The U.S. Open is returning to Torrey Pines South for the second time, following Tiger Woods’ victory in 2008. (Won in a 19-hole Monday playoff against Rocco Mediate). Since the 1950s, Torrey Pines has been a regular stop on the PGA Tour, with both the North and South courses being used.
Patrick Reed, the current Farmers Insurance Open champion, will look to repeat Tiger Woods’ Torrey Pines double, having won the 2008 Buick Invitational there earlier that year. Phil Mickelson, the current PGA Champion, has three victories at the venue, including his first as a professional in 1993. Winning this year to complete a career grand slam would be the pinnacle of a remarkable career.
Bryson DeChambeau, the powerful hitting American, won the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot at 25/1 pre-tournament. DeChambeau emerged from the lockdown as a reinvigorated athlete, and his tactic of overpowering the traditional U.S. Open set-up paid off as he cruised to a six-shot triumph, the only player in the field to break par throughout the four days. DeChambeau’s form had cooled in the run-up to the tournament after being the hottest player on tour following the resumption, thus despite drifting in the betting previous to the tournament, 25/1 would have garnered a lot of attention.
Matthew Wolff (75/1) was leading going into the final round, but he still showed plenty of potential, finishing second on a course that averaged just over 74 (+4) for the four rounds. Harris English (75/1) shot 73 to finish fourth alongside Xander Shauffelle (14/1). Louis Oosthuizen (80/1) finished third after a recent uptick in form, while Harris English (75/1) managed to put the frustration of a lost ball on the first in the final round behind him, shooting 73 to finish fourth.
Dustin Johnson, the tournament favorite, finished sixth, never in contention, with a 73 on opening day, when conditions were at their most hospitable, arguably giving him too much to accomplish. Rory McIlroy was never able to exert any pressure despite being within striking distance going into the final round. PGA Champion Collin Morikawa, Tiger Woods, and favored English duo Tommy Fleetwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick all missed the cut.
On to our picks for this year…
Christian Bezuidenhout +16000
The South African has the game to win around here and is arguably the best-matched player to the course this year. He has not missed a cut all season long, which means you should certainly get a run for your money. This has been because he has not shot over par once in this first round this season which has set him up for the weekend ahead. He ranks sixth on TOUR for both strokes gained around the green and putting, so as long as he stays relatively straight off the tee, he should have a good week.
TO MAKE THE CUT
Jason Kokrak -225
Kokrak has been one of the main stars on the PGA Tour this year and has been the epitome of consistency. He has made the cut in his previous 13 tournaments and has two wins under his belt, the last of which was in his last tournament at the Charles Schwab Challenge. As such, he ranks sixth in the FedEx standings and has a genuine shot of taking that title this season.
TOP TEN FINISH
John Rahm +125
While Rahm is a short price to finish inside the top ten this week, it is for excellent reason. He has ten top-ten finishes this year and was set to make it 11 before withdrawing after testing positive for Covid-19 recently. From interviews I have read with the media, he seems in good health and determined to get back to winning ways. He is looking to build on his third-place US Open finish in 2019, and you wouldn’t bet against the Spaniard doing so.
LEADER AFTER ROUND ONE
Cameron Smith +5500
Cameron Smith has starred in most tournaments this season, like Usain Bolt starting a 100-meter race as he has the second-lowest first-round average on TOUR this season. He has seven top-ten finishes this season which includes a win at the Zurich Classic recently. He has shot one of the lowest rounds this season, and he has more par-five birdies than anyone else this season. With any of the par fives on this course makeable in two, he could add to that this week.
Ian Poulter +1400
Ian Poulter thrives on the big occasion; ask the people of Medinah if you don’t believe me. He has played well recently, which was capped off by his third place at the Charles Schwab Challenge a couple of weeks. He is a high-pressure player and can make those critical puts or scramble well if things aren’t going his way.
TOP BRITISH & IRISH PLAYER
Shane Lowry +700
Shane’s form has been good this season, especially recently where he has three top-ten finishes in his last four tournaments, and the world number 41 is set to make another bid to lift the US Open. He came close in 2016 when he was the runner-up of the tournament. The Irishman had tasted major success in his career when he won the Open Championship in 2019, proving the big occasions don’t appear to unsettle him.