What the heck can we expect from struggling trio of DJ, Rory, Day at The Open?

by
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the Memorial, the trio of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day was atop the golfing world, with each man among the favorites to win the following week at the U.S. Open.

Just over one month later and the trio has combined for seven missed cuts in nine events, a truly staggering number given the talent of the three players.

Johnson, who remains the top-ranked player in the world, hasn't played since missing the cut at Erin Hills, opting to spend time with his newborn. McIlroy has suffered through one of the worst stretches of his career, and Day followed up U.S. Open disappointment with a shocking missed cut at the Travelers.

The trio remains among the most talented in the world, but given recent struggles, it's impossible to predict how the three will fare this week at Royal Birkdale.

But that's not going to stop us from guessing anyway, is it?

DJ

Event Finish
US Open MC
Memorial Tournament MC
Byron Nelson 13

With the absolute heater that Johnson has been on since winning the 2016 U.S. Open, it doesn't seem real that he's actually missed his last two cuts. After a shocking 78-74 start to the Memorial resulted in a missed cut, Johnson went 75-73 at Erin Hills in his U.S. Open title defense to miss the weekend. The 33-year-old recently added a second child to his family, and hasn't played since the U.S. Open over a month ago.

Despite his recent struggles, Johnson is still the betting favorite to win his second major at Royal Birkdale, and has shown he's capable of good numbers overseas in the past. Johnson has three top-10 showings at The Open in the last six years, including a ninth-place finish last year. The weather certainly won't be Johnson's friend this week, as the high-ball-hitting savant will have to contend with winds over 30 kilometers per hour throughout the four days.

Prediction: Will make the cut but finish outside the top 20 for the event.

Rory

Event Finish
Scottish Open MC
Irish Open MC
Travelers Championship 17
US Open MC

What the heck has happened to McIlroy?

In his past four events, the world No. 4 has more putter changes than cuts made. That seems unfathomable for a player of his ability, but the struggles on the green have been a massive issue for the Northern Irishman. This was never more evident than this past weekend at the Scottish Open, where McIlroy needed to make a six-footer for birdie on the 18th hole to make the cut. He never gave it a chance, pulling it well off line and crashing out of his second straight event.

There's been a ton of changes in McIlroy's life as he continues to recover following a rib injury, including marriage and a massive equipment deal that saw all 14 clubs in his bag switched to TaylorMade. McIlroy made the same change at the end of 2012, opting for Nike equipment over his Titleist clubs. He failed to win in 2013 before lighting the world on fire in 2014 with two major victories. It's impossible to predict how the superstar will finish at Royal Birkdale, but with nasty weather ahead, the high-ball-hitting McIlroy will have to turn in a great week on the greens to contend. That doesn't seem likely given his recent struggles.

Prediction: Will make the cut but finish outside the top 20 for the event.

Day

Event Finish
Travelers Championship MC
US Open MC
Memorial Tournament 15

Like Johnson, Day also comes to Royal Birkdale with two straight missed cuts, failing to make the weekend at both the U.S. Open and the Travelers Championship. While Johnson dominated the Tour before his recent struggles, Day hasn't performed at the elite level we've grown accustomed to as of late. Two top-10s in 13 events might be a solid number for most, but the former world No. 1 certainly won't be satisfied with that.

Day has plummeted from No. 1 in the world at the end of 2016 to No. 6 entering The Open. A fourth-place finish at the event in 2015 was an excellent showing, but Day hasn't cracked the top 20 in five other starts in the season's third major. Given his struggles this season, that number seems unlikely this week at Royal Birkdale.

Prediction: Misses the cut.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)