Playing a little of 7,200 yards, this Par 70 has been modernised to test the elite and will be a stern test of capabilities. Unlike other majors like the Masters, played on the same course every year or the Open, where a strong links game is required, the US Open poses a very different challenge every year.
This is a shorter track than we’ve become accustomed to seeing, though at par-70, Total Driving stats will be just as key here as in years gone by. Torrey Pines and winged foot were a show of bombers, as this competition has particularly highlighted in recent years, and this is likely to be no different.
US Open Contenders
Jon Rahm is here to defend his title and there’s no reason to suggest that he can’t and looks worth siding with at his price. There’s no better player off the tee on tour this year than the Spaniard, and at a course that there’s next to no form to go off (other than the 2013 US Amateur Open), Total Driving stats and Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee are often a very good indicator at US Opens. Rahm ranks 1st in both.
It's true he’s not played an excessive amount of golf in recent months, though that could certainly work in his favour. He’s managed just four stroke play events in the last three months, winning in Mexico in an admittedly weaker field than we find here and managing a top-10 at the Memorial last month.
His T-48th at the USPGA was courtesy of poor short game as he drove the ball better than anyone in the field that week, and if his putter is hot here, which it certainly can be, it’s very hard to look past him.
His approach play more than backs up his big stick, ranking first for greens in regulation, which will prove pivotal on these smaller greens that will be missed very regularly over the four days.
His work around the green needs improvement where he ranks outside the top-15- on tour, though the customary thick rough only on display at the US Open will likely serve to nullify the very best around the greens, playing even further into Rahm’s hands.
All-in-all, Rahm looks the best of the market leaders to follow in the footsteps of Brooks Koepka, Curtis Strange, Ben Hogan and others before them in achieving back-to-back victories at this event.
Further down the market is SungJae Im, with the South Korean looking a major champion in waiting. The Majors are a real test of skill and mentality, which the youngster has in abundance. He’s already competed at the Masters, twice, finishing second behind a record-breaking Dustin Johnson in 2020 and managing a top-10 finish this year when constantly in and around the hunting pack without ever making a big move.
Bogey avoidance has been another key indicator in recent renewals of this event, with Rahm ranking in the top-10 last year and making just the single bogey in his closing round, while Gary Woodland hit just four over the week of his 2019 victory, the lowest of anyone in the field. Im ranks second in that regard so far this season, and that nerve has served him well all throughout his career to date.
His Total Driving stats are up there with the very best as he sits 11th off the tee this year, and ninth from tee-to-green. He comes into this off the back of stroke play form figures of 8-21-15-10, and scrambled beautifully at both the Heritage and the Memorial in that run which will give him confidence when missing the greens here. There are few better equipped than the 24-year-old who is worth getting behind here at a good price.
Nobody has a better US Open record than Xander Schauffele, and it’s baffling that he hasn’t picked up the title yet. His form at this event reads 5-6-3-5-7 so he’s undoubtedly got the game to take the crown at some point, and there’s little reason why this year can’t be his with his underlying stats looking well suited for this test.
He ranks fourth in Total Driving and ninth for bogey avoidance on tour this season, and there’s a general feeling that this is the perfect major for him to break his duck.
He’s the current reigning Olympic Champion and also won the Zurich Classic just a few weeks ago alongside Patrick Cantlay so confidence will be high, and a good few weeks which has seen him finish 5-13-18 before a week off is a perfect foundation on which to build here.
American’s have won six of the last seven US Opens and each of the last three Majors, and Schauffele looks the best price of the bunch to extend that run for his nation.
JON RAHM E/W
SUNGJAE IM E/W
XANDER SCHAUFFELE E/W
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