Who wins the 2021 US Open? Who's the best bet? Who has the best championship and Torrey Pines form? Before striking your bets read Matt Cooper's guide to the leading players chasing major glory...
"He was not only a winner in his Torrey Pines debut at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open, he has also been bang in contention at all his four visits since (leading or within one blow of the lead at the end of a mid-tournament round)."
Matt Cooper on Jon Rahm's chances this week.
Jon Rahm (Spain)
World No. 3 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 23-MC-MC-3-23
Cleared to play, following his dramatic Covid-withdrawal when leading the Memorial by six shots two weeks ago, and the Spaniard will absolutely relish his return to the course because he was not only a winner in his Torrey Pines debut at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open, he has also been bang in contention at all his four visits since (leading or within one blow of the lead at the end of a mid-tournament round). His five US Open efforts have, however, been a little stymied by a Scrambling average of just 46% and the fact he's three times failed to break 76 on Thursday. He was third at Pebble Beach in 2019, his only top 20 in the championship.
Brooks Koepka (USA)
World No. 10 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-4-18-13-1-1-2
A modern-day titan of the championship who's not only finished top 20 in each of his last six appearances (he missed last year through injury), but who also hasn't ended a Friday, Saturday or Sunday outside the top six since 2016. Now he gets the chance to test that tournament expertise on a track he's never much liked. In fact, since carding a 66 in the first round of his Farmers Insurance Open debut in 2015, he hasn't broken 70 there and his South Course scores read: 74-74-74-72-72. Finished second at last month's PGA Championship, his seventh top two finish in his last 14 major championship starts.
Bryson DeChambeau (USA)
World No. 5 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-15-MC-25-35-1
The good news for Bryson? At the media day he said: "I love Torrey Pines. I played World Juniors at the club and I love that golf course." The bad news? Since growing up, he's had his problems there: in 2017 he carded 78-74, a year later he went 70-76, and he hasn't been back since. He also needs to do some repair work on his major championship approach because, after being clinical last summer (fourth and first), he's lurched to an, at times, comical T34th-T46th-T38th at Augusta and Kiawah Island. He's also now gone six tournaments without recording a top five.
Dustin Johnson (USA)
World No. 1 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 48-40-8-23-MC-55-4-2-1-MC-3-35-6
Hope arrived last week, in the form of a bright start at Congaree which eventually fizzled out into a tie for eighth, but it was still a first top 10 finish since February. The next task is to try and play the weekend at a major, something he didn't manage either on defence of his green jacket at Augusta or at Kiawah Island. Nonetheless, he insisted at the latter: "The game feels good. It's been close the past few months. Just haven't put it all together at the same time." He was third at Torrey Pines in 2011, but it's his only top 15 finish there in 10 visits.
Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)
World No. 11 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 10-MC-1-MC-41-23-9-MC-MC-MC-9-8
The quest for a first major triumph since 2014 continues and, in recent years, this championship has witnessed plenty of frustration typical of that pursuit. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, for example, he didn't break 77 in round one and missed the cut every time; in the last two years, on the other hand, he has landed top 10s, pretty much spending the week in that position, and yet he's been hanging on in there rather than actually contending. In three Torrey Pines visits he's twice finished top five and is 4-for-6 at going sub-70 on the South Course at the weekend. A surprise winner at Quail Hollow last month, but he's returned to looking like a man fiddling with this swing since then.
Jordan Spieth (USA)
World No. 24 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 21-MC-17-1-37-35-MC-65-MC
Spieth has owned a halfway lead at the Farmers, in 2014, but it should, perhaps, come with an asterisk given that it came courtesy of a second round 63 on the North Course. Other than that effort, he's tended to struggle at Torrey. He ended that week T19th and it's his only top 30 in six visits which includes three missed cuts and a weekend average (on the South Course) of 73.50. Nor is his tournament record great: a winner in 2015, sure, but only one other top 20 (T17th in 2014) in nine starts. The flipside? Superb form (six top four finishes in his last 12 starts) and a mojo rediscovered.
Justin Thomas (USA)
World No. 2 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-32-9-25-MC-8
Last September's Thursday 65 was quite the outlier in terms of the 28-year-old's US Open first round efforts because he'd never previously broken 72 in five attempts. Nor have his struggles been confined to the first circuit. In fact, no less than 14 of his 20 US Open laps have needed at least 73 shots. His course experience is limited to T10th in 2014 and a missed cut 12 months later, while his current form is a concern: he was a brilliant winner at Sawgrass in March but has no top 10, and just one top 20, since. He left Muirfield Village looking understandably frustrated.
Xander Schauffele (USA)
World No. 6 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 5-6-3-5
Could this be the week when the major championship top 10 machine (he's recorded eight of them in 16 starts) makes a winning breakthrough? There's lots in his favour. First up, he's a San Diego native. Secondly, he very nearly claimed that first win at Augusta; he's getting closer. Thirdly, Phil Mickelson credited playing against Schauffele as the trigger for his own win in last month's PGA Championship. Fourthly, he's timed his Torrey Pines form well because after going MC-MC-MC-25-MC in the Farmers, he landed second this January. His championship record? Four starts, never outside the top six. The clincher? Dave Tindall's trends love him.
Collin Morikawa (USA)
World No. 4 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 35-MC
There's absolutely no doubt that the 24-year-old Californian has thrived early at pretty much every stage he's reached in his career: second in his first professional tournament, victory in his sixth event after turning pro, triumph in his second major championship start, a winner in his fifth World Golf Championship appearance. Perhaps the only thing he hasn't sussed quickly is this event. He was T35th shortly after joining the paid ranks two years ago and missed the cut last year (perhaps a reaction to the PGA Championship win and associated attention). Finished T21st on his Torrey debut last year.
Patrick Cantlay (USA)
World No. 7 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 21-41-45-21-43
After winning the Memorial two weeks ago, albeit somewhat fortuitously after runaway leader Jon Rahm had to withdraw, Cantlay said of Torrey Pines: "I've played there a couple times, I don't think I've had great results." He's quite right: three visits, three failures to make the top 50, two missed cuts, yet to break 72 on the South Course. He was remaining positive, however, insisting: "I like poa annua greens, I like fast, firm greens, and I like California golf. I'm sure it will be much different in June." He's sure or he hopes? He's yet to break the top 20 in the championship and also has only two top 10s in 17 majors.
Viktor Hovland (USA)
World No. 13| US Open record (most recent result on the right): 12-13
He missed the cut at Torrey Pines in 2019 when an amateur, but this year held the halfway lead and eventually finished second, one of four top three finishes in 2021 and two of them were as recent as early May. After opening the PGA Championship well he said: "I can't remember the last time I felt as good as I did today." He added that he'd been working on shaping the ball both ways and was excited. Alas, he went backwards all week to T30th and added T47th at Muirfield Village last time out. T12th at Pebble Beach in his US Open debut and T13th last year at Winged Foot, he's seeking a first major top 10 in his seventh start.
Patrick Reed (USA)
World No. 8 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 35-14-MC-13-4-32-13
The divisive 30-year-old led this tournament at halfway last year, but closed 77-74, immediately ditched his coach and turned to David Leadbetter. A few months later he won the Farmers by five shots and said: "To go and get this win, especially with making big swing changes, to see it hold up, it meant a lot, I'm on the right path." He also had to endure more controversy that week after taking a drop and it seems bound to be brought up again. Most players would be distracted, he tends to thrive on such drama. His course record reads 39-23-13-6-1. Is the only way down? Or will he maintain the progress with major win number two?
Daniel Berger (USA)
World No. 16 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 28-37-MC-6-49-34
The 28-year-old doesn't have the best record at Torrey Pines. In fact, since landing T24th on debut in 2015 he has missed three cuts and dodged the last two stagings. But he will have fond memories of playing ocean top golf on the Californian coast after winning this year's AT&T Pebble Beach. Back in 2018 he posted a third round 66 in this championship that launched them into a 54-hole share of the lead from way off the pace. It was a second 66 for his tournament logbook, but he's only gone sub-70 those two times in 22 rounds. Hasn't been seen since finishing T20th at the Colonial.
Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)
World No. 15 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 10-35-18-MC-2-16-21-17
All things considered - the excitement of winning the Masters, hotel isolation in Tokyo, the publicity circuit afterwards, the return to the US, very little practice - the fact he was tied fourth at halfway in the PGA Championship was a fine effort. But he closed 76-72 for T23rd and had weekend rounds of 79-76 at the Memorial which hint at matters catching up with him. An eight-time visitor to Torrey, he was third in 2019 and has two further top 20s. He's also consistent at the US Open: eight starts, seven cuts made, six top 25 finishes, two top 10s, a best of second in 2017.
Shane Lowry (Ireland)
World No. 41 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-MC-9-2-46-MC-28-43
Chatting to the media, days after finishing fourth at Kiawah Island, Lowry said: "I'm finding my A game or somewhere near my best in the big weeks because I know what happens, what you have to deal with. I'm delighted with the fourth, but also quite disappointed because it's a tournament I could have won. I just couldn't read the greens." He's twice carded a final round 68 on the South Course at Torrey Pines and has finished seventh and T13th there in four visits. He also finished ninth at Chambers Bay in the 2015 US Open and held a four-shot 54-hole lead at Oakmont ahead of ending that week tied second.
Tony Finau (USA)
World No. 14 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 14-MC-5-MC-8
If Big Tony maintains the boom-then-bust pattern set in his first five championship appearances, he's on track for a missed cut this week, but, more realistically, he ought to fancy his chances. Of a top 10, at least. He's landed them in half of his 20 major championship starts and in four of his seven Torrey Pines visits. "The South Course sets up for a fade and length is a big advantage," he said in 2018. "So, you know, it looks pretty good to me. I have some momentum here." He was runner-up there in January, one of nine seconds he's landed since his only PGA Tour win in 2016.
Tyrrell Hatton (England)
World No. 9 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-6-21-MC
It's been a peculiar 2021 for the Englishman who won prestigious titles either side of the Atlantic last year (the Arnold Palmer Invitational and BMW PGA Championship). It opened with another victory (in Abu Dhabi), but he then struggled to assert himself on the PGA Tour. He had an eventful May, testing positive for Covid and getting married, all of which left him, in his own words, "rusty" ahead of last week's Palmetto Championship. Undeterred, and perhaps freewheeling a bit, he impressed all week and eventually shared second place. A Torrey Pines debutant.
Webb Simpson (USA)
World No. 12 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 14-1-32-45-46-MC-35-10-16-8
The 35-year-old's victory in this championship in 2012 was something of a shock and it took him another six years to land a top 10 finish in any major thereafter. That came in this event at Shinnecock Hills; he backed it up with T16th at Pebble Beach and eighth last year at Winged Foot. He is, however, inexperienced at Torrey Pines, missing the cut in his last appearance 10 years ago and finishing T19th in his only other start there in 2009. He's not over-extended himself in recent weeks: he was last seen when T30th at the PGA Championship, after being T12th at the Masters and tied ninth at The Heritage.
Will Zalatoris (USA)
World No. 29 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-6
He missed the cut in his championship debut back in 2018, but the real Will Zalatoris has emerged since he found his genuine form last year on the second tier. That experience vaulted him into a start in this event last September and he was a brilliant tied sixth, seven months later he was an even more impressive solo second at the Masters, and he quietly collected tied eighth in last month's PGA Championship too. Add in a Torrey Pines debut of tied seventh in January and the 24-year-old looks to have plenty to encourage him this week.
Justin Rose (England)
World No. 42 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 5-MC-10-MC-MC-MC-21-1-12-27-MC-MC-10-3-MC
The veteran Englishman's record in this tournament has more than a touch of feast or famine about it: in eight of his starts he missed the cut, in the other seven he always made the top 30. Moreover, in six of those latter efforts, he was top five at the end of at least one round in the week and he was also, of course, the winner at Merion in 2013. He also loves the track, saying: "It always feels good to be back here. The South Course is one of my favourite courses in the world." He proved it by being the halfway leader of the Farmers in 2017 and the outright winner two years later. He's also landed top 10s in the first two major of the year and Steve Rawlings like his chances.
Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa)
World No. 18 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-9-MC-WD-40-2-23-23-16-7-3
It's funny to think that, but for a couple of shots here and there, the South African could be a three or four-time major champion rather than just a (current) one hit wonder. He's lost a play-off in the Masters and the Open, and last month's second in the PGA Championship was the second time he'd run close in that event. It was coming, too, in a year when he's shown promising form. His Torrey Pines record is solid but not spectacular: he was T41st in 2017 and T29th when returning there this year. Hasn't finished outside the top 25 in this championship since 2014.
Paul Casey (England)
World No. 19 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-MC-WD-15-10-65-MC-40-MC-45-56-39-MC-26-16-21-17
The Englishman's 2021 form has been good, with victory in the Dubai Desert Classic the highlight, and a top five finish last time out in the European Open suggests he's not yet done. He's also played the majors well since the return from lockdown, finishing top five in both PGA Championships, briefly led last November's Masters and he also went low in the last 54 holes of the US Open after a poor start (only two men went lower over those three laps). But just one top 10 (and that was T10th) in 17 US Opens is not promising and nor is his inability to finish top 20 in five starts at Torrey Pines.
Scottie Scheffler (USA)
World No. 17 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-27-MC
The good news is weighty. The 2019/20 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year has finished top 20 in the four majors he's played since reaching the top level, he's finished fifth and second in this year's World Golf Championship events, and he was last seen impressing when third at the Memorial Tournament. The bad news is that his two visits to Torrey Pines have been brief, both ending with missed cuts and this year's involved a collapse from a first round 65 (tied third) to an ugly second round 79 on the South Course.
Tommy Fleetwood (England)
World No. 33 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 27-4-2-65-MC
Playing in the final group on Sunday of the 2019 Open and not quite firing knocked the popular Englishman's confidence. He looked very disappointed that day and was honest enough to admit it was no mirage. He briefly threatened the perfect response at last year's PGA Championship and also the Masters, but this year's majors have reaped T46th at Augusta and a missed cut at Kiawah Island. He has fond championship memories having been second at Shinnecock Hills in 2018 and fourth at Erin Hill in 2017, but he hasn't managed a strokeplay top 10 since Bay Hill in March.
Adam Scott (Australia)
World No. 43 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-MC-MC-28-21-MC-26-36-MC-MC-15-45-9-4-18-MC-MC-7-38
This has traditionally been the major the popular Australian has struggled in. It's the only one he hasn't landed a top three in and it goes deeper: he has his worst top five, top 10 and top 25 ratio in it too. It's possibly even uglier than that because his finishing positions have been reliant on backdoor efforts (in his 19 starts he's never been in the top 10 or within five shots of the lead after 54 holes). On the other hand, he has been top two with 18 holes to play in his last two visits to Torrey Pines (when second in 2019 and T10th this year). That latter effort remains his best of the year.
Cameron Smith (Australia)
World No. 28 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 4-59-MC-72-38
The Aussie's first experience of the US Open was excellent - tied fourth at Chambers Bay in 2015, carding 70-70-69-68, but ever since then he's struggled to establish himself. In fact, he's yet to add another top 30 finish in four subsequent starts, has recorded a score of 77 or more each time, and is yet to break 70 again. His Torrey Pines form is also a little patchy: his T9th in 2019 is his only effort better than T20th in seven starts. To top it all, he's also lost form after winning the Zurich Classic with Marc Leishman, finishing T59th at the PGA Championship, missing the cut last time out at Muirfield Village and not breaking 73 in those six laps.
Corey Conners (Canada)
World No. 36 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-MC
At first glance the Canadian is up against it this week. He's played two US Opens, missed the cut in both, and carded a 76 in three of his four laps. He's also failed to make an impression at Torrey Pines (T29th in 2018, T37th this January) and was last seen carding weekend scores of 74-77 to finish T53rd at Muirfield Village. Now for the flipside. He's played four rounds in 19 of his last 20 strokeplay starts and has turned his major championship form around, from not one top 40 in his first seven starts to T10th and tied eighth in the Masters either side of New Year and T17th in last month's PGA Championship.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (England)
World No. 20 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 48-54-35-12-12-MC
Rory McIlroy's inability to win a major championship since 2014 is well-known and frequently discussed. Fitzpatrick's inability to make the top 10 at a major since finishing tied seventh in his first appearance in them as a pro, on the other hand, is almost never mentioned. It's an odd record - and even that top 10 at the Masters was the consequence of an off-the-pace late burst of birdies. He's a course debutant this week and missed two cuts in his last three starts. It doesn't look good so it almost makes you too wary of opposing him.
Phil Mickelson (USA)
World No. 30 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 29-55-MC-47-4-94-43-10-2-16-7-2-55-2-33-2-MC-18-2-4-54-65-2-28-64-MC-48-52-MC
You've got to love Big Phil. Becoming the oldest major champion on the longest-ever major championship course was, of course, utterly typical of him and he'll be treated like the local hero he is this week, with plenty of associated hoopla, not least because he will yet again be seeking the win he so desperately desires after no less than six second-placed finishes. What of this San Diego native's course form and knowledge? He's a three-time winner, but has landed a top 40 just once in his last nine starts and said in 2015: "All the local knowledge I acquired in the years of junior golf and high school golf went out the window when it got redesigned and I haven't quite re-learned it."
Garrick Higgo (South Africa)
World No. 39 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): debut
The man of the moment, winning last week's Palmetto Championship at Congaree to complete a remarkable ascent in the game. Consider this: during the week of last year's US Open, in September, the South African was winning the Open de Portugal, a Challenge Tour event, and during the Masters he hadn't added to that tally. But two European Tour wins followed and now he has absolutely rubber-stamped that achievement. The future looks very bright and he'll garner lots of attention.
Joaquin Niemann (Chile)
World No. 31 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-23
A missed cut last time out at the Memorial was the Chilean's first lost weekend in strokeplay since August last year, a run that had two runner-up finishes in the middle of it. He's yet to land a top 10 finish in either the World Golf Championship or the majors, but he did make a bright start when T23rd at last year's US Open. Poor memories of Torrey Pines, closing his two visits with laps of 80 and 75 for T72nd and T49.
Sung-Jae Im (Korea)
World No. 26 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-22
The Korean's early experience of the majors was not great: four failures to make the cut and just T42nd the one time he did. But he ground out T22nd at Winged Foot last September, was a fine tied second at Augusta in November and hung around the top 10 for most of last month's PGA Championship before recording T17th. He's missed cuts at Colonial and Memorial since.
Abraham Ancer (Mexico)
World No. 21 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 49-56
Made the cut in his first two appearances at the US Open without ever threatening to contend and has a best of T20th at Torrey Pines, missing the cut in his other two starts. He also missed the cut when venturing to Hamburg for the European Open, but before then landed 10 top 25 finishes in a row including second at Quail Hollow and a major championship career-best tied eighth at Kiawah Island.
Gary Woodland (USA)
World No. 57 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 47-MC-23-MC-52-MC-50-36-1-MC
The Kansas man is bound to feel a little pride this week because the last time the US Open was held on the Californian cliff-tops (at Pebble Beach in 2019), he emerged triumphant. That came off a couple of major championship top 10 finishes, but he hasn't landed a top 30 in them since. He's found a little form in recent weeks, contending for the title at both Quail Hollow and in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
Harris English (USA)
World No. 25 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 48-37-46-58-4
The 31-year-old finished fourth in this event last year at Winged Foot and it remains his only top 10 in 19 major championship starts. He also lost a play-off at Torrey Pines in 2015, one of three top 15s he's logged at the course. In fine form last year he peaked with victory in the Tournament of Champions in January and hasn't had a top 10 since despite threatening to last week when second with 18 holes to play.
Jason Kokrak (USA)
World No. 22 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-37-53-17
The 36-year-old is still seeking a first top 10 finish in a major championship, but came closest to that relatively minor feat when T17th in this tournament last September. He's fresh off victory at the Charles Schwab Challenge at the end of May, a second victory in seven months, and he's got solid enough form at Torrey Pines with four top 30 finishes in his last five starts, although T20th is the best of them.
Marc Leishman (Australia)
World No. 45 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-51-MC-MC-18-27-45-35-MC
An intriguing case this week because his tournament form is poor with only one top 25 in nine attempts (and that was only T18th in 2016) and yet he adores the course. "The grasses at Torrey are what I grew up on," he's said, adding: "My first trip to America was coming here for the 2001 World Junior. I just love it here." He won the Farmers Insurance Open in 2020, is a two-time runner-up, and has nine top 30s in it.
Sergio Garcia (Spain)
World No. 50 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 46-12-4-35-20-3-MC-MC-18-10-22-7-38-45-35-18-5-21-MC-52-MC
The 2017 Masters winner did share the 54 hole lead at Torrey in 2006 ahead of finishing eighth, but he's not played the course since finishing T18th at the 2008 US Open and he's not landed a major championship top 50 finish since the year he slipped his arms inside the green jacket. He has bizarre form too: in his last six strokeplay starts he held the first round lead in the first and last, but missed the cuts at the four in the middle of that run.
Branden Grace (South Africa)
World No. 71 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 51-MC-4-5-50-25-MC-MC
Victory in February's Puerto Rico Open came out of the blue in terms of form (although the course was a clear fit for him), but lately he's looked more solid, contending all week until a poor Sunday at the PGA Championship and lasting the course when tied fourth at the Memorial last time out. Back in 2015 he held the 54 hole lead in this championship, ended the week fourth and was fifth a year later.
Bubba Watson (USA)
World No. 61 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-5-MC-18-63-MC-32-MC-MC-51-MC-MC-MC-31
The two-time Masters champion managed two top 20 finishes in his first four US Open, but since 2011 he's missed six of 10 cuts and never broken the top 30. The venue ought to give him confidence of ending that dismal run, however. He's got six top 25 finishes in 11 Torrey Pines starts and was winner of the Farmers Insurance Open in 2011. He did card 77-77 when it hosted this event in 2008 on the other hand.
Lee Westwood (England)
World No. 27 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 19-7-MC-5-MC-36-33-36-3-23-16-3-10-15-MC-50-32-55-13
Speaking of the 2008 US Open in 2014 the Englishman said: "It felt like one that got away, but I remember it as a good week and I enjoyed the golf course." He finished T47th that week and hasn't been back since. He's pegged nine top 20 finishes in the championship from 19 starts and in the last three years has been in the top 12 after round one every time, but he's also added five scores of 75+ in the rounds that followed in that period.
Cameron Champ (USA)
World No. 112 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 32-MC
The big-hitting Californian has played some good golf in his home state which will pique the interest of many. His first, and so far only, win at PGA Tour level was at Silverado in the 2019 Safeway Open, he found himself contending the Farmers Insurance Open in 2020 (third with 18 holes to play, finishing the week T16th), and he was second after 54 holes in last year's PGA Championship up the coast at Harding Park ahead of landing T10th.
Charley Hoffman (USA)
World No. 58 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 48-45-45-MC-MC-37-8-20
Last seen finishing T57th at the Memorial, just his third failure to finish top 20 in 11 starts stretching back to mid-February. A San Diego native, he's rarely used local knowledge to great effect, recording just four top 20s (and three top 10s) in 23 Torrey Pines starts. His US Open log book shows an ability to make the weekend (6-for-7) and in his last two starts (admittedly back in 2017 and 18) he recorded his first top 20 results.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (South Africa)
World No. 46 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 55
His fellow South African youngsters Higgo and Wilco Nienaber thrash the balls miles from the tee, but Bezuidenhout uses guile, ranking sixth for both Strokes Gained Putting and Around the Green this season. He also likes a tough test, opening his European Tour win account at Valderrama and getting his first PGA Tour top 10 at Bay Hill earlier this season. He hasn't missed a cut since October.
Max Homa (USA)
World No. 40 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-MC
The 30-year-old Californian has a terrible record in the majors (seven starts, six missed cuts, a best of T62nd), but despite that he's a player to keep a close eye on because his two victories on the PGA Tour have arrived on major championship-hosting courses: Quail Hollow in 2019 and Riviera this February. He's also finished tied sixth at both Innisbrook and Muirfield Village in his last four starts.
Sam Burns (USA)
World No. 37 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 41-MC
One of the stars of the 2020/21 season, consistently threatening to win before finally completing the job at the Valspar Championship. He nearly went back-to-back, but finished second at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Had early struggles at Torrey Pines, but he was tied third after 54 holes in January before a Sunday 75 left him T18th. He has limited experience of the championship, missing the cut in 2016 and finishing T41st in 2018.
Stewart Cink (USA)
World No. 44 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): 16-13-10-32-8-3-MC-28-MC-MC-15-37-MC-14-27-40-MC-MC-MC-54-46
A rather brilliant two-time winner this season and, moreover, he's talked with some confidence about his form, even going to far as to say that he's up to contending in another major. He was third at Torrey Pines in 2008 (in the Farmers Insurance Open) and backed that up with T14th in that year's US Open at the course. Only one top 20 there in the last eight tries, but his golf is a lot stronger than it has been that whole while.
Brian Harman (USA)
World No. 47 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-MC-2-36-38
A runner-up in this event in 2017 when Erin Hills was an unlikely nice fit for his game, which you might usually think would struggle faced the long test the USGA prefer. His Torrey Pines form is unpromising with a best of tied ninth which is his only top 30 in seven visits, but he's in good form, making six top 20s in his last seven starts, including third at Sawgrass, T12th at Augusta and tied eighth last time out at Colonial.
Billy Horschel (USA)
World No. 23 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-4-23-25-32-MC-32-38
His US Open record is oddly neat in the sense that in five of his eight starts he's finished in the top 40 yet never better than T20th. His best effort, however, was fourth at Merion, although it is his only major championship top 10 finish in 30 appearances. A big price for the winner of this year's WGC Dell Match Play, runner-up at the WGC Workday Championship, and being a world top 25 player, but the major record explains it.
Carlos Ortiz (Mexico)
World No. 53 | US Open record (most recent result on the right): MC-52
Back in 2016 his championship was a chastening one as he carded two rounds of 76 to miss the cut. Three years later he played all four rounds without troubling the lead. Continued progress has been made over the last two years in his career - he is, of last November, a PGA Tour winner - so can he transfer that to this stage? He shared the 54-hole lead at Torrey in January before a Sunday 78 saw him tumble to T29th.