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LIV Golf star says he deserves to be in U.S. Open as he is ‘one of the best players in the world right now’

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Last week, Mexican Carlos Ortiz emerged victorious at LIV Houston. The win was his second in Houston as a professional, as he won the Vivint Houston Open on the PGA Tour back in 2020.

After his brilliant performance, Ortiz said he believes he should be playing in this week’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, despite missing out on qualifying.

“I’ve been playing great. It’s a shame I doubled the last hole to miss the qualifier. It hurt a lot.”

The 33-year-old then referred to himself as “one of the best players in the world right now”.

“I think with time, we’re going to get back into the Majors because I know that I’m one of the best players in the world right now, and I deserve to be there. But the way things are happening right now, it’s kind of hard.”

Ortiz came agonizingly close to qualifying in Dallas last week but made double bogey on his last hole to fall out of the potential spot.

Carlos will tee it up next at LIV Nashville in two weeks.

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19th Hole

Jon Rahm in race against time for U.S. Open after worrying update following toe injury

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LIV Golf star Jon Rahm was forced to withdraw from the second round of LIV Houston last week due to a toe injury.

The injury appeared to be painful for the Spaniard, who apparently had a cut which turned to an infection between his toes.

After he was visibly in pain on Friday during the round, Rahm attempted to play on Saturday and made it six holes prior to withdrawing.

According to “Ten Golf”, Rahm was not on the grounds of Pinehurst No. 2 for the U.S. Open on Monday and is not expected to arrive Tuesday either.

Rahm has struggled in the majors this season. He finished T45 at the Masters and missed the cut at the PGA Championship.

It’s still unclear whether or not he will attempt to play in the U.S. Open.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 U.S. Open betting preview: Rory McIlroy to end 10 year major drought

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The professional golf season has reached the third major of the year, as the 2024 U.S. Open heads to historic Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. This will be the fourth time the course has hosted the U.S. Open. The three previous times were 1999 (Payne Stewart, -1) 2005 (Michael Campbell, E) and 2014 (Martin Kaymer, -9). 

Pinehurst No.2 is a par-70 measuring 7,588 yards. The course features Bermudagrass fairways and Bermudagrass greens.

The U.S. Open field will feature 156 of the best players in the world with only the top 60 and ties making it through to the weekend. 

Past Winners of the U.S. Open

  • 2023: Wyndham Clark (-10)
  • 2022: Matt Fitzpatrick (-6)
  • 2021: Jon Rahm (-6)
  • 2020: Bryson DeChambeau (-6)
  • 2019: Gary Woodland (-13)
  • 2018: Brooks Koepka (+1)
  • 2017: Brooks Koepka (-16)
  • 2016: Dustin Johnson (-4)
  • 2015: Jordan Spieth (-5)
  • 2014: Martin Kaymer (-9) (Pinehurst No.2)
  • 2013: Justin Rose (+1)
  • 2012: Webb Simpson (+1)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Key Stats for Pinehurst No. 2

Let’s take a look at the key metrics for Pinehurst No. 2 to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

Strokes Gained: Approach

As usual, Strokes Gained: Approach will be a major factor at the U.S. Open.

The course is extremely unique and will require some creativity to keep the ball on the putting surface on approach shot. 

Strokes Gained: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+1.64)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+1.02)
  3. Corey Conners (+0.84)
  4. Justin Thomas (+0.80)
  5. Aaron Rai (+0.80)

Good Drive %

Unlike most U.S. Opens, I don’t believe players who are shorter off the tee can be ruled out at Pinehurst No. 2. The ball will run forever on the baked-out fairways, and players won’t always be hitting drivers off the tee. A good combination of distance and accuracy should be helpful this week. 

Good Drive % the Tee Over Past 24 Rounds (min.8 rounds):

  1. Bryson DeChambeau (+89.3%)
  2. Collin Morikawa (+88.4%)
  3. Aaron Rai (+88.3%)
  4. Scottie Scheffler (+87.6%)
  5. Sepp Straka (+86.2%)

Strokes Gained: Around the Green

With rock hard greens and difficult approach shots, players will undoubtedly miss plenty of greens.

The around the green areas will give players plenty of options. They can go high or low, or even employ a Texas wedge. Regardless of methodology, getting the ball up and down for par is what wins or loses in the U.S. Open. 

Strokes Gained: Around the Green Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Cameron Smith (+1.54)
  2. Hideki Matsuyama (+0.63)
  3. Tyrrell Hatton (+0.59)
  4. Collin Morikawa (+0.58)
  5. Bryson DeChambeau (+0.56)

Strokes Gained: Total (Firm and Fast)

Pinehurst No.2 will play extremely firm and fast. Players who can’t successfully navigate a firm and fast golf course will have no shot this week. 

Strokes Gained: Total (Firm and Fast) Per Round Over Past 36 rounds:

  1. Thomas Detry (+2.29)
  2. Jon Rahm (+2.27)
  3. Scottie Scheffler (+2.14)
  4. Xander Schauffele (+1.88)
  5. Max Homa (+1.68)

SG: Total (Very Difficult Conditions)

The U.S. Open will play extremely difficult this week. In the past three U.S. Opens at Pinehurst No. 2, there have only been four players under par. 

SG: Total (Very Difficult Conditions) Per Round Over Past 36 Rounds:

  1. Rory McIlroy (+2.60)
  2. Will Zalatoris (+2.28)
  3. Scottie Scheffler (+2.27)
  4. Viktor Hovland (+2.13)
  5. Matt Fitzpatrick (+2.00)

Apex Height

With firm and fast conditions, players who hit the ball extremely high will have a much easier time keeping the ball on the baked-out greens. 

Apex Height Over Past 36 Rounds:

  1. Cameron Davis (+130.27)
  2. Bryson DeCheambeau (+129.09)
  3. Keegan Bradley (+125.90)
  4. Byeong Hun An (+123.41)
  5. Rory McIlroy (+122.23)

Strokes Gained: Total on Donald Ross Designs

Players who have had success at Donald Ross tracks throughout their career will have an advantage this week. 

Strokes Gained: Total on Donald Ross Designs over past 36 rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+2.14)
  2. Viktor Hovland (+1.95)
  3. Cameron Davis (+1.86)
  4. Rory McIlroy (+1.75)
  5. Russell Henley (+1.57)

Strokes Gained: Total in Major Championships (Last 2 Years):

I believe players who have had success at recent majors will find their way into the mix once again. 

Strokes Gained: Total in Major Championships over past 2 years:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+2.96)
  2. Rory McIlroy (+2.55)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+2.37)
  4. Viktor Hovland (+2.27)
  5. Collin Morikawa (+2.10)

2024 U.S. Open Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (24%), Good Drive% (18%), SG: Around the Green (10%), Strokes Gained: Total Firm and Fast (10%), SG: Major Championships (12%), Apex Height (8%) Strokes Gained: Total Donald Ross Designs (8%) and Strokes Gained: Total Very Difficult (10%).

  1. Scottie Scheffler
  2. Collin Morikawa
  3. Rory McIlroy
  4. Bryson DeChambeau
  5. Xander Schauffele
  6. Tommy Fleetwood
  7. Russell Henley
  8. Viktor Hovland
  9. Hideki Matsuyama
  10. Tyrrell Hatton
  11. Will Zalatoris
  12. Max Homa
  13. Keegan Bradley
  14. Alex Noren
  15. Justin Thomas
  16. Tony Finau
  17. Byeong Hun An
  18. Patrick Cantlay
  19. Si Woo Kim
  20. Sepp Straka

*Photos of LIV pros courtesy of LIV Golf*

2024 U.S. Open Picks

Rory McIlroy +1200 (BetMGM)

It’s officially been a decade since Rory McIlroy has won his last major championship. There have been countless times in the past ten years where all signs have pointed to the Northern Irishman emerging victorious going into a major. This one, however, feels a bit different.

McIlroy will never come into a major championship under the radar, but I believe there is less pressure on him this week than there was in the first two majors of the year. A green jacket would put Rory in elite company and give him the career grand slam, which is a mountain I’m unsure he will ever be able to climb. Going into the PGA Championship after a dominant victory, McIlroy was scorching hot, having won in dominant fashion at Quail Hollow the week before. Valhalla was also the site of his last major win. Despite the obvious form and course fit, he was not part of the story at the year’s second major, which in my opinion, was due to the heightened pressure.

This week, McIlroy is not coming off of a win, and is playing in the third major after having already disappointed in the first two. Scottie Scheffler is the prohibitive favorite, and most would agree Rory is not in Scheffler’s league at this very moment. I believe the combination of these factors will free McIlroy up to play incredible golf at this week’s U.S. Open.

Historically, firm and fast hasn’t been McIlroy’s bread and butter in major championships, but 2024 Rory is not the same player as 2014 Rory. Earlier this year, he spoke with Geoff Shackelford about how his game has adapted to the potential conditions at Pinehurst No. 2.

“I’ve really started to enjoy that side of golf much more over the past few years since I’ve started to have a little more understanding of the game in general: Golf course architecture, equipment stuff and becoming a student of the game again. And honestly, it’s a challenge to me because I know I have that reputation as, ‘oh well he won when things were soft.’ I’d love to win a major championship or major championships where it was firm and fast. And I prefer that style of golf now compared to ten years ago.”

The numbers back up Rory’s inclination that he may be better suited for a firm and fast test. In his past 36 rounds, McIlroy ranks 1st in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on Firm and Fast courses. He also ranks 5th in Apex Height, which will allow him to keep the ball on the green on the baked out putting surfaces at Pinehurst No. 2.

Despite not having won one in a decade, the 35-year-old is one of the best U.S. Open players of his generation. In his past five U.S. Open starts, he hasn’t finished outside of the top ten. His finishes have gotten progressively better in each start (T9, T8, T7, T5, 2nd) and is clearly trending toward a victory.

I’d be lying if I told you that backing Rory McIlroy to win a major didn’t come with some trepidation, however, I believe this could be his best chance to put some decade-old demons to rest at one of the world’s most historic golf courses.

Bryson DeChambeau +2000 (BetMGM)

(Full disclosure, I bet Bryson almost a year ago when he was 50-1, and the current prices make him tough to fit with Rory on the betting card).

Bryson DeChambeau has been one of the best players in the world in major championships this season. He finished T6 at The Masters, which was his best ever finish at Augusta, and 2nd at the PGA Championship at Valhalla. Bryson’s incredible off the tee game makes him a threat in every major he will play in, and the driver was on full display in the first two of the season. At Augusta, DeChambeau led the field by a wide margin in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (+6.8) and he finished 2nd in the category at Valhalla (+6.6).

In his eight major championship rounds this year, Bryson ranks 1st in Good Drive %, 1st in Driving Accuracy, 1st in Total Driving, 1st in Driving Distance and 1st in Carry Distance. To say he is elite off the tee would be like saying Scottie Scheffler would be an understatement.

Pinehurst No. 2 is one of the few U.S. Open venues where most players won’t be able to pound driver off of every tee, which could potentially mitigate Bryson’s biggest weapon. However, it also means that due to his length throughout the bag, he will be hitting shorter clubs into the greens, which is a major advantage. The course will be incredibly firm and fast, and he should have an easier time holding the putting surface on his approach shots. Dechambeau ranks 2nd in the field in average Apex Height, which is the ideal ball flight for Pinehurst.

Like Augusta, Pinehurst No.2 will require a strong around the green game to contend. While Bryson isn’t thought of as an elite player in that regard, the green complexes should suit him at this course. Martin Kaymer famously used a “Texas Wedge” all over the course in his dominant victory back in 2014, and Bryson is excellent when employing putter off of the green as opposed to a traditional chip.

DeChambeau grew up idolizing Payne Stewart and even went to SMU and wore a flat cap to follow in the footsteps of his hero. It would be a fitting end to this year’s U.S. Open if Bryson could win where Stewart emerged victorious 25 years ago.

Cameron Smith +4500 (FanDuel)

Cameron Smith isn’t very long or straight off the tee, which makes his fit for a U.S. Open questionable in most instances. However, I believe Pinehurst No. 2 is an absolutely perfect golf course for the former Open Champion.

Smith would be the first to tell you he struggles with the driver, but due the firm and fast conditions on a course that isn’t agonizingly long to begin with, driver won’t always be necessary off the tee. If Cam can find the fairway when clubbing down with a 3-wood or iron, he is going to be extremely dangerous this week.

Pinehurst No. 2 presents plenty of challenges including difficult sandy waste areas off the fairways and bunkers around the greens. In his eight major championship rounds this season, he ranks 1st by a wide margin in Strokes Gained: Around the Green. There is no one better in the game of golf playing out of both fairway bunkers and greenside bunkers. Smith grew up playing in Australia where this is commonplace on courses, and it should be second nature to him. In 2014, there were two Australians in the top-ten of the leaderboard.

Over the past two years, Cam has been an excellent player in major championships and ranks 9th in Strokes Gained: Total in majors over that span (+1.81 per round). His creativity and wizardry both on and around the greens make him the ideal player to conquer the unique test that is Pinehurst No. 2.

Smith finished T4 in the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, which was one of the more unique U.S. Opens we’ve seen. I believe the setup this week at Pinehurst No. 2 will be the Aussie’s best chance of his career at a U.S. Open victory.

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19th Hole

Man banned from St. Andrews after ‘irresponsible and reckless act’ at Home of Golf

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Last week, a man hit a shot from the street outside of St. Andrews onto the course, creating some backlash both on social media and with the course staff.

Lou Stagner pointed out on X that the man was recreating a shot originally made by Erik Anders Lang made on YouTube roughly a year ago.

According to the man named Wyatt Mesmer, he’s now been banned from St. Andrews.

Mesmer shared the update on his Instagram and is now selling tee shirts.

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