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US Open Tips 2021

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The 2021 US Open returns to Torrey Pines South Course, San Diego, California for the first time since 2008. The last time the United States Golf Association sent its Open Championship to Torrey Pines, Tiger Woods won on a broken leg.

13 years down the track and Tiger unfortunately won’t be competing, but the very best players in the world will be facing one of the sternest challenges, facing over 7,600 yards of the South Course which will be playing as a Par 71.

The 121st edition of the US Open takes place from Thursday 17th June 2021. Now into our 12th season, Golf Betting System will as ever be hunting for profit with our US Open tips from Paul Williams and Steve Bamford. Golf Betting System has full 2021 coverage with US Open tips, long-shot and alternative market selections, a full range of free course and player statistics, plus of course our famous free statistical Predictor Model.

 

You can also listen to our weekly Golf Betting System podcast which is also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and on our YouTube channel.

Recent US Open history (our event history stats page is here) features a new breed of Major winners. Bryson DeChambeau bludgeoned his way around Winged Foot to capture his first Major title, in doing so becoming only the second ever winner to average 320+ yards off the tee when capturing a Major.

2019 saw Gary Woodland capture his first Major at the iconic Pebble Beach. Off the back of consecutive PGA Championship top-8 finishes, Woodland delivered a masterclass of long, straight driving and elite level ball-striking at Pebble, holding off modern-day US Open king Brooks Koepka.

Brooks himself triumphed at both the 2017 and 2018 renewals held at the contrived Erin Hills and the classical faux-links at Shinnecock Hills. He hits the ball a mile, but undoubtedly has the patience, approach play and short game to tame tough golf courses.

Before Brooks, 2016 saw the buccaneering Dustin Johnson show huge mental resolve to capture his first Major despite being told on the 12th tee of the final round that he was being assessed for a one-shot penalty sustained for his ball moving on the 5th green as he was addressing his putt.

2015 saw 21 year-old, Jordan Spieth win back-to-back Majors at a versatile Chambers Bay course which split the opinions of both players and the wider golfing public. 2014 saw Martin Kaymer in a class of his own as he made playing Pinehurst Number 2 look unnaturally easy on his way to winning his 2nd Major title. 2013 saw Justin Rose capture his first Major Championship with an emotional victory at Merion Golf Club.

These victories followed on from first Major wins for Webb Simpson (Olympic Club 2012), Rory McIlroy (Congressional 2011), Graeme McDowell (Pebble Beach 2010) and Lucas Glover (Bethpage Black 2009).

So just who will be the 2021 US Open champion at the classical, coastal test which is Torrey Pines?

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US Open Insight and Tips Research

Golf betting at the Major Championships is a complex subject. Mistakes can be costly, however select the right player or player portfolio and the rewards can be excellent. Golf Betting System’s goal is to provide you with informed US Open tips, free tournament research guides and insight and information that will help you make educated decisions about what players to back at the 2021 US Open.

Course Information:

Since the first round of golf was played at Torrey Pines, South Course in 1957, the William F Bell-designed course has only hosted a single Major Championship. However the 2008 US Open is remembered in almost mythical status as Tiger Woods captured his 14th Major title on virtually one leg, beating Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole Monday play-off.

The South Course at Torrey Pines, like Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, is a beast of a track. Take January’s Farmers Insurance Open (for Farmers Insurance Open stats history for this week’s field click here), when the course was extended to its tips playing as a 7,765 yard Par 72. The United States Golf Association, as is their want, have changed that for their 2021 US Open Championship, with the course being set-up as a stretching (to say the least) 7,600+ yard, Par 71.

Torrey Pines South Course, San Diego, South California: Designer: Bell 1957, Rees Jones re-design 2001 and 2019; Course Type: Coastal, Classical; Par: 71; Length: 7,685 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 1; Fairways: Bermudagrass overseeded with Ryegrass; Rough: Kikuyugrass with Ryegrass 3″; Greens: 5,000 sq.ft average featuring Poa Annua; Tournament Stimp: 11.5ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 72.36 (+0.36), Difficulty Rank 21 of 49 courses. 2013: 72.66 (+0.66), Difficulty Rank 16 of 43 courses. 2014: 73.80 (+1.80), Rank 6 of 52 courses. 2015: 73.52 (+1.52), Rank 6 of 52 courses, 2016: 74.50 (+2.50), Rank 2 of 50 courses. 2017: 72.77 (+0.77), Rank 14 of 50 courses. 2018: 72.81 (+0.81), Rank 8 of 51 courses. 2019: 71.73 (-0.27), Rank 18 of 49 courses. 2020: 72.53 (+0.53), Rank 7 of 41 courses. 2021: 73.34 (+1.34).

Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Rees Jones designs (including re-designs/renovations) include:

  • Aronimink GC – 2010, 2011 A&T National & 2018 BMW Championship
  • Baltusrol – 2016 PGA Championship
  • Bellerive CC – 2018 PGA Championship
  • Bethpage Black – 2009 U.S Open, 2019 PGA Championship & 2012/2016 The Barclays
  • Blue Course, Congressional CC – 2011 U.S. Open & 2012-2014 & 2016 National
  • Blue Course, Royal Montreal GC – 2014 RBC Canadian Open
  • Dubsdread, Cog Hill GCC – 2009,2010,2011 BMW Championship
  • East Lake GC – Tour Championship
  • GC of Houston – Houston Open
  • Hazeltine – 2009 PGA Championship
  • Highlands Course, Atlanta Athletic Club – 2011 PGA Championship
  • Medinah Number 3 – 2019 BMW Championship

For Strokes Gained stats for the US Open field on Rees Jones tracks check out our SG Rees Jones page.

In 2019, the South Course received an ‘Open Doctor’ Rees Jones $14 million renovation with this US Open in mind. Jones and assistant Greg Muirhead added some tees and shifted around bunkers to help the course defend itself even more than standard. The most noticeable changes are at the par-5 9th and the par-4 10th, 15th and 17th holes. A new cross-hole bunker 50 yards short of the 9th green will make players have to think more when going for the green in 2 shots.

The 10th was always a relatively easy drive and wedge start to the back-9, but with a new back tee box the visual of the hole has changed dramatically, with the left side of the fairway split with a bunker, while a right fairway bunker pinches the landing zone. The 15th has again been lengthened to now play at 480 yards. The 17th also features a new back tee box and a pinched fairway landing area. So the longest course on the PGA Tour schedule now plays even longer. June is going to be interesting!

Torrey Pines South features seven 450+ yard par-4s, whilst all 4 of the par-5s are over 560 yards. The course features Poa Annua greens, the likes of which are only found on the west coast and north east of the United States, plus Canada. The course also features gnarly Kikuyugrass rough, the likes of which is only seen here and at Riviera Country Club plus Chapultepec, which used to host the World Golf Championship event in February. Longer rough for the US Open is guaranteed and will add significantly to the difficulty of the task. Longer and thicker Kikuyugrass rough means that the South Course will be extremely difficult in terms of proximity to the hole from the rough, or simply hitting a green in regulation.

It’s also imperative to note that the South Course’s Poa Annua greens are notoriously difficult to putt on, so look for those who have done well here previously or at Pebble, Riviera, Bethpage Black or the recent US Opens hosted at Oakmont (2016), Shinnecock Hills (2018) and Winged Foot (2020).

Below are some revealing winning player comments across recent Farmers Insurance Opens and from Tiger Woods at the 2008 US Open, all hosted at Torrey Pines:

Patrick Reed (2021): “You know, the back, the back was tough I mean, just in general. I step up, I made that long putt on 10 for par and really get to 11, it’s a hybrid on a par 3, plug it, plug it in the bunker. And then on 12 you’re hitting soft. I hit a soft 3 wood into 12 today from the fairway. So the golf course is playing tough.

Seemed like on the front nine the balls were hanging in on the edges of fairways or turning into the fairway and on the back nine it seemed like the balls were starting where they wanted to, it just seemed to keep on falling in the wrong direction and end up just in the rough. When you’re playing out of the rough, especially on this back nine, it’s a grind. I got on the wrong side of that where I was in the rough seemed like the whole time, putting it in the wrong spots. And the greens got a little bumpy there towards the end, missed a shorty on the par 5, which was a bad putt, a three putt and a short one on 17.

Just kind of one of those things that I felt like I just put myself in wrong spots on certain holes, but at the same time was able to kind of right the ship and make birdie on the last. Around here with how the rough is as well as with how slopey the greens are, if you have to rely on your short game too much, it could bite you. I think that was the biggest thing is the front nine today I was able to put myself in the right spots and was able to make putts and on the back nine it almost felt like I had to be more defensive because of just putting myself in the wrong spot.”

Marc Leishman (2020): “So it was funny because I drove it really well early in the week and then clearly I didn’t drive it well today. But my iron game was really good and then the putter. I holed some really good par saves there on the whole back nine really. Yeah, a bit of extra practice early in the week on the putting green get used to the Poa Annua. Kind of had a good feeling, but you never know what your week’s going to be like. So found something on the putting green early in the week and run with that. I said to Matty, when I had the putter in my hand, feels like it did in Malaysia a couple years ago when I won there, which it’s nice when it happens like that occasionally. I wish it could be like that every week.

I grew up on this grass, I grew up on kikuyu fairways, poa greens. It’s very, I mean, it’s hit and miss, you either putt great on it or you putt terribly, so I’m just glad it was a great. You saw some of the places I hit it, it wasn’t the most impressive stuff off the tee today, but if you miss it in the right spots and your putter’s hot, you can shoot anything. I proved that today. It’s nice to be able to do that and this feels pretty sweet.”

Justin Rose (2019): Yeah, I think it’s one of my favorite places, one of my favorite stops on Tour obviously. The South course is – I’m looking forward to getting some momentum on that one. We get to play it three days in a row, so it’s nice to get the North out of the way, shoot a good score, just what you have to do. Now I can focus on the South course. Obviously a different type of green, you go from the bent to the poa annua, but just the views out there, I think the design of the South course is one of my favorites. So yeah, anytime you enjoy playing a course, it tends to suit your eye. The South Course, I think second shot-wise this is a really key golf course. It’s well bunkered, you’ve got those little sort of tongues where they can stick the pins. You have to be smart with your iron play. The greens (inaudible) strategizing the second shot, trying to leave the ball – there are certain times you can use the slope and other times you want to be putting up the hill.”

Jason Day (2018): “I don’t know, it’s really bunched up there. It’s weird. Yeah, I remember looking up and I was tied for the lead at 10-under I think, and like you said, there were six guys. It’s one of those courses where it’s really hard to extend the lead. You can’t really run away with a lead here because it is so tough. I mean, driving, it’s so demanding on the driver, you have to get yourself in position. If you’re not and with how the greens are starting to bounce, it’s very difficult to get yourself back into position leaving yourself in the right spot to get up and down. Adds a little bit with how the greens – obviously with poa annua, it adds a little bit more, I guess, a nervous feeling when you hit certain putts. I think with a course like this it’s always tough. We’ve had a lot of history here with leads being really bunched up like we have had, and I think if you can get anywhere between 10 and 13 tomorrow, you’ve got a good chance at winning the tournament.”

Tiger Woods (2008 U.S. Open): “The golf course is in perfect shape. It’s totally different than what we play here in January. The greens are rolling. You’re finding the slopes are pretty significant out here, and we’re not used to seeing the ball roll this much hitting between 9 iron and 6 iron into the greens. So it doesn’t really change a whole lot by hitting driver except for bringing more trouble into play. Even though the golf course was renovated and changed, I still liked the sight lines, didn’t have a problem with reading the greens, even though they changed. For some reason I felt very comfortable here.

It’s a little quicker, but not much. The fairways, even though it’s summertime here, the fairways really aren’t running out that much. I think the interesting thing is you have 6 as a par-4. They’re looking at moving 3 up a couple of days. 14 is going to be up. 13 is way back.

We’re playing different distances in the tee boxes than what we normally do for the Buick. So getting a feel for that over the practice rounds I think is pretty important to develop a feel, but also develop a game plan on how to play them.

That’s the tricky part. We can get lies in that Kikuyugrass first cut that sit up where literally you can hit driver off of it. Bubba hit driver off 9 in the rough. Normally it’s an automatic wedge. But just happened to get one lie in that one kikuyu patch that it was sitting up. But there are some patches where you’re looking more sideways trying to get the ball back to the fairway.

That’s just going to be the tricky thing this week is trying to judge that. Marginal lies, can I carry the ball on the green, do I need to run it, do I even take a chance? All these things that we don’t normally have to worry about in an Open come into play. I think that’s one of the great things how it’s set up is that we have a chance of getting to the green and actually catching flyers and hitting the ball over the green, which is different. Most Opens that’s never entered into the equation.

The greens are actually interesting, the first bounce is a little bit springy. It takes a pretty good hop, but then it starts stopping. Speed has picked up over the last two days, noticeably. I don’t know if they’re going to pick up another six inches or a foot come Thursday. But they’re starting to get that little sheen to them today. But it’s just a matter of,  they could get a little bit firmer, but I don’t think they really want to. If they play all the tees back for a couple of days I hope they don’t get them too firm.

The lines on the greens are much higher here now. I’m used to seeing lines a little bit straighter, a little lower, and with a lot less pace. Some of the putts have a lot more swing at the end. They’re rolling out a little bit more. Up and over ridges. Like the putt I made this year on 11 you couldn’t make that putt right now. It’s just too fast. A good putt would be almost to the front of the green. So you can’t get away with approach shots like you did during the Buick.”

US Open Tips

Torrey Pines: A long track featuring Kikuyugrass and Poa Annua

All-Round Ability With Classical Course Heritage

We’re at an advantage with Torrey Pines South Course, compared to last year’s venue Winged Foot, on the basis that the course hosts the Farmers Insurance Open each and every year on the PGA Tour. So we can look at both the traditional skill sets including Total Driving, Ball Striking and All-Round numbers, plus we can use Strokes Gained skill-sets as well to get a full picture of what it takes to go well around Torrey Pines.

Here we’ve taken the past 5 years of Farmers Insurance Open action from 2017 through 2021:

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2021, Patrick Reed (-14). SG Off the Tee: 31st, SG Approach: 39th, SG Around the Green: 1st, SG Tee to Green: 12th, SG Putting: 10th.
  • 2020, Marc Leishman (-15). SG Off the Tee: 48th, SG Approach: 5th, SG Around the Green: 56th, SG Tee to Green: 16th, SG Putting: 1st.
  • 2019, Justin Rose (-21). SG Off the Tee: 13th, SG Approach: 5th, SG Around the Green: 16th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 28th.
  • 2018, Jason Day (-9). SG Off the Tee: 8th, SG Approach: 50th, SG Around the Green: 23rd, SG Tee to Green: 24th, SG Putting: 31st.
  • 2017, Jon Rahm (-13). SG Off the Tee: 1st, SG Approach: 4th, SG Around the Green: 38th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 37th.

For full Strokes Gained ranks for Torrey Pines since 2016 read our SG Torrey Pines page.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 20th, SG Approach: 21st, SG Around the Green: 27th, SG Tee to Green: 11th, SG Putting: 21st.

Let’s additionally take the final skill statistics from the last 5 winners around Torrey Pines. This gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2021, Patrick Reed (-14). 288 yards (51st), 64.3% fairways (9th), 61.1% greens in regulation (63rd), 37’9″ proximity to hole (46th), 71.4 % scrambling (6th), 1.59 putts per GIR (1st), total driving 20th, ball striking 49th, all-round 8th.
  • 2020, Marc Leishman (-15). 296 yards (34th), 48.2% fairways (58th), 72.2% greens in regulation (14th), 33’10” proximity to hole (17th), 75.0 % scrambling (4th), 1.67 putts per GIR (4th), total driving 54th, ball striking 35th, all-round 5th.
  • 2019, Justin Rose (-21). 310 yards (11th), 62.5% fairways (8th), 77.8% greens in regulation (2nd), 32’11” proximity to hole (17th), 56.3 % scrambling (58th), 1.59 putts per GIR (3rd), total driving 1st, ball striking 1st, all-round 3rd.
  • 2018, Jason Day (-9). 319 yards (2nd), 53.6% fairways (26th), 68.1% greens in regulation (11th), 36’6″ proximity to hole (22nd), 65.2 % scrambling (17th), 1.63 putts per GIR (4th), total driving 5th, ball striking 3rd, all-round 1st.
  • 2017, Jon Rahm (-13). 297 yards (16th), 60.7% fairways (19th), 73.6% greens in regulation (12th), 28’11” proximity to hole (3rd), 68.4 % scrambling (10th), 1.72 putts per GIR (10th), total driving 9th, ball striking 5th, all-round 1st.

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 23rd, Driving Accuracy: 24th, Greens in Regulation: 20th, Proximity to Hole: 21st, Scrambling: 19th, Putting Average 4th, Total Driving 18th, Ball Striking 19th, All-Round 4th.

Torrey Pines is just one of those classical golf courses that’s brilliant in the way that diametrically opposite player skill-sets can ultimately succeed. That’s often the case with old-style, tree-lined courses and Torrey Pines South Course takes this to an extreme. Look at either strokes gained or traditional golf statistics and when all is said and done, they all come out the creamiest shade of vanilla on the basis that opposites win here.

Rahm, Rose and Day all hit the ball a long way and had high Greens in Regulation plus Ball-Striking numbers from 2017 through 2019. Then Leishman and Reed used different paths to victory. Leishman was longish and crooked off the tee, but then lived a charmed life both with his approaches and scrambling. Patrick Reed, on the other hand, was conservative off the tee hitting lots of fairways; he hit a relatively low number of greens but, as Patrick Reed does, he scrambled and putted unbelievably well.

The one consistent number across all winners here is their Putting Average (Putts per GIR) on the week they won. Strokes Gained Putting numbers again vary from poor – 37th in the field – to the very best in the field, but Day, Leishman, Reed, Rahm and Rose were all in the top 10 for converted putt per Green in Regulation on the Poa Annua greens the week they won here.

Correlating Course Form

Let’s link the last 5 Torrey Pines winners Jon Rahm (2017), Jason Day (2018), Justin Rose (2019), Marc Leishman (2020) and Patrick Reed (2021) in terms of correlating courses where they’ve performed well at.

  • Kapalua: Rahm – 2nd; Day – 3rd; Leishman – 4th, 7th; Reed – 1st, 2nd, 2nd.
  • Pebble Beach: Rahm – 3rd, 5th; Day – 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 6th; Rose – 3rd, 6th; Reed – 6th, 7th.
  • Bay Hill: Day – 1st; Rose – 2nd, 3rd, 3rd; Leishman – 1st, 2nd, 7th; Reed – 7th.
  • Augusta National: Rahm – 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th; Day – 2nd, 3rd, 5th; Rose – 2nd, 2nd 5th; Leishman – 4th, 5th, 9th; Reed – 1st, 8th, 10th.
  • Colonial: Rahm – 2nd, 5th; Day – 4th; Rose – 1st, 3rd; Reed – 7th.
  • Muirfield Village: Rahm – 1st; Day – 4th; Rose – 1st, 2nd, 2nd 4th; Leishman – 5th, 5th; Reed – 8th, 10th.
  • Open Championship: Day – 4th; Rose – 2nd, 4th, 6th; Leishman – 2nd, 5th, 6th; Reed – 10th, 12th.
  • Firestone South: Day – 4th; Rose – 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th; Leishman – 3rd; Reed 4th.
  • TPC Boston: Rahm – 4th, 6th; Day – 2nd, 3rd, 7th; Rose – 2nd, 3rd, 4th; Leishman – 3rd; Reed – 4th, 5th, 6th.   

Let’s start by saying 4 of the last 5 Farmers Insurance winners at Torrey Pines had top-10 finishes there prior to their victory. Day (2nd, 9th), Rose (4th, 8th), Leishman (2nd, 2nd, 8th) and Reed (6th) had all experienced some success at La Jolla. That’s also a pattern clearly marked by the last US Open winner at Torrey, Tiger Woods, so inevitably that’s a considerable question-mark against the likes of Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau and Webb Simpson – all of whom have limited experience here.

Crossovers are clear and pretty fascinating. All have had considerable success at the classical and long masterpiece which is Augusta National. Bay Hill fits in that regard, as does Colonial which is far shorter but classical and tree-lined in nature. All bar Rose have had considerable success on the Plantation Course at Kapalua with its sea vistas, and the faux-links at TPC Boston also correlates with all 5 players having finished in the top-4 in Massachusetts.

Then we get to Poa Annua golf course correlation. Pebble Beach is obvious. Muirfield Village in Ohio is a classical Par 72 which features Bentgrass and Poa Annua mix greens. Again all bar Rahm (who never played there) have top-4 finishes at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational held at Firestone South, which again features Bentgrass and Poa Annua mix greens. You might also want to explore a potential Open Championship angle which works for all bar Rahm, and certainly works for other Torrey Pines winners such as Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker.

West Coast Poa Annua Experience

Another intriguing aspect to the last 4 winners of Major Championships held on Poa Annua-base greens in California is the fact that they’d all, to varying degrees, posted successful results on similar green types within the Western United States prior to their Major triumph.

Starting with Tiger Woods is always a misnomer, but Woods was the winner of the last United States Open to be played at Torrey Pines back in 2008. Now quantifying success is always pretty easy with Mr Woods and in this example Tiger had already won the 2000 US Open held at Pebble Beach, the 2000 Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Buick Invitational (1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008) held at Torrey Pines prior his 2008 victory. He’d also won he 2005 WGC American Express Championship held at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. To say he excelled on Poa Annua greens in his home state is an understatement of large proportions.

We move onto Graeme McDowell, whose success in California, prior to his 2010 U.S. Open win at Pebble Beach, was not as pronounced as Tiger’s, but it was certainly visible. G-Mac had finished 8th at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2005, a year when he also finished 6th at the WGC American Express Championship behind Tiger. And, in the early winter of 2009, Graeme also finished 2nd behind Jim Furyk at the Chevron Challenge, hosted at Sherwood Country Club in the western suburbs of Los Angeles.

Jumping 9 years to 2019, Gary Woodland won another Pebble Beach-hosted US Open, taking his 4th PGA Tour title and his first Major Championship into the bargain. Gary’s triumph followed a very similar pattern with excellent Poa Annua base results across both California and in neighbouring Nevada. Montreux Country Club features Bentgrass and Poa Annua mix greens and Woodland won the Reno Tahoe Open in 2013 and was the runner-up at the same course in 2016. 9th at the 2012 Fry’s.com Open hosted at CordeValle takes us into California, where Gary had finished 10th (2014) and 9th (2019) at Torrey Pines, runner-up to Rory McIlroy at the 2015 WGC Cadillac Match Play hosted at TPC Harding Park, plus 5th at the 2017 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach itself. Woodland really was pretty Poa Annua-positive.

That takes us on to the PGA Championship winner at TPC Harding Park last August, Collin Morikawa. That’s certainly a course interwoven into all 4 California Major winners since 2008. Collin is Californian and studied at the University of California Berkeley in San Francisco. Amazingly he’d only played in 27 PGA Tour events before winning the 2020 PGA Championship, but in that time he’d already taken the same title as Woodland when capturing the 2019 Barracuda Championship at Montreux Country Club in Nevada. 10th at the Safeway Open at Silverado Country Club came on Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix greens in California and Collin, just 3 tournaments prior to winning the PGA, had won the Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village in Ohio. That’s another course that features Bentgrass and Poa Annua mix greens. It’s also another course where Tiger’s won 5 times and where Gary Woodland has 3 top-6 finishes.

Below you’ll find the top-10 finishers across the last 4 Majors held on Poa Annua base greens since 2008:

2020 PGA Championship – TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, California

  • 1st Collin Morikawa; T2 Paul Casey, Dustin Johnson; T4 Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Matthew Wolff; 9th Justin Rose; T10 Cameron Champ, Joel Dahmen, Xander Schauffele.

2019 U.S. Open – Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California

  • 1st Gary Woodland; 2nd Brooks Koepka; T3 Jon Rahm, Chez Reavie, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele; T7 Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott; T9 Chesson Hadley, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson.

2010 U.S. Open – Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California

  • 1st Graeme McDowell; 2nd Gregory Havret; 3rd Ernie Els; T4 Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods; T6 Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III; T8 Alex Cejka, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Brandt Snedeker.

2008 U.S. Open – Torrey Pines South Course, La Jolla, California

  • 1st Tiger Woods; 2nd Rocco Mediate; 3rd Lee Westwood; T4 Robert Karlsson, D.J. Trahan; T6 M.A. Jimenez, John Merrick, Carl Pettersson; T9 Eric Axley, Geoff Ogilvy, Heath Slocum, Brandt Snedeker, Camilo Villegas.

Key Player Statistics To Look Out For

In this day and age of statistics, it’s interesting to look at what inbound player skill strengths, if any, are particularly shared by US Open winners. Naturally this cannot be an exact science as the US Open moves from course-to-course, with venues changing in terms of key requirements required by the eventual winner. Nothing highlights that more than the  difference between Erin Hills, Shinnecock Hills, Pebble Beach and Winged Foot over the past 4 U.S. Open renewals. However there are definite patterns which are not exact, but definitely highlight trends.

For instance 10 of the last 14 winners of the US Open ranked in the top 13 in the All-Round skill category in their last appearance. It’s also fact that no US Open winner over the same timescale, has been outside the top 18 for Greens in Regulation in the week they won. Naturally hitting your irons and approaches well is of huge benefit.

But if we’re looking for strong skill-sets in a winner’s previous appearance, we actually need to look for top-level driving. In Brooks Koepka (twice), Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose we have 5 players who ranked 25th, 1st, 1st, 16th 1st and 8th for Total Driving in their previous appearance.

For Martin Kaymer that happened to be at Wentworth, so he has to be excluded from the Strokes Gained stat angle, but that Total Driving number also translates very well to Strokes Gained Off the Tee. Here DeChambeau (16th), Koepka (5th), Koepka (2nd), Johnson (4th), Spieth (5th) and Rose (13th) clearly had real confidence with the driver when they arrived at Winged Foot, Shinnecock Hills, Erin Hills, Oakmont, Chambers Bay and Merion respectively. If the European Tour had a consistent Strokes Gained Stat back in 2014, Kaymer would have been very close to the top of it at Wentworth as well.

If we go back to 2010 and look at Graeme McDowell’s lead-in to his US Open victory, he played the Wales Open on the European Tour, which he won. That week he topped Greens in Regulation at 80.6%, was 15th for Total Driving and was 2nd in the All-Round category.

2019 US Open champion Gary Woodland was 52nd in his previous appearance at the Memorial Tournament, which showed absolutely no hint of a Pebble Beach victory, but even with Woodland the All-Round, Total Driving and Strokes Gained Off The Tee angle works when you extrapolate a little. Prior to Muirfield Village, Gary had finished 8th at the PGA Championship – that was his second Major top-10 in his last 3 attempts. At Bethpage Black he’d ranked 4th for All-Round, 7th for Total Driving and 7th for Strokes Gained Off The Tee.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau muddies the waters again, undoubtedly struggling with his All-Round came on his previous outing at East Lake. However both his Strokes Gained Off the Tee and Greens in Regulation numbers were in decent enough shape:

Key US Open Statistics

YearUS Open WinnerGIRPrevious EventAll Round RankTotal DrivingSG Off Tee
2020Bryson DeChambeau66.67% (13th)East Lake28th25th16th
2019Gary Woodland72.22% (2nd)Memorial40th39th66th
2018Brooks Koepka61.1% (33rd)St Jude25th25th5th
2017Brooks Koepka86.1% (1st)St Jude13th1st2nd
2016Dustin Johnson76.4% (1st)St Jude2nd1st4th
2015Jordan Spieth76.4% (6th)Memorial5th16th5th
2014Martin Kaymer62.5% (18th)BMW PGA1st1stN/A
2013Justin Rose69.4% (9th)Memorial8th8th13th
2012Webb Simpson58.8% (16th)MemorialMCMCMC
2011Rory McIlroy86.1% (1st)St Jude18th16th20th
2010Graeme McDowell80.6% (1st)Wales Open2nd15thN/A

 

 

Long and Not Particularly Straight

US Opens are all about the length of the rough. Every year from the Monday of tournament week, we see videos on Social Media with balls disappearing into rough and never reappearing! In every player interview prior to the off, the mantra is ‘got to keep the ball in the fairway’, as it’s continually repeated. The time old discussion point prior to US Opens is how does the USGA’s policy of 4-inch rough actually affect the outcome of the tournament. ‘Long and straight works’ is something I utter on our US Open Golf Betting System Podcast every year, but is that actually true?

Well a perusal of the last 6 winners’ season-long statistics is quite revealing. Jordan Spieth in 2015 was the shortest off the tee, although he ranked 43rd for Driving Distance All Drives – which is long enough. But from 2016 onwards, it’s clear that brute power off the tee is paramount. That was certainly the strategy for Bryson DeChambeau at Winged Foot last year, who with his immense power was hitting short irons and wedges from the rough as close to the green as possible. One word of caution though for Torrey Pines is that the South Course features gnarly, tough Kikuyugrass rough, which may well turn the tables towards those who are long and straight once again…

US Open Driving

YearUS Open WinnerDriving AccuracyDriving DistanceDriving Distance All Drives
2020Bryson DeChambeau140th1st1st
2019Gary Woodland79th13th17th
2018Brooks Koepka155th8th5th
2017Brooks Koepka154th7th3rd
2016Dustin Johnson138th2nd2nd
2015Jordan Spieth80th78th43rd