Rooting For History: 10 Golfers With Best Storylines at U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson 122nd U.S. Open Championship
Phil Mickelson plays a shot from a bunker on the 16th hole during a practice round prior to the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 15, 2022 in Brookline, Mass. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton via Getty Images)

The U.S. Open tees off on Thursday morning at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. It’s the third major of the 2022 golf season.

The field will include all kinds of familiar faces, marquee names and rising stars. A win by any will be entered into the record books for posterity, but a victory by one of the following ten players would produce the most historical of storylines.


1. Jon Rahm

Jon Rahm Wins 2021 U.S. Open
Jon Rahm celebrates with the trophy after winning as the media takes photographs during the trophy presentation ceremony after the final round of the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course) on June 20, 2021 in San Diego, CA. (Photo by Harry How via Getty Images)

With a victory, the defending champion would join Curtis Strange and Brooks Koepka as the only back-to-back U.S. Open champions walking on planet earth, while becoming one of only seven players to win consecutive U.S. Opens. The 27-year-old would join Jose Maria Olazabal as a two-time major winning Spaniard, trailing only Seve Ballesteros (5).


2. Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa Wins 149th Open Championship Royal St Georges
Open Champion, Collin Morikawa celebrates with the Claret Jug on the 18th hole during Day Four of The 149th Open at Royal St George’s Golf Club on July 18, 2021 in Sandwich, England. (Photo by Oisin Keniry via Getty Images)

Already the owner of a Wannamaker Trophy and Claret Jug, a win at the U.S. Open would give Morikawa three legs of the career grand slam and a third major at just 25-years-old. Would become the 13th player in history to score three legs of grand slam, joining tour contemporaries Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, as well as legends such as Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson, among others.


3. Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka poses with girlfriend Jena Sims and the Wanamaker Trophy during the Trophy Presentation Ceremony after winning the final round of the PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course on May 19, 2019 in Farmingdale, NY. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With a third U.S. Open title, Koepka would join Tiger Woods and Hale Irwin as three-time U.S. Open champions. Only Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus – who each won four times – would own more national championship titles. And it’d be “one more” major win than Rory, to steal the Northern Irishman’s line. With five major wins, he would move into a tie for 15th-place, joining the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Byron Nelson and Peter Thompson.


4. Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth Open Championship Stories
Jordan Spieth poses with the Claret Jug in the locker room after winning the 146th Open Championship in 2017 at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. Credit: Warren Little/R&A via Getty Images

The former Golden Child won a trio of majors in a three-year span, 2015-17, but has been winless on the major stage since that memorable Sunday at Royal St. George’s… Remains one of the game’s most historic and iconic players… Already the only under-30 player with three majors, a fourth would give him two up on the under-30 field, including friend and rival Justin Thomas. He would join Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka as the only active four-time major winners on the PGA Tour, and the youngest (28).


5. Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy Wins 2015 PGA Championship
Rory McIlroy poses with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 96th PGA Championship, at Valhalla Golf Club, on August 10, 2014 in Louisville, KY. Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America via Getty Images

After the then 25-year-old Northern Irishman won his fourth major at Valhalla in the summer of 2014, Jack Nicklaus said, “Rory has an opportunity to win 15 or 20 majors or whatever he wants.” The wunderkind will tee it up in Boston – nearly eight years later, and now 33-years-old, with the same four major titles. For the former can’t-miss kid, the storyline here is all about redemption and rebirth: a second U.S. Open trophy and a fifth major title – it’s all there for the taking.


6. Scottie Scheffler

Scottie Scheffler Wins 2022 Masters at Augusta National
Scottie Scheffler poses with the Masters trophy during the Green Jacket Ceremony after winning the Masters at Augusta National GC on April 10, 2022 in Augusta, GA. (Photo by David Cannon via Getty Images)

The 25-year-old Texan could become the seventh player in history to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same season, joining Craig Wood, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. With five PGA Tour wins, including two majors, Scheffler would lock in – with two months to go – one of golf’s most historic seasons.


7. Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas Wins 2022 PGA Championship
Justin Thomas poses with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills CC on May 22, 2022 in Tulsa, OK. (Photo by Ezra Shaw via Getty Images)

A 16th career PGA Tour win, third career major and second major of 2022 – at just 28 – would set the current world No. 5 on a path to become one of the very best of his generation, and among the all-time greats… JT would become just the fifth player in history to win the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the same season, joining Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Brooks Koepka. Big Boston Red Sox fan and won in Boston back in 2017 at the old TPC Boston playoff event.


8. Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson Wins 2020 Masters Augusta National
Dustin Johnson poses with the Masters Trophy during the Green Jacket Ceremony after winning the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on November 15, 2020 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

A second U.S. Open title, third major and 27th worldwide victory would place LIV Golf star in some historic company… More importantly, DJ would walk away with a brand new 5-year exemption into both the PGA and British Open, and a 10-year invite into the U.S. Open (his 2020 Masters title gave him a lifetime pass to Augusta)… Plus it would have the media and Ponte Vedra (but I repeat myself) crying like colicky babies.


9. Bryson DeChambeau

Bryson DeChambeau Wins 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot
Bryson DeChambeau poses with the championship trophy after winning the 120th U.S. Open Championship on September 20, 2020 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The 2020 U.S. Open champion would be a two-time winner of the U.S. national championship… Taking two titles in a three-year span, proves era dominance which LIV Golf will surely market… Also, with two majors at 28 he would join Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa as the only under-30 players with multiple majors.


10. Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson Wins 2021 PGA Championship
Phil Mickelson celebrates with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning during the final round of the 2021 PGA Championship held at the Ocean Course of Kiawah Island Golf Resort on May 23, 2021 in Kiawah Island, SC. (Photo by Gregory Shamus via Getty Images)

The longest of odds among this list, given his age and lack of recent starts, but a seventh major, and the career grand slam, would be game, set, match for the lefthanded legend. To do it amid this vicious smear campaign would deliver a movie-script level storyline! He would join Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer as seven-time major winners.


Bonus: Keegan Bradley

Keegan Bradley Wins 2011 PGA Championship
Keegan Bradley poses with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 93rd PGA Championship in a playoff at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, GA on Aug 14, 2011. (Photo by Montana Pritchard / PGA of America via Getty Images)

The 2011 PGA champion is no longer a tour star or a serious threat on a weekly basis, but he’s still a world top-50 player. The former Massachusetts (Hopkinton) High School Division 2 state champion is beloved in Boston and would be a hugely popular winner. While more of a feel-good story than any kind of history making, he would boast two majors among his five tour wins.


First-Time Winner

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay Win 2022 Zurich Classic
Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay pose with the trophy after winning the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana on April 24, 2022 in Avondale, New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen via Getty Images)

While they won’t make much in terms of history, these golfers are all expected claim a major very soon. So, a victory by any will sort of get it out of the way and set up history down the road. The best players without a major (and a big upside for long-term gains): Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris, Sam Burns, Tony Finau, Cam Smith, and Matt Fitzpatrick.


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