The third major of 2022 is upon us, as the U.S. Open gets underway this week at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
The historic private golf course, the site of the 1913 U.S. Open won by then-unknown Francis Ouimet, will host its fourth U.S. Open championship.
A field comprised of the game’s marquee names, featuring stars from both of golf’s big tours, including Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson of LIV, and Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler of the PGA.
Other familiar names who are considered serious threats include Patrick Reed, Louis Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia of LIV, and Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Tony Finau and Hideki Matsuyama, among others.
U.S. Open Skinny
Name: United States Open Championship
Dates: June 16-19, 2022
Where: Brookline, MA
Course: The Country Club
Distance: Par 70, 7264 yards
Architect: William F. Campbell (1895)
ReDesign: Alex Campbell (1902)
Format: Stroke, 72-holes, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $2,250,000
Winner’s Pts FEC/OWGR: 600/100
Defending Champion: Jon Rahm
How to Follow the U.S. Open
TELEVISION: Thu: 6:45-9:30 a.m. (Peacock), 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (USA), 2-5 p.m. (NBC), 5-7 p.m. (USA), 7-8 p.m. (Peacock); Fri: 6:45-9:30 a.m. (Peacock), 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (USA), 4-7 p.m. (NBC), 7-8 p.m. (Peacock); Sat: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. (Peacock), 12-8 p.m. (NBC); Sun: 9-10 a.m. (Peacock), 10 a.m.-12 p.m. (USA), 12-7 p.m. (NBC)
U.S. Open History
It is now one of, if not the, grandest show in golf, but at its beginning, the U.S. Open was just an ancillary tournament to the highly regarded U.S. Amateur.
That inaugural event occurred in 1895, making the U.S. Open the second oldest of the four majors, and was held at the opulent Newport Golf Club in Newport, R.I., the “in” summer hideaway of America’s wealthy and social elite at the time.
Played on Newport’s nine-hole course, the first U.S. Open was held in one day, with each of the 11 golfers in the field playing the course four times. Horace Rawlins, a 21-year-old from England, posted 91-82 to win the tournament by two strokes. He was awarded a $150 share of the $335 purse.
Eighteen years later, the 1913 U.S. Open was held at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. The heavy favorites were English legends Harry Vardon (1900 U.S. Open winner; four-time British Open winner) and Ted Ray (reigning British Open champion). After 72 holes the pair found themselves tied with an unknown 20-year-old amateur named Francis Ouimet, who had grown up across the street from the course and was a former caddy at the club — forcing an 18-hole playoff the next day.
In a shocking upset, Ouimet soundly defeated the two professional golfers in front of huge galleries, resulting in newspaper stories which captured the imagination of the American public. The number of golfers in the country at least tripled in the subsequent decade, with a corresponding increase in golf courses (including many public courses, opening up the game to a larger segment of the population).
The story of Ouimet’s triumph at the 1913 US Open was commercialized by Mark Frost’s 2002 book, ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf,’ which Frost then adapted for a 2005 film.
Over time, the tournament developed a reputation for being the most challenging event in golf, allowing it to draw in the best of the best.
The U.S. Open boasts perhaps the most prestigious list of winners of any tournament. That list includes Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.
Modern-day superstars who’ve won the U.S. Open include Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm.
Hogan, Jones, Nicklaus, and Willie Anderson all share the tournament record for most wins with four apiece. Tiger and Hale Irwin are next with three victories, followed by two apiece by Alex Smith, John McDermott, Ralph Guldahl, Cary Middlecoff, Julius Boros, Billy Casper, Andy North, Curtis Strange, Lee Janzen, Payne Stewart, Retief Goosen, Trevino, Hagen, Sarazen, Els and Koepka.
A testament to just how difficult the U.S. Open has played historically: In 122 editions of the tournament just four players have finished double-digits under par: Woods (-12) at Pebble Beach in 2000, McIlroy (-16) at Congressional Country Club in 2011, Koepka (-16) at Erin Hills in 2017, and Gary Woodland (-13) at Pebble Beach in 2019.
Even that 2000 event was brutal, as the two runner-ups, Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez, finished at 3-over par, 15 strokes behind Tiger’s iconic one-man show.
U.S. Open History: Recent Winners
2021: Jon Rahm (-6)
2020: Bryson DeChambeau (-6)
2019: Gary Woodland (-13)
2018: Brooks Koepka (+1)
2017: Brooks Koepka (-16)
2016: Dustin Johnson (-4)
2015: Jordan Spieth (-5)
2014: Martin Kaymer (-9)
2013: Justin Rose (+1)
U.S. Open History: Records
(268) – Rory McIlroy (2011)
(-16) – Rory McIlroy (2011), Brooks Koepka (2017)
(4) – Ben Hogan (1948, 1950, 1951, 1953)
(4) – Bobby Jones (1923, 1926, 1929-30)
(4) – Jack Nicklaus (1962, 1967, 1972, 1980)
(4) – Willie Anderson (1901, 1903-05)
(3) – Tiger Woods (2000, 2002, 2008)
(3) – Hale Irwin (1974, 1979, 1990)
2021 U.S. Open Lookback
COVID-19 couldn’t take this one from Jon Rahm.
The then 26-year-old Spanish phenom emphatically removed himself from the top of the “best golfers without a major” list, nailing difficult, clutch birdie putts on the final two holes to win the 2021 U.S. Open by one stroke over Louis Oosthuizen.
The major championship victory, the first of Rahm’s career, came just one start after a positive COVID-19 test forced him to withdraw from The Memorial Tournament at the 54-hole mark, when he was leading by six strokes.
Led by Rahm at 6-under-par, there were 11 players that finished this year’s edition of the U.S. Open in red figures, which is high for this grueling event (last September’s U.S. Open had just one), but the USGA can still take solace in the fact that an impressive profile of contenders saw their championship hopes vaporize one after another.
Final Top 5: 2021 U.S. Open
Pos-Name-Score (Rd 4)
1. Jon Rahm -6 (-4)
2. Louis Oosthuizen -5 (E)
3. Harris English -3 (-3)
4. Guido Migliozzi -2 (-3)
4. Brooks Koepka -2 (-2)
4. Collin Morikawa -2 (-1)
The Course: The Country Club
The Championship, Composite, Anniversary, or Open Course is used for major competitions today, when a longer layout is required.
In this configuration, three and a half holes from the Primrose Course (1st, 2nd, 8th, and 9th) are used to replace three holes of the Clyde, resulting in a length of almost 7,400 yards. This layout has been used for major competitions since the Primrose Course was built.
For the 2022 US Open, the Championship Course will be altered from the course used in prior championships, with the par-4 4th hole of the main course removed and the par 3 12th hole of the main course added, resulting in a 7312 yard par 70 layout.
The Course Skinny
Name: The Country Club
Course: Open Course (Layout)
Where: Brookline, MA
Architect: William F. Campbell (1895)
ReDesign: Alex Campbell (1902)
Par 3s: 4 (3, 6, 11, 16)
Par 5s: 2 (8, 14)
Par 4s: 12
U.S. Open Field
Who plans to seize the moment this week?
At 10-1, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas are the co-favorites, with both entering in high gear: McIlroy coming off a win in Canada while JT owns a top-3 (Canada) and win at the season’s second major. Scottie Scheffler (14-1) could also be considered the third favorite. The reigning Masters champion is on pace for a record season with four wins already.
Of course, there’s Jon Rahm, the defending champion who enters in decent form but doesn’t quite seem to be his dominant self. He is also rumored to be in talks with the LIV Golf Tour so there’s that.
Cameron Smith is ranked No. 6 in the world and has enjoyed a terrific season. Yet the 28-year-old Aussie enters totally under the radar, due to a slight cool off after the Masters (MC, T13, T13, T48).
Collin Morikawa is a two-time major winner and also a sleeper this week. The 25-year-old started the year with three top-5 finishes in his first six starts but has tailed off since a solo fifth at the Masters and enters off four straight finishes outside the top 25.
Another top player is Patrick Cantlay, who arrives in Boston off two top-3 results in his last three starts. The UCLA alum is a world-class player who would be a popular USGA champion, given his amateur career.
Xander Schauffele is in a battle with Cantlay for the most deserving star of a first major. The 28-year-old San Diego native would be one of the least surprising winners this week. He enters off three straight top 20s including a T5 in Dallas (Byron Nelson).
Can Dustin Johnson win a second U.S. Open after his high-profile exit from the PGA Tour’s dictatorship? DJ arrives in Beantown off an eighth-place finish in London that paid $625,000.
One player we shouldn’t worry about regarding current form is Brooks Koepka. His PGA Tour results are almost meaningless when it comes to gauging preparedness for a major. He simply has no desire to battle it out for the XYZ Insurance Championship or the Acme Mortgage Classic. He’s almost guaranteed a top spot on the leaderboard come the weekend.
With all that said, so many eyes will be focused on LIV Golf’s Phil Mickelson, who will turn 52 on June 16. Could the far-left golf media’s most hated man pull off a second miracle, and stick it to the smear merchants? Doubtful. But still a good pre-game storyline.
Finally. What about 2015 champion Jordan Spieth? Ranked world No.10, Spieth enters off three top 10s in his last five starts, including a win at Hilton Head and a solo second at the Byron Nelson. The Country Club would seem to fit Spieth’s old school game.
Top-5 Betting Favorites
1. Rory McIlroy (10-1)
1. Justin Thomas (10-1)
3. Scottie Scheffler (14-1)
4. Cameron Smith (16-1)
4. Jon Rahm (16-1)
Full Field & Odds
Credits: Carey Hoffman, Joel Cook, USGA, Getty Images, PGA Tour Media