From Scottie Scheffler to everyone else: Breaking down the U.S. Open field


PINEHURST, N.C. — The U.S. Open is returning to Pinehurst No. 2 in the sandhills region of North Carolina for the first time in 10 years, and near the 25th anniversary of the late Payne Stewart’s unforgettable victory over Phil Mickelson in 1999.

A statue of Stewart’s famous pose after his winning putt on the 72nd hole to beat Mickelson by one stroke will greet fans this week at the Pinehurst No. 2 clubhouse. The winning putt came four months before Stewart and three other passengers died in a plane crash, along with the two pilots, on Oct. 25, 1999.

The memory of Stewart’s win will make the 124th U.S. Open, which begins Thursday, even more special. It will be the 1,000th championship event staged by the United States Golf Association, which moved much of its headquarters to Pinehurst No. 2, including a new equipment-testing facility, museum and visitor center. Pinehurst No. 2 will host the U.S. Open again in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047.

World No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler is an overwhelming betting favorite to capture his third major championship victory on what is expected to be the most difficult setup of the season.

Here’s a look at the field, including the contenders, sleepers, qualifiers and amateurs:

Jump to a section:
The guy everyone is chasing
Players who can win
If everything goes right
Hey, miracles happen
Happy to make the cut

Tier I: The guy everyone is chasing

Scottie Scheffler didn’t win last month’s PGA Championship, thanks in part to his arrest over a traffic misunderstanding (the charges were later dropped). If not for his arrest on the morning of the second round, Scheffler might have been chasing his third straight major championship victory this week.

Scottie Scheffler

He’s still the golfer to beat as the best players in the world head to Pinehurst No. 2. The world No. 1 golfer finished third or better in the past two U.S. Opens. According to Data Golf, he has gained 2.71 strokes per round in 19 major starts, nearly a half-stroke better than any other player with at least 25 major or PGA Tour starts since 1983.

Tier II: The guys who can win

Here are the legitimate contenders to win the U.S. Open. They have the game, guts and nerves to handle four pressure-packed rounds on a setup that is traditionally the most difficult among the majors.

Xander Schauffele

The can’t-win-a-major monkey is off Schauffele’s back, and he’s playing well enough to start piling up trophies after waiting so long for his first. Remarkably, he has six top-10s in seven U.S. Open starts.

Rory McIlroy

McIlroy turned things around with his 26th PGA Tour victory at last month’s Wells Fargo Championship. He has five straight top-10s in the U.S. Open and tied for 23rd at the last one played at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014. If Rory lifts the trophy on Sunday, he will end a 3,598-day major championship drought.

Bryson DeChambeau

The 2020 U.S. Open winner at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York, DeChambeau has resurrected his game and popularity in the past couple of majors. He was second in driving distance at the Masters (316.1) and first at the PGA Championship (330.5), and his length off the tee should be a weapon at Pinehurst No. 2 as well.

Brooks Koepka

Koepka, whose five major championship victories include two U.S. Open wins, was bitterly disappointing in his first two major starts this season — he tied for 45th at the Masters and 26th at the PGA Championship. He tied for fourth at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

Collin Morikawa

The two-time major champion’s form has been much better lately, but he faltered when he was in the final group in the final round of the Masters and PGA Championship. He carded a 2-over 74 to tie for third at Augusta National and an even-par 71 to tie for fourth at Valhalla.

Cameron Smith

After tying for fourth at the Masters, Smith wasn’t a factor at Valhalla, tying for 63rd. His game seems better suited for Pinehurst No. 2. He was solo fourth at Los Angeles Country Club last year, finishing four strokes behind winner Wyndham Clark.

Wyndham Clark

The defending U.S. Open champion had a pair of disappointing finishes at the Wells Fargo Championship (tie for 47th) and PGA Championship (missed cut). He’s looking to regain his form from a sizzling spring. He’d become the first back-to-back U.S. Open winner since Koepka in 2017-18.

Viktor Hovland

After struggling mightily early this season, Hovland returned to his old swing coach, Joe Mayo. The results were as good as a Black Sabbath reunion for the heavy metal fan. The reigning FedEx Cup champion was solo third at the PGA Championship at 18 under, but he still might be steaming about his missed putt on the 72nd hole that knocked him out of a playoff.

Will Zalatoris

Zalatoris’ return from a back injury has been up and down, but he has flourished in the big four in his short career. He tied for sixth at the 2020 U.S. Open and for second two years later. He’s still one of the best iron players in the world.

Justin Thomas

After a surprising caddie change before the Masters, JT picked up his first top-10 in a major in two years with a tie for eighth at Valhalla. His imagination around the greens will come in handy this week.

Jordan Spieth

Another wizard with a wedge in his hands, Spieth hasn’t had a top-15 finish at the U.S. Open since he won at Chambers Bay in Washington in 2015. He tied for 17th at Pinehurst No. 2 the year before.

Jason Day

The Australian-born golfer hasn’t done much in the U.S. Open lately, but he tied for fourth at 1 over at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014.

Ludvig Åberg

After a string of eight consecutive top-25s, including a solo second at the Masters in his first start in a major, Aberg missed the cut at the PGA Championship. He has been dealing with lingering knee pain. He has some familiarity with Pinehurst No. 2 after reaching the round of 32 in the 2019 U.S. Amateur.

Max Homa

A tie for 10th at the 2023 Open Championship and tie for third at the Masters gave Homa a jolt of confidence that he could compete in majors. However, he couldn’t get much going at Valhalla and tied for 35th.

Dustin Johnson

The former world No. 1 golfer’s track record in the U.S. Open is remarkable: a victory at Oakmont Country Club outside Pittsburgh in 2016, along with three other top-5s and six other top-10s. DJ tied for 10th in L.A. last year, his only top-25 in a major the past two seasons.

Brian Harman

Harman tied for second at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, his only top-10 in eight starts in the major. A left-handed golfer has never won the U.S. Open.

Jon Rahm

Rahm’s status for the U.S. Open is in question after he pulled out of the second round of last week’s LIV Golf League tournament in Houston with a left foot injury. Rahm, the 2021 U.S. Open champion at Torrey Pines, seemed out of sorts at the first two majors this season; he tied for 45th at the Masters and missed the cut at the PGA Championship.

Sahith Theegala

There’s still a strong belief that the 26-year-old is close to winning something big. He was in contention at Valhalla until he posted a 2-over 73 in the final round to tie for 12th. His short game woes might be a problem at Pinehurst No. 2.

Tier III: If everything goes right

Here are the sleeper candidates to lift the U.S. Open trophy Sunday. The list includes former winners, rising stars and other players whose games have been works-in-progress this season. Will it all come together at Pinehurst No. 2?

Patrick Cantlay

Now the third highest ranked player in the world (No. 8) without a major championship victory, Cantlay’s frustrations in the big four have only grown this season. He tied for 22nd at the Masters and 53rd at the PGA Championship. Cantlay has only two top-10s in his past 19 starts in majors.

Matt Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick, the 2022 U.S. Open winner at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, has had a quiet season with just two top-10s in his first 14 starts on tour. He tied for 22nd at the Masters and missed the cut at the PGA Championship.

Cameron Young

It’s surprising that Young hasn’t won yet on the PGA Tour, but he has been a top-10 machine in majors. He finished tied for ninth or better in five of the past nine. His record at the U.S. Open hasn’t been as good, however, with a tie for 32nd and three missed cuts.

Min Woo Lee

Lee carded a 3-under 67 in the final round to tie for fifth in the 2023 U.S. Open, his best finish in a major.

Shane Lowry

McIlroy wasn’t the only one who benefited from capturing the Zurich Classic team event in New Orleans in late April. Lowry, his teammate, tied for sixth at the PGA Championship. He missed the cut at Pinehurst in 2014.

Hideki Matsuyama

The 2021 Masters champion was battling a back injury again before he tied for 35th at Valhalla. He doesn’t have a top-10 finish in any of his past seven starts in majors.

Tommy Fleetwood

It probably sounds like a broken record by now, but Fleetwood is still searching for his first victory in a U.S. event. He tied for fifth at the 2023 U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club, his best finish in the tournament.

Harris English

The former University of Georgia golfer has flourished in the U.S. Open — he was fourth, third, tied for 61st and tied for eighth in his past four starts.

Tom Kim

Kim was the youngest player since 19-year-old Sergio Garcia in 1999 to post a 66 to start the PGA Championship. He didn’t do much over the weekend, however, and tied for 26th at 9 under.

Nicolai Højgaard

After tying for 16th in his Masters debut, Højgaard wasn’t as good at the PGA Championship, tying for 68th.

Tyrrell Hatton

The Englishman has just one top-10 in seven U.S. Open starts — he tied for sixth at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in New York in 2018.

Justin Rose

Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia, tied for 12th at Pinehurst No. 2 the next year.

Keegan Bradley

The 37-year-old is trending in the right direction with a tie for 18th at the PGA Championship and second at the Charles Schwab Challenge. He was one of five golfers who tied for fourth at the 2014 U.S. Open with a final-round 67.

Chris Kirk

Kirk’s best finish in a U.S. Open was a tie for 28th at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014. He attempted to learn to play golf left-handed during the offseason. Would that make him the first ambidextrous U.S. Open champion?

Russell Henley

Henley has a great short game and is a consistent putter, but his lack of distance off the tee might be a problem at Pinehurst No. 2. He finished in the top 15 in two of the past three U.S. Opens.

Matthieu Pavon

In April, Pavon tied for 12th in his first start at the Masters. He is 14th overall — the highest Frenchman in the Men’s Olympic Golf Rankings — and seems assured of competing in Paris in August.

Thomas Detry

Detry hasn’t done much in the U.S. Open, but his game has been trending up — he tied for fourth at the PGA Championship and was runner-up at the Texas Children’s Houston Open before that. He’s one of the better putters on tour.

Sepp Straka

After tying for 28th in his first start in a major in the 2019 U.S. Open, Straka missed the cut in each of his past two appearances in the tournament.

Byeong Hun An

In 2009, An became the youngest winner in U.S. Amateur Championship history at 17 years. His best finish in the U.S. Open is a tie for 16th at Pebble Links Golf Club in California in 2019.

Lucas Glover

Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, is making his first start in the event since tying for 17th in 2020.

Nick Taylor

On the Black Course at Bethpage Black in 2009, Taylor posted a 5-under 65, matching the lowest round ever recorded by an amateur in the U.S. Open.

Sam Burns

Burns’ woes in the majors have continued — he missed the cut at both the Masters and PGA Championship. He hasn’t been around for the weekend in four of his past five.

Tony Finau

Once a sure-fire contender to post a top-10 at a major, Finau hasn’t had one since tying for eighth at the 2021 PGA Championship. His putting woes are a big reason why.

Tom Hoge

Hoge, who was born in North Carolina and raised in North Dakota, missed the cut in his past two U.S. Open starts.

Taylor Pendrith

The Canadian golfer captured his first PGA Tour victory at the CJ Cup-Byron Nelson on May 5.

Robert MacIntyre

It’s amazing what a few weeks will do. MacIntyre was homesick and wasn’t playing well after he moved from his native Scotland to the U.S. in January. After returning to Scotland for a holiday, he tied for eighth at the PGA Championship and picked up his first PGA Tour victory at the RBC Canadian Open on June 2.

Adam Scott

Scott received an exemption from the USGA on Monday and will compete in his 23rd straight U.S. Open and 92nd consecutive major championship. Scott has played in every major since the 2001 Open Championship, the longest active streak in the game.

Tier IV: Hey, miracles happen

These are the long shots. This tier includes a handful of older former major champions and PGA Tour regulars.

Rickie Fowler

Given his struggles this season, Fowler’s performance at last year’s U.S. Open seems like a distant memory. He was in the final group but posted a 5-over 75 and tied for fifth at 5 under. Fowler tied for second at the 2014 U.S. Open, one of his four top-five finishes in majors that season.

Denny McCarthy

McCarthy’s track record hasn’t been great in the majors– except for the U.S. Open. He tied for seventh in 2022 and 20th last year. His putter could help him sneak into contention this week.

Dean Burmester

A four-time winner on the DP World Tour, Burmester picked up his first victory in the LIV Golf League on April 4 when he beat Sergio Garcia in a playoff in Miami. He’s making his first start in the U.S. Open since 2019.

Cam Davis

The Australian golfer tied for 12th at the Masters in April and is looking for his first made cut at the U.S. Open.

Ryan Fox

The Kiwi golfer was undone at last year’s U.S. Open by a pair of 4-over 74s. He tied for 43rd at 5 over.

David Puig

The Spanish golfer, who played at Arizona State before joining the LIV Golf League, has won twice on the Asian Tour since October.

Aaron Rai

Rai has never won on the PGA Tour, but he’s one of the better ball strikers on tour, which should be an advantage at Pinehurst No. 2. He last played in the U.S. Open in 2017.

Sungjae Im

Im has battled some missed cuts lately, but did have a tie for fourth at the Wells Fargo Championship and ninth at the Charles Schwab Challenge. He missed the cut in three of his past five U.S. Open starts.

Taylor Moore

After picking up his first PGA Tour victory at the 2023 Valspar Championship, Moore was solid in his first two major starts this season, tying for 20th at Augusta National and 12th at Valhalla.

Alexander Noren

The 41-year-old golfer from Sweden tied for 12th at the PGA Championship, his best finish in a major since 2019.

Akshay Bhatia

Bhatia is playing with “G$” written on his left wrist to honor his late friend, Grayson Murray, who passed away May 25. Bhatia made it to the round of 32 in the 2019 U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst.

Jake Knapp

The former UCLA star is making his second U.S. Open appearance; the first one came as an amateur at Chambers Bay in Washington in 2015.

Si Woo Kim

Kim has enjoyed a solid season on the PGA Tour, but he has only one top 25 and missed four cuts in seven U.S. Open starts.

J.T. Poston

Poston, who was born and raised in North Carolina, hasn’t finished better than a tie for 40th in the U.S. Open.

Adam Hadwin

Hadwin had one of the best social media posts of the year in golf when he posed for a photograph with the security guard who tackled him after friend Nick Taylor’s winning putt at the 2023 RBC Canadian Open.

Gary Woodland

Woodland, who captured his only major at the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links, recently said he probably “came back too early” from brain surgery Sept. 18.

Eric Cole

Cole, a mini-tour legend before reaching the PGA Tour in 2023, told Golf Digest he eats Sour Patch Kids and Starbursts if his blood sugar gets low. In college, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and Addison’s disease, a disorder in which the adrenal glands don’t produce enough hormones.

Adam Schenk

While playing at Purdue, Schenk was the low medalist in the North and South Amateur Championship at Pinehurst No. 2 in July 2013.

Mackenzie Hughes

The Canadian golfer has stacked together three straight top-50 finishes in the U.S. Open. His best was a tie for 15th at Torrey Pines in 2021.

Billy Horschel

Horschel, whose form has been much better this season, tied for 23rd at the 2014 U.S. Open, one of his three top-25s in 11 starts.

Austin Eckroat

Last year, the former Oklahoma State star tied a U.S. Open record with a 6-under 29 on the front nine in the final round at Los Angeles Country Club.

Kurt Kitayama

A six-time winner around the world, Kitayama hasn’t yet found success in the U.S. Open — he missed the cut in his past three starts.

Corey Conners

Just like Kitayama, the U.S. Open’s setups haven’t been kind to the Canadian ballstriking machine. Conners is 0-for-5 in making the cut in the event.

Webb Simpson

The 2012 U.S. Open winner is competing in the tournament for the 14th straight time. He had to qualify for the first time since 2011.

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson’s chances of completing the career Grand Slam by winning the U.S. Open probably ended a long time ago. He has finished runner-up in the U.S. Open a whopping six times, the last in 2013. “Lefty” was a combined 19 over in his past two starts at Pinehurst No. 2.

Mark Hubbard

Hubbard is affectionately known as “Homeless Hubbs” on tour because he spent time sleeping in his car and anywhere else while trying to break through in the sport. He tied for 26th at the PGA Championship, his best finish in a major.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout

The South African golfer made the cut in his first two U.S. Open starts in 2020-21.

Erik van Rooyen

The former University of Minnesota’s putting prowess is beginning to rival his mustache dominance on tour.

Stephan Jaeger

The 35-year-old picked up his first PGA Tour victory at the Texas Children’s Houston Open on March 31 after Scheffler missed a birdie putt that would have forced a playoff.

Martin Kaymer

The 39-year-old from Germany was a wire-to-wire winner at the 2014 U.S. Open, crushing the field by a whopping eight strokes to become the first golfer from continental Europe to win the tournament. He didn’t finish in the top 25 in his eight starts since then.

Harry Higgs

The “Big Rig” won in consecutive starts on the Korn Ferry Tour, which will get him back to the PGA Tour next season. In a qualifier at Duke University Golf Club, Higgs survived a seven-man playoff for two spots with back-to-back birdies to make his first U.S. Open.

Brendon Todd

Todd had to go through qualifying to make the field. In 2014, he tied for 17th in the U.S. Open, his first start in a major.

Sergio Garcia

The LIV Golf League captain was awarded a late exemption from the USGA and will compete in his 25th straight U.S. Open, which ties for the 10th-longest streak in history. Garcia was the first alternate at a qualifier in Dallas.

Tier V: Happy to make the cut

These players aren’t expected to be among the contenders unless something wild happens.

Tiger Woods

The three-time U.S. Open winner had a couple of near-misses at Pinehurst — he lost by two strokes to Payne Stewart in 1999 and Michael Campbell in 2005. Woods will be making his first start in the event in four years; he last made the cut with a tie for 21st in 2019. Pinehurst No. 2 is going to be a grueling walk for the ailing 48-year-old.

Emiliano Grillo
Adrian Meronk
Nico Echavarria
Mac Meissner

Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra

The former Oklahoma State star has won on both the Asian Tour and LIV Golf League since October 2022. He’s making his first start in a major.

Matt Kuchar
Daniel Berger
Adam Svensson
Rico Hoey

Nick Dunlap

After winning the American Express as an amateur Jan. 21, Dunlap’s maiden season on tour has understandably been inconsistent. The 20-year-old missed the cut at the Masters and PGA Championship.

Peter Malnati
Ben Kohles
Davis Thompson
Greyson Sigg
Frederik Kjettrup

Brandon Wu
Rikuya Hoshino
Victor Perez

Casey Jarvis

On April 15, 2023, the South African became the second-youngest golfer, at age 19, to card a 59 in the third rounds at the Sunshine Tour’s Stella Artois Players Championship in Johannesburg.

Séamus Power
Zac Blair
Beau Hossler

Francesco Molinari

The 2018 Open Championship winner missed the cut in each of his past five starts in majors. His best finish in the U.S. Open was a tie for 13th in 2021.

S.H. Kim
Takumi Kanaya
Max Greyserman
Jim Herman

Tier VI: The qualifiers

Here are the remaining players among the 67 who aren’t PGA Tour regulars and included in tiers above. They went through local and final qualifying to grab spots in the field. The last qualifier to win the U.S. Open was Lucas Glover in 2009.

Sam Bennett

The former Texas A&M star was the low amateur at the 2023 Masters, tying for 16th at 2-under 286. He also tied for 43rd at the U.S. Open last year. He has six top-25s on the Korn Ferry Tour this season.

Brandon Robinson-Thompson
Matteo Manassero

Robert Rock

Rock, a two-time winner on the DP World Tour, retired from professional golf to concentrate on coaching. He plays only recreationally now, but qualified for his first U.S. Open in 12 years.

Grant Forrest
Richard Mansell
Sam Bairstow

Frankie Capan III

On April 25, Capan posted a 13-under 58 in the first round of the Veritex Bank Championship, matching the second lowest score in Korn Ferry Tour history. He broke Scheffler’s course record of 59 at Texas Rangers Golf Club in Arlington.

John Chin
Chris Petefish
Charles Reiter
Brian Campbell

Tom McKibbin

McKibbin, from Northern Ireland, grew up playing at Hollywood Golf Club, the same course where McIlroy developed his game. The 21-year-old picked up his first DP World Tour victory at the 2023 Porsche European Open.

Tim Widing

The Swedish golfer captured victories in back-to-back starts on the Korn Ferry Tour in April, earning him PGA Tour status in 2025. He would earn an immediate promotion to the tour with a third victory.

Isaiah Salinda
Chris Naegel
Joey Vrzich
Edoardo Molinari
Jason Scrivener

Justin Lower

Lower was brought to tears after he qualified for his first U.S. Open at age 35. He was the co-medalist after carding rounds of 64 and 68. “The Sunday of the U.S. Open usually falls on Father’s Day and I lost my dad when I was 15,” Lower said. “Just to be able to play on that day in the U.S. Open will be really cool.”

Ryo Ishikawa
Riki Kawamoto
Taisei Shimizu

Carson Schaake

While driving through Indiana after qualifying for his second U.S. Open, Schaake tried to land a good-luck charm from another former Iowa star.

Andrew Svoboda
Chesson Hadley

Michael McGowan

No qualifier figures to have a larger cheering section than McGowan, who grew up a few miles from the Pinehurst resort. His grandparents, Peggy Kirk Bell and Warren Bell, purchased nearby Pine Needles Resort & Lodge, which has hosted four U.S. Women’s Opens. His father, Pat McGowan, was the 1978 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

Sung Kang
Carter Jenkins
Logan McAllister

Willie Mack III

Mack lost his card on the Korn Ferry Tour last year, but snagged the final qualifying spot in a playoff at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida. It will be his first appearance in a major.

Otto Black
Maxwell Moldovan

Tier VII: The amateurs

Here are the amateur players who will attempt to do what stars such as Cantlay, Mickelson, Rahm, Spieth and so many others did at the U.S. Open before turning pro: winning a medal as a low amateur.

Gordon Sargent

Sargent, a former world No. 1-ranked amateur, announced April 18 that he is returning to Vanderbilt for his senior season. He was eligible to accept PGA Tour membership this month, but elected to wait until June 2025. He will be exempt through the 2026 season.

Neal Shipley

Shipley, runner-up in the 2023 U.S. Amateur, was the low amateur at the Masters in April, when he beat Tiger Woods by four shots in a Sunday pairing.

Bryan Kim
Stewart Hagestad

Hiroshi Tai

The Georgia Tech sophomore spent two years in the Republic of Singapore Navy before joining the Yellow Jackets in January 2022. He captured an NCAA individual national championship May 27, earning him a trip to the U.S. Open and the 2025 Masters. He’ll be the first golfer from Singapore to compete at Augusta National.

Santiago De La Fuente

Ashton McCulloch

The Michigan State senior was a surprising qualifier from a loaded field at Cherry Hill Club in Ridgeway, Ontario. His career scoring average of 71.74 is the best in school history among golfers with at least 50 rounds.

Omar Morales

Luke Clanton

This past season, the sophomore became the first Florida State golfer to win three consecutive tournaments and was named a Ping First-Team All-American.

Jackson Buchanan
Wells Williams

Ben James

The Virginia sophomore finished one stroke behind Tai at the NCAA championship — after he was penalized one stroke for slow play after the first round. He recovered to tie for first at 11-under 131 over 36 holes at the U.S. Open qualifier at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, New Jersey.

Gunnar Broin

Colin Prater

Prater, a science teacher and golf coach at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, was second in a final qualifier at Pronghorn Resort in Bend, Oregon.

Parker Bell
Brendan Valdes

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