11 Jun 2024

U.S. Open Preview – Who will claim the year’s third Major?

The third Major of men’s schedule gets underway this month with Pinehurst No.2 welcoming golf’s biggest names for the fourth time in U.S. Open history. 

The USGA has a habit of ensuring U.S. Open courses are extremely punishing – often pushing fans and players to their limit – and if history is anything to go by, Pinehurst No.2 will offer another stern test for the game’s elite. 

When Payne Stewart won the first U.S. Open to be staged at Pinehurst in 1999 the American was the only player to finish under par for the week. Six years later, when Michael Campbell won his first and only Major Championship, none of the field finished under par. 

But Martin Kaymer bucked the trend in 2014, finishing the tournament on nine under par to become the first player from continental Europe to win the prestigious championship. Will the course bite back this month?

The Favourite: Scottie Scheffler
Scheffler won his fifth title of the year last week

It’s hard to look past the current World No. 1 as a winner this week with the American enjoying yet another triumph at last week’s Memorial tournament. He simply looks unstoppable.

Now with five wins to his name in just 2024 alone, the 27-year-old’s dominance is slowly starting to be compared to the great Tiger Woods. He’s also the first player to head to the U.S. Open with 5+ PGA Tour wins including a Major that season since Arnold Palmer in 1962.

We’ve had dominance in spurts over the years – think Jordan Spieth back in 2015 – but Scheffler just feels different and his high level is now verging on two years. If he was to win this week and claim his third Major, we are already comfortably looking at one of the best to ever play the game.

The Rest Of The Field
Schauffele became a Major winner last month with his PGA victory

It’s starting to feel most weeks like it’s Scheffler vs the entire field at the moment. Who from below him could break out and possibly pose a threat to his dominance?

This obvious candidate is Xander Schauffele following his recent PGA Championship triumph last month, with the victory hopefully giving him another boost of confidence to take him to the next level. It’s rare that players win back-to-back Majors, but he’s playing very well with another T-8 finish last week.

Aside from that, Collin Morikawa has returned to form and is seemingly not far behind every week now on the PGA Tour. The two-time Major champion appears to have found his game again and is now back to No. 7 in the world rankings.

And what about McIlroy? The Northern Irishman is also playing well lately, but playing well isn’t enough when Scheffler is playing unbelievable. He’ll need to find some magic of his own to clinch the fifth Major of his career this week.

Is Garcia’s U.S. Open Streak Over?

Garcia’s U.S. Open streak continues this week

For the first time since 1999, it looked like Sergio Garcia might not tee it up at the U.S. Open. The Spaniard looked to have his place at Pinehurst all but secured standing on the 16th tee, his 34th hole of the mammoth day, in Final Qualifying day at Dallas Athletic Club, but a disastrous double bogey saw him shoot a second round 73. 

That left the former Masters champion in a seven-man elimination playoff for the final six spots in the field. Pretty good odds for someone of Garcia’s talents, right? Unfortunately for the 44 year old, he was the only one of the seven to make bogey on the first extra hole, leaving him without a ticket to the U.S. Open for the first time in 25 years.

However, the only silver lining for Garcia was the fact he’s a first alternate for the tournament, and this has meant he’s qualified for the event at the very last minute. The Ryder Cup great will now compete in his 25th consecutive U.S. Open, which ties him for 10th on the all-time list.

UAE Interest

Meronk lives in Dubai and often practices at the Els Club or JGE

There could have been UAE-born player in the field at Pinehurst if Josh Hill came through Final Qualifying at the beginning of the month. The former Dubai resident, who is in his sophomore year at the University of Tennessee, carded a four under par 68 in Local Qualifying at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Silver Lakes to finish in share of second and secure one of the five places available in Final Qualifying. 

However, he was unable to progress from Final Qualifying so the UAE interest now lies on the shoulders of Poland’s Adrian Meronk who is in good form on LIV Golf. The 31-year-old made the switch to the Saudi-backed circuit earlier this year, and was part of the winning team last week alongside Martin Kaymer, Kalle Samooja and Richard Bland.

Robert Rock Returns

Rock famously beat Tiger Woods to clinch the Abu Dhabi Championship

Robert Rock returned to competitive golf for the first time in almost two years to secure his U.S. Open spot via Walton Heath’s Final Qualifying.

The Englishman, who held off Tiger Woods to win the 2012 Abu Dhabi Championship, carded rounds of 69-66 to secure one of nine spots available at Pinehurst.

“It’s difficult to describe, I really didn’t have any thoughts of qualifying,” said Rock, who stepped away from the DP World Tour to focus on his academy in 2022. “I thought it was my last chance of playing this event and a good opportunity to see where my game was having been out of it for a couple of years.

“I wasn’t sure I could play two rounds, I’ve been playing mostly nine holes and then the back nine has hurt because my back isn’t the best at the moment. I was struggling on the back nine. Thankfully my mate came to push the trolley. I didn’t think I’d make 36, but it’s amazing what making a few putts does.”

Share this article
Swing Sequence

Wyndham Clark Swing Sequence

By Jonathan Craddock, PGA Professional, Pete Cowen Academy One of the...

Xander Schauffele swing sequence

By Jonathan Craddock, PGA Professional, Pete Cowen Academy Xander Schauffele has...

Related articles

Upbeat McIlroy Ready for US Open After Marital Reconciliation

Rory McIlroy’s upbeat mindset ahead of this week’s US Open at...

Surviving Summer – How Courses Cope With The Heat

Words: Will Kent Photography: Provided by Stuart & Getty Images The...

Kiaan Keeps On Winning – UAE’s Latest Jnr Star

Photography & words by Will Kent Eight-year-old Kiaan Maharaj has become...

Gaudet rings the changes for women’s golf

Elisa Gaudet, Founder of Women’s Golf Day, talks exclusively to Rick...

Masters Green Jacket Thief Charged

A former warehouse assistant at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia...

Rory McIlroy files for divorce, but his golf game has never looked better.

In a surprising turn of events, Rory McIlroy has reportedly filed...