US Open 2021: Preview

Bryson DeChambeau will attempt to defend his US Open title as golf’s third Major championship of the 2021 season heads to Torrey Pines in California. Here’s everything you need to know.

The tournament will be played between June 17-20 at the South Course in San Diego. DeChambeau won the event last time out in September when it was moved forward in the calendar due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Overpowering Winged Foot in New York, he romped home six shots clear to claim the first Major of his career.

Who are the favourites?

DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, who finished second at the PGA in May, will once again be in the conversation due to their length of the tee, however most fancy Spain‘s Jon Rahm as the man to beat. Though he’ll have to respond to having an overdue PGA Tour title ripped from his grasp less than two weeks ago when he was forced to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament at the end of the third round on a six-shot lead due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Rory McIlroy’s bid to end his Major drought continues. He won his first at this event ten years ago but has failed to add to his four Majors since 2014. McIlroy holds the US Open lowest 72-hole score of 268, winning the 2011 US Open at Congressional Country Club in Maryland with a 16-under total. Others to watch are Viktor Hovland, who finished second on this course back in January at the Farmers Insurance Open, alongside Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau.

Eye-catching pairings

The rivalry between Americans DeChambeau and Koepka could play out with the pair winning three of the last four US Opens. The duo have been in an ongoing feud over the past couple of years which has increased in recent weeks, although DeChambeau has called it “banter”. Unfortunately, they won’t be playing together on the first couple of days.

Koepka has been paired with Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas, while DeChambeau will play with Hideki Matsuyama and Tyler Strafaci. Other top groups include world no.1 Dustin Johnson playing with McIlroy and Justin Rose, while world no. 3 Rahm will play with Patrick Reed and Marc Leishman.

Phil’s Grand Slam

With Tiger Woods still absent following his car accident, all eyes will be on Phil Mickelson who will once again attempt to complete the career grand slam of winning all four Majors. He has agonizingly finished runner-up six times at this event.

Off the back of becoming the oldest Major champion in history at the PGA in May, a win for ‘Lefty’ would be even more remarkable than that incredible achievement. Mickelson has won the Farmers Insurance Open here three times, but he has had only one top 10 in his last 12 starts at Torrey Pines.

Torrey Pines South Course

Torrey Pines is a regular stop on the PGA Tour for the Farmers Insurance Open, won by Patrick Reed by five strokes on 14-under-par back in January. Other players to win that event at Torrey Pines in recent years are Marc Leishman, Justin Rose, Jason Day and Jon Rahm. But those wins won’t be much of a predictor as the USGA will set the course up much harder for the US Open.

DeChambeau’s length off the tee and his ‘bomb-and-gouge’ approach served him well at Winged Foot, and it could well be the case again. But while strokes gained off the tee is a big indicator of success here, the ability to handle the unpredictable Poa annua greens should not be underestimated. Good putts could finish 10 feet from the hole.

The rough will be punishing and there will be a Pacific breeze to cope with, and in a repeat of the 2008 US Open, the par-5 6th will be converted to a long par 4, meaning the course will play to a brutally tough par 71 at a monstrous 7,652 yards.

Will there be fans?

The USGA have confirmed that a limited number of fans will be admitted, but only on the condition that they show proof that they’ve received a Covid-19 vaccine.

What is the tournament format?

It’s a stroke-play event, with the starting field of 156 golfers cut after 36 holes to the low 60 scorers (and ties). In the event of a tie after 72 holes, a two-hole aggregate play-off will take place following the completion of Sunday’s final round.

What is the total purse and how much does the winner get?

The total purse for this year’s US Open is $12.5 million. This matches the event’s purse from last year. The winner takes home $2.25 million; second gets $1.35 million; third $861,457. Even those who miss the cut win $10,000.

Who has the most wins?

The most wins in the US Open is four. This record is shared by four men: Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus. Tiger Woods has won it three times.

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