While off-course drama has dominated the golfing headlines over the past week, the start of the 123rd US Open represents a welcome switch of focus back to the on-course action. Here are five of the most eye-catching storylines as the championship returns to California for the first time in 75 years...
Brooks Koepka: three-time winner?
Koepka’s record alone speaks volumes about his potential for success. The 33-year-old is no stranger to the US Open, having won it twice before, the most recent being in 2018 at Shinnecock Hills. A win at LACC would bolster his five-time major win tally, inching him closer to his aspiration of reaching “double digits” in major championship wins. He’s been on fire in the big tournaments this year too, finishing second at The Masters and lifting the PGA Championship last month.
Rory McIlroy: back on top?
With the distractions stemming from the controversial merger of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the backers of LIV Golf – a group that McIlroy has vocally criticised – the Northern Irishman's preparation may have been less than ideal. But Rory has been on the rise in recent weeks; he’s secured top-ten finishes in his last three tournaments – including at the PGA Championship. Plus, he has history in this competition – his win at the Congressional Country Club in 2011 was the first of his four major triumphs.
Matt Fitzpatrick: the defending champ
Having bounced back from an early-season back injury, last year’s US Open champion will have his sights set on becoming the eighth player to win the title in consecutive years. And his form is decent – he won the RBC Heritage in April and has finished in the top 20 in his past two outings.
Jon Rahm: leading the European charge
He may have lost the World No.1 spot to Scottie Scheffler, but no-one’s writing off Rahm’s chances. The Spaniard claimed the US Open title two years ago at Torrey Pines, and if he can repeat the feat here, Rahm would become the first player to win both the Masters and US Open in the same year since Jordan Spieth in 2015.
Patrick Cantlay: the breakthrough win?
Cantlay currently sits fourth in the world rankings and it’s only a matter of time before he lifts his first major. The 31-year-old is a California native, having been born in Long Beach so this is something of a ‘home course’ and he’ll no doubt have the backing of the crowd. Can he use it to his advantage?
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