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US Open 2022: Phil Mickelson’s return, Brooks Koepka’s story among 10 Brookline storylines

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What an era for a major championship. Hot on the heels of one of the craziest weeks in modern professional golf history, the US Open returns to one of the most historic golf courses in the United States. Brookline Country Club hosted three US Opens, six US Amateurs and a famous Ryder Cup at the turn of the century.

He was also one of the original five founding members of the USGA at the turn of last century giving it deep roots with a restoration over the past 15 years bringing golf into a new era. He is now ready to take blows from players built more like Brooks Koepka than Francis Ouimet.

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The golf course is one of the many stories that will make this championship interesting. The splintering of professional golf at the highest level is the headliner, of course, and the tentacles of this story will affect nearly every other story unfolding this week. Still, it will be nice to have a major reprieve, where golf really matters and geopolitical and financial concerns can be mostly put aside for the next seven days.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 scenarios for the US Open 2022 at Brookline Country Club

1. Brookline LIV(e): The storyline that has dominated golf for the past few months has intensified over the past week with the launch of a league rival PGA Tour at the Centurion Club in London last weekend. The USGA has largely stayed out of the fight between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, and even this week will allow LIV Golf entrants to play the US Open as they were already qualified and placed on the course. However, from the first press conference on Monday (Phil Mickelson) until the end of the week, LIV will be a direct line whether we like it or not.

LIV Golf is a big deal both in the present moment and when it comes to the future of the sport. Many of my friends who have only a passing interest in golf have bombarded me with questions, and that’s basically the only something we’re discussing behind the scenes of golf right now. A perk of this week at Brookline — as I wrote here – will be that when more players are spread more widely around the world for regular golf events, major championships will seem (and will be) even more important than they already are.

2. Scottie’s antics: Since World War II, the only golfers to have won the Masters and the US Open in the same year have been single-name players. (Ben) Hogan, Jack (Nicklaus), Arnie (Arnold Palmer), Tiger (Woods) and Jordan (Spieth). Will Scheffler join them at Brookline? He’s been good in two events since missing out on the PGA Championship cut, and he was excellent at the US Open last year, slipping to T7 behind Jon Rahm at Torrey Pines. The concern for him is probably the same as for many top players. Missing the tee will be punished more at the Country Club than at a place like Augusta National. The short game has been magical this year, however, and if it stays that way this week, then perhaps ‘Scheffler’ will become a one-name player like any other.

3. Lefty’s Quagmire: There’s a lot going on with Phil Mickelson this week. Sporting her new Barry Melrose look on Sunday, Lefty took a look at the course of the only major championship he has yet to win. A victory this year would be the most absurd end to this fortnight, but he will be fighting a war on many fronts, as is normally the case with him. Mickelson is leading the press conferences on Monday and will face several questions about the league (LIV Golf) he allegedly helped create and what that means for his future on the PGA Tour (where he has not quit) and to the major championships (where he is exempt for the next four years and to the Masters, PGA and Open Championship beyond). It’s the craziest week imaginable for someone who isn’t a true competitor, and it could be the most incredible week in golf history. Imagine if, on the course where we had one of the youngest winners of the US Open (Francis Ouimet at 20 in 1913), we also got the oldest major winner ever.

4. Can Rory stay warm? Rory McIlroy is your favorite on the odds board after retaining his RBC Canadian Open title. In his last five starts (including two majors), he finished 2-5-8-T18-1. He is one of only four golfers to have finished in the top 10 at least three of the last five US Opens, and he is the best ball-striker in the world in his last 20 rounds. If he hits approach shots at Brookline like he did at the Canadian Open – seven approaches within 5 feet in the final round – then he’s going to make Tiger’s performance at Pebble Beach in 2000 looks like a nail biter in comparison.

5. What type of golf course do we have? One of the criticisms leveled at the USGA in recent years is that it has often laid out its golf courses so that only a handful of golfers can win. Torrey Pines in 2021 was similar to Winged Foot in 2020 in that it was mostly a contest between who could hit it the farthest and still be able to find it. I was promised the Country Club would be different – and it certainly is looks different – in that more native grass creates more unpredictability, as Gil Hanse points out in the video below, which is a tour pro’s worst nightmare and should also create a more proper shooting contest . With a bit of luck.

6. History of Brooks and Spieth: There’s a lot going on right now, and it’s easy to lose sight of the story that’s ahead of Spieth (one US Open win) and Brooks Koepka (two). If Spieth wins, he reaches four majors, which has only been accomplished by 29 golfers in history. If Koepka wins, he gets to five, which only 19 golfers have ever reached. It’s a huge deal when it comes to the sport’s arc over the past 100 years, and those two seem like footnotes this week, even though Koepka has lost to four golfers in the last four US Open.

7. Rahm’s Repeat Bid: That should tell you how crazy the last few weeks of pro golf have been that we’re almost at the end, and we haven’t even discussed last year’s champion. Coming back to back at the US Open is one of the game’s most extraordinary undertakings: it’s only happened three times since WWII (Hogan, Curtis Strange, Koepka), but Rahm is quietly playing pretty well to get started. Despite picking up just one victory so far this year, he has driven the ball brilliantly, earning shots in 37 of the 41 rounds measured and hitting his irons better than he did in two months a few weeks ago at the Memorial. He comes in with a little fanfare, which I think irritates him a bit in the same way Koepka does. He’s low key and will be a real threat to Brookline this week.

8. The Xander Schauffele sequence: The only golfer to finish in the top 10 at each of the last five US Opens is Schauffele. The problem for him is that his actual chances of winning are low. That’s basically Schauele’s story at the majors. There may be no one more consistently good than him (13 top 25s in 20 events), but he has the same number of major titles as you and me. The question for him is whether he can turn a good week into a transcendent week.

9. The bad guys? Two of the last five winners of the US Open (Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson) will participate in a major tournament for the first time since the announcement of their departure from the PGA Tour. It will be embarrassing for the USGA (and the entire golfing world) if someone that major championship organizations can effectively ban from their championships in the future ends up winning this week. Mickelson would obviously be the headliner in this area, but his chances of winning are infinitesimal compared to those of DeChambeau and DJ

10. Back to back news? After five years of major championship fallow, Justin Thomas is playing one of the best golf courses of his life and arrives with the confidence of a PGA Championship victory and a near miss at the Canadian Open last week behind McIlroy. . He has more shots than anyone in the game, and if he can control his pilot, it’s hard to see him not struggling. The only thing better than JT vying for a second straight major would be PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan’s dream of his league’s two biggest supporters – JT and Rory – returning him from last week, which they discussed on 72nd Green to the Canadian.

“We had this hug on the final green and I just said, ‘Let’s do this all next week,'” McIlroy said Sunday. “That’s what I told him. So it would be cool to be able to start all over again with him.”

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