Horses for Courses: 121st US Open

Not sure the drama of 2008 will be repeated this week but I don’t think we’ll see a six-shot victory like we did at Winged Foot either.

This is the FIFTH major in my league this season! Time to finish strong!

The 121st people’s champion will be identified on the one of the people’s greatest tracks, Torrey Pines (South Course) in La Jolla, California. William P. Bell’s original design opened in 1957 and the PGA TOUR has played an event here every year since 1968. Rees Jones was commissioned to modernize the course in the early 2000s. The goal was to host a US Open and that goal was realized in 2008. Jones was back on the scene in 2019 to adjust a handful of holes to ensure the track was ready for the second edition. This will be the 14th US Open held in the state of California and second in three years (Pebble Beach, 2019).

The scorecard reads 7,685 yards and Par-71 (35-36) so Torrey will, again, play as one of the longest US Open tracks in history. Unlike most US Open venues this will be the second time in three years that the USGA will use a PGA TOUR event site to host their marquee event. There’s not much time between the end of January and June to make any sweeping changes to the layout will be the same, minus No. 6, usually a Par-5 hole, dropping to a Par-4 this week. The late January over-seeded fairways and approach areas will now be predominantly Kikuyugrass minus the overseed. The rough will be just Kikuyugrass and the nest-y quality of the way it grows will make recovery and approach shots difficult.

It should be difficult. It’s a major championship.

 Expert Picks

Not many hit fairways at the US Open and this week shouldn’t be any different as there is only 20 acres of fairway to aim at. Compare that to 24 acres at Memorial so tight is right!

Approach play and grinding out pars from around the greens will be paramount. The Poa annua greens are just 5,000 square feet on average, not large by any means, and the last four TOUR winners here have all been in the top 14 GIR so hitting more of them is a major key. Once on the dance floor, the Poa annua should be slick and major championship quick so keeping the ball on the proper side of the hole is the challenge around the greens.

The 82 bunkers will be in play off the tee and on approach. Of the 18 holes, 14 have sand both right and left of the green eliminating a bailout. Only one hole has water but it’s the famous Par-5 finishing hole.

The top 60 and ties will play the final 36 holes.

The 18-hole Monday Playoff has been replaced by a two-hole aggregate followed by sudden death.

The weather appears to be perfect for tournament play as temperatures push 80 and the sun will be shining. Breezes on this coastal layout will be that, rather than wind.

On the line this week is a $12.5 million prize pool ($2.25 million to the winner plus 600 FedExCup points) plus a five year exemption on TOUR and a 10 year exemption into the US Open amongst other perks.

Recent Winner at Torrey Pines – US Open

2008: Tiger Woods (-1, 283)
Woods defeated Rocco Mediate in a Monday playoff to claim his 14th major championship. … Only two players under par for the week. … Lee Westwood missed the playoff by a shot (E, 284). … Heath Slocum had the round of the week with a Sunday 65 while Stewart Cink signed for 67. … Miguel Angel Jimenez posted 66 on Friday, the lowest round before the cut. … Cut was 7-over. … Kevin Streelman shared the first round lead after 68. … Australian Stuart Appleby led on 3-under after 36 holes. … The final pairing saw Woods (-3) led Westwood (-2) by a shot in the last tee time of the day. … Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson shared 18th. … T26 – Adam Scott, T36 – Pat Perez, T48 – Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar, T53 – Martin Kaymer and Kevin Streelman.  MC – Zach JohnsonJustin RoseHenrik StensonBubba Watson; WD – Ian Poulter.

2021 – PGA TOUR Farmers Insurance Open

This is one of the few tracks, along with Pebble Beach, that doesn’t need much changing for a major tournament. The fairways are already tight and the greens won’t take much to get up to tournament speed. As with any advice, there is NO SINGLE STAT or CORRELATION which is automatic. Use it as part of your overall plan.

For more Torrey Pines Horses for Courses, please click here.

Patrick Reed (-14, 274)
Won by five. … Led the field in putting. … T63 GIR after T9 Fairways (#ShortGame). … Posted 6-under on the South Course. … Only player double figures under-par. … Adds another tough course victory to his CV.

Notables in the field this week:
Tony Finau (T2) ranked T71 in fairways. … Viktor Hovland (T2) made 22 birdies in his first visit. … Ryan Palmer (T2) only made six bogeys. … Xander Schauffele (T2) was one of two players who posted both rounds in the 60s on the weekend. … Lanto Griffin (T7) was second GIR. … 2017 winner Jon Rahm (T7) played all four rounds par or better. … Will Zalatoris (T7) T74 in fairways on his debut. … T10 included Peter MalnatiFrancesco MolinariSam Ryder and Adam Scott.

Key stat leaders

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2020-2021 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.

Strokes-Gained: Approach the Green
1Collin Morikawa
2Justin Thomas
3Will Zalatoris
4Tyrrell Hatton
5Paul Casey
6Charley Hoffman
7Russell Henley
11Corey Conners
12Jon Rahm
13Tony Finau
14Brooks Koepka
15Sam Burns
17Matt Wallace
17Daniel Berger
19Matthew Wolff
20Stewart Cink
21Victor Hovland
22Xander Schauffele
23Hideki Matsuyama
24Patrick Cantlay
25Jordan Spieth
Bogey Avoidance
1Webb Simpson
2Abraham Ancer
4Patrick Cantlay
6Russell Henley
9Jon Rahm
10Brian Harman
13Daniel Berger
15Bo Hoag
17Louis Oosthuizen
18Si Woo Kim
20Charley Hoffman
21Carlos Ortiz
23Will Zalatoris
24Sungjae Im
25Collin Morikawa
26Stewart Cink
27Corey Conners
Strokes-Gained: Putting
1Louis Oosthuizen
2Brendon Todd
3Zach Johnson
4Patrick Reed
5Jason Kokrak
6Christiaan Bezuidenhout
8Xander Schauffele
9JT Poston
10Ian Poulter
12Justin Rose
13Webb Simpson
14Matt Fitzpatrick
17Brian Harman
19Cameron Smith
21Matt Jones
24Joaquin Niemann
25Sam Burns
25Daniel Berger
27Lanto Griffin

Horses for Courses

Top golfers over the last five US Opens entered this week and other exceptions

Player (Starts/Cuts Made)Top 10sTop 25Most RecentRecent Others
Bryson DeChambeau (4/6)13Win (2020)Won by 6 at Winged Foot for first top 10
Matthew Wolff (1/1)112nd (2020)Even par 280 on debut 
Louis Oosthuizen (8/11)473 (2020)T23 or better 6 straight with half T7 or better
Harris English (5/5)114 (2020)Next best is T37
Xander Schauffele (4/4)445 (2020)5th, T3, T6 and T5 in his career
Will Zalatoris (1/2)11T6 (2020)MC (a) 2018
Zach Johnson (12/17)23T8 (2020)Best run is last five years; Cashed 10 of last 11; MC 2008
Rory McIlroy (7/12)56T8 (2020)2011 winner: T8 Winged Foot followed T9 Pebble Beach
Webb Simpson (9/10)35T8 (2020)2013 winner on Poa annua;  T8-T16-T10 last 3
Tony Finau (3/5)23T8 (2020)5th 2018 Shinnecock
Justin Thomas (4/6)23T8 (2020)T9 Erin Hills with 63; Opened 65 at Winged Foot
Gary Woodland (6/10)12Win (2019)First major title; T23 is next best
Justin Rose (8/15)57T3 (2019)2013 winner; T10 Shinnecock Hills 2018
Jon Rahm (3/5)13T3 (2019)T23 Oakmont and Winged Foot
Chez Reavie (4/8)12T3 (2019)T16 Erin Hills
Adam Scott (11/19)36T7 (2019)T26 2008
Henrik Stenson (9/14)46T9 (2019)MC Winged Foot; T6 2018; MC 2008
Brooks Koepka (6/7)46Win (2018)2017 winner; 2019 runner up; T4 2014; DNS Oakmont 2020
Tommy Fleetwood (4/5)222 (2018)4 2017; MC-T65 last two editions
Patrick Reed (6/7)144 (2018)T13 Winged Foot
Daniel Berger (5/6)11T6 (2018)Cashed 3 straight
Tyrrell Hatton (2/4)12T6 (2018)MC 2020
Hideki Matsuyama (7/8)26T2 (2017)T21 or better in 4 straight
Brian Harman (3/5)11T2 (2017)Cashed his last three when qualified
Charley Hoffman (6/7)128 (2017)T20 Shinnecock last time he played
Dustin Johnson (11/13)67Win (2016)T6 or better in 5 of the last 7
Shane Lowry (5/8)22T2 (2016)54 hole leader; T9 2015
Sergio Garcia (17/21)511T5 (2016)T18 2008 Torrey Pines
Branden Grace (5/8)23T5 (2016)T4 2015; MC-MC last two
OthersTop 10sTop 25Most RecentRecent Others
Jordan Spieth (6/9)13Win (2015)T35 is the next best since winning
Phil Mickelson (25/29)1012T2 (2013)Last top 25 was T2 at Merion in 2013; runner up 6 times
Martin Kaymer (9/13)23Win (2014)T35 is next best since winning
Lee Westwood (16/19)510T13 (2020)Solo third 2008; Last 3 US Open he’s played first rounds all in the 60s
Paul Casey (11/17)15 T26 or better last four contested
Francesco Molinari (6/10)03T16 (2019)All 6 are T29 or better; DNS 2020

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