US Open Golf 2022: Who will win at Brookline?

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Who will win the 2022 US Open Championship, the year’s third men’s golf Major, at Brookline?

Today’s Golfer’s 2022 Major coverage is brought to you in association with TaylorMade.

As the world’s best players head to America’s East Coast for the 122st US Open, Jon Rahm will be attempting to defend his crown, but who are we backing to win the 2021 US Open and why?

We take a look at Brookline’s history, speak to an insider to find out who the Country Club course suits, and delve into the stats to choose our favourites for the year’s third men’s Major, and bring you all of the latest odds to help you make a decision.

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Jon Rahm celebrates winning the US Open.

Can Jon Rahm defend his US Open title?

Jon Rahm doesn’t strike us as someone who pays too much attention to omens, but if he knows his history, he’ll be aware that only two men (Curtis Strange and Brooks Koepka) have retained the US Open since 1951.

Others before him have struggled with the pressure and expectation, but Rahm tends to save his best for the Majors (this year’s Masters notwithstanding) and didn’t finish worse than 8th in 2021. His tee-to-green numbers remain exceptional, but his putting is the poorest it’s ever been on the PGA Tour.

He’s now ranked 136th in strokes gained putts per round, a dip of nearly 100 spots from last season. The bookies still make him the favourite, but the stats tell a different story.

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Matt Fitzpatrick celebrates his win at the 2013 US Amateur with brother Alex and his parents.

Does Brookline history help us pick a US Open winner?

We all remember the now-infamous Battle of Brookline, but did you know that all three US Opens at The Country Club have ended in a play-off? The most famous showdown, dubbed the ‘Greatest Game Ever Played’, came way back in 1913, which is credited with triggering a golf boom across America. Francis Ouimet, a former club caddie who lived across the street, outplayed England’s Harry Vardon and Ted Ray to become the first amateur to win the US Open, aged 20 – an achievement the USGA refers to it as “one of the greatest upsets in sports history”.

To celebrate the centenary, Brookline hosted the US Amateur in 2013, where Matt Fitzpatrick Became the first Englishman to win the title in 102 years. Incidentally, Fitzpatrick does have a useful habit of winning at the same courses, having done so twice at the European Masters and DP World Tour Championship.

Brookline’s other US Open hosting duties came in 1988, when Curtis Strange won the first of his back-to-back US Opens with victory over Nick Faldo, and 1963 when Julius Boros outlasted Arnold Palmer and Jacky Cupit for the second of his three Majors.

US OPEN 2022: Brookline Course Guide

The 10th hole at the Country Club in Brookline.

Will the big hitters have an advantage in the US Open?

Brendan Walsh, Director of Golf at The Country Club, explains the perils of employing a bomb-and-gouge strategy at Brookline – and why players could get tripped up around the greens…

The golf course is very unique as we have a lot of native grass and deep bunkers with fescue grass around the edges.  It’s a bit like Merion in that sense. There are a ton of trees out there, but it’s like a combination of a traditional parkland and a links course.

It’s not a massive property, but we have got 27 holes here. We’re actually using a composite course made up of 15 holes from our original course (Clyde & Squirrel) and three holes from our Primrose nine. Gil Hanse has enlarged some of the green complexes, but he’s also added a lot of new tee boxes. At the Ryder Cup, the 1st played 440 yards. It’s now 490. The same with the 3rd hole. The 10th hole played as a 510-yard par 5, now it’s a 500-yard par 4. So, we’ve increased our yardage by 250 yards but we’ve also taken out a par 4 which was 310 yards and put in a par 3 that is 131 yards.

The first four holes are going to be extremely challenging, just because of their length. You could see some high numbers straight out of the block.

What’s different compared to more recent US Open venues is that we have three cuts of rough. If you hit it 30 or 40 yards offline, you can easily lose the ball in the native grass because that stuff is dense. But even if you find it, you may only be able to advance it between 50 and 75 yards.

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You can bomb and gouge it to an extent because there’s not a whole lot of out of bounds, but if you approach the green from the wrong angle, you can bring all sorts of trouble into play. Often it’s not about your great shots but about your misses. People were up in arms about the manner of Bryson’s win in 2020, but he missed in the right spots.  

If you think back to Winged Foot in 2020, there were a lot of approaches where you could run the ball up onto the green. We have some of that here, particularly on the front nine, but on the back nine, six of the nine holes have a forced carry. It can also get quite windy here as we’re only seven miles from the water.

Keeping the ball on the fairway and missing in the right spots is going to be critical because it is a second-shot golf course. You can be a foot off the green in some places and be in five inches of rough, chipping to a hole which is 10 feet away from you. When Matt Fitzpatrick won here, guys were hitting it way past him but his short game was phenomenal.

Our smallest green is on our signature hole, the 17th, where Justin Leonard holed that putt in 1999. I’m curious to see whether some players may try to drive the 7th and 17th greens. It’s just in their range. The par-4 5th will probably play as our easiest hole as it’s only 310 yards. There are opportunities to go low, especially if the conditions are soft, but I’m expecting six under par to win.

We had a total of 12 players from the current top 100 playing in the 2013 US Amateur. Matt Fitzpatrick is our adopted son and has probably played the most of anyone here. He’s been back just about every year since he won almost a decade ago, so he’s got a leg up compared to most.

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The US Open golf trophy.

Who do we think will win at Brookline?

With Brendan Walsh adamant that you need great iron control and a killer short game to stand a chance at Brookline, we’ve identified the four key performance metrics at US Opens and trawled the PGA Tour rankings of the world’s top 30 players to make our picks.

Driving distance (DD): Length matters at the US Open. Just look at the list of recent winners: Rahm, DeChambeau, Gary Woodland, Brooks Koepka. They all ranked higher for distance than they did for accuracy.

Greens in regulation (GIR): Razor-sharp approach shots are even more important on courses where the greens are ridiculously small. Plus, the last 10 winners of the US Open had an average GIR ranking of just 5.2.

Scrambling (S): The rough is long and the fairways are narrow, so more greens will be missed than normal. Rahm ranked sixth for scrambling in 2021, while two years ago DeChambeau ranked third.

Par 4 scoring450-500 (P): With seven of the par 4s at Brookline in the 450-500 yard range, it makes sense to target players who typically play holes of that distance well.

With those metrics in mind, these are our three picks to lift the trophy.

Justin Thomas won the PGA Championship for the second time with his victory at Southern Hills.

Justin Thomas
Rankings 17 (DD) 17 (GIR) 14 (S) 8 (P)
Tour wins 19 (2 Majors)
US Open appearances 7 (5 cuts made)
Best US Open finish T8 (2020)
2022 odds 12/1

The key metrics mark JT out as the man to beat at Brookline, at least on current form.

Besides Rory McIlroy, few players frustrate quite as frequently as Thomas, but JT currently ranks second for scoring average and strokes gained: tee to green – a category which he’s dominated for the last six seasons on the PGA Tour.

Like Rory, his putting has been his Achilles’ heel for years, but his form on the greens has picked up and so have his results. Besides his win at last month’s US PGA, Thomas has eight other top-10 finishes in his last 15 starts and has missed just one cut in 25 starts.

Prior to his superb come-from-behind win at the US PGA, Thomas had underachieved in the Majors since winning the Wannamaker for the first time in 2017. But the signs of a return to Major form were there at the Masters (T8) and he showed his class to win at Southern Hills.

With the experience of Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay, Phil Mickelson’s former caddie, on his bag, we’re convinced he can back-to-back, especially as Brookline is one of his favourite courses.

Playing the US Open at one of his favourite courses should help.

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Sungjae Im

Sungjae Im
Rankings 78 (DD), 18 (GIR), 4 (S), 23 (P)
Tour wins 2 (0 Majors)
US Open appearances 5 (5 cuts made)
Best US Open finish T3 (2019)
2022 odds 45-1

The US Open generally produces a champion who’s ranked inside the world’s top 25, has played the event at least three times, and is under the age of 35. Sungjae Im ticks all those boxes and he needs a Major win more than most so he can avoid mandatory military service in South Korea.

There is always a risk of burnout with the 24-year-old (he’s already played 41 times since January 2021, a record-high on the PGA Tour), but his durability is almost as impressive as the strides he has made with his short game, which was a big weakness last season.

He’s yet to catch fire in a Major Championship outside of the Masters, but he seems to prefer classic, short-ish courses. Was 65-1 when we picked him, making him hard to ignore, but his odds have been slashed in recent days.

Xander Schauffele won gold in the Olympic Golf at Tokyo 2020.

Xander Schauffele
Rankings 30 (DD), 44 (GIR), 43 (S), 30 (P)
Tour wins 6 (0 Majors)
US Open appearances 5 (5 cuts made)
Best US Open finish: T3 (2019)
2022 odds 22/1

The US Open has a habit of throwing up maiden Major winners. In fact, 10 of the last 13 champions had never captured a Major title before, which certainly bodes well for Xander.

The 2020 Olympic champion currently ranks third across the key metrics and while he did miss the cut at the Masters, he finished T13 at the US PGA and has nine top-10 finishes from 20 Major starts.

He also tends to save his best for the national championship, having never failed to finish worse than ninth in five starts, and is one of just a handful of players in the field who competed in the 2013 US Amateur at Brookline.

Some other players in the field from that week include Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Corey Conners and Masters champ Scottie Scheffler.

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Scottie Scheffler won the Masters by three shots.

Who will win the 2022 US Open – Select Betting odds*

10/1 Rory McIlroy
12/1 Justin Thomas
14/1 Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm
20/1 Cameron Smith
22/1 Xander Schauffele
25/1 Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Fitzpatrick
28/1 Shane Lowry, Sam Burns, Jordan Spieth, Will Zalatoris
30/1 Tony Finau, Viktor Hovland
33/1 Joaquin Niemann
35/1 Hideki Matsuyama
40/1 Dustin Johnson, Max Homa
45/1 Brooks Koepka, Cameron Young, Sungjae Im, Daniel Berger,
50/1 Billy Horschel
55/1 Tommy Fleetwood, Corey Conners
60/1 Justin Rose, Davis Riley, Mito Pereira
75/1 Louis Oosthuizen, Abraham Ancer
80/1 Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Tyrrell Hatton, Talor Gooch, Aaron Wise
90/1 Patrick Reed, Harold Varner III
100/1 Seamus Power, Jason Kokrak, Bryson DeChambeau
125/1 Gary Woodland, Russell Henley, Si Wood Kim, Sebastian Munoz

Phil Mickelson needs to win the US Open to secure the Career Grand Slam.

Selected others
150/1 Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na
225/1 Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace
250/1 Thorbjorn Olesen
275/1 Sam Horsfield
500/1 Richard Bland
2000/1 James Piot
2500/1 Fran Quinn, Sean Jacklin

* Odds correct as of 5.30pm on June 13, 2022

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Today's Golfer features editor Michael Catling.

Michael Catling is the Features Editor of Today’s Golfer.

He has been a journalist for more than 10 years and was shortlisted for Bauer Media Journalist of the Year in 2019.

Michael joined Bauer Media in 2016 and has exclusively interviewed dozens of Major champions, including Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.

A former member of Ufford Park and Burghley Park, Michael has been playing golf since he was 11 and currently plays off a handicap of 10.

Michael uses a Ping G driverPing G 3-woodPing G Crossover 3-ironPing G Series irons (4-PW), Ping Glide wedges (52º, 56º, 60º), TaylorMade MySpider Tour Putter, and Srixon AD333 golf ball.

You can contact Michael here.

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