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PREVIEW: 2022 PGA Tour – US Open

The 2022 US Open gets underway this week beneath a Liv Golf-shaped cloud. Nonetheless, a stellar field is set to compete at Brookline this week with Damien Kayat previewing.

Collin Morikawa - US Open Preview

The 2022 US Open gets underway this week beneath a Liv Golf-shaped cloud. Nonetheless, a stellar field is set to compete at Brookline this week with Damien Kayat previewing.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2022 US PGA Tour
US Open
The Open Course, The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts
16th-19th June

Liv Golf cloud hangs over Brookline

The US Open is usually cause for celebration, with the world’s greatest golfers descending on some typically fiendish USGA layout for a true all-round test.

But the existential threat posed by Greg Norman and his clandestine band of rogues threatens to overshadow the year’s third Major Championship. The Saudi-backed Liv Golf circus enjoyed its first week of action at the Centurion Club.

And what a spectacle of golf it turned out to be, with Charl Schwartzel pipping Hennie Du Plessis to the post to win his first worldwide tournament in over six years.

Norman must have been delighted with that glitzy showdown. Back in the real world, Rory McIlroy shot 8-under on Sunday to claim his 2nd consecutive Canadian Open title.

Poetically, that victory saw McIlroy pull one clear of Greg Norman’s PGA Tour win tally with 21 victories. But let’s not kid ourselves. McIlroy’s victory and post-round bravado hid the truth of the matter.

The cat is out the bag. Samuel L Jackson could have won at Centurion. With the numbers that are being bandied about, it seems inevitable that this garish new venture is here to stay. But at what cost?

Battle of Brookline still fresh in the memory

Enough of that doom and gloom, let’s try to keep things positive. The Country Club at Brookline will play host to the 122nd edition of the US Open.

First staged in 1895 as a 36-hole event, the US Open has been a 72-hole stroke-play event since 1898. This event was entrenched as the second Major in the calendar year until the drastic schedule reshuffle of 2019.

This year’s US Open returns to the Country Club for the first time since Curtis Strange beat Nick Faldo in an 18-hole playoff in 1988. But let’s be real for a moment. Nobody has that memory singed in the back of their minds.

This venue is notorious for the 1999 Ryder Cup (known as the ‘Battle of Brookline’). It marked a turning point in golfing civility as the American side behaved appallingly in their remarkable comeback victory.

The players must be prepared for similarly raucous galleries this week. The New England area is renowned for its fanatical support. The fact that the Boston Celtics are currently competing in the NBA Finals will likely add more residual chaos to proceedings.

Players will need a strong temperament to withstand the pressure this week. The field is probably secretly grateful that Tiger has decided not to compete this week. Tiger’s presence in this arena may have been too much bedlam to handle.

Classical test awaits this week

The United States Golf Association- USGA- have come under plenty of scrutiny in recent years for their almost masochistic approach to setting up championship courses.

Founded way back in 1882, the Country Club is about as classical a test as you can get. And it is expected to test every aspect of a player’s arsenal. This isn’t quite as brutish in length as some of the more recent US Open venues.

I can’t imagine Bryson hitting just 22 fairways this week and lifting the trophy. The Country Club has retained its rugged muscularity despite numerous renovations.

Players will have to contend with plenty of blind shots and dangerous hillocks throughout their round. While this isn’t a tight affair, players will need to avoid the punitive fescue at all costs.

But the real defence of this course comes in the greens. They rank second behind Pebble Beach as the smallest green complexes in recent US Open history.

Pinpoint iron-play will be essential this week. The greens are also likely to be rapid this week and players will need to scramble for their lives. As clichéd as its sounds, just about every aspect of a player’s game has to work well this week in order to prevail at Brookline.

Contenders aplenty

Jon Rahm doesn’t really come into his title defence with too much fanfare this year. Perhaps the burly Spaniard will benefit from operating slightly under the radar this week.

Rory McIlroy is an obvious favourite last week after his scintillating performance at St Georges. The thing that really impressed me was how much his wedge game had improved since his last outing.

McIlroy was firing arrows last week and has a great chance of being in contention this week. US PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas arrives in scintillating form this week while World Number One Scottie Scheffler just continues to churn out consistent performances.

Elsewhere, pure ball-strikers such as Xander Schauffele and Cameron Smith could be in the running this week. And how about former US Open champ Justin Rose? The Englishman fell agonizingly short of a first career 59 in the final round of the Canadian Open.

It will be interesting to see what kind of reception the likes of Phil Mickelson and DJ receive this week. There is a chance of some real hostility amongst certain members of the golfing fraternity.

Past Winners

2021: Jon Rahm (-6)
2020: Bryson DeChambeau (-6)
2019: Gary Woodland (-13)
2018: Brooks Koepka (+1)
2017: Brooks Koepka (-16)
2016: Dustin Johnson (-4)

To Win Outright:

Rory McIlroy 11/1 | Scottie Scheffler 12/1 | Justin Thomas 14/1 | Jon Rahm 16/1 | Cameron Smith 20/1

Value Bets

Will Zalatoris- To Win 25/1 | To Place 11/2

Despite the fact that Zalatoris is yet to capture that maiden PGA Tour title, this still looks like a no-brainer for me. Zalatoris has the perfect combination of Major Championship form and current form. He already has five top 10’s in his short Major Championship career. That includes a runner-up finish at Augusta and a runner-up at this year’s US PGA Championship. Zalatoris also has five top 10’s in his last seven starts. He barely misses a fairway if he finds his driving rhythm. He just looks born to handle the vagaries of Major Championship golf.

Keegan Bradley- To Win 100/1 | To Place 22/1

Keegan Bradley makes for an attractive outside bet this week (especially to place). The 2011 US PGA Championship winner hasn’t been exceptional in Majors of late. In fact, he has finished outside of the top 25 in 14 of his last 15 Major Championships. But the Country Club seems to line up perfectly for Bradley. It isn’t just a matter of bombing it this week. Bradley is generally lethal with his irons and he should benefit from the smaller green complexes. He also has some decent form, with top 10 finishes in two of his last four events. He also has Boston roots and will likely enjoy passionate home support this week.

The Man to Beat- Collin Morikawa- To Win 25/1 | To Place 11/2

This is a killer price for iron specialist Collin Morikawa. With five top 10’s in just ten career Major Championships, Morikawa is the man for the big stage. He has lost strokes to the field in putting in six of his last eight events. But look what happened when his putting clicks (he finished T5 at the Masters and T2 at the Genesis Invitational). I just think the Country Club suits him to the bone. He is one of only two players in the field who ranks above average in Driving Distance and inside the top 10 for Driving Accuracy (the other being Mito Pereira). That fusion of power and accuracy should work a treat here. But his biggest advantage is the course’s greatest defence: those miniscule greens. There is no one in world golf with more accurate irons than Morikawa. Average putting could give him a chance to win his third Major this week.

Other Bets

Top Englishman- Justin Rose 4/1

I know that Matt Fitzpatrick is the fashionable choice in this category (he did win the 2013 US Amateur hosted at Brookline). But Fitzpatrick is just too frustrating to put any faith in. Rose’s final-round heroics at St Georges make him an easy pick in this market. He has been slowly coming back to his best form of late and Sunday was just the cherry on the cake.

First Round Leader- Rory McIlroy 20/1

Contrary to his usual style, McIlroy has actually been getting off to some pretty fast starts of late. He shot 67 in his first round at TPC Potomac and led at Southern Hills after the first day’s play. In fact, his five-under 65 was his lowest score in the opening round of a Major since the 2011 US Open. He was also in the mix from the get last week, shooting 66 in his opening round at St Georges.

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