The talk is done, and it is time to play some golf.
The U.S. Open kicks off this morning on the South course at Torrey Pines in San Diego. A field of 156 golfers will take to the course in hopes of making the cut of the top 60 golfers and ties to play the weekend.
If there is a tie come the end of the 72 holes, there will be a two-hole, aggregate playoff.
In addition to the first place check of $2.25 million, the winner of the Open picks up a few perks.
- S. Open exemption for the next 10 years
- An invitation to the next five Masters
- An invitation to the next five Open Championships
- An invitation to the next five Players Championships
- Exempt status on the PGA Tour for five years
The last – and only – time the U.S. Open was held at Torrey Pines was 2008 when Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate on basically one leg in a Monday playoff.
The course figures to be as tough as it was that year, when Woods and Mediate were the only two to finish under par at 1-under.
Bryson DeChambeau is the defending champion, winning the title by six strokes last year at Winged Foot.
Heading into this week, much of the talk centered around the on-going feud between DeChambeau and two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka.
The two have been exchanging jabs on social media, leading to hope that the USGA may pair the two in the first two rounds. Calmer heads prevailed and not only are they not paired together, but they are in different flights for the first two days.
Personally, I would have loved to see them battle it out, but as many pointed out, it may have taken away from the focus of the tournament.
One thing about golf in the recent years is that cases could be made for 10-15 golfers to win a major, and that’s much the same here.
You can put out names like DeChambeau, Koepka, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Collin Morikawa, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, and Dustin Johnson, and feel good they could all win the tournament.
Then you look at Phil Mickelson who turned back time in winning the PGA and now seeks the elusive U.S. Open championship on the course he played growing up.
New to the party sensations like Will Zalatoris, Cameron Smith, Viktor Hovland, and Patrick Cantlay could be in the fight come Sunday afternoon.
So, how does it shake out?
While I mentioned many could win it, I think it comes down to two players – Rahm and Koepka.
Rahm has played sensational golf at Torrey over the last four years during the Farmers Insurance Open – a PGA Tour event held in February.
He picked up hist first PGA Tour win in the tournament in 2017, then finished fifth, second, and seventh in the next three starts. He even proposed to his wife at Torrey Pines.
In his last start he was leading the Memorial by six shots on Saturday when he was told he had tested positive for COVID and was not allowed to finish the tournament.
For awhile his status for the Open was uncertain, but back-to-back negative tests last weekend cleared him to return to preparation.
I feel he will come out on fire from start to finish.
As for Koepka, there may be no better player when it comes to majors. He turns on the laser focus like few others when it comes to the U.S. Open.
The winner in 2017 and 2018, he finished second in 2019 at Pebble Beach. Last year he had to pull out of the tournament with an injury.
He also seems to be at his best when he feels like he has something to prove and this on-going banter with DeChambeau may have poked the bear, something the rest of the field did not need to happen.
It will be a great four days of golf with the best in the world taking on the scenic, but extremely tough Torrey Pines South Course.
For those of you Dads out there, have a great Father’s Day!
By Dennis Miller