US Open 2024 Preview — Pinehurst No.2, North Carolina (June 13-16)

US Open 2024 Preview — Pinehurst No.2, North Carolina (June 13-16)

Posted by Jamie Martin on 10th Jun 2024

Bring on the pain! While the Masters is aesthetically alluring and the Open Championship charming, the US Open is just plain nasty. Brutal course set-ups have brought the best players in the world to their knees in the past, but will Pinehurst’s No.2 layout prove any easier? We can’t wait to find out!

Will a jail stint disrupt Scottie Scheffler?

In short, no. Life truly is stranger than fiction at times but not even a Lost scriptwriter could’ve penned something as outlandish as Scheffler’s arrest prior to the second round at Valhalla last month. What’s even more absurd is that it took a jailhouse mugshot to suddenly project Scottie Scheffler into sport’s mainstream consciousness, something two green jackets and a rapid ascendency to world No.1 couldn’t achieve. Anyone who can light it up and shoot a round of five-under like Scheffler did just an hour or so after being locked in a jail cell wearing an orange jumpsuit has some serious stones. Expect the newly minted jailbird to again be the man to beat at Pinehurst, especially after his latest win at Memorial.

Is Bryson back in the picture?

He has to be. Bryson’s runner-up finish at the PGA showed why golf so desperately needs guys like him. Bryson isn’t afraid to be different and despite being regarded as one of golf’s most pungent personalities in the past, his break-out Valhalla performance seemed to flip the script. His robotic putting stroke still gives off a mad scientist vibe, but his Sunday charge was intoxicating and the goodwill from the Valhalla galleries palpable. Despite being a slightly awkward dude, you sense Bryson just needs to be loved. That whole golf villain act of his may indeed have been a clever marketing ruse, stoked by his famous squabble with Brooks Koepka. If Bryson is feeling the love at Pinehurst and his wild 3D printed irons are dialled in, he’ll go close to notching a second US Open win, especially with Jon Rahm under an injury cloud.

Bryson Dechambeau shapes as a leading chance at the 2024 US Open

What score wins this week at Pinehurst?

Six-under. But if the greens are already dry and crispy on Thursday and bake out further over the weekend, three-under could be the winning number.

Which of the current major champions will come out on top at Pinehurst?

It has to be Scottie Scheffler, although PGA champion Xander Schauffele should be within striking distance. Wyndham Clark is next best, with Open champion Brian Harman, who has endured an utterly hapless season thus far, bringing up the rear.

Which Australian will perform best this week?

Aussie representation is slightly down this year with Cam Smith, Cam Davis, Min Woo Lee, Jason Day, Adam Scott and Jason Scrivener in the field at Pinehurst. Lee shapes as the best hope, even though he’s struggled to put four solid rounds together this year. His scrambling ability is first class, he leads the PGA Tour’s combined distance/accuracy driving stat and he finished fifth at LACC last year, which shows he can handle the heat of a US Open.

Min Woo Lee could be the best Australian chance at the 2024 US Open

Is Scotty’s major streak still alive?

Yes, but only just! Adam Scott will make his 92 nd consecutive major start when he tees off at Pinehurst, but the 43-year-old was one of the last players into the field. After coming up short in his US Open qualifier last Monday — he was beaten in a play-off by fellow Aussie Cam Davis after three holes of sudden death — Scott’s current world ranking of 60 was just enough for him to scrape in. Scott made his US Open debut in 2001 and his best result is a T4 finish in 2005.

Why are they playing the US Open at Pinehurst’s No.2 course? It sounds like it’s not even the best course on the property?

I can appreciate the logic, but Pinehurst’s quaint numbering system reflects a course’s birth order, rather than a pecking order. The Pinehurst resort in North Carolina features nine 18-hole golf courses in total and the No.2 course was the second one constructed. But Pinehurst No.2 is by far the most famous.

Why is Pinehurst No.2 so famous then?

The Donald Ross design is consistently ranked as one of the world’s best and will host its fourth US Open in 2024. But you could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. There are no water hazards, the course is wide off the tee and the bunkering, while vast, won’t send a shiver up the spine. However, Pinehurst No.2’s devil is in its detail. The course’s main defence comes in the form of sandy waste areas dotted with a nasty weed called wiregrass and small, domed greens. With the greens likely to be running at 13 on the stimp, Pinehurst No.2 will play a lot like Augusta National this week. Sticking approach shots to the right part of the greens — in many cases the landing area will be about the size of a kitchen table — is the only way to get the ball near the hole. Miss it by a hair, and it’s sayonara: balls will funnel off the putting surface into collection areas, leaving a treacherous up and down for par. That’ll increase stress levels and heartache, which sounds exactly like what a true US Open test should be.

The 2024 US Open will be held at Pinehurst No.2

Will a straight hitter or a scrambler win this week?

The head will tell you finding fairways is paramount to contending at a US Open. But recent history suggests brawn and scrambling capabilities are more important than driving it down the centre. Given even the straightest drivers will be chewing the scenery outside the fairways this week, being able to outmuscle the wiregrass will be an advantage at Pinehurst. But to win a US Open, mastering the dark art of scrambling is crucial because the tougher the course, the more greens will be missed. And with Pinehurst’s wild putting surfaces, making par saves from off the green is ultra-important to maintain momentum. Scramble it like Wyndham Clark did last year and you deserve to win a US Open.

Who’s the US Open roughie?

Sepp Straka, the Austrian with the American accent, is a top iron player and might be flying under the radar at Pinehurst. He missed the cut at Valhalla and retreated with an untidy final round at the Memorial on the weekend. But two top-10 finishes in majors last year, including a runner-up at the Open Championship, and a T16 at the Masters in April speaks for itself.

Hadn't Robert Rock retired?

Yes, he had, which makes it all the more remarkable he’ll be appearing at Pinehurst. The 47-year-old Englishman will tee it up at the US Open two years after retiring from the game with back problems. Rock had entered the UK qualifier at Walton Heath just to see where his game was at, so you can imagine his utter surprise at earning one of the nine spots on offer. Rock, known for having the most beautiful hair in the game, never wore a cap during his playing career and golf fans will be hoping his resplendent bouffant will be unobstructed by headwear at Pinehurst. He now coaches several players on the DP World Tour, many of whom he beat at Walton Heath to punch his US Open ticket.

Robert Rock will play at the 2024 US Open

Can Wyndham Clark defend his title?

That might depend on which Wyndham Clark turns up. After starting the year brilliantly, Clark has experienced a few recent wobbles. He missed the cut at The Masters and PGA Championship then blew up in windy conditions at the Memorial, heading to Pinehurst a couple of days earlier than anticipated. But the talented American showed unreal grit when crunch time arrived at LA Country Club last year, cultivating valuable pars, and bogeys, from seemingly hopeless scenarios time and time again. If that’s the Wyndham Clark who turns up at Pinehurst, he’ll be a threat.

How did Martin Kaymer win by eight shots at Pinehurst in 2014?

He putted like an absolute demon. Kaymer, the captain of the LIV Tour Cleeks, absolutely streeted the field to win the 2014 US Open at Pinehurst. Before the tournament began, the German speculated the winning score would be two or three-over-par. But after reeling off a pair of 65s to reach 10-under at the halfway point, Kaymer went on to blow away the field by eight shots and win his second major. Kaymer wielded his flatstick like a genius on Pinehurst’s slick greens and preferred to putt, rather than chip, when his ball was greenside. It’s a surprise Kaymer hasn’t won more majors but… golf is hard. His 10-year US Open exemption expires this year and if he were to land another win at Pinehurst this year, it would be a truly astonishing result.

Germany's Martin Kayser won the 2014 US Open at Pinehurst

Is Tiger Woods playing at Pinehurst?

The USGA granted Tiger an exemption into this year’s Open, which works out nicely given he will receive the Bob Jones Award from the organisation on Tuesday in recognition of his impact on the game. Tiger hasn’t won at Pinehurst but finished third in 1999 and second in 2005. He missed the 2014 edition because of injury. Tiger didn’t make the weekend at the PGA Championship and was reportedly embarrassed about his game. His heart may still be willing but his body has clearly had enough.

What’s the dream scenario for Pinehurst on Sunday?

A sudden death play-off involving Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy, Tiger and Phil. The reality is Brandon Wu wins the whole thing by four strokes.

Written by Jamie Martin

is currently locked in a battle to keep his handicap hovering around the mid-single digits. Despite his obvious short-game shortcomings, Jamie enjoys playing and writing about every aspect of golf and is often seen making practice swings in a mirror.