U.S. Open preview: Five-time winner Scottie Scheffler takes his act to Pinehurst No. 2

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Scottie Scheffler’s victory on Sunday at The Memorial was the first time in 44 years that a player won his fifth tournament before the U.S. Open in June.

Can anyone derail the Scottie Scheffler Express?

The world’s No. 1-ranked player won his fifth tournament last week at The Memorial, the first time since Tom Watson in 1980 that a player has won five times before the U.S. Open.

Scheffler has nearly double the FedEx Cup points of No. 2 Xander Schauffele and is the only player besides Tiger Woods to win the Masters, The Players Championship and The Memorial in the same season. For giggles, he’s also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the RBC Heritage.

Xander Schauffele won the PGA Championship last month at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.

Xander Schauffele won the PGA Championship last month at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.

Scheffler will try to win his third major this week in the Open at Pinehurst, and he’s been close in each of his previous three Open starts: a tied for seventh in 2021 at Torrey Pines, a tie for second in 2022 at The Country Club and solo third last year at the Los Angeles Country Club.

Scheffler has finished a combined eight strokes off the lead in those three starts.

It’s never easy at Pinehurst and there’s the usual stout field for a major, including PGA champion Xander Schauffele, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy and two-time major champion Collin Morikawa, who battled Scheffler to the final putt at Muirfield Village last week.

Not to be overlooked is 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau from LIV Golf.

PGA Tour: Scottie Scheffler is the clear favorite

Event: U.S. Open, Thursday-Sunday, Pinehurst No. 2, Village of Pinehurst, N.C.

What’s the purse? $20 million ($3.9 million and 750 FedEx Cup points to the winner).

Who won last year? Wyndham Clark.

How to watch on TV: USA (Thursday, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.); Peacock (Thursday, 5-8 p.m.; Friday, 7-8 p.m.). NBC/Peacock (Friday, 1-7 p.m.; Saturday, 12-8 p.m.; Sunday, 12-7 p.m.).

Area players entered: Harris English, Brian Harman, Billy Horschel, Ben Kohles, J.T. Poston, Greyson Sigg, Cameron Smith, Davis Thompson.

Who’s playing from LIV Golf? Dean Burmester, Eugenio Lopez Chacarra, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Brooks Koepka, Adrian Meronk, Phil Mickelson, David Puig, Jon Rahm, Smith.

Notable: Clark shot 64 in the first round at the Los Angeles Country Club and went on to beat Rory McIlroy by one shot. Scottie Scheffler was third, another two shots behind and Smith was fourth. … The U.S. Open winners at Pinehurst have been Payne Stewart (1999), Michael Campbell (2005) and Kaymer (2014). Kaymer is in the final year of eligibility because of his victory. … Scheffler became the first player since Tom Watson in 1980 to win five tournaments before the U.S. Open when he won The Memorial last week. … Tiger Woods is playing on a special exemption offered by the United States Golf Association.

Korn Ferry Tour: Former Gator Ricky Castillo defends

Event: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Wichita Open, Thursday-Sunday, Crestview Country Club, Wichita, Kan.

What’s the purse? $1 million ($180,000 to the winner).

Who won last year? Ricky Castillo.

How to watch on TV: The tournament is not being televised.

Area players entered: Dawson Armstrong, Fred Biondi, Chandler Blanchet, Dillon Board, Castillo, Nick Gabrelcik, Joey Garber, Tano Goya, Peter Knade, Julian Suri, Thomas Walsh, Tim Wilkinson, Jared Wolfe.

Notable: Castillo, who helped the Florida Gators win the 2023 national championship, shot 62 in the second round but fell into a playoff with Kyle Jones and Adrien Dumont de Chassart. Castillo then parred the first playoff hole to win his first professional event. … Board, a Baldwin High School graduate, made his third cut in five starts last week at the BMW Charity Classic with a tie for 29th. … Suri, a Bartram Trail graduate, has tied for fourth and for 22nd in his last two starts.

What are the (golf) odds?

U.S. Open: According to Hard Rock Bet, Scottie Scheffler is +300. The next-closest favorite is McIlroy at +1,100. Xander Schauffele is +1,200, Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa are +1,400, Ludvig Aberg and Bryson DeChambeau are +1,750 and Jon Rahm is +2000.

According to British bookmaker William Hill, Scheffler is 3-1, the shortest odds in a U.S. Open since Woods was 2-1 when he was the defending champion at Bethpage State Park in 2009. McIlroy is 11-1, Schauffele 12-1, Morikawa 14-1 and DeChambeau and Hovland 18-1.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Pro golf week ahead: Field chasing heavy favorite Scottie Scheffler

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