2021 U.S. Open Preview
Torrey Pines Golf Course (South) Par 71 7,643 yards
Previous Events Hosted
2008 U.S. Open
Farmers Insurance Open (Yearly)
Torrey Pines has two courses but for majors, the South Course is only used and is the harder of the two. It’s a traditional U.S. Open golf course with narrow fairways and long rough and also has some complex fast pua greens that will stress you out. But it still goes through many changes for these events. The course has gone through two redesigns in both 2001 and 2019. Just like Pebble Beach the setup for the U.S. Open is completely different from its PGA Tour event it hosts in the Farmers Insurance Open. It’s like a whole other golf course because it’s June and setup but course experience still matters.
Phil chasing the slam once again?
Last fall I wrote that Winged Foot was Phil Mickelson’s last chance to win a U.S. Open and complete the grand slam. Well after the incredible performance at the PGA Championship Mickelson comes in as a hyped-up favorite this week in his hometown with the chance of going back-to-back and winning the event that has alluded him his whole career.
13 years ago Tiger Woods pulled off one of the greatest moments in sports history when he won the 2008 U.S. Open with a torn ACL. With the U.S. Open returning to Torrey Pines the golf word remembers that historic tournament despite Woods not playing this week at a golf course he’s won at eight times in his career.
Bryson going for the repeat?
After dominating Winged Foot for his first ever major championship, Bryson DeChambeau looks to repeat this week.
Just like the Masters, Rickie Fowler is not playing this week as he failed to qualify but brighter things golf-wise may be ahead for Fowler.
Bryson vs Brooks?
The rivalry that has caught the golf world by storm comes to the U.S Open. It would only be poetic if they both got in the same paring for either round 3 or 4 or even where fighting for the U.S Open title come the back nine Sunday.
After testing positive for COVID-19 at the Memorial while leading and being forced to withdraw. Rahm comes into the U.S. Open as one of the favorites being cleared to play looking to finally win his first-ever major championship.
It seems like every U.S. Open the setup is always one of the main focuses. The USGA which runs the event has come under fire in the past for the way it set up golf courses for the players. Last year things went smoothly especially with John Bodenhamer running things setup-wise since 2019.
What About Length Off The Tee?
U.S. Open is kind to golfers who can hit it far off the tee and that won’t change this week giving an advantage to those big hitters on the PGA Tour.
It won’t be long before Zalatoris graduates from this list. Last fall Zalatoris finished T6 at Winged Foot and has the game to win a major. Will it come this week probably not but he lives for the big moment and he could be a factor come Sunday. I still believe he is the future of the PGA Tour either way.
Conners has two missed cuts in his two U.S. Open appearances but has the length to take on Torrey Pines and has been a factor at major championships as of late. If that putter gets hot watch out.
Now here is a guy who should have more than one major championship on his resume. But here is a stat that opens eyes, Oosthuizen has made seven straight cuts at the U.S. Open. Oosthuizen was also a factor at the PGA Championship which was another long challenging course. So bank on Oosthuizen this week as a sleeper against the big names.
Westwood was a birdie away on the 18th hole from making a playoff back in 2008. Being a veteran and good form coming in makes Westwood a name to watch on the weekend. After all, it be a good story to finally win his first-ever major championship in his 40s.
Like Oosthuizen, Casey seems to always find himself towards the top of the leaderboard at major championships. U.S. Open and Torrey Pines have not been kind to him in the past but that could change this week.
Fitzpatrick hits it straight into fairways but the only issue with him is iron play. But Fitzpatrick ranks in the top 20 in strokes gained on the PGA Tour and has done well in the past on long golf courses. I could very well see Fitzpatrick being on the first two pages of the leaderboard on Sunday.
The young South African impressed me last week with his win at the Palmetto Championship. His play at the PGA Championship last month also impressed me enough to believe he is a sleeper this week and I’m not just talking about making the cut either.
Golfers I don’t like this week
The PGA Championship was legendary and it be great for Mickelson to finally complete the grand slam. But I just cannot see that happening as Phil and the U.S. Open just do not go together and replicating a performance like that is just highly unlikely but I’ve been wrong before.
Yes, the No. 1 golfer in the world is on this list. Why do you ask? It’s simple he has missed two cuts at both majors this year and hasn’t been good enough off the tee this year in hitting fairways for me to believe he can contend this week. But he also is the world’s number one for a reason.
He simply cannot putt right now and has gone seven straight events without a top 10. That’s enough for me to not trust him this week to turn it around.
It has not been a kind year for Matthew Wolff health-wise and golf-wise as he is in a slump. Wolff returns this week from injury but rust in a U.S. Open is not ideal. He is a young golfer who has time to turn this around but not this week.
Since his win in the 2017 Masters Garcia has been a nonfactor at major championships and putting is the main reason for that. I don’t expect that trend to change this week.
This was a tough one as Scheffler has played well recently. However, when you’ve missed the cut twice at Torrey Pines the past two years in a non-U.S. Open setup that concerns me enough not to trust him this week.
Long courses are not his cup of tea plain and simple.
Has not played at Torrey Pines in 10 years and well he is not a long hitter. So I’m not a fan of his chances of being a contender this week.
Honorable Mentions to do well this week.
- Hideki Matsuyama
The Masters’ champ has done well at U.S. Open setups in the past thanks to his great ball striking and he is good at putting on Poa greens as well. It’s a good combo to contend this week.
- Jordan Spieth
Since his win at Chambers Bay Spieth has not done well at the U.S. Open results-wise. He also has not done well at Torrey Pines either but you have to respect his recent play arguably being the hottest golfer in the world. Either way, expect a rollercoaster of a week for Spieth.
- Victor Hovland
A great driver of a golf ball and a great ball striker as well. The only question of his game has always been the short game but it has improved this year. A T2 earlier this year Farmers Insurance Open make him a strong candidate this week.
- Tony Finau
We know the story for Finau on if he can finish off tournaments and finally breakthrough. But Torrey Pines suits Finau and his ability to hit it long off the tee gives him advantages over others. It just feels like he will be in contention Sunday and maybe finally get his first-ever major championship and his breakout win?
- Xander Schauffele
Schauffele has played in four U.S. Opens he finished T6 or better all four times. Like Finau, Schauffele has had his chances for a breakout win most recently at the Masters. But that his previous success at the U.S Open, majors and at the Farmers Insurance Open puts him as one of the favorites this week to maybe erase those demons.
- Rory Mcllroy
Mcllroy’s new swing is still a work in progress but Torrey Pines suits his game well and let’s not forget about his win at the Wells Fargo either. The only issues for Mcllroy is starting slow in round one at major championships. They always say you can’t win a tournament Thursday but you most certainly can lose it. Mcllroy has put himself in that spot too many times but I expect Mcllroy to make some noise this week if his wedges are on point.
- Patrick Cantlay
Won the Memorial after John Rahm withdrew but he earned that win the hard way at a tough golf course too. He has the game to win multiple major championships. He has not done well at Torrey Pines in the past but that trend could very well change this week now that he is out of the slump he had earlier in the year.
- Bryson DeChambeau
The defending champion looks to take on another long U.S. Open golf course. He is not afraid to challenge Torrey Pines with his length off the tee and it’s going to be quiet the show to see how far and where his ball will go all week. If his putting cooperates we could very well see a back-to-back champion this week. Oh and don’t forget about the extra motivation with Brooks Koepka.
- Jon Rahm
Testing positive for COVID-19 robbed him of a win and forced him to quarantine. But he has been cleared and we know before what shape his game was in. Rahm has done well results-wise at majors this year but never really was in the contention picture. He has a new putter and loves Torrey Pines. This might be the week where we finally see Rahm win his first major.
He does not care about non-majors we know this by now. But It’s Koepka in a major he’s going to be in contention as long as he is healthy. He almost won the PGA Championship last month for crying out loud. The man shows up for the big ones and the knee seems to not be as big of an issue in limiting Koepka’s play. But if we learned something from 2008 you can win a major at Torrey Pines with a less than 100% knee injury.
Winner: Brooks Koepka
Winning Score -6
It’s a U.S. Open and Torrey Pines it’s going to be tough so -6 seems like a reasonable score but it all depends on the conditions and the setup.
Hole to watch 18
A par 5 to end your round and decide the tournament is always juicy and was in 2008. Expect more magic to happen again on 18 this week as well.