This week, the 124th U.S. Open Championship will commence at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. Pinehurst No. 2 has become an anchor site for the USGA and will host the U.S. Open in 2029, 2035, 2041, and 2047. It previously hosted the 1951 Ryder Cup and three U.S Opens, all memorable ones. No Laying Up did a deep dive, looking back at the three U.S. Opens hosted at Pinehurst and you can watch it by clicking here.

In 1999, perhaps the most memorable finish to a U.S. Open ever occurred when Payne Stewart outlasted a star-studded leaderboard of Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, and Tiger Woods. Payne went on to win by just one shot over Mickelson. Stewart was the only player to finish under par that week at 1-under and his memorable putt he holed on the 72nd hole has been immortalized forever, with a statue at Pinehurst to commemorate his triumphant victory. That would be Stewart’s second US Open Championship, winning his first in 1991 in a playoff. Stewart tragically passed away a few months later in a plane crash that rocked the golf world, and his presence is still felt 25 years later.

In 2005, Pinehurst No. 2 flexed its muscles on the weekend, as the final pairing of Retief Goosen and Jason Gore both failed to break 80 in the final round, making way for Michael Campbell to fire a 69 and win by two over Tiger Woods. Campbell started the day four shots back and was able to hold off Woods who was charging his way to the top but never could come within striking range of Campbell. Campbell hadn’t finished inside the top 10 of a major since 1995 when he was in the final pairing at The Open Championship. He nearly missed his tee time because a helicopter that one of his sponsors had set up for him was 45 minutes late. He had to rush to the course where he shot 76, and missed out on a playoff by one shot. He finished tied for third in ’95 and after his win at Pinehurst in ’05, he finished T-5 at The Open Championship and T-6 at the PGA Championship that year. He never would finish better than T-35 after that but had a memorable week in 2005.

In 2014, Martin Kaymer blitzed the field with one of the most dominant performances in the Championships’ history. Kaymer set a new tournament record for lowest 36-hole score of 130 (- 10) by firing a pair of 65’s to start the Championship. He shot 72 in the third round but still held a comfortable five-shot lead over Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler, both shot the only sub-par rounds of the day and both shot 67. Kaymer capped off his week with a 1-under 69 to win by eight shots over Compton and Fowler. This was Kaymer’s second major victory and only three players finished the Championship under par.

Players to Watch For:

Scottie Scheffler (+300) – Not even handcuffs could keep Scheffler from finishing in the top 10 at last month’s PGA Championship. Scottie has unequivocally been the best player in the world in golf and has done very well at the U.S. Open. In the last three U.S. Open’s, Scheffler has finished T-7 in 2001, T-2 in 2022, and 3rd last year. He’s finished in the top 10 in five of the last six majors and since 2021, missed the cut at a major only once, with 10 top 10s and two wins at The Masters. He’s been massacring the field in strokes gained on approach shots which could be the key to Scheffler winning his first U.S. Open Championship.

Bryson DeChambeau (+2000) – The mad scientist is back again with his 3D-printed irons, which he talks about here. Bryson has been powerful at the majors this year but hasn’t been able to find his second major championship. He won the U.S. Open in 2020 by overpowering everyone and winning by six shots. After a phenomenal performance at the PGA Championship last month, where he took second place, DeChambeau is looking for his second U.S. Open Championship. When Bryson won in 2020, he gained over 2 shots on the field in approach shots and at the PGA Championship he gained over a stroke on the field in approach shots. If he keeps that up and can get to where he was in 2020, and his putting keeps going in the right direction, he should be in contention to be a two-time major champion.

Viktor Hovland (+2000) – Last fall, there wasn’t a hotter player in the world than Viktor Hovland, then he drastically cooled off, but right before the PGA Championship he reunited with his swing coach and came close to winning his first major. Hovland was the Low Amateur in 2019 and when he has made the cut at the U.S Open, hasn’t finished worse than 19th. His putting recently has been letting him down but in his last three events, has gained over a shot on the field in approach shots. His short game has also failed him as of late, but if he can put in another strong performance around the greens, similar to the PGA Championship a month ago, expect Viktor to be towards the top of the leaderboard.

Hideki Matsuyama (+3500) – Hideki Matsuyama has quietly put together a really good season on the PGA Tour. He won The Genesis back in February, finished T-6 at The Players, T-7 at the Valero Texas Open, and is coming off of a T-8 finish at the Memorial Tournament. Matsuyama is one of the best iron players in the world and when he is on with his irons, can beat any and everyone. He also struggles with the putter at times but has been putting better in the last month. Hideki is one of the rare players in the field who played in the 2014 U.S. Open where he finished T-35. Like Hovland, if the putter doesn’t fail him and if his ball striking is consistent all week, Matsuyama could be in contention for his second career major.

Sepp Straka (+7500) – Outside of the PGA Championship, Sepp Straka has been dangerously close to winning in the last two months. Other than the PGA Championship, Straka has finished T-16 or better with four top 10s and three top 5s since The Masters where he had his T-16 finish. He’s finished T-5 in his last two starts and while his irons weren’t the best last week at the Memorial, his putting made up for it. Straka is another great iron player and if he has his irons and putting both dialed in he can certainly make a run at the Championship. He’s also done well at majors with two top 10 finishes last year and the top 20 finish this year at Augusta.

Dean Burmester (+8000) – Dean Burmester isn’t a popular name but he’s a sneaky pick for this week at Pinehurst. Burmester has only played in two U.S. Open’s before this week but had a good showing at the PGA Championship last month. At LIV Golf, Burmester won in Miami in a playoff over Sergio Garcia and followed that up with a T-3 at Adelaide in April. At the PGA Championship, Burmester shined with his irons but his putting kept him just outside the top 10, with a T-12 finish. The South African qualified for the U.S. Open by posting 6-under in Final Qualifying to make it to Pinehurst.

Adam Scott (+11000) – Adam Scott is in the midst of one of the greatest streaks in all of golf. This will be his 92nd consecutive major he’s played in. Yes, you read that right, 92nd consecutive major. The last time Adam Scott didn’t tee it up in a major was the 2001 U.S. Open (Viktor Hovland was three years old then). Scott is the rare player who played Pinehurst in 2005 and 2014, he made the cut both times. In 2005 he finished T-28 and in 2014 he finished T-9. Scott has the experience, and 19 top 10s in majors but only has one major championship to his name (2013 Masters). The Australian thrives with an iron in his hand, and when he’s at his peak form, can still hang around with the young guns. He’s one of the longshots that can take home his second major championship and would be a popular win among fans.



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