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US Open 2022: Phil Mickelson’s return, Brooks Koepka’s story among 10 arguments at Brookline

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What a time for a great championship. On the heels of one of the wildest weeks in modern professional golf history, the US Open returns to one of the most storied golf courses in the United States. The Brookline Country Club has hosted three US Opens, six US Amateurs and a famous Ryder Cup at the turn of the century.

He was also one of the first five charter members of the USGA right around latest century, giving it deep roots with restoration over the last 15 years taking the golf course into a new era. Now he’s primed to take hits from players who look more like Brooks Koepka than Francis Ouimet.

The golf course is one of the many stories that will make this championship interesting. The fragmentation of professional golf at the highest level is the main theme, of course, and the tentacles of that story will affect almost every other story that takes place this week. Still, it will be nice to have a big breather, where golf really matters and geopolitical and financial concerns can be mostly put to rest for the next seven days.

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Let’s take a look at the top 10 stories from the US Open 2022 at The Country Club at Brookline

1. Brookline LIV(e): The story that has dominated golf for the past few months has intensified over the past week with the launch of a rival PGA Tour league at London’s Centurion Club last weekend. The USGA has largely stayed out of the fight between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, and even this week will allow LIV Golf entrants to play at the US Open because they were already qualified and placed on the course. However, from Monday’s first press conference (Phil Mickelson) to the end of the week, LIV is going to be a hotline, whether we like it or not.

LIV Golf is a big deal both at the present moment and when it comes to the future of the sport. Several of my friends who are only tangentially interested in golf have been peppering me with questions, and it’s essentially the only thing being discussed behind the scenes in golf right now. One of this week’s benefits in Brookline: as i wrote here — will it be that when more players are distributed more widely around the world for regular golf events, major championships will seem (and be) even more important than they already are.

2. Scottie’s romp: Since World War II, the only golfers to have won the Masters and the US Open in the same year have been single-name players. (Ben) Hogan, Jack (Nicklaus), Arnie (Arnold Palmer), Tiger (Woods), and Jordan (Spieth). Will Scheffler join them at Brookline? He’s been good at two events since he missed the cut at the PGA Championship, and he was excellent at the US Open last year, slipping into T7 behind Jon Rahm at Torrey Pines. The concern for him is probably the same as for many of the best. Tee misses will be punished more at The Country Club than at a place like Augusta National. The short game has been magical this year, though, and if it continues to be that way this week, perhaps “Scheffler” will become a one-name player like the rest.

3. Lefty’s quagmire: There’s a lot going on with Phil Mickelson this week. Sporting his new Barry Melrose look on Sunday, Lefty took a look around the field in the only major championship he has yet to win. A win this year would be the most absurd ending to this fortnight, but he’s going to be in a multi-front war, as he often is. Mickelson heads into news conferences on Monday and will face several questions about the league (LIV Golf) he allegedly helped create and what that means for his future on the PGA Tour (where he hasn’t given up) and major championships (where he is. exempt for the next four years and at the Masters, PGA and Open Championship beyond). It’s the wildest week imaginable for someone who isn’t a true contender, and it just might be the most incredible week in golf history. Imagine if, in the field in which we got one of the youngest winners of the US Open (Francis Ouimet at 20 years old in 1913), we also got the oldest winner of all time.

4. Can Rory keep warm? Rory McIlroy is your favorite on the odds board after retaining his title at the RBC Canadian Open. In his last five starts (including two majors), he’s gone 2-5-8-T18-1. He is one of four golfers to have finished in the top 10 in three or more of the last five US Opens, and is the world’s No. 1 ball-hitter in his last 20 rounds. If he’s throwing approach shots at Brookline like he did at the Canadian Open (seven approaches within 5 feet in the final round), then it’ll make Tiger’s performance at Pebble Beach in 2000 look nail-biting by comparison. .

5. What kind of golf course do we get? One of the criticisms of the USGA in recent years is that it has often set up its golf courses so that only a handful of golfers can win. Torrey Pines in 2021 was similar to Winged Foot in 2020 in that it was mostly a competition between who could hit the furthest and still be able to find it. I was promised that The Country Club will be different, and certainly appearance different, in the sense that more native grass creates more unpredictability, as Gil Hanse points out in the video below, which is a Tour pro’s worst nightmare and should also create a more proper shooting contest. I wish.

6. Brooks and Spieth Story: There’s a lot going on right now, and it’s easy to lose sight of the story that’s in front of Spieth (one US Open win) and Brooks Koepka (two). If Spieth wins, he’ll reach four majors, which has been done by only 29 golfers in history. If Koepka wins, he makes it to five, which only 19 golfers have reached. It’s a big deal when it comes to the arc of the sport over the past 100 years, and those two seem like footnotes to this week, even though Koepka has lost to four golfers in the last four US Opens.

7. Rahm’s repeated offer: I should tell you how wild the last few weeks of professional golf have been that we’re almost at the end, and we haven’t even discussed last year’s champion. Returning to the US Open is one of the most extraordinary tasks in the game – it’s only happened three times since WWII (Hogan, Curtis Strange, Koepka) – but Rahm is playing well enough to try. Although he only has one win so far this year, he has been handling the ball brilliantly, winning shots in 37 of 41 measured rounds and hitting his irons better than he did two months ago a few weeks ago at the Memorial. He’s flying with little fanfare, which I think irritates him a bit in the same way it does Koepka. He is low key and will be a real threat at Brookline this week.

8. Xander Schauffele’s streak: The only golfer to have finished in the top 10 in each of the last five US Opens is Schauffele. The problem for him is that his real chances of winning have been low. This is, in general, the story of Schauffele in the majors. There may not be anyone more consistently good than him (13 top 25s in 20 events), but he has just as many major titles as you and me. The question for him is whether he can turn a good week into a momentous one.

9. The villains? Two of the last five US Open winners (Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson) will contest a major for the first time since announcing they were leaving the PGA Tour. It will be awkward for the USGA (and the entire golf world) if someone the major championship organizations could effectively ban from their championships in the future ends up winning this week. Mickelson would obviously be the headliner in that field, but his chances of winning are infinitesimal compared to DeChambeau and DJ.

10. JT back to back? After five years of wasteland in the major championships, Justin Thomas is playing some of the best golf of his life and he comes in with the confidence that comes with a PGA Championship victory and near miss at the Canadian Open last week. passed behind McIlroy. He has more shots than anyone in the game, and if he can hold off his driver, it’s hard to see him not competing. The only thing better than JT contending for a second straight major would be PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan’s dream of his league’s two biggest supporters, JT and Rory, from last week, which is something they discussed on Day 72. green in the canadian.

“We had that hug on the last green and I said, ‘Let’s do this all over again next week,'” McIlroy said Sunday. “That’s what I told him. So it would be great to be able to do it all over again with him.”

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