W2W4: Best bets for second half of U.S. Open

The top three ranked players in the world missed the cut at the U.S. Open and will get the weekend off. Who will step up in their place? Let's take a look at a few possibilities.

I really like Rickie Fowler's position entering the weekend. Not sure if you've heard this before, but it's really hard to win a major. Also, Fowler has never won one. And it's especially difficult to win a first major when you're the rabbit, setting the pace for the opening two days.

Fowler goes into the third round knowing he got away with having something less than his best stuff on Friday, but he's just 1 shot off the lead after 36 holes. Most observers will see his drop from the top spot on the first-round leaderboard and consider it a stumble, but that's a win right there. He doesn't have all the pressure on him, doesn't have the spotlight on him, but he's right in the thick of things.

Great place to be for a guy trying to win his first major.
-- Jason Sobel

There are 68 players who made the cut at the U.S. Open, but a whopping 42 of them are under par. And those 42 are within 6 shots of the lead held by Paul Casey, Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka.

While the lead remained at 7 under par, it sure seems that Erin Hills is giving up plenty of good scores. And that undoubtedly will change. Even with some rain forecast for overnight, look for a tougher test on Saturday, with tucked pins and a longer course.

Somebody might go low early, but not as many. And we'll have a very bunched leaderboard heading into the final round.
-- Bob Harig

No one is talking about him, but Sergio Garcia is still in this U.S. Open, and the ridiculous dream of a calendar Grand Slam is still alive. I know that sounds crazy, but if Garcia fires a 67 or 66 on Saturday, he'll be right in the mix. Watch for him to throw some darts and put some pressure on the leaders.
-- Kevin Van Valkenburg

If you're searching for a player a bit down the leaderboard to make a push, don't overlook Martin Kaymer. He outplayed his playing partners, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, during the first 36 holes, and he obviously knows how to win majors (2010 PGA Championship, 2014 U.S. Open). Kaymer is 4 strokes off a lead held by four men who've never won a big one. That's what you call doable.
-- Ian O'Connor

Watch for Mother Nature to throw her hat in the ring Saturday. And why not? So far at this year's U.S. Open, we've seen a blimp crash near Erin Hills, an E-coli scare, and a 94-year-old spectator die at the course. Sergio Garcia might shoot 63 on Saturday and give himself a chance to win the first two majors of the year, but everyone here at the course will be waiting for a plague of locusts or frogs at that point! Please, let Sergio get near the lead for Sunday...
-- Michael Collins