US Open 2022 Overview
When it comes to legendary sports venues in towns around the US, The Country Club, in the leafy suburb of Brookline, is right up there with Fenway Park as a place where great sports history has taken place and when 156 of the world’s best golfers assemble here this week for the 122nd U.S. Open, we’ll all be treated to more nostalgia in what should be an epic event. For the first time since 1988, the U.S. Open Championship will be held at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, where Curtis Strange defeated Nick Faldo in an 18-hole playoff.
In 34 years, a lot has changed: if there is a tie after 72 holes, it will not be decided in an 18-hole playoff, and the field will face a course that has been lengthened by more than 250 yards. However, yardage alone does not tell the story of the changes made to the course, which has hosted 16 previous USGA championships, beginning with the 1902 U.S. Women’s Amateur. The real difference will be the playing surfaces, not the distance. The Country Club’s greens are small by modern standards, averaging only 4,388 square feet. They’ve been expanded some since 1988, but the widening out to recapture lost hole locations means that the targeted surfaces are actually more demanding and potentially can be set up in very unsettling ways to make approach play extremely challenging.
Recent changes have been overseen by Gil Hanse. He has done some work that keeps the long holes long, and the shorter holes will still be demanding. Like any U.S. Open, you’ve got to have control of your ball. It’s going to be fascinating to watch. Hanse has done work on several U.S. Open courses, including 2020 host Winged Foot Golf Club and The Los Angeles Country Club, which will host in 2023 along with a say in the recent redesign of Southern Hills which hosted the last major.
Ahead of the 2021 tournament the requirements to win this event were clear-cut: the likely champion would be under-35, in the world’s top 25, had played at least three championships already (with a top 25 under his belt), and have finished top three in the year already. Jon Rahm, who then lifted the trophy, fitted the bill perfectly. This will be a good starting point again in 2022.
Key Skills Set Required
- SG T2G – Lifting a Major Championship trophy requires elite T2G performance over four consecutive days. The foundation for stress-free golf comes from having a solid T2G game, and I want to look for players who have shown that over the past few months. This track is a long and demanding Par71 with only the 2 Par 5’s on offer which gives little rest bite to players who are fully tuned in with every club in the bag.
- SG OTT – It is easy to get lost in all the “how long is the rough” chat. Thinking accuracy off the tee is imperative can be misleading, the data tells a story of power succeeding over precision despite all the noise we hear about the rough. Driving Distance has been a key attribute to success at the recent US Opens with 4 of the last 6 winners ranking in the Top 10 for Driving Distance on that given week and none of the last 7 winners ranking in the top 50 for accuracy off the tee. 5 of the last 7 winners have ranked in the top 10 for SG Off The Tee. Elite level drivers of the ball who gain strokes on the field in this skill category will have a distinct advantage this week.
- SG Approach Play – The most important metric of all the SG data points. So with small greens and a Major championship challenge this week, I see no reason why approach play won’t play a key factor.
- GIR gained – The last 4 winners of the US open have ranked 4th, 3rd, 1st, 5th for GIR gained on that given week. Say no more with the second smallest green on the major circuit, only behind pebble beach. Players who pepper the centre of these green creating plenty of birdie putts to the tucked pins will have enhanced chances of success.
- SG Around the green – Some of the smallest green in the USA and the smallest of all tracks on the Major circuit. Players will be tested time and time again throughout the 4 days around the green. The players who rise into the top 10 this week will have outperformed the field average in this department that’s for sure.
- SG Scrambling – As I have touched upon these are some of the smallest green the players will face all year round. Not only that they will be fast and firm meaning the first bounce will often see the ball skipping off greens and into the run-off areas and rough. Players are going to be scrambling 25% of the time this week. We will only be looking at players with a proven appetite for this type of test.