Five Golfers to watch at the 2021 US Open

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Bryson DeChambeau
Bryson DeChambeau

Five Golfers to Watch at the 2021 US Open, which begins on Thursday at Torrey Pines:

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson became golf's oldest major champion by winning last month's PGA Championship at Kiawah Island and the US left-hander turns 51 on the eve of Thursday's first round of the US Open. It's his 30th US Open appearance as he tries to finally capture the crown after a record six runner-up efforts. If he does, Mickelson would complete a career Grand Slam, a feat achieved only by Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen. Mickelson, a native of San Diego, has won three US PGA titles at Torrey Pines, but none since a 2001 renovation of the oceanside course.

Bryson DeChambeau

The defending US Open champion won last year at Winged Foot by bashing the ball as far as he could off the tee without regard for the landing area and he vows to do the same again provided the set-up allows. Fears DeChambeau might overwhelm courses with his distance-above-all strategy have proven unfounded. But the American won at Bay Hill and shared third at the Players Championship in March and could become only the eighth man to defend a US Open title.

Jon Rahm

The third-ranked Spaniard shared fifth at the Masters and eighth at the PGA Championship but a positive Covid-19 test forced him to withdraw from defending his title at the PGA Tour Memorial tournament two weeks ago after finishing the third round with a six-stroke lead. He tweeted on Saturday that he had tested negative twice and was medically out of quarantine, but how much the isolation hurt his preparation for the event is uncertain as he chases his first major title and the world number one ranking.

Xander Schauffele

World number four Schauffele, a San Diego native, could collect a hometown victory for his first major title. He can boast eight top-10 finishes in his 16 career major starts, including top-six efforts in each of the past four US Opens. He shared fifth in 2017, sixth in 2018 and third in 2019 and was fifth last year. He's also fighting to hang onto a berth on the US Olympic team ahead of next week's rankings that will decide the line-up for the Tokyo tournament.

Patrick Reed

The 31-year-old American won the 2018 Masters and captured the most recent of his nine US PGA Tour titles at Torrey Pines in January, firing a final-round 68 for a five-stroke victory. Eighth-ranked Reed could achieve the rare feat of winning a major and a regular PGA title on the same course in the same year if he can duplicate his success on a layout with denser rough and lightning-fast greens.

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