US Open

US Open 2024: 10-year trends point to...

The US Open trophy
Who will win the US Open trophy this year?

Dave Tindall looks at the make-up of the last 10 US Open champions to try and find this year's winner...


In last month's US PGA trends, I made the point that we needed to be a little cuter with this feature.

Rather than just blithely pick the guy who came top of the rankings, it was better to look at a few of those who scored highly.

And it worked. Scottie Scheffler emerged as No.1 when the numbers were crunched but instead of backing him at extremely short odds, the smarter move was to take the 25s each-way on Collin Morikawa.

Of course, Scheffler spending the morning in jail ahead of round two still seems like a weird cheese dream and likely ruined his chance but Morikawa did his bit. Ranked No.2 in the trends, Morikawa shared the lead after 54 holes and eventually finished fourth to land the place money.

It also paid to look beyond the player(s) in top spot at April's Masters (Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama). Tommy Fleetwood's name was surprisingly high in the trends and he justified the position by finishing tied third at 33s.

As for this event, Matt Fitzpatrick ranked second in the 2022 US Open trends and went on to take the title at Southern Hills.

So the message is clear. By all means, back the player who comes out on top but there's money to be made, hopefully, from slightly less obvious names who rank highly.

Right, time to crack on and list the categories involved for the 2024 US Open at Pinehurst.

I've listed 10 categories: World Ranking, Nationality, Age, US Open Form, US Open Experience, Recent Majors Form, Major Winner, Current Form, Course Fit and Freshness.

The maximum score is 73 and a few weren't far off it. All will be revealed later but, for now, here's a look at each category.


World Ranking

Let's use this category to explain the points system again.

The key is frequency. So, in this article, it's how many times something has happened in the last 10 years of the US Open. Looking at world rankings, all of the last 10 winners were ranked inside the top 32 in the OWGR.

Breaking it down further, eight of those were ranked inside the world's top 25 so anyone inside the world's top 25 gets 8pts. The other two were 28th (Martin Kaymer) and 32nd (Clark) so anyone from 26th to 32nd gets 2pts.

As noted in the first two Majors this season, this category has been thrown into chaos due to the false rankings of LIV players, whose tour isn't awarded any OWGR points.

Therefore, as at the US PGA, I'm going to switch to the world rankings provided by Datagolf. LIV players who make the top 30 under Datagolf's system are Jon Rahm, Joaqin Niemann, Tyrrell Hatton and, somewhat surprisingly, Dean Burmester.

Ranked 1-25 in Datagolf rankings = 8pts
Ranked 26 to 32 = 2pts
Ranked 33 or above = 0pts


Nationality

Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick have won two of the last three US Opens but this has traditionally been a good tournament for home American players. With Wyndham Clark taking the title last year, US golfers have been successful in seven of the last 10 editions so, again, using frequency, it's 7pts for all American players teeing it up this week and 3pts for Europeans.

American = 7pts
Europeans = 3pts
Rest of World = 0pts


Age

The average age for a US Open winner over the last 10 years is exactly 28. That's around seven years younger than the average age of an Open Championship winner across the same period. In other words, if you fancy an older winner of a Major, it's best to wait until Troon next month.

Although seven of the last 10 winners of the US Open were in their 20s it seems unfair to award a bunch of points to someone aged 21 but hardly anything to someone who has just turned 30. The latter is far closer to that average age of 28.

So I'll instead award most points to players nearer the 10-year average. Those up to five years either side of 28 score 8pts while those beyond those parameters score just 2pts. That seems fair given that eight of the last 10 winners were aged between 23 and 33. The exceptions were 21-year-old Jordan Spieth and 35-year-old Gary Woodland.

Aged 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 = 8pts
Aged 22 or under/34 or over = 2pts


US Open Form

Although he was a great age at 29, Wyndham Clark was a real trends buster overall. All the previous 10 US Open winners had already posted a top 25 in the event and five of those had recorded a top 10. Clark had never even made the cut in one.

However, he's the exception not the rule and history says it's still a big plus to have shown some past form in a US Open.

Top 10 in a US Open = 5pts
11th-25th in a US Open = 4pts
No top 25 in a US Open = 1pts


US Open Experience

Webb Simpson won the US Open at Olympic Club in 2011 on just his second start in the event. Clark was playing in just his third but winning it so soon is rare. Conversely, it hasn't been a good tournament for those who have played in it many times with none of the last 10 winners having appeared in nine or more.

There's a sweet spot in terms of past appearances and that's five to eight inclusive. That applies to five of the last six winners and seven of the last 10.

Played from five to eight previous US Opens = 7pts
Played in two to four previous US Opens = 3pts
Played in nine or more US Opens = 0pts


Recent Majors Form

Past US Open winners haven't come out of thin air; they've advertised their credentials with a strong performance in a recent Major. Well, that's usually the case although once again Mr Trends Buster, Wyndham Clark, ran cavalier over that stat 12 months ago. He'd played in six previous Majors and recorded four missed cuts, a 75th and a 76th!

But winding back to 2022 and Matt Fitzpatrick had finished fifth (US PGA) and 14th (US Masters) in his previous two and that was far more typical. Overall, the numbers are very strong: eight of the last 10 US Open winners had posted a top 10 in at least one of their previous two Majors.

Top 10 in one of their last two Majors = 8pts
No top 10 in last two Majors = 2pts


Major Winner

Although having a strong run in a recent Major is seen as a big plus, is it an advantage to have won one already?

History says not so here's one Clark actually helps with. His win last year meant seven of the last 10 US Open winners were Majorless going into the week. It actually applies to seven of the last eight.

Won a Major = 3pts
Not won a Major = 7pts


Current Form

Common sense says you don't go into the US Open searching for your 'A' game. And there is decent evidence that you have to be in good nick to meet the demands of a testing US Open track.

That's shown by eight of the last 10 winners posting a top 12 in one or both of their previous two PGA Tour starts. Looking at the last two years, Clark finished 12th at Memorial in his final warm-up while Fitzpatrick had been 10th in Canada the week before his 2022 triumph.

Top 12 in one of two previous PGA Tour starts = 8pts
No top 12 in one of two previous starts = 2pts


Course Fit

With the tournament moving around, we don't have the benefit of course form to work with. But there are certainly some trends that emerge when looking back at the last 10 years and they should apply again at Pinehurst.

It's fair to say that a US Open winner needs to be a good driver and Clark certainly showed that last year when 2nd for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee.

Heading to Pinehurst showing good form with the big stick is definitely a plus and, looking at the stats, eight of the last 10 US Open winners had ranked in the top 16 for SG: Off The Tee in one of their previous two starts

LIV don't provide that stat which is a problem. The best we can do is rate them in that category from their performances in the US PGA. To be fair, this week's LIV event in Houston will be their only outing since then so the US PGA counts as one of their last two starts.

Top 16 for SG: Off The Tee in one of last two starts = 8pts
No top 16 for SG: Off The Tee in one of last two starts = 2pts


Freshness

Is it a smart idea to play the week before what many regard as the most gruelling tournament of the season?

Some might say it's best to stay tournament sharp by teeing it up; others may argue it's better to go in fresh. In addition, having the week off would allow players to get to the tournament site earlier which is especially helpful if it's an unfamiliar course as it is this year.

The evidence is mixed but seven of the last 10 winners had at least one week off in the previous fortnight ahead of their US Open win. Therefore, playing both the Canadian Open and Memorial looks a slight disadvantage.

Had at least a week off in one of the previous two = 7pts
Played both the previous two events = 3pts

And that's all 10 categories complete. So...

The Top Points Scorers

The scores are in and - drumroll - these are the top seven:

69 Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa
68 Viktor Hovland
65 Scottie Scheffler
63 Tyrrell Hatton
62 Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that some categories can't be completed until the outcomes of this week's two Stateside events - the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament and the LIV event in Houston - are known.

And here's what could happen...

Hatton would go joint-first with a top 12 in the LIV tournament.

Max Homa, Patrick Cantlay and Tommy Fleetwood all have the potential to bank 12 more points via a top 12 at a Memorial and a top 16 ranking Off The Tee.

Should all those things happen, the final standings would look like this. Yes, a four-way tie!

69 Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Tyrrell Hatton, Max Homa
68 Viktor Hovland
66 Patrick Cantlay
65 Scottie Scheffler, Tommy Fleetwood
62 Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas

The interesting one here is Hatton. He's already banked 63 points - good enough for fifth spot in the current standings - regardless of the potential top 12 finish in Houston which would see him joint-first.

How did he accrue them? He's 13th in the Data Golf rankings, in the right age bracket (32), has a past top 10 in the US Open (6th 2018), is in the 5-8 sweetspot of US Opens played (7), has a top 10 in the last two Majors (9th US Masters), isn't a Major winner, is guaranteed to be in the top 12 for Off The Tee in one of his last two starts (9th OTT at US PGA) and has had at least a week off in the build-up to Pinehurst.

The 50s (1/5 odds, 6 places) is currently industry top price so let's back him now. In an ideal world he has a big week in Houston to get the points he needs to climb to the top of the trends while being cut in price in the process.

Beyond that, current prices of the leading trendsters are 12/113.00 Schauffele, 18/119.00 Morikawa, 14/115.00 Hovland, 4/15.00 Scheffler, 14/115.00 DeChambeau, 40/141.00 Thomas. Homa, who could go joint top with a strong week at Memorial, is also 40/141.00.

I fancy Morikawa for a big week at The Memorial Tournament so, as he's guaranteed to finish joint-top of the trends whatever happens with everyone else, I'll also back him at 18s before a potential price chop.

I'll be back on Monday to update the standings and perhaps add another bet in.

Monday update

And here we are. So, did Hatton get the top 12 he needed? The answer is no, he could only manage a tie for 18th.

Max Homa, Patrick Cantlay and Tommy Fleetwood also failed to add to their tallies so it's as you were, with these the final standings.

69 Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa
68 Viktor Hovland
65 Scottie Scheffler
63 Tyrrell Hatton
62 Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas

I'd already backed Morikawa and it's the Memorial runner-up who I'd play now if going in fresh.

Hatton looks the value in that bunch at the aforementioned 50s.


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