2021 U.S. Open Preview

By Harris Oates and John White

The U.S. Open | Torrey Pines – South Course | San Diego, CA

Defending Champion: Bryson DeChambeau (-6; won by 6 strokes over Matthew Wolff)

FedEx Cup Points: 600

Past Champions

2019: Gary Woodland

2018: Brooks Koepka

2017: Brooks Koepka

2016: Dustin Johnson

2015: Jordan Spieth

History of the Tournament

The U.S. Open is the third of four majors in professional golf and ranks as the highest purse of the group. The U.S. Open was established in 1895 in Newport, Rhode Island where a 1 day, 36 hole competition was held. Newport Country Club was just a 9 hole course at the time and after 36 holes Horace Rollins (England) won the event by 2 strokes over the other 10 players in the field and was awarded $150 for his victory. The British and Northern Irish traded off victories over the next 16 years and it wasn’t until 1911 when the first American, John McDermott, won the event.

One element of the tournament that has remained stable through the years is the annual rotation of venue. In the early years the events was primarily held in the northeast at destinations such as the Myopia Hunt Club (MA) and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (NY). It wasn’t until last year that Pinehurst was named the first ever satellite venue for the event, meaning that 5 future events have been scheduled and it now acts as somewhat of a “home”. It is expected that other famous venues may follow this trend and we could see a rotation of 5 or 6 courses in the near future.

Some of the more popular destinations include Winged Foot Golf Club (6x), Oakmont Country Club (9x), Olympic Club (5x), Pebble Beach (6x) and Baltusrol Golf Club (7x). This year will be the second time that Torrey Pines has hosted the event, the first being the epic 2008 tournament won by Tiger Woods. Another very unique quality that makes the U.S. Open so special was it’s playoff format. Instead of a sudden death format, the U.S. Open has a full 18 hole playoff for all players that remain tied at the top after 72 holes. Unfortunately, the USGA changed this amazing format in 2017 and stuck us with a 2 hole playoff in its place.

Greatest Moments

Tiger vs. Rocco (2008)

Not only was this one of the most famous moments in U.S. Open history, it was also won by the most famous golfer ever at Torrey Pines. Tiger tied it up on the 71st to force an 18 hole playoff with Rocco Mediate. After 18 additional holes it was still tied, which forced sudden death 19th hole that was won by Woods.

Francis Ouimet Wins as an Amateur

In 1913, Francis Ouimet became the first Amateur to ever win the Open and was coined the godfather for amateur golf. At just 20 years old he won a 18 hole playoff in rainy conditions against two British golfers, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, who were considered the top two golfers in the world. Ouimet’s incredible story was later adapted into a movie starring Shia LaBeouf.

Rory McIlroy’s First Major

Young Rory bounced back after chocking the Masters away just months prior and finished with an 8 stroke victory going -16 after 72 holes. This was his first of four majors.

Tiger in 2000

Tiger had one of his most dominant majors in 2000 when he won the U.S. Open by a record of 15 strokes. 15 STROKES!

Graeme McDowell Ends the Drought

In 2010 McDowell ended the 40 year Europeans victory drought at U.S. Open with a dominant performance at Pebble Beach that was neck-and-neck with Ernie Els and GrΓ©gory Havret.

Course Breakdown

Torrey Pines annually plays host to the Farmer’s Insurance Open but the course should play very differently with the USGA at the helm. Traditionally the U.S. Open favors driving accuracy and that will hold true this week as well. Expect for the tees to be longer, the fairways to be more narrow, the greens to faster and the rough to be thicker than you would see it during a regular PGA Tour event. This is why you may see favorites that may not have done well at the Farmer’s but are notably good off the tee in terms of both power and accuracy. This will be an event that should favor golfers like Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka.

Credit Golf Digest, Mark Degnan

Torrey Pines Golf Course is a municipal public golf facility owned by the city of San Diego. Despite being one of the best course in the world, it typically is reasonably priced, however, it could require camping outside in a tent to land a tee time. The course has hosted the Farmer’s Insurance Open since 1960 and, as mentioned above, also hosted the 2008 U.S. Open. There are two courses at Torrey Pines, the North and the South, which both were constructed by William F. Bell in 1957. The course was named for the native Torrey Pine tree that surrounds the land. The Farmers Insurance Open utilizes both courses in the event but the U.S. Open will only feature the South Course.

Credit Golf Digest, Mark Degnan

The South Course is a Par 72 that is 7,800 yards in length with a course rating of 78.8 and a slope rating of 148. For the. U.S. Open the USGA will be transforming the shortest Par 5 to a grueling Par 4 and turning the overall course to a Par 71. It is known for its extreme length paired with picturesque ocean views. There is also much greater elevation changes than a typical ocean course such as Kiawah Island. The 3rd holes is one of the most notable in all of golf and is a short, downhill par 3 with an ocean backdrop.

Field

The best of the best. The field of 156 players consists of the greatest players in the world as well as many spots left open for qualifying amateurs. See below for a full listing of the Thursday Tee Times.

TV Schedule (all EST)

Thursday: 12:30-7pm on the Golf Channel, 7-10pm NBC, streaming on Peacock from 9:43am-12:30pm

Friday: 12:30-6pm on the Golf Channel, 6-9pm NBC, streaming on Peacock from 9:43am-12:30pm

Saturday: 11am-9pm on NBC

Sunday: 10am-Noon on Golf Channel, Noon-8pm NBC

Weather

Source: Weather.com

I mean…could it get any more perfect?

The Favorites

Jon Rahm 10-1

Rahm will be back with a vengeance after having to WD from the Memorial while holding a 6 stroke lead after 54 holes. If he plays like he did at Muirfield then it will be hard to beat Rahm.

Dustin Johnson 16-1

Johnson got off to a blistering start last week at the Palmetto Championship but faded back during the weekend. Johnson was hot and cold off the tee so don’t be surprised if he struggles this week. However, the talent is there and his skillset obviously bodes well for this course.

Bryson DeChambeau 18-1

The reining champ is leading the Tour in strokes gained off of driving but he better be accurate with his bombs off the tee. The rough will be a challenge for his already shakey wedge play as of late.

Brooks Koepka 18-1

Brooks always comes to perform for the majors and has finished in the top 10 in two of his last three majors. Brooks missed the cut last weekend but could bounce this weekend.

Rory McIlroy 20-1

He is one of the most talented golfers of all time with 4 majors under his belt and is hot off the tee. Rory won in May at the Wells Fargo to shatter an 18 month drought but can he win his first major since 2014?

Jordan Spieth 20-1

Spieth is having arguably one of the best seasons on tour this year, something that was much need for his slumping career. Although his skillset may not be the best match for Torrey Pines, he has won the open before.

Xander Schauffele 20-1

Schauffele has always been labeled as one of the great “up-and-comers” but now at age 27 it is time for him to start winning majors if he is going to be great.

Collin Morikawa 22-1

Morikawa has had an awesome season and has been hot as of lately. He could be the sneaky pick to win this weekend.

Justin Thomas 22-1

JT is undeniably one of the most talented on tour but has struggled this season outside of his win at The Players. Winning the open would be huge for him.

The Pick

I’m going with Rory. He has been hot this year at times and if he can bring his A Game off the tee then it could be a runaway just like his 2014 victory at Congressional. Success and accuracy off the tee is not always a given these days with Rory but I have a feeling that he will be primed for another major this season.


John’s Take

With 156 players in the field this week, only 60 will make it to the weekend rounds. We expect nothing less of an epic showdown from the first tee time on Thursday to the final putt on Sunday. However, the real question is, who will be the champion of the 3rd major of 2021? 

The course set up at Torrey Pines is going to test every aspect of each player’s abilities. Long and straight tee shots are going to be the main key to success on the South Course due to how thick and challenging the Kikuyu rough will be. Not only is the rough unforgiving, but also the course has been lengthened making the par 71 course the longest it has ever been. 

Total Strokes Gained – Off the Tee in past 24 rounds:

  1. Bryson DeChambeau (+25.7) (+1600)
  2. Jon Rahm (+20.1) (+1000)
  3. Matt Fitzpatrick (+20.0) (+5500)
  4. Abraham Ancer (+18.6) (+6600)
  5. Cameron Champ (+18.4) (+20000)
  6. Sergio Garcia (+18.3) (+9000)
  7. Patrick Cantlay (+17.8) (+2500)
  8. Jason Kokrak (+17.8) (+10000)
  9. Jhonattan Vegas (+17.6) (+25000)
  10. Scottie Scheffler (+17.6) (+5000)

Iron play is crucial this week since the long par 71 course will demand accurate approach shots to obtain scoring opportunities. We all know that birdies are hard to come by at any major, especially the US Open. Perfected long iron play is going to separate the men from the boys this week. 

Total Strokes Gained – Approach in past 24 rounds:

  1. Collin Morikawa (+42.9) (+2000)
  2. Paul Casey (+31.0) (+5000)
  3. Stewart Cink (+29.6) (+14000)
  4. Charley Hoffman (+29.0) (+10000)
  5. Patrick Cantlay (+24.1) (+2500)
  6. Justin Thomas (+23.4) (+2000)
  7. Jordan Spieth (+22.4) (+1800)
  8. Will Zalatoris (+22.1) (+5000)
  9. Daniel Berger (+20.2) (+5000)
  10. Corey Conners (+19.8) (+6600)

Par 4 – 450-500 in past 24 rounds:

  1. Louis Oosthuizen (+22.3) (+5500)
  2. Patrick Cantlay (+19.4) (+2500)
  3. Abraham Ancer (+17.2) (+6600)
  4. Collin Morikawa (+18.1) (+2000)
  5. Adam Scott (+15.6) (+8000)
  6. Shane Lowry (+15.3)(+6000)
  7. Jordan Spieth (+13.1) (+1800)
  8. Matt Wallace (+13.1) (+15000)
  9. Corey Conners (+12.9) (+6600)
  10. Matt Fitzpatrick (+12.8) (+5500)

Tee Times – No. 1

9:45 a.m – Sahith Theegala, Edoardo Molinari, Greyson Sigg
9:56 a.m. – Chris Baker, J.J. Spaun, Fabian Gomez
10:07 a.m. – Patrick Rodgers, Robby Shelton, (a) Pierceson Coody
10:18 a.m. – Russell Henley, Mackenzie Hughes, Harris English
10:29 a.m. – Francesco Molinari, Henrik Stenson, Shane Lowry
10:40 a.m. – Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland
10:51 a.m. – Martin Kaymer, Webb Simpson, Gary Woodland
11:02 a.m. – Tony Finau, Abraham Ancer, Daniel Berger
11:13 a.m. – Si Woo Kim, Kevin Na, Bernd Wiesberger
11:24 a.m. – Jimmy Walker, Ian Poulter, Ryan Palmer
11:35 a.m. – J.T. Poston, Adam Hadwin, (a) Joe Long
11:46 a.m. – Luis Fernando Barco, Dylan Meyer, (a) Matthew Sharpstene
11:57 a.m. – Mario Carmona, Wilson Furr, Davis Shore
3:30 p.m. – Zach Zaback, Steve Allan, Eric Cole, 
3:41 p.m. – Hayden Buckley, Taylor Montgomery, Jordan Smith
3:52 p.m. – Chez Reavie, Richard Bland, Troy Merritt
4:03 p.m. – Robert MacIntyre, Victor Perez, Matt Wallace
4:14 p.m. – Tyler Strafaci, Hideki Matsuyama, Bryson DeChambeau
4:25 p.m. – Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson
4:36 p.m. – Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose
4:47 p.m. – Matt Jones, Brendan Steele, Cameron Smith
4:58 p.m. – Carlos Ortiz, Zach Johnson, Lanto Griffin
5:09 p.m. – Sam Burns, Chan Kim, Thomas Detry
5:20 p.m. – (a) Ollie Osborne, Peter Malnati, Brian Stuard
5:31 p.m. – John Huh, Johannes Veerman, Zack Sucher
5:42 p.m. – Rick Lamb, Michael Johnson, Carson Schaake

No. 10

9:45 a.m. – Andy Pope, Brad Kennedy, Thomas Aiken
9:56 a.m. – Yosuke Asaji, Marcus Armitage, Jhonattan Vegas
10:07 a.m. – Cameron Young, Wilco Nienaber, Guido Migliozzi
10:18 a.m. – Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Wolff
10:29 a.m. – Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka
10:40 a.m. – Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar
10:51 a.m. – Max Homa, Xander Schauffele, Phil Mickelson
11:02 a.m. – Jason Kokrak, Cameron Champ, Corey Conners
11:13 a.m. – Paul Barjon, Sam Ryder, Ryo Ishikawa
11:24 a.m. – Dylan Frittelli, Martin Laird, K.H. Lee
11:35 a.m. – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Adrian Meronk, Sung Kang
11:46 a.m. – Akshay Bhatia, (a) Andrew Kozan, Alvaro Ortiz
11:57 a.m. – James Hervol, Hayden Springer, Roy Cootes
3:30 p.m. – David Coupland, Taylor Pendrith, Wade Ormsby
3:41 p.m.  β€“ Tom Hoge, Bo Hoag, (a) Joe Highsmith
3:52 p.m. – Erik van Rooyen, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Charl Schwartzel
4:03 p.m. – Garrick Higgo, (a) Cole Hammer, Joaquin Niemann
4:14 p.m. – Lee Westwood, Stewart Cink, Paul Casey
4:25 p.m. – Will Zalatoris, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth
4:36 p.m. – Marc Leishman, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, 
4:47 p.m. – Patrick Cantlay, Louis Oosthuizen, Sungjae Im
4:58 p.m. – Kevin Streelman, Branden Grace, Charley Hoffman
5:09 p.m. – Sebastian Munoz, Rikuya Hoshino, Brendon Todd
5:20 p.m. – Wyndham Clark, (a) Matthias Schmid, Matthew Southgate
5:31 p.m. – (a) Spencer Ralston, Dylan Wu, Justin Suh
5:42 p.m. – Luis Gagne, Kyle Westmoreland, Christopher Crawford

 Multiple players come to mind when thinking about top 10 finishers. However, I have to start with Xander Schauffele. Xander has finished top 10 in the last 4 US Opens and plays very well during any major. Lock down Xander in your lineup if you need a high salary top 10 finisher. Since we are on the subject of consistent top 10 finishes in a Major, we must bring up Tony Finau. In his past 13 Major starts, Tony has finished top 10 in nine of them. This may finally be the year Tony wins a Major. But even if it is not, you can still expect him to find the top 10.  

Even though we are not going to see a Bryson and Brook’s pairing on Thursday, a weeked pairing of the two is a very realistic possibility. Bryson’s distance off the tee makes him a true weekend contender. He will just need to be accurate. We saw him do it last year at the 2020 US Open and he could very well do it again. Brooks is looking for redemption from the 2021 PGA championship. The pressure is on for both players so fingers crossed for a weekend pairing.   

Two other players who we expect to be on full display are Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas. The consistency of these golfers when they are dialed in are no match for any other golfers on tour. Ball striking and finding the greens are their specialty. We can’t wait to see how they perform at the US Open. 

I love talking about Viktor Hovland and Louis Oosthuizen when Major week is upon us. Louis has finished top 25 in every US Open since 2015 and Viktor is … well… Viktor Hovland. The 23 year old is my favorite golfer who always seems to find the leaderboard. Viktor finished top 3 at Torrey Pines earlier this year. I expect similar results from both players this week. 

DFS Lineups 

Jon Rahm (11,200) is the favorite this week followed by Jordan Spieth (10,900) and Dustin Johnson (10,700). The only problem I see with picking these players is that your salary cap will diminish and the rest of your picks could potentially miss the cut. I wouldn’t pick any player above 10,000. That’s why you will see Justin Thomas (9,700), Collin Morikawa (9,500), Xander Schauffelle (9,300) and Viktor Hovand (9,200) as the main picks in our 50,000 cap lineup. 

When looking at medium salary picks, look no further than our man, Tony Finau (8,900). Like we said earlier, Tony is a consistent top 10 player which makes his salary seem undervalued. We like the pick. Speaking of undervalued picks, Will Zalatoris enters the lineup at 8,600. We have all seen this young man play phenomenal golf at some of the worlds hardest courses. If he can stay out of the rough, Zalatoris may be one of the best picks of the week. 

For those in need of a lower salary pick, look no further than Max Homa (7,300). Even though he has not done well in the past majors and big tournaments this year, he finished tied for 18 when playing Torrey Pines South Course earlier this year. Watch for a repeat this week. Another player who may be slept on this week is Sergio Garcia. His strokes gained off the tee are some of the best in the world. If his driver is dialed in this week, look for Sergio to be in the top 10. 

John White’s Favorite Picks 

1. Xander Schauffele (9,300)

2. Collin Morikawa (9,500)

3. Viktor Hovland (9,200) 

John White’s Wildcard Picks 

1. Louis Oosthuizen (8,100)

2. Tony Finau (8,900)

3. Sergio Garcia (7,500) 

Favorite Lineup  

Xander Schauffele (8,400) 

Sergio Garcai (7,500)

Viktor Hovland (9,200)

Louis Oosthuizen (8,100)

Max Homa (7,300)

Will Zalatoris (8,600) 

0 remaining salary out of 50,000

*DFS stands for Daily Fantasy Sports and is a fantasy format that uses a salary cap style of picking a lineup. The salary cap figures are fictional and in no way represent real money or currency.

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