The 121st U.S. Open will tee off tonight comprising a field of 156 elite players. The US open is one of the four majors which brings together recent champions and leading players in the world rankings. With a purse of $12.5 million, it is the most lucrative among all the majors. Here are some interesting storylines to look out for in the next four days:
What awaits the players at the tough-playing Torrey Pines course?
The Torrey Pines South course will host the US open for the first time since that famous 2008 win by Tiger Woods. There has been a lot of talk about the course set up in the build up to this event largely focusing on the difficulty posed by the thick rough at the 7,652 yards par 71 public golf course. Though it plays host to the annual Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour, the set-up has been ratcheted to make it more difficult to suit the US Open profile. It has varying lies on the thick kikuyu rough and unpredictable poa annua greens. Though it is widely believed that the course set up favours long-hitters, it has bunkers everywhere and the greens are not elevated thus giving an opportunity to shorter hitters to run shots up to them, even out of the rough. During the 2008 U.S. Open, the winning score was one under par.
Will Phil Mickelson finally complete the coveted career grand slam?
This is perhaps the biggest moment in Phil Mickelson career who turned 51 yesterday. Mickelson who shocked the golf world last month when against all odds he won the PGA Championship, desperately needs victory at Torrey Pines to complete a career grand slam. The US Open has remained elusive for Lefty since 2010 and he enters the event for the first time in a favourite position having won a major championship. He has six career second-place finishes at the U.S. Open and has managed 10 top 10s at the US Open since 1995. Only five players. Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have clinched all the four Majors. If he wins, at 51 years, Lefty will be the oldest player to win the US Open. The current record is held by Hale Irwin, who won the 1990 U.S. Open at Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill., when he was 45 years and 15 days old.
Can DeChambeau successfully defend the title?
Bryson DeChambeau is seeking to attain the rare feat of successfully defending the US Open title. Brooks Koepka did it in 2017 and 2018 to become the first player to achieve the feat since Curtis Strange’s exploits in 1988 and 1989. DeChambeau produced an astonishing display at the 2020 US Open outdriving the field to post an impressive six-shot victory, the only golfer at Winged Foot to finish under par. Since then, DeChambeau has only managed a T38 in a major championship this year and just one top-10 finish in his last six starts. Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus hold the record for most U.S. Open victories, each winning four.
Who are the favourites to win the US Open 2021?
According to pundits, one of the men listed below will emerge victorious. The prediction is predicated on current form and history, more so on performance at past US Open championships and other majors:
- Jon Rahm (T3 in 2019): He has seven top-10 finishes in his last 19 major championship starts including T5 at the Masters in April and T8 at the PGA Championship in May. Rahm has won a Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines before and is currently in great form. He’s yet to win a major championship.
- Bryson DeChambeau: The 2020 champion will be relying on distance and power-play play to tame the Torrey Pines course as he did the winged foot at last year’s Open. He hasn’t finished in the top 30 of either of 2021’s major championships
- Brooks Koepka (Won in 2017, 2018): Koepka boasts of four top 10s in his last seven U.S. Open starts and 13 top 10s in his last 20 major starts. He is also enjoying a good run of form after recovering from a knee surgery. He finished T2 last month at the PGA Championship. Only four golfers — Woods (3), Hale Irwin (3), Ben Hogan (4), Jack Nicklaus (4) — have won more U.S. Opens than Koepka has since World War II.
- Jordan Spieth (Won in 2015): Spieth does not have a top 25 at a U.S. Open since winning in 2015, and that remains his only top 10 ever at this tournament. Though he has had a good season including a T3 Masters finish, he’s been erratic off the tee and this will be a major determinant at the tough-playing Torey Pines course.
- Justin Thomas (T8 in 2020): J.T. has two top 10 finishes at this tournament in his last four starts and is top 15 in the world over the last few months from tee to green. He’s currently struggling with the putter.
- Xander Schauffele (T3 in 2019): Schauffele has four consecutive top 10s at the U.S. Open.
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