The 121st edition of the U.S. Open takes place at Torrey Pines, a course that previously staged the major in 2008.

Tiger Woods famously triumphed in a dramatic play-off against Rocco Mediate 13 years ago, battling through the pain of a knee injury to secure the trophy for a third time. It was his 14th major triumph, but few would have predicted he would have to wait a further 11 years to add to his collection.

Woods will not be part of the field this week, but reigning champion Bryson DeChambeau will hope to match the feat of Brooks Koepka – winner in 2017 and 2018 – by defending his title.

Besides those two rivals, who else could be in contention for success in California? Time to get out the crystal ball…


LOVE HIM OR HATE HIM, REED CAN TOP THE BILLING AGAIN – Peter Hanson

A divisive figure he may be (even among his own Ryder Cup team-mates), but there is no doubting Patrick Reed's skills on the course. Moreover, he was a winner at Torrey Pines only five months ago at the Farmers Insurance Open – doing so by a convincing five-shot margin.

Four top-10 finishes have followed since, including at the Masters and his most recent tournament the Memorial. At that latter event, he led the field in scrambling and par-three scoring and Reed is tied-sixth for top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season. His scoring average of 70.039 is tied 11th and it would be no surprise to see him in contention for a second major this weekend.

XANDER TO 'SCHAUFFELE' OFF WITH TROPHY – Rob Lancaster

Californian Xander Schauffele should feel right at home at Torrey Pines, a venue where he has not always excelled but did finish in a tie for second at this year’s Farmers Insurance Open back in January. He has not won on the PGA Tour since January 2019, though only a play-off defeat denied him retaining the Sentry Tournament of Champions title the following year.

Crucially, the 27-year-old has a track record of doing well in this major. Since 2017, he has not finished outside the top six, including ending up in a four-way tie for third place at Pebble Beach in 2019 when Gary Woodland triumphed. Indeed, an American has been crowned champion in the past six editions – this year could see Schauffele hit another home run.

RAHM THE MAN FOR THIS MAJOR – Benjamin Spratt

Jon Rahm is a man in form heading into this event. Perhaps. It is slightly difficult to gauge exactly how the Spaniard is shaping up, having just recovered from COVID-19, but he was flying the last time we saw him on a golf course. Rahm led by six shots at the Memorial Tournament when he was remarkably required to withdraw following a positive test result.

The premature end to that event will not have hit Rahm's confidence, though, and the 26-year-old should not be lacking in that department heading to Torrey Pines. His first PGA Tour title came on the South Course at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open, while he was a runner-up at the same event three years later.

IN-FORM CANTLAY CAN LEAD THE WAY – Jonathan Wright

An outside bet perhaps but one certainly worth considering, Patrick Cantlay shot up to number seven in the world after winning the Memorial Tournament in a play-off with Collin Morikawa this month.

That triumph may have come after Rahm had to withdraw, but Cantlay topped a strong field with his best performance of a season in which he has won two PGA Tour titles, claimed five top-10 finishes and leads the way in the FedEx Cup standings. The combination of good form and playing on the home should give the Californian great confidence.

FINAU WILL FINALLY END HIS WAIT – Russell Greaves

Tony Finau is a perennial contender at the majors and it's high time he finally got his hands on a title.

The omens bode well for the 31-year-old, who has 10 top-10 finishes in majors. Finau claimed was among the top 10 at the Farmers Insurance Open in 2017, 2018 and 2020 before ending as joint runner-up this year. He obviously enjoys this course.

He is carrying solid form into this one, too, having earned seven finishes inside the top 10 on tour this season.

Tiger Woods began his U.S. Open bid with a double bogey in 2008 at Torrey Pines – "a terrible start", said the man who four days later took the title in a sudden-death play-off, after he and Rocco Mediate could not be separated in a two-man fifth round.

The 18-hole play-off scenario is now history, so there will no repeat of such a marathon effort as the major returns after 13 years to the San Diego course this week, and there will be no Woods either.

That 2008 triumph was a 14th major for the American, yet he had to wait another 11 years until the 15th arrived, the man who once seemed booked in to take the major titles record away from Jack Nicklaus having seen perceptions of his life switch from fairy tale to soap opera.

Woods in 2008 was privately fighting the pain of a double stress fracture of his left tibia that he kept under wraps. Yes, he won the U.S. Open with a broken leg.

Whoever lifts the trophy this Sunday is unlikely to have to overcome the tribulations that faced Woods across that long weekend, and the superstar's absence is sure to be felt ... until the first round begins to take shape and a new narrative plays out.

Back in 2008, tournament organisers upped the intrigue by grouping Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott – the world number one, two and three – together for the opening two rounds.

Local favourite Mickelson recalls the moment when Woods fluffed his opening hole.

"I thought that was pretty inspiring the way he didn't let that affect him," Mickelson said this week. "He stayed to his game plan, stayed focused, stayed patient, and ended up kind of picking his spots where he could get a shot back here or there, and he did, and he ended up winning. That's impressive."

After completing his opening round, Woods said his mindset after shooting six at the first was to "just be patient, long way to go", and he finished one over par.

By the end of day two, Woods stood tied for second place, with Mickelson and Scott in a group sharing 35th position.

"The atmosphere for the whole 36 holes that I played with Phil and Tiger was incredible," Scott recalled earlier this year. "But Thursday morning the energy around the first hole was like I can't compare it to anything else actually.

"It was not even like teeing off at the Masters or anything like that. The build-up ... Tiger obviously being Tiger and Phil, the local hero, one, two and three in the world, of course I was like the third wheel hanging off the back, but it was really fun to be a part of that."

Of course Woods is a once-a-generation talent, but should anyone make a similarly poor start this week, it would be wise to take the blow on the chin and move on.

This course, the long-time home of the annual Farmers Insurance Open, should reward a steady temperament.

Mickelson, fresh from his shock victory last month at the US PGA Championship, where he became the oldest winner of a major, described the Torrey Pines greens on Monday as "very challenging".

"There's a lot of pitch, a lot of contour, and as they get firmer, they're significantly firmer than just the last two days," he said.

"It's very difficult to get it to some of the pin positions, and it's going to be a difficult test. As long as it is at sea level it's going to be a difficult task, but it seems like the set-up is pristine, and it's going to be a fun, very difficult challenge."

 

WHO WILL WIN THIS TIME?

With Woods out of the picture, recovering from the car crash he was said to have been fortunate to survive in February, there will be no repeat of his famous success 13 years ago.

Woods has won the Farmers Insurance Open a record seven times too, so he would have been relishing this week. Brandt Snedeker and Jason Day are both two-time winners of that tournament, and Mickelson has been champion three times, but not since 2001.

Mickelson is seeking the trophy that would give him a career grand slam, but it seems fanciful to expect him to challenge, having rarely been a factor in the majors in recent years until his unexpected win at Kiawah Island.

Stats Perform has taken a combination of factors to build a list of potential contenders, assessing past performance at the Farmers Insurance Open but also weighting displays in majors and recent PGA Tour form.

These scores are built around performance at Torrey Pines from 2016 to this year.

In the calculations, top-10 finishers at the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open receive points on a scale from 15 for the champion down to six points for 10th place. This decreases on a year-by-year sliding scale to 10 points for the 2016 tournament winner and one point for 10th place in that event.

There is also two points awarded per top-10 finish on the PGA Tour in the 2021 season, and substantial points availability for recent major success (10 points per major title in 2020 and 2021, 8pts in 2019, 6pts in 2018, 4pts in 2017, 2pts in 2016).

Not all players in the U.S. Open field have played the Farmers Insurance Open each year, and some are rarely active, if at all, on the PGA Tour, but this may give an inkling of the players who could come into contention at the year's third major.

TONY FINAU, 52 points: Finau followed up three top-10 results at the Farmers (2017, 2018, 2020) by finishing a joint runner-up in 2021, pointing to a clear liking for the course. How he enjoys it later in the year than he usually encounters Torrey Pines remains to be seen. Finau also has seven top-10 finishes of tour in the 2021 season.

JON RAHM, 52 points: His first major title is arguably overdue, given his talent and week-by-week results. Rahm was Farmers champion in 2017 and runner-up in 2020, also finishing top 10 in 2019 and 2021. He has a tour-leading 10 top-10 finishes this season, and would surely have had a win at the Memorial Tournament earlier this month before a positive COVID-19 test ended his title charge after 54 holes.

PATRICK REED, 42pts: This year's champion at the Farmers Insurance Open, Reed was also top six there in 2020, has had six top-10 results on tour this season and landed a Masters title in his not-too-distant past.

RYAN PALMER, 33pts: Palmer tied for second earlier this year at Torrey Pines, just as he did in 2018. Those performances and his four top-10 finishes on tour this year make him perhaps the surprise name on this list.

BROOKS KOEPKA, 32pts: Koepka missed the cut this year at the Farmers and did the same in 2017, and he did not play the tournament in the intervening years. Although Koepka has little left to prove in a wider sense – his mountain of points here is accrued through past major wins and a healthy batch of top-10s this season – he has yet to master Torrey Pines. Koepka has also missed the cut at three of his most recent four tournaments this year.

RORY MCILROY, 31pts: Top-five finishes at the Farmers in 2019 and 2020 augur well for McIlroy, and his five top-10 finishes on tour this season is a tally he will aim to add to over the coming days. It may be asking a lot to expect him to carry off the title, but another high placing would seem realistic.

Next on the list: Justin Rose (30pts), Brandt Snedeker (29), Viktor Hovland (26), Xander Schauffele (26), Jason Day (25), Marc Leishman (25), Hideki Matsuyama (25) and Keegan Bradley (24).

Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith claimed the Zurich Classic of New Orleans after defeating Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in a play-off.

Leishman and Smith, who carded a final-round 70, won the first play-off hole to trump Oosthuizen and Schwartzel in the race for the title on Sunday.

Australian pair Leishman and Smith and South Africa's Oosthuizen-Schwartzel pairing (71) finished level at 20 under par through 72 holes, a shot clear of Americans Richy Werenski and Peter Uihlein (67).

The final round was the second foursome format of the tournament, after Thursday and Saturday's rounds used alternate-shot play at TPC Louisiana.

Smith and Leishman soared to the top of the leaderboard thanks to 12 holes of flawless golf, which featured four birdies, before three bogeys in five holes allowed Oosthuizen-Schwartzel to join them at the summit.

Leishman's birdie chip at the 16th hole tied the South Africans as the two teams headed for a play-off – the first play-off in the team format of the event since former Masters runner-up Smith and Jonas Blixt prevailed in 2017.

Defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer (70) finished 17 under overall, Xander Schauffele-Patrick Cantlay (67) and Henrik Stenson-Justin Rose (70) were two shots further back, while Tony Finau and Cameron Champ crashed down the leaderboard from joint-second to 17th place following their 76.

Schauffele and Cantlay combined for eight birdies and claimed a share of 11th place – tying the record for most par-breakers in a foursomes round at the tournament since it became a team event.

Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel turned in a nine-under 63 in four-ball play to take the lead after the third round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. 

The South African duo are 19-under for the tournament and were one of six teams to record a 63, vaulting them past second-round leaders Tony Finau and Cameron Champ by a stroke. 

Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith also shot nine-under and are tied for second with the American pair. 

The top of the leaderboard at TPC Louisiana is crowded, with Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler sitting two shots back along with first-round leaders Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura. 

The tournament, which switched to a team event in 2017, features four-ball in the first and third rounds and foursomes in the second and fourth. 

Three teams are at 16 under and nine more at 15 under, with the latter group including defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer. 

The shot of the day belonged to Sam Ryder, who holed a five iron from 206 yards at No. 2 for a double eagle -- the first at the tournament since Rob Oppenheim did it in 2018.

 

 

 

Tony Finau and Cameron Champ posted a four-under-par 68 in alternate-shot play for a share of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans lead following the second round.

After the opening round consisted of four-ball play at the longstanding PGA Tour tournament, which turned into a team event in 2017, day two switched to the foursomes format.

American pair Finau and Champ head into the weekend 13 under through 36 holes, two strokes clear alongside Norwegian duo Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura, who were tied for the lead after day one.

Hovland and Ventura posted a 69 on Friday to stay atop the leaderboard at TPC Louisiana.

"I know we're having a good time with this format up to this point," Finau said. "We've both played some really solid golf, and we find ourselves at the top of the leaderboard.

"We'll do what we've been doing the last couple days, which is enjoy each other's company and not add any bonus pressure when it comes to team-mate golf."

Justin Rose-Henrik Stenson and Bubba Watson-Scottie Scheffler are 11 under at the halfway stage of the tournament.

Defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer recorded a two-under-par 71 to be five shots behind.

Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell – playing alongside Matt Wallace – aced the 217-yard 17th hole to finish the day with a 70.

Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura ended the opening round tied for the lead alongside Brice Garnett and Scott Stallings at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The longstanding PGA Tour tournament turned into a team event in 2017, with the first and third rounds consisting of four-ball where everyone plays their own shot and the best score counts. The second and fourth rounds feature foursome play or alternate shot.

On Thursday, after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hovland-Ventura and Garnett-Stallings moved a stroke clear atop the leaderboard at TPC Louisiana.

Both teams carded bogey-free 10-under-par 62s, ahead of Cameron Champ-Tony Finau, Billy Horschel-Sam Burns, Keegan Bradley-Brendan Steele, Lee Kyoung-hoon-Kyle Stanley, Mark Hubbard-Sebastian Cappelen, Louis Oosthuizen-Charl Schwartzel and March Leishman-Cameron Smith.

Xander Schauffele, who threatened to break through for his maiden major title at the Masters, and Patrick Cantlay are eight under heading into the second round, along with Bubba Watson-Scottie Scheffler.

Defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer opened their bid for back-to-back titles with a 65 to earn a share of 16th position, three strokes off the pace, while Justin Rose-Henrik Stenson are also seven under.

Justin Rose mounted a back-nine recovery to finish his second round with a two-shot lead over Jordan Spieth and Marc Leishman.

Rose shot a sublime opening round of 65 at Augusta, but relinquished his four-shot advantage on Friday before returning to the top of the leaderboard with three birdies in his space of four holes.

The Englishman was the man to catch on seven under when he signed for a level-par 72, rallying after bogeying four of the first seven holes in his second round.

Gains at the 13th, 14th and 16th holes gave Rose momentum heading into the weekend as he bids to don the green jacket for the first time.

The in-form Spieth surged into a share of second place with Australian Leishman by carding a four-under 68, with birdies proving easier to come by for the field than on the opening day.

Three-time major champion Spieth, on a high after ending a title drought stretching back to 2017 at the Texas Open last weekend, made four of his five birdies after the turn and only dropped one shot at the 12th.

Leishman also made a significant move, setting the tone by starting with three birdies in row and going on to shoot a five-under 67.

Scintillating six-under rounds of 66 from Bernd Wiesberger and Tony Finau put them just three shots adrift of Rose along with Justin Thomas, who shot a 67.

Will Zalatoris, Brian Harman and Si Woo Kim were also well poised on four under, with their rounds still in progress. Defending champion Dustin Johnson had work to do back on three over through 10.

Bryson DeChambeau responded to a poor opening round with a 67 of his own to sit at one over, while Brooks Koepka (+5) and Rory McIlroy (+6) were facing a battle to make the cut 10 and eight holes into their rounds respectively.

Lee Westwood was a couple of shots below the projected cut mark on five over midway through his round.

England's Matt Fitzpatrick and American Webb Simpson took a share of the lead in a star-studded field at the WGC-Workday Championship.

World number 16 Fitzpatrick carded a six-under 66 without dropping a shot on day one at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida.

Ninth-ranked Simpson closed a clean back nine with three straight birdies and a par to climb up the leaderboard and match the 26-year-old Englishman's score.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka dropped his only shot at the par-four 16th, but is alongside three others at five under.

Americans Kevin Kisner and Billy Horschel also carded 67s and were joined in third place by 2017 Masters winner Sergio Garcia, who drained a round-high eight birdies.

World number two Jon Rahm and Patrick Reed were among six players tied in seventh at four under, along with Tony Finau.

Adam Scott saw a potential hole-in-one come back off the flag at the sixth and shot an up-and-down even-par 72, while Justin Thomas recovered from dropping four shots in three holes to close with three birdies in the last four to sign for a one-over 73.

World number one Dustin Johnson posted a pair of double bogeys on his way to a five-over 77. That score was matched by US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, who dropped shots on seven holes.

Rory McIlroy made a decent start, shooting a three-under 69 to sit in a tie for 13th.

The first World Golf Championships event of the season kicks off the Florida swing of the tour, heading towards The Players Championship starting on March 11.

Spanish star Jon Rahm said he hopes Tiger Woods "can still play with his kids and have a normal life" after the golf great was involved in a single-car crash.

Woods was "very fortunate" to survive a car crash in California on Tuesday that left the 15-time major champion with serious leg injuries and question marks hanging over his career.

The 45-year-old American superstar underwent surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center after an early morning crash that saw his car roll "several hundred feet", according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Woods, who had to be pulled from his vehicle with specialist equipment and an axe, was already recovering from back surgery ahead of April's Masters at Augusta.

His career has been hampered by a long-standing back issue, which has required five procedures in recent years.

Rahm reacted to the news as shockwaves were sent through the golf and sport's world amid reports of  compound fractures to both legs.

"As if his body hasn't endured enough," Rahm said as he prepares for Thursday's WGC-Workday Championship.

"Just hoping out of a bad situation, the best possible outcome, and I hope he can recover from it and we can see him on the golf course as early as possible.

"I know he underwent surgery early this year, so I hope he didn't damage anything he had done already.

"I just hope he can get out of the hospital after recovery and he can still play with his kids and have a normal life."

Tony Finau – also gearing up for the WGC event at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida – was part of the Woods-led United States team that defeated the Internationals at the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne.

"He means a lot to the game of golf," Finau said. "I've said it I think time after time, the '97 Masters changed the course of my life.

"Without that event I probably wouldn’t be here, I wouldn't be playing golf, so he definitely changed the course of my life, my career. I think I'm one of hundreds of guys out here probably that would say the same thing.

"We all know he's a strong cookie physically, mentally, so if someone's going to get through this, he will and be back for the better, I'm sure. My thoughts and prayers I'm sure, as all the players, I can speak on their behalf, are with Tiger."

Hometown hero Max Homa survived a play-off against countryman Tony Finau to claim the Genesis Invitational.

Los Angeles native Homa clinched his second PGA Tour title after signing for par on the second play-off hole as Finau could only bogey on Sunday.

A play-off was needed after American pair Homa (70) and Finau (70) finished 12 under through 72 holes at Riviera Country Club in California, where overnight leader Sam Burns (69) ended the tournament a stroke adrift.

Homa – who was born in nearby Burbank – still managed to reign supreme, despite a brutal lip-out on the 72nd hole, which would have sealed victory but it sent the event into a play-off instead.

"Been watching this tournament my whole life, it's why I fell in love with golf – wow, didn't think it'd be like this [choking up]," Homa said after winning for the first time since 2019.

"Tiger [Woods] another reason I'm into golf. Had good feelings this week. Been playing great. City of champions, you know – [MLB World Series champions] Dodgers, [NBA champions] Lakers and me now, so it's a weird feeling."

Cameron Smith (67) finished three shots off the pace and outright fourth, two strokes ahead of Spanish star Jon Rahm (66), Viktor Hovland (67) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (71).

World number one Dustin Johnson's title charge faded following a one-over-par 62, which left the American tied for eighth and six shots behind the leaders.

Jordan Spieth (71) – still searching for his first victory since 2017 – closed out the Genesis Invitational tied for 15th, alongside the likes of Xander Schauffele (69) and Patrick Cantlay (72).

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka (69) and defending champion Adam Scott (66) responded after forgettable third rounds to finish tied for 38th at even par.

Dustin Johnson will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Saudi International after finishing with a flourish at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club on Saturday.

Johnson was two strokes adrift of joint-leaders Ryan Fox and Stephen Gallacher at the halfway mark, but the world number one will be the man to catch in the final round.

The Masters champion was upwardly mobile on moving day, carding a four-under 66 to go out on his own at 13 under in an event he won in 2019 before finishing second last year.

Johnson had not dropped a shot this week until his double bogey at the 13th, relinquishing a two-shot advantage after finding the water.

The two-time major winner put that setback behind him like the champion that he is, ending his third round with back-to-back birdies, having also made three gains on the front nine and another at the 10th.

A second successive 66 left Victor Perez in second place, the Frenchman going out in 32 following three birdies and picking up another shot at 17 in a blemish-free round.

Race to Dubai leader Tyrrell Hatton is a further shot back on 10 under along with fellow Englishman Andy Sullivan, Tony Finau and Soren Kjeldsen.

Fox slipped back nine under with a 71, two bogeys on the front nine and as many after the turn denting his hopes of being crowned champion.

Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia are among another six players at nine under, the Spaniard making great strides with a sublime six-under 64 - the lowest round of the day.

Patrick Reed clinched the Farmers Insurance Open title with a dominant five-stroke triumph at Torrey Pines.

Reed carded a four-under-par 68 in the final round to claim the largest margin of victory of his career on Sunday.

American star Reed and Carlos Ortiz had shared the lead heading into the deciding day in San Diego, where the former starred on the South Course.

Reed posted an eagle, three birdies and a bogey to be 14 under overall for his ninth PGA Tour trophy – with his 2018 Masters success among the honours.

The victory marked the 50th top-10 performance of Reed's Tour career. The last five players to reach that milestone with a win also include Jason Day (2016), Bubba Watson (2016), Rocco Mediate (2002) and Phil Mickelson (2000).

"My biggest takeaway was mentally, I hung in there and stayed the course," Reed said afterwards, following a rules furore on Saturday.

"... We felt like we did [the right thing], the rules officials felt like they did that at the same time so with that being said I felt fine, I felt great throughout the day. And at the end of the day, I wouldn't have felt any other way.

"I was able to shoot a low number [Sunday] and get the job done."

Tony Finau (69), Henrik Norlander (69), Ryan Palmer (70), Xander Schauffele (69) and Viktor Hovland (71) finished tied for second, while Will Zalatoris (71), Lanto Griffin (72) and John Rahm were a stroke further back and six shots behind.

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy faded as he ended the tournament in a share of 16th position at six under.

McIlroy's final-round 73 included a double-bogey, two bogies and three birdies in a mixed bag for the Northern Irish star.

Tony Finau is part of a three-way tie for the lead heading into the final round of The American Express.

The American, whose only previous PGA Tour win came at the Puerto Rico Open in 2016, fired a five-under 67 in the third round in California on Saturday.

Finau was four under through 12 holes in his round before finding water and making a double bogey at the par-three 13th.

But he responded in style, reeling off three straight birdies to get to 15 under – which sees him share the lead with Max Homa (65) and Kim Si-woo (67).

Finau has eight top-10 finishes at majors, but on Sunday will bid to end his wait for a second PGA Tour victory.

Homa, meanwhile, had a double bogey after finding water on the seventh, while Kim went through bogey-free on the PGA West Stadium Course, which hosted the third round.

Richy Werenski (65) is a shot back of the leading trio, while Russell Knox (64), Brian Harman (67) and Emiliano Grillo (68) are at 13 under.

Cameron Davis (66), Rory Sabbatini (67), Chase Seiffert (65), Francesco Molinari (69) and Doug Ghim (69) are tied for eighth.

Molinari, the 2018 Open Championship winner, is playing for the first time since last year's Masters, having missed five cuts in seven events in 2020.

Overnight leader Im Sung-jae slipped back to a tie for 20th after finding the water three times during his round, including twice at the ninth.

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