SB Nation staff makes U.S. Open picks, predictions for Pinehurst No. 2

The U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst No. 2 for the first time since 2014, when Martin Kaymer obliterated the field en route to his second major title. The German won by eight strokes that year, as only three players finished under-par for the week.

This golf course does not feature the gnarly, deep, and luscious rough that usually characterizes a U.S. Open. Instead, sandy waste areas with crabgrass line Pinehurst’s fairways, thus reminding all who play it that they are in the heart of the Carolinas.

But what makes Pinehurst No. 2 so tricky are its putting surfaces.

“The greens are just treacherous. They’re all turtleback,” explained former PGA Tour pro turned Golf Channel broadcaster Peter Jacobsen to Playing Through.

“You have to aim for the middle of the greens when you play Pinehurst No. 2 and hope it stays on the green. It’s a wide-open course off the tee. It’s not a precision driving course but an exacting iron approach course.”

U.S. Open, Pinehurst No. 2
The green on the par-5 5th at Pinehurst No. 2.
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

With this in mind, we like players with solid iron play and crafty short games to do well at the 2024 U.S. Open. So let’s get to our Staff Picks, with Matt Warren from SB Nation’s NFL site filling in as our guest picker for the third major of the year:

Jack Milko — Staff Writer, Golf

In my three bold predictions, I noted that an international player will win the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 for the third straight time.

As such, I am going with Ludvig Åberg to win his first major championship on one of golf’s hallowed grounds.

The sweet-swinging Swedish phenom is a phenomenal ball striker, a necessity for this course. He ranks third on the PGA Tour in proximity to the hole, a statistic that demonstrates his exquisite accuracy. He also finds plenty of greens, doing so at roughly a 69% clip, good for 20th on tour.

But his short game also impresses me. Although his strokes gained numbers do not jump off the page, he ranks 13th on the PGA Tour this season in scrambling percentage at 66.38%. He also just finished the Memorial Tournament, held on a challenging Muirfield Village, ranking [6th] in strokes gained: around the green.

His putting numbers are not spectacular either. Yet, in his major debut at Augusta National this past April, he gained two strokes on the greens, per DataGolf. That ranked first in the field, and Augusta’s greens are notorious for their wild undulations.

Although Augusta and Pinehurst do not share many comparisons, their greens feature plenty of slopes and bumps. Plus, like this year’s Masters, players will face a firm and fast No. 2, and considering Åberg thrived at Augusta this year, I believe he does that and them some this week.

His knee seems healthy, too, as evidenced by his strong week at the Memorial. So, give me Åberg to win his first major at Pinehurst No. 2.

DraftKings Odds: +2000

Ludvig Åberg, PGA Championship
Ludvig Åberg smiles during the first round of the 2024 PGA Championship.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Matt Warren — Associate Director, SB Nation NFL

In the three times Pinehurst No. 2 has hosted the U.S. Open, only four players combined have finished under par, with the 2005 winner—Michael Campbell—finishing at even.

Scottie Scheffler is dominating in so many accuracy statistics—including driving percentage, greens in regulation, and approach—that I think accurate shots off the tee and into these potentially crazy greens are what gets him over the hump to win his first U.S. Open.

I know it’s the safe pick and very boring, but he only has one finish outside the top 10 all year, and it was five months ago at The American Express. His historic season continues in North Carolina as he will win his second major of 2024.

DraftKings Odds: +300

Scottie Scheffler, U.S. Open
Scottie Scheffler plays a shot during the final round of the 2023 U.S. Open at the Los Angeles Country Club.
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Savannah Richardson — Staff Writer, Golf

Bryson DeChambeau is my pick.

I never thought I would make this choice. If anyone knows my history with Bryson, it is a shocker.

However, he played well at the PGA Championship, which I saw firsthand. And yet, this past week, DeChambeau admitted he did not have his best stuff at Valhalla despite finishing one stroke behind Xander Schauffele at 20 under par.

If he keeps his mustache, he will win the U.S. Open trophy for a second time. I like his game for Pinehurst, so I’m going with my gut on this one and picking DeChambeau.

DraftKings Odds: +1600

Bryson DeChambeau, U.S. Open
Bryson DeChambeau at the 2023 U.S. Open.
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

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Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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