121st US Open Championship returns to Torrey Pines

The third major championship of 2021, the US Open, starts tomorrow night (AEST) and returns to Torrey Pines in California for the first time since 2008, when Tiger Woods emerged the victor following an 18-hole playoff duel with Rocco Mediate.

Torrey Pines’s South Course will play at 6996 metres and to a par of 35-36–71. The meterage for each round of the championship will vary due to course setup and conditions. The starting field of 156 golfers will be cut to the low 60 scorers following 36 holes.

Bryson DeChambeau Bryson DeChambeau won his first major at the 2020 US Open (Credit: USGA)

Jon Rahm, forced to withdraw from his last start with a sizeable lead because of a positive COVID-19 test, is a favourite along with Phil Mickelson who is seeking to capture the one major that has eluded him so far.

Mickelson, who turns 51 on June 16, the day before the championship begins, is the oldest player in this year’s US Open field. Mickelson won this year’s PGA Championship, his sixth professional major. He is a six-time US Open runner-up finisher.

For Mickelson, a three-time winner of the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, the course he grew up on, this week offers him an incredible chance to become only the sixth person to complete the career grand slam of golf’s four majors.

A number of big names, like World No.2 Justin Thomas and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, are also looking for another major title to add to their collection. World No.1 Dustin Johnson also has sent a stern message that he’s game is solid and on the verge of another major win.

Seven Australians have qualified to play this week including Matt Jones, Brad Kennedy, Marc Leishman, Wade Ormsby, Adam Scott, Steve Allan and Cameron Smith. Jason Day will not be playing after opting to skip qualifying.

Leishman is playing in his 10th US Open with his best result a tied 18th in 2016 at Oakmont Country Club. He nearly won the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews, losing an aggregate playoff to Zach Johnson and is still hunting for his first major. Leishman’s last individual title came at the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open which was played at this week’s venue, Torrey Pines.

The 2021 purse will be US$12.5 million, the highest among golf’s major championships; the winner will earn approximately US$2.25 million or just under AUD$3million.

Last year Bryson DeChambeau carded a final-round, 3-under-par 67 to earn a decisive six-stroke victory over 54-hole leader Matthew Wolff at Winged Foot Golf Club. DeChambeau joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only golfers who have captured an NCAA individual title, a US Amateur and a US Open.

Among the benefits enjoyed by the US Open winner are a US Open exemption for the next 10 years, an invitation to the next five Masters Tournaments, an invitation to the next five Open Championships, PGA Championship and Players Championship. The winner also received exempt status on the PGA Tour for five years.

Australian TV coverage will be available on FoxSports/Foxtel Go, Kayo and Golf TV from 4am – 12pm (Fri/Sat) and 3am – 11am (Sun/Mon) AEST.