Saturday, and will probably return a few more on Sunday.

Collins: Adam Hadwin. Toronto is my favorite city. But even in the Canadian climate, I don’t trust a Canadian to win the US Open this year. Sorry for all my Tim Horton peeps.

VanValkenburg: Apologies Canada, but my answer is Adam Hadwin. It would be a great story, but I don’t see it.

Uggetti: Sorry, not sorry for the Greater Boston area, but Keegan Bradley isn’t getting the storybook ending. At least he had the euphoric walk on Saturday the 18th, which he described as one of the best moments of his life. How can you overcome that?

The Country Club really showed its teeth on Saturday. What is that in mind, what is the winning score?

Schlabach: I’d be surprised if Zalatoris, Fitzpatrick and Rahm break out on Sunday, so I’ll go 6-under. Conditions were quite tricky on Saturday as the wind was howling and the greens were slippery. Forecasts call for high temperatures below 60 degrees on Sunday. It’s going to feel more like the Open Championship.

Collins: I think 2 low wins. The conditions will be the toughest of the whole week. Cold temperatures make it much more difficult to judge how far a ball will fly out of the rough. With that in mind, the man with the fewest battle scars will win.

VanValkenburg: I go with 5 bass. It’s going to be cold on Sunday. We may not see the wind that we saw on Saturday, but the ball is not going to fly. There will be potential to move up the rankings like Justin Thomas did at the PGA Championship, but I think 68 might be the best score out there. Anyone 1 below or better is on this.

Uggetti: Give me a par-par winning round on Sunday from one of the two guys at 4-under. It’s going to get colder and the wind may not die down. The course is getting browner, and there is a good chance that we will continue to witness the carnage that we saw on Saturday night.

Ok, so who wins?

Schlabach: I picked Shane Lowry to win, and the Irishman missed the cut. I have a feeling Zalatoris finally pulls it off. He’s been one of the best players in the world since runner-up at the 2021 Masters. He’s been knocking on doors at every major, and it’s his time (as long as his putter holds up). .

Collins: Jon Rahm defends his title.

VanValkenburg: Zalatoris. We get some shaky putts down the stretch, but also some irons that are absolutely stark. McIlroy will make a short run that sends The Country Club into a frenzy, but eventually Zalatoris cuts Rahm to win his first major.

Uggetti: I’m sticking with Fitzpatrick, if only for some variety and the neat plot of booking his 2013 US Amateur win with a US Open win at the same venue nine years later. He is even staying in the same house!

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