Golf tips: How to pick a winner at the US Open
Jack Green examines the trends from the past 20 years at the US Open and picks out three players who fit the profile of a winner.
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This year’s US Open is different in a couple of ways.
Rather than being played in June as the third major of the season, this year’s tournament is 2020’s second major and is taking place a fortnight after the PGA Tour season finished.
While this week at Winged Foot is going to have a strange feel to it, though, it’s still possible to look back at the history of the US Open – and the players who have won it – to predict who will be in contention this time around.
The US Open is always a really difficult test, and a player has to be at the peak of his powers to win it.
This isn’t a tournament for those nearing the end of their career or just getting started. The last 12 winners were aged 35 or under, and 10 of those were over the age of 25.
This week, then, we’re looking for a player in his prime, between the ages of 25 and 35.
The US Open has also favoured golfers from the host nation, particularly in the past few years. Of the last 12 winners, eight were American, including each of the last five.
So while European stars like Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy can’t be ruled out completely, recent history suggests it’s better to stick with players from the US this time around.
This is also not an event in which outsiders triumph very often.
The best players in the world have dominated the US Open, with the last nine champions having all come from inside the top 30 in the world rankings.
We’ll therefore be sticking strictly to players in that range this week.
Given that this tournament is often won by great American players, it’s no surprise that 16 of the last 20 US Open champions had at least one PGA Tour win to their name, including each of the last nine.
Unlike any other major, the US Open is run by the USGA and typically presents a completely unique challenge, with thick rough, fast greens and very difficult scoring.
As a result, it’s rare that a player comes in and does well on his first appearance.
It’s imperative to have taken part in the US Open in the past and done well, with 18 of the past 20 champions having finished inside the top 20 at least once prior to their win.
A good showing at the previous year’s US Open is also crucial, with 16 of the last 20 champions having made the cut in the year before their triumph.
Finally, this is a tournament that has provided players with their major breakthrough in recent years.
Eight of the last 11 US Open champions had never previously won a major, so this week there’s a good chance someone follows on from Collin Morikawa’s PGA Championship win by earning their first major victory.
Taking all the above criteria into account, then, this week we’re looking for an American aged between 25 to 35, who is currently inside the top 30 in the world rankings.
They must have made the cut at the US Open last year, finished inside the top 20 at some point in their career and have at least one PGA Tour win to their name.
Three players fit the bill.
Xander Schauffele is hugely fancied this week, and for good reason. The 26-year-old from California has finished inside the top six in all three of his US Open starts, including a T3 last year.
He has four PGA Tour wins under his belt and is currently the world No. 7.
Bryson DeChambeau has won six PGA Tour events and is coming off a T35 finish at last year’s US Open. The 27-year-old’s best finish at this tournament was a T16 in 2016, and he’s currently ranked ninth in the world.
Daniel Berger has climbed to 13th in the world rankings after an excellent run of form post-restart and has three career PGA Tour wins. The 27-year-old finished T6 at the US Open in 2018 and made the cut last year on his way to a T49 finish.
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