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2024 U.S. Open Golf: Previewing Pinehurst and the Stats to Know

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U.S. Open Golf Pinehurst

For the fourth time in its storied history, Pinehurst No. 2 will host the U.S. Open. The third major championship of the year will be at Pinehurst for the first time since 2014, when Martin Kaymer won the second of his two majors. Michael Campbell won his only career major at this course back in 2010. Payne Stewart won back in 1999.

Kaymer’s 9-under was eight shots better than anybody else in the field, but Campbell won at even par and Stewart won at 1-under. Pinehurst has played tough, as most U.S. Open venues tend to do.

 

We’ll see if that changes this year. Since the last U.S. Open at Pinehurst, players and equipment have improved so much that the par 70 on a track measuring over 7,500 yards in length isn’t as daunting as it once was. In fact, the last five U.S. Opens have finished with a winner at 6-under or better, so players are finding more success, but these courses are clearly playing tougher than average.

Pinehurst No. 2 should contain all of the usual attributes and characteristics. Let’s dive into the course a little more and then consider the players who might fit the best based on the stats that matter most.

Previewing Pinehurst

There aren’t a whole lot of guys who were in the field or prominently featured back in 2014 in this year’s field. The course now has what is called “Champion Ultradwarf Bermudagrass” greens instead of bentgrass per PGATour.com, so that is one significant change. A lot of players walked the course and played practice rounds on Monday and many more will be arriving on Tuesday and Wednesday to see how they roll, since this will be the first U.S. Open to employ that sort of putting surface.

There are three 500+ yard par 4s and four other par 4s that measure at least 470 yards. Perhaps a blessing and a curse this week at Pinehurst is that there aren’t a lot of areas for traditional rough to grow. Many of the fairways are lined by sandy areas and wiregrass. It might be better to be in a shallow sand trap than shin-high rough in some respects, but driving accuracy once again remains an essential skill in a major.

What the sandy areas do is force players to consider the risk-reward of going for a green by having to take a less-lofted club from the sand. We’re going to see some middle irons out of those areas and that does create less margin for error, not only in terms of ball flight, but also in terms of getting good spin when landing on the green.

In that same breath, there are only three par 3s on the course and two of them play over 200 yards. Pin placements are a factor for all 18 holes, but we’ve seen some diabolical ones in the past. Shinnecock Hills in 2018 comes to mind. It is going to be very hot and not terribly humid during the day, so these greens are just going to bake in the June sun. By Sunday, they might be like landing a wedge on concrete.

Pace of play is also a factor here. The U.S. Open is inclusive of a lot of different players, including regional and amateur qualifiers who have earned their way into the field. With the difficulties of the course for even the world’s best, we could have some long rounds on Thursday and Friday. Fatigue may be a factor between the weather conditions and the mental strain of getting around the course.

The Stats That Matter Most

While the shortcut is just to look at Scottie Scheffler’s body of work and say, “Everybody needs to play like that”, there are some metrics to pay closer attention to this week at Pinehurst based on the course. And, look, these aren’t just for trying to pick a winner. There are Top 10, Top 20, H2H matchups, and all sorts of other betting options available.

As mentioned, driving accuracy will be a big deal. There is a fine balance here between distance and hitting a fairway. Because of some of the green angles and the sandy areas, some holes will punish accuracy more than reward distance and vice versa. Certainly the longer par 4s will require both. The par 5s may be kinder to distance, but there are only two of those with the par 70 scorecard.

All stats from PGATour.com

The top 10 in driving accuracy:

  • Collin Morikawa (77.72%)
  • Sepp Straka (77.26%)
  • Tommy Fleetwood (74.91%)
  • Lucas Glover (74.78%)
  • Russell Henley (74.45%)
  • Shane Lowry (74.29%)
  • Si Woo Kim (74.26%)
  • Aaron Rai (72.61%)
  • J.T. Poston (72.36%)
  • Scottie Scheffler (72.09%)

Of those players, only Scheffler (2nd) ranks in the top 10 in SG: Off The Tee.

While SG: Approach matters at every single tournament, majors ramp it up a few notches. Second shots are much harder on these premier tracks in most cases than they would be at others.

The top 10 in SG: Approach:

  • Scottie Scheffler (1.528)
  • Corey Conners (.960)
  • Tom Hoge (.904)
  • Tony Finau (.791)
  • Justin Thomas (.767)
  • Xander Schauffele (.676)
  • Aaron Rai (.668)
  • Si Woo Kim (.608)
  • Lucas Glover (.554)
  • Greyson Sigg (.545)

(Patton Kizzire (8th), Keith Mitchell (10th) not in field)

A lot of majors become an exercise in minimizing damage by Scrambling. Sand scrambling will be another part of the equation here.

The 10 in Scrambling (missing a green in regulation, but making par or better – tour average 59.78%):

  • Xander Schauffele (71.37%)
  • Alex Noren (69.31%)
  • Scottie Scheffler (69.20%)
  • Denny McCarthy (68.86%)
  • Hideki Matsuyama (68.44%)
  • Ludvig Aberg (67.94%)
  • Greyson Sigg (67.53%)
  • Tommy Fleetwood (67.49%)
  • Mackenzie Hughes (67.12%)
  • Billy Horschel (66.43%)

(Aaron Baddeley (2nd), Maverick McNealy (8th), Taylor Montgomery (12th) not in field)

Of those in the top 10 in Scrambling, Schauffele (2nd) is the only one in the top 10 in Scrambling from the Sand, which is defined as the percent of time a player misses a GIR, but still makes par or better when the birdie stroke is taken from the greenside bunker.

Remember, a lot of players will be hitting sand shots adjacent to the fairway based on their tee shots here.

Keep an eye on Proximity to the Hole as the tournament goes along. I think it’s important, but with how hard these capped greens are going to be between the sunny, hot weather and the course setup, I don’t know how much what happened before matters this week. Players are likely to miss a lot of GIRs and wind up scrambling or chipping/pitching towards the hole.

These aren’t all, but some of the most important stats for this week. Watch how the tournament plays out as well. Guys playing in the morning before the warm temperatures might get an advantage due to increased humidity and moisture overnight coupled with cooler conditions. Those may not be luxuries afforded to them on Saturday and Sunday if they make the weekend with later tee times.

Pinehurst No. 2 is sure to be a challenge and is a track very much worthy of hosting such a prestigious event.

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