10 Stats You Need to Know: Pre-Championship

By Ron Driscoll, USGA

| Jun 12, 2024 | Village of Pinehurst, N.C.

10 Stats You Need to Know: Pre-Championship

The U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2 for the first time in a decade, but it won’t be nearly as long a wait for its next visit to the Sandhills of North Carolina. Having been named the USGA’s first U.S. Open anchor site back in 2020, this year’s championship will be followed by U.S. Opens in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047, and the 2029 edition will feature a repeat of the back-to-back with the U.S. Women’s Open that happened in 2014.

What is different about Course No. 2 since Martin Kaymer’s runaway, eight-stroke victory in 2014? The changes are subtle but important, as you can read about here. For instance, there are more native plants and wiregrass awaiting players who miss the wide fairways, not that anyone else but Kaymer took advantage of the Donald Ross design restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 2011 (Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton tied for second in 2014 at 1-under-par 279).

Here are 10 Stats You Need to Know ahead of Round 1 of the championship:

1. Par is a good score at Pinehurst: Over the first three U.S. Opens held at Pinehurst, there were 468 total competitors, but only four players managed to shoot under par for 72 holes: Payne Stewart (1 under, 1999), Martin Kaymer (9 under, 2014), Rickie Fowler (1 under, 2014) and Erik Compton (1 under, 2014). Michael Campbell won in 2005 with a score of even-par 280. In addition, when Michelle Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open here in 2014, she was the only player under par for the week (2 under).

2. Bogey-free rounds are rare: Over the three U.S. Opens at Pinehurst, there have been 1,368 rounds recorded. Only five of those rounds were bogey-free, including one by Kaymer, who went wire-to-wire in his eight-stroke romp. The blemish-free rounds: David Duval (1999, Round 1, 67, finished T-7), Arron Oberholser (2005, Round 2, 67, T-9), Brendon Todd (2014, Round 2, 67, T-17), Jason Day (2014, Round 2, 68, T-4) and Kaymer (2014, Round 2, 65, won).

3. Another feather in Tiger’s cap? Tiger Woods did not play in the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst as he recovered from back surgery. He finished T-3 here in 1999, two shots behind Payne Stewart; he finished second here in 2005, two shots behind Michael Campbell. If Woods finishes among the top 20 this year, he would become just the third player in the last 100 years to have three top 20s at one U.S. Open venue. Gary Player did it at Oakmont (T-6 in 1962, 12th in 1973 and T-20 in 1983) and Sam Snead did it at Oakland Hills (2nd in 1937, T-10 in 1951 and T-17 in 1961).

4. A top-40 hit for Phil? Phil Mickelson could join a short list of players to have four top-40 finishes in the U.S. Open at one venue over the last 100 years. Phil’s finishes here are: 2nd in 1999, T-33 in 2005, T-28 in 2014. He would join Tom Kite (T-19 in 1972, 29th in 1982, won in 1992 and T-32 in 2000) and Tom Watson (T-29 in 1972, won in 1982, T27 in 2000 and T-29 in 2010), both at Pebble Beach.

5. Will a longshot bid pay off? Michael Campbell, the 2005 U.S. Open champion at Pinehurst, entered that championship at No. 80 in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR). Only two players have won the U.S. Open as a lower-ranked player since the OWGR was introduced in 1986: Steve Jones (No. 99 in 1996 at Oakland Hills) and Hale Irwin (No. 89, 1990, Medinah). Payne Stewart was No. 13 entering the 1999 U.S. Open and Martin Kaymer was No. 8 entering the 2014 U.S. Open. Jones and Campbell were both qualifiers and Irwin played on a special exemption from the USGA.

6. Will a longshot bid pay off? Part 2: Only one of the last 49 major champions (from the 2012 Masters on) was ranked outside the OWGR top 50 (Phil Mickelson, 2021 PGA, No. 115). Defending champion Wyndham Clark was No. 32 when he won at The Los Angeles Country Club, the lowest rank for a U.S. Open champion since Graeme McDowell in 2010 at Pebble Beach (No. 37). In the 13 U.S. Opens since McDowell’s victory, the average OWGR by the winner is No. 13.

7. Xander, Part 1: Xander Schauffele is on an impressive roll in majors. Dating to the 2022 PGA at Southern Hills, he has placed among the top 20 in nine straight majors. Over the last 30 years, the only other player with a streak at least that long is Tiger Woods, who did it twice (10 majors, 2006-2009; 14 majors, 1998-2001). Jack Nicklaus’ record (33 majors from 1970-78) will be tough to top.

8. Xander, Part 2: Schauffele is a top-15 machine in the U.S. Open, having finished in that cohort for seven straight years, with his best finishes a T-3 at Pebble Beach in 2019, fifth at Winged Foot in 2020 and T-5 at Erin Hills in 2017. The only players with longer streaks since 1920 are Jack Nicklaus (12, 1971-1982), Ben Hogan (12, 1940-1956), Sam Snead (9, 1947-1955) and Bobby Jones (11, 1920-1930).

9. Will drama ensue on No. 17? The hole that has separated the champion from the field the most in the first three U.S. Opens at Pinehurst is the par-3 17th (listed at 207 yards this week). Payne Stewart birdied it in winning in 1999, Michael Campbell also did so in 2005, and the three champions have averaged 2.58 strokes (12 rounds), while the field is averaging 3.14 strokes. In other words, the champion has gained more than half a stroke per round on the field on No. 17. 

10. Enter and sign in, please: A U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2 brings out the dreamers. The championship has received more than 10,000 entries only three times, and two of those occurred with Pinehurst as the venue. This year, the USGA accepted 10,052 entries, most of whom would have had to get through both local (18-hole) and final (36-hole) qualifying. That trails only 2014 at Pinehurst (10,127 entries) and 2023 at The Los Angeles Country Club, which received a record 10,187 entries. A total of 12 golfers in the 156-player field got here via the local-final gauntlet. That is the lowest known number since two-stage qualifying began in 1959.

Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Material from Elias Sports Bureau was used in this article.