Power Rankings: U.S. Open
June 14, 2021
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
Best shots of Jon Rahm's PGA TOUR career... so far
The U.S. Open is open again!
After the resemblance of an invitational to accommodate the pandemic and a shift to September in 2020, the tournament is back in its traditional slot in mid-June with a Father’s Day finish. Oh, and the field of 156 reflects the familiar blend of survivors of the sectionals among the automatic qualifiers.
As of Monday, 68 golfers gained entry via 11 sectionals, many of whom seasoned touring professionals, but they should be careful what they wished for. The souped-up South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California awaits.
For details on the host, how it will challenge and much more, continue reading beneath the extended ranking of projected contenders.
POWER RANKINGS: U.S. OPEN
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 20 Jordan Spieth 19 Jason Kokrak 18 Hideki Matsuyama 17 Will Zalatoris 16 Justin Rose 15 Marc Leishman 14 Viktor Hovland 13 Tony Finau 12 Patrick Cantlay 11 Webb Simpson 10 Justin Thomas 9 Patrick Reed 8 Dustin Johnson 7 Louis Oosthuizen 6 Bryson DeChambeau 5 Xander Schauffele 4 Brooks Koepka 3 Rory McIlroy 2 Collin Morikawa 1 Jon Rahm
Tuesday’s Fantasy Insider will include reviews of 2021 PGA Championship winner and six-time U.S. Open runner-up Phil Mickelson, surging San Diego native Charley Hoffman, Congaree champion Garrick Higgo, Congaree co-runner-up Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick, Daniel Berger and other notables.
For fans who typically do not monitor course setups, one of the lessons of the pandemic has been the timing of the need for overseeded grass. For many intents and purposes, the practice is utilized in months with cooler air and fewer daylight hours. Overseed adds body, and when maintained properly, the finished product is aesthetically pleasing. It’s not modeled after a program to thicken hair on a head, but you get the idea.
In the context of the competition, the most important component is consistency. So, when the overseed isn’t necessary because of climate and other factors, the experience is poised to be pure. That’s what’s in store at Torrey Pines this week.
For the Farmers for which the South Course is played three times by all golfers who complete the annual PGA TOUR stop, only the rough includes a measure of kikuyu grass (overseeded with ryegrass) due to its winter date, but the fairways are nothing but kikuyu for the U.S. Open. The rough still has an overseed of rye but that’s due in part to the allowance to grow to as high as five inches.
Since Tiger Woods emerged from a playoff for his memorable victory at the U.S. Open in 2008, Rees Jones, who is part architect and part cosmetic surgeon for U.S. Open stages, and who renovated Torrey Pines seven years prior to Woods’ historic accomplishment prior to reconstructive surgery on his left knee, modernized the track ahead of the 2020 edition of the Farmers. Jones left the Poa annua greens alone, but he touched up everything else and installed new irrigation.
Woods played the 2020 Farmers and finished T9, so he’s been tested by the update, but he will not be competing this week as he continues to recovery from serious injury. However, 53 golfers who pegged it alongside him qualified this week, and 61 from the 2021 Farmers are here. Forty-five competed in both editions.
When Torrey Pines hosts the Farmers, it’s a stock par 72. Not this week. Just as it presented as a par 71 in 2008 for which Woods posted 1-under 283 in regulation, it will again for the 2021 U.S. Open.
The sixth hole is converted from a 564-yard par 5 to a par 4 measuring 515 yards. Overall, the course tips at 7,652 yards. That’s 113 yards shorter than its setup for the Farmers and nine yards longer than the 2008 U.S. Open when the field averaged 74.712.
Save the possibility for a marine layer in the morning, conditions will be ideal all week. Daytime highs probably will eclipse 70 degrees, it will not rain and winds will be light. Greens averaging just 5,000 square feet will be true throughout.
All golfers positioned in the low 60 and ties at the conclusion of 36 holes will complete the tournament. The winner will earn a 10-year exemption into the U.S. Open, five-year exemptions into the other three majors, fully exempt status on the PGA TOUR through the 2025-26 season and $2.25 million of the $12.5-million prize fund.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers; Fantasy Insider
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.