Tournament: US Open, June 17-20, 2021
Course: Torrey Pines Golf Club (South Course only). 7,652 yards, par 71
Purse: $12.5 million in total, $2.25 million to the winner
Defending Champion: Bryson DeChambeau. The SMU Mustang took his science-based and bulk-fueled smasher’s mentality to Winged Foot and proved 90% of the analysts wrong. The talking heads thought the smaller greens, thicker rough, and time-proven Westchester County course would thwart such a bomb-and-gouge approach. They didn’t count that he would hit it fairly straight, if it was off-line it cleared all the trees and he had open shots, and he would putt his @$$ off. He won by 6 shots and the final nine holes was fairly uneventful.
Fun Fact: Local residents can play this course for around $60 on weekdays and $75 on weekends. If you’re not from the area, you can drop 3 c-notes and not get back too much change. This is a municipal complex (South and North courses) and run by the city. Not bad for a course hosting a PGA Tournament since 1962 and now a second major tournament.
TV Times: It basically jumps back and forth from the Peacock streaming service to the NBC over-the-air network with a smattering of Golf Channel.
Thursday, 7:45 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (Peacock), 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (Golf Channel), 5 p.m.-8 p.m. (NBC), 8 p.m.-9 p.m. (Peacock).
Friday, 7:45 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (Peacock), 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (Golf Channel), 4 p.m.-7 p.m. (NBC), 7 p.m.-8 p.m. (Golf Channel), 8 p.m.-9 p.m. (Peacock).
Saturday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (NBC),
Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (NBC). Phew.
‘Dawgs in the Field: 8. Harris English, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Kevin Kisner, Spencer Ralston, Greyson Sigg, Brendon Todd, Bubba Watson.
The last major, and the first major, held on this course was one for the ages. I’m not going to link it here, but if you follow golf you know Tiger Woods shot himself repeatedly in the foot (metaphorically) and extricated himself just as many times by holing putts and bunker shots all over the place. Having to make a big curling putt on late afternoon poa annua to force a playoff, he did just that. I mean, did you expect anything different? He then played, according to the rules, an 18 hole Monday playoff against Rocco Mediate, only to have to go 3 more holes to finally emerge victorious. All with two fractures in his leg. And with a wife who was apparently getting suspicious of his off-course activities. It was quite the thing.
We are 13 years removed from that, and the course is a bit different. The lines are mostly the same but they’ve moved some tees back and pinched in a few fairways, all while growing up the rough. “But it’s graduated rough GTD” is what they say in defense. This is USGA CEO Mike Davis’ signature contribution to major tournament course design with rough getting longer the farther you land from the fairway. This is also his swan song. Davis will be retiring and former LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan takes over in July. As an aside, Whan is extremely well-respected and the USGA looks to be in good hands.
There are storylines everywhere, but I’ll keep this post more UGA-centric. Here’s who you want to follow:
Harris English qualified for the Open via his T-4 finish at Winged Foot, the fact he made the Tour Championship last fall, and his top 60 world ranking. He’s played in 5 previous Opens and made the cut each time.
Brian Harman is also in the top 60 in the world, and is also playing in his 6th US Open (2 missed cuts, and famously a T-2 at Erin Hills in 2017).
This will be the 8th entry for Russell Henley. The Maconite is currently in the top 60 world golf rankings, so go make us proud, Russ.
Kevin Kisner has 3 missed cuts in his 7 previous US Open appearances and never better than T-12 at Chambers Bay (remember that fluky setup?!?). Is he in the top 60 in the world? Yes, yes he is. He also made the season-ending Tour Championship so qualifies via that route as well.
Spencer Ralston took advantage of the rules and played a fifth season for UGA this past spring where he helped UGA earn a berth to NCAA Nationals. He played and shot a 9 under par at the Atlanta qualifier and thus gained entry to the US Open for the first time.
Greyson Sigg has been tearing it up on the Korn Ferry Tour (third in season points), and played in the Atlanta qualifier, making the number, and now plays in his 2nd US Open. (He missed the cut badly last year).
Brendon Todd is a 3-time Tour winner, and made last year’s Tour Championship to get into Torrey Pines. He’s had two missed cuts, but also two top 25 finishes in his 4 previous US Opens.
Bubba Watson has played in 14 US Opens including the last 10. While he sports a T-5 finish at Oakmont a minute ago, he has also missed the cut 8 times. Let’s just say that the typical US Open setup (usually a million trees, extremely high rough, and greens faster than your linoleum tile) isn’t really his forte. But hey - he’s still top 60 in the world.
Greyson Sigg will be the third player to hit a ball since he’s in the first group off #1 at 6:45 am local (which is 9: 45 am ET). He’s playing with Edoardo Molinari and Sahith Theegala.
Harris English and Russell Henley are playing together Thursday and Friday alongside MacKenzie Hughes. They go off #1 at 7:18 (10:18 ET).
Brian Harman will start on #10 at the same time, playing with Matthew Wolff and Tommy Fleetwood.
Kevin Kisner is off #10 at 7:40 (10:40 ET). But as a cruel joke, is paired with Matt Kuchar (GT Yellow Jacket) and Billy Horschel (Florida Gator).
Bubba Watson plays with fellow Masters-only major winners Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott. But he does have two green jackets to their one. They start at 1:25 pm (4:25 pm ET) on the first tee.
Brendon Todd begins at 2:09 pm (5:09 pm ET) on the back nine, along with Sebastian Munoz and Rikuya Hoshino.
Spencer Ralston should get some air time since he’s in the third to last group with Dylan Wu and Justin Suh. Okay, since Spencer is an amateur, and the Wu/Suh pairing won’t pull the eyeballs, he might not get very much at all. It’s off the 10th tee at 2:31 pm (5:21 pm ET).
So there’s who you need to follow, what time they play, and who they’re playing with. After 1,100 words, I’ll leave the other analysis for all three of you in the comments. Thanks for reading, and as always...