BROOKLINE, Mass. — We interrupt the ongoing drama of who has left the PGA Tour — and who might still be going to the LIV Golf Invitational Series — for the 122nd U.S. Open, the third major championship of the season.
With two golf worlds colliding at The Country Club this week, the U.S. Open trophy is up for grabs at one of the oldest golf courses in the United States. It is the first time since 1988 that the club founded outside of Boston in 1882 has hosted the U.S. Open.
Golf’s best players, including two-time major champion Collin Morikawa, are hoping to put the drama aside for four days this week.
“We’re here at major championship, and we’re here to win the U.S. Open, and we’re here to play and beat everyone else in this field, in this great field,” Morikawa said. “That’s what it’s about.”
Who can win the U.S. Open this week? Here at the contenders, dark horses, long shots and those with no chance:
Tier I: The guys who can win
Here are the legitimate contenders to win the U.S. Open. They have the game, guts and nerves to handle four pressure-packed rounds on a setup that is traditionally the most difficult among the majors.
After an epic heater that included four wins, among them a victory at the Masters, the world No. 1 has cooled off a tad. He missed the cut at the PGA Championship and lost in a playoff at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Rahm, who won his first major at the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, has been out of sorts since winning the Mexico Open in May. He has been great from tee to green, but his work on and around the green has been too inconsistent.
McIlroy, a four-time major champion, hopes to do what Justin Thomas did at Southern Hills last month at the PGA Championship when JT ended his major drought. McIlroy enters this one having gone eight years since his last one. He squandered a good chance to win at the PGA Championship.
Schauffele has nine career top-10 finishes in majors, but missed the cut at Augusta National and tied for 13th at Southern Hills. Still, his performance at the U.S. Open has been remarkable, with five top-10s in as many starts, including a tie for seventh last year.
He might very well be the best player without a major championship victory, given how well he has performed this season. Smith, from Australia, prefers courses where he can light it up with birdies, so this might not be his best chance to get it done.
No one has gained more strokes per round (2.54) in majors than Zalatoris since 2020, according to Justin Ray of Twenty First Group. That’s why he has five top-10s in seven starts in majors as a pro. If Zalatoris ever figures out the flat stick, he’ll start winning them, too.
Morikawa’s recent form hasn’t been great — his best finish in his past five starts was a tie for 26th at the RBC Heritage and he missed the cut at the Memorial. But the two-time major champion’s ball-striking is good enough to get him in contention at any major.
The 2015 U.S. Open winner didn’t play great in the first two majors, missing the cut at the Masters and tying for 34th at the PGA Championship. Still, he won the RBC Heritage and finished second at AT&T Byron Nelson
DJ will be under the spotlight at The Country Club, as he was the highest-ranked player to leave the PGA Tour for LIV Golf. He won the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont and has six top-10s in 14 starts in the event.
Hovland is ranked eighth in the world and already has won three times on tour. That’s pretty remarkable considering that he’s 202nd in shots gained around the green and 159th in sand save percentage. Can someone please give him Tom Watson‘s number?
Cantlay, the defending FedEx Cup champion, has been trending in the wrong direction in majors. He tied for 39th at the Masters and missed the cut at the PGA Championship. He hasn’t had a top-10 finish at a major since tying for third at the 2019 PGA Championship.
Fitzpatrick is trending in the right direction at majors with a tie for 14th at Augusta National and a tie for fifth at Southern Hills. As an 18-year-old, he won the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club and became the first player from England since 1911 to hoist the Havemeyer Trophy.
The 2021 Masters champion has two victories this season, but he has been slowed by back and neck injuries the past few months. Then he was disqualified from the Memorial for having an illegal substance on the face of his 3-wood.
Burns has figured out how to close out victories, beating Scheffler in a playoff at the Charles Schwab Challenge and Davis Riley in a playoff at the Valspar Championship before that. He’s still looking for his first top-10 at a major.
Tier II: If everything goes right
Here are the sleeper candidates to lift the U.S. Open trophy on Sunday. The list includes former winners, rising stars and other players whose games have been works-in-progress this season. Will it all come together at The Country Club?
Young’s length off the tee (he averages 317.1 yards) will be at a premium at The Country Club. The PGA Tour rookie doesn’t have a victory yet, but he has a whopping eight top-25s in 18 starts. He’ll try to forget about his final-round 84 at the Memorial.
A newly married man, Koepka will look to turn things around on the course. The two-time U.S. Open champion missed the cut at the Masters and tied for 55th at the PGA Championship.
Lowry tied for second at the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, but hasn’t had a top-25 since then. The Irishman tied for third at the Masters, his best career finish.
A two-time winner on the PGA Tour, including a wire-to-wire victory at the Genesis in February, Niemann is a budding star. He is still looking for his first top-10 at a major.
Well well well, looks like another spot just opened up on that PIP list… pic.twitter.com/00hqooeocx
— max homa (@maxhoma23) June 6, 2022
His golf game is on point, too. He missed the cut in his first two U.S. Open starts as a pro.
With a tie for second at the Mexico Open, tie for fourth at the Charles Schwab Challenge and a solo second at the RBC Canadian Open, Finau believes his game has turned around. He has 10 top-10 finishes in majors.
Ancer seems to be creeping his way into becoming a major contender. He posted back-to-back top-10s at the PGA Championship.
He has two top-10 finishes at the Masters, but the native of South Korea hasn’t done much else in the majors.
He has made just two cuts in five starts in the U.S. Open, but he did tie for sixth at Shinnecock Hills in 2018. He said he doesn’t like Augusta National and slammed the setup at Southern Hills. Will he like The Country Club?
The PGA Tour rookie qualified by posting the low score, 12 under, at a U.S. Open qualifier in Columbus, Ohio.
Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, is one of seven Australians in the U.S. Open field.
After a so-so two-month stretch, also because of a back injury, Berger is starting to turn things around. He tied for fifth at the Memorial.
Oosthuizen, 39, doesn’t seem as interested in winning golf tournaments as much as he once did. He withdrew from the Masters because of a neck injury and tied for 60th at the PGA Championship.
With his victory at the Memorial, Horschel moved to 11th in the Official World Golf Ranking, the highest ranking of his career. His highest finish at the U.S. Open was a tie for fourth in his first start in 2013.
Harman ranks 180th in driving distance, averaging 288.3 yards. Five years ago, at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, which played to a record 7,741 yards, he tied for second, 4 shots behind Koepka.
Despite being one of the better ball-strikers on tour, Conners hasn’t made the cut in three U.S. Open starts.
Henley had the co-lead in each of the first three rounds at Torrey Pines in last year’s U.S. Open. He shot 5-over 76 in the final round and finished tied for 13th.
Wise earned an exemption by finishing solo second at the Memorial, which moved him to 44th in the world ranking.
Grace, who also played in the London event, tied for seventh at Torrey Pines last year, the native of South Africa’s third top-10 in the U.S. Open since 2015.
DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open winner, started his road back from left hand surgery with a missed cut at the Memorial.
With a tie for ninth at the PGA Championship, he secured spots in the U.S. Open and The Open.
Hoge, who picked up his first win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, tied for ninth at the PGA Championship. It was his first top-10 finish in a major.
Reed tied for 35th at the Masters and tied for 34th at the PGA Championship. What are the odds he ties for 33rd at The Country Club?
The 25-year-old from Italy finished tied for fourth at Torrey Pines, his first start in the U.S. Open.
Woodland won the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. It was his only top-10 in 11 starts.
Gooch, who picked up his first PGA Tour victory at the RSM Classic in late November, was one of the biggest surprises among players who jumped to LIV Golf because he had just started gaining momentum on the tour.
Kisner was red-hot in March, but cooled off considerably by missing the cut in three straight starts in May.
He hasn’t had a top-10 since tying for 10th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in early January.
List, who won for the first time at the Farmers Insurance Open in late January, is 0-for-5 on making the cut at the U.S. Open.
Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open winner, has two top-10s in 13 tour starts this season and came within a shot of golf’s magic number, shooting 60 in the final round in Canada.
Harold Varner III
HV3 is seeking his first made cut at the U.S. Open.
Tier III: Hey, miracles happen
They are the long shots. This tier includes a handful of aging former major champions and PGA Tour regulars.
Mickelson needs a U.S. Open victory to complete the career Grand Slam. He’ll try to do it in his 31st start in the event.
After nearly a five-month layoff because of hip surgery, English returned two weeks ago and missed the cut at the Memorial.
The 2011 PGA Championship winner hasn’t fared as well in the U.S. Open, missing the cut in four of his past five starts.
Garcia was a Ryder Cup rookie in 1999, when the Europeans lost to the Americans, 14½ to 13½, at The Country Club. Garcia earned 3½ points, tied with three others for most on the European team.
Cink hasn’t finished in the top 40 in the U.S. Open since a tie for 27th in 2009.
The 25-year-old from England has won three times on the DP World Tour since August 2020 to climb to 75th in the world ranking.
Tier IV: Happy to make the cut
They aren’t expected to be among the contenders unless something wild happens.
Piot, the 2021 U.S. Amateur champion, turned pro in May after his final season at Michigan State. He played in the first LIV Golf event in London.
The former European Ryder Cup player, who was found not guilty on charges of sexual assault, being drunk on an aircraft and assault during a flight in August 2019, won the British Masters in May, his first victory in nearly four years.
Sloan, who has made 118 PGA Tour starts, is from Alberta and played at UTEP. But he is a big Red Sox fan, so should feel at home in Brookline in his first major start.
Bramlett, who played at Stanford, was the youngest player to ever qualify for the men’s U.S. Open, at 14, in 2002.
— Grayson Murray (@GraysonMurray) June 5, 2022
Samooja, from Finland, shot a final-round 64 to pick up his first DP World Tour win at the Porsche European Open.
Kodaira has won seven times on the Japan Golf Tour and once on the PGA Tour, at the 2018 RBC Heritage. This will be his 11th start in a major.
The 22-year-old is drawing comparisons to fellow Australian Cameron Smith — because of his game and his wavy mullet. He won the Australian PGA Championship by a record 11 strokes in January.
Tier V: The qualifiers
Here are the remaining players among the 66 who aren’t PGA Tour regulars. They went through local and final qualifying to grab spots in the field. The last qualifier to win the U.S. Open was Lucas Glover in 2009.
Barnes stocked shelves at a grocery store during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. He’s now seventh on the Korn Ferry Tour The 25 with 10 top-25s in 14 starts.
Gotterup transferred from Rutgers to Oklahoma and won the Haskins Award and Jack Nicklaus Award as the national player of the year.
Mueller, a volunteer assistant coach at Grand Canyon University, is playing in his second straight major. He made an eagle on his first hole at the PGA Championship — but missed the cut.
Tier VI: The amateurs
Here are the amateur players who will attempt to do what stars such as Cantlay, Mickelson, Rahm and Spieth and so many others did at the U.S. Open before turning pro — winning a medal as low amateur.
Adrien Dumont de Chassart
The former Illinois star, who is from Belgium, was a two-time Big Ten Golfer of the Year.
The North Carolina junior qualified for the U.S. Open by finishing second in the 2021 U.S. Amateur.
The Pepperdine star is the son of a former professional golfer and grew up on a farm with 35,000 chickens in Chino, California.
Nakajima, from Japan, is the No. 1-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He tied for 28th at the Zozo Championship and was 41st at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
The Stanford star, who is from nearby Wellesley, Massachusetts, became the second-youngest player since World War II to make the cut at the U.S. Open at age 17 in 2019.