This week, for the 122nd US Open at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., I’m aiming for a certain type of player who can excel on a classic American golf course with small greens and high rough. Pebble Beach is the only other major site with smaller greens. The course requires extreme precision, not distance. Yes, distance will help a player, it always will, but the rough will be more penalizing than a typical PGA Tour event. Also, from what I understand about the Country Club, a bomb and gauge winner like Bryson DeChambeau at Winged Foot is unlikely to happen due to the terrain which features rock formations , water obstacles, massive mounds and more problems.
Today we are going to discuss how to play your classic US Open pool based on the Official World Golf Ranking. Even if your pool doesn’t exactly reflect what’s described below, I’ve identified players using a tier-by-tier approach who could make the cut and contend for the green jacket on Sunday.
The main stat I’m going to focus on is approaching shots gained. The sample size corresponds to the last 24 laps relative to the field. It’s the foundation on which I’m going to build my team, along with other factors like current form, avoiding big misses and playing the short game. If a player misses one of these small greens, the skill of going up and down becomes critical. Par will be a good score this week, keep that in mind when building your lineups. This is how I will play the classic golf pool format.
Here is a hole-by-hole overview of the course that highlights these features. You better keep the ball in play on the short grass.
Tier 1 – (players ranked #1-10 in the OWGR)
Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Cameron Smith, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Sam Burns, Jordan Spieth
After a missed cut at the Masters, Burns rebounded with a top 20 finish at the PGA Championship. The young star and double winner in 2022 could be on the verge of winning his first major championship. Burns has it all that I mentioned above. Its form is white-hot; he ranks first in shot-win approach and has the distance to birdie all week as long as he stays accurate off the tee. From a strategic point of view, Burns will have a low percentage of ownership in this first level. If you’re looking to get an edge near the top of the OWGR, it could be.
Pick: Sam Burns
Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama, Billy Horschel, Abraham Ancer, Brooks Koepka, Joaquin Niemann, Tony Finau, Will Zalatoris, Matt Fitzpatrick
Olympic gold medalist Schauffele seems to like a USGA setup. Why? He usually demands precision and distance, a hallmark of the 28-year-old’s game. His record of five top 10 finishes in five starts at the US Open is remarkable. This five-year streak that began in 2017 includes a T3 finish at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Schauffele ranks eighth in shot-winning approach against the pitch and has regained his form since a disappointing missed cut at the Masters. In his last three starts, Xander has finished fifth, 13th and 18th.
Pick: Xander Schauele
Sunjae Im, Louis Oosthuizen, Max Homa, Shane Lowry, Daniel Berger, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey, Harris English, Bryson DeChambeau, Corey Conners
Irishman Lowry is having a memorable 2022, but he is just one win away. Nobody would be shocked if, on Sunday, Lowry was in contention on Sunday to win his second major championship. It will be his 10th start in the event on what this year appears to be a golf course that suits his game perfectly. has no glaring weaknesses in its entire bag. You can count on the 2019 Open champion to show off his elite ball-striking, and if the putts go down, be in the game all weekend long.
Choice: Shane Lowry
Cameron Young, Kevin Kisner, Kevin Na, Jason Kokrak, Harold Varner III, Talor Gooch, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed, Tom Hoge, Tommy Fleetwood
Very quietly, Fleetwood has been playing elite golf in 2022, thanks to solid play throughout his bag. In all strokes gained categories measured over the last 24 rounds against the field, Fleetwood ranks between 11th (short game) and 45th (off the tee). This amounts to an average of 17th in total strokes gained from the field. In other words, Fleetwood has the tools to make pars all week. If Fleetwood can keep the ball in play and look like a birdie, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him break par on a tough setup. His putting could make the difference at the weekend. Fleetwood ranks 15th against the field in strokes gained.
Pick: Tommy Fleetwood
Seamus Power, KH Lee, Adam Scott, Aaron Wise, Mito Pereira, Lucas Herbert, Keegan Bradley, Justin Rose, Russell Henley, Brian Harman
Three players in this category rank in the top 12 in shots won in the last 24 rounds against the field.
10th – Wise
12th – Pereira
In this trio, the biggest glaring weakness is Henley’s ranking at No. 105. This eliminates it from a selection. Wise and Pereira are fit, have momentum and have used it to break into the OWGR top 50. At the end of 2021, Wise ranked 66th in the world and Pereira 98th. I’ll let experience do the calling. This will be Wise’s fourth US Open start and Mito’s second. Interestingly enough, Wise only made the cut on the small greens at Pebble Beach. Since it’s the comparable course we’re studying this week, that’s enough for me to fit Wise into my schedule.
Pick: Aaron Wise
Level 6 (rest of the field)
2012 US Open champion Webb Simpson is back healthy and playing good golf. If you reduce the sample size of strokes gained from the last 24 rounds to the previous eight rounds, Simpson drops from 59th to 25th in total strokes gained. Four of those rounds came at the tough PGA Championship in Southern Hills. It’s taking shape at the right time, and this setup suits Simpson’s game. The 36-year-old doesn’t have to dominate this course with distance off the tee. He should be able to surgically carve his way around the course and use his power putt to make a few birdies.
Pick: Webb Simpson
(Photo by Xander Schauffele: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswrire via AP Images)