Six takeaways from the 2022 US Open

What a week, what a championship! 2022 US Open in the books: Matt Fitzpatrick earned the first major of his career (and first professional win on US soil); The Country Club was perhaps the biggest star of the weekend. And some stars that were in The domain struggled to live (not LIV) up to expectations. Here are six notes from a really great tournament, starting with the winner of the sport of bows:

Matt Fitzpatrick is the real thing

There are a lot of absurd factual facts and stats associated with Fitzpatrick’s performance this weekend. He became the second male golfer to win a US Amateur title and a US Open at the same course (Jack Nicklaus did it first, at Pebble Beach). He hit 17 out of 18 Greens on the roster in his last round, just third person To do so in a big win in the last 30 years after Nick Faldo at the 1996 Masters and Brooks Koepka at the US Open 2017. He has had ball-hitting performances of all time. And perhaps the rarest of all, it seems completely sustainable.

Fitzpatrick has been a threat to having an iron on his hands for years now. This skill brought him eight wins on the European Tour and helped him secure a T-5 victory in the PGA Championship last month. But he had to work in other fields. He’s increased his ball speed dramatically over the past couple of years, which has helped him stay out long enough off the tee to compete with golf hitters.

And for the past 12 years, he Every shot has been accurately recorded He hits to learn his own inclinations and get an accurate reading of not only how he hits the ball, but also how his results compare to his goals. This might sound like an exaggeration, and he probably didn’t think much of what he’s recording again. But with the championship on the line on Sunday, and Fitzpatrick facing a very difficult second shot from a bunker in the fairway at 18, he fired a shot and I’m sure he’ll be coming back to it every day for the foreseeable future — because he should.

Will he beat Zalatores again – but he won’t fall for long

For the second major in a row, Zalatoris came face-to-face with the eventual champ and fell short. At the PGA Championship in South Hills, he lost to Rise of Justin Thomas in a three-hole playoff. And this time around, Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick spent 18 holes making clutch hits, incredible iron shots and plenty of fist pumps, only for Zalatoris missing a throw at 18 to equalize Fitz at 6-under and force another playoff.

The scene was devastating: Zalatores bent over, his hands still clasping his racket as they turned toward his face in disbelief. To get so close, often — that was sixth in the top 10, and third in second in just over a year — only to have it slip through your hands over and over again, it must be exhausting. But unlike the other players on the leaderboard who got close but couldn’t get any closer, Zalatoris’ efforts look more exhilarating than frustrating. close to the top of the mountain, repeatedly, in a tournament that kicked players’ butts all weekend. And even after running 2-over through his first three holes on Sunday, he went up and came within an inch (literally) of a Fitzpatrick match.

Far from the odd short hit, Zalatoris appears to be a major contender for the championship for a long time. And very soon – perhaps even a month from now on the Old Course – he will finally take the win.

The Country Club is one of the elite US Open tournaments

The country club produces incredible finishes. This is what has happened at every significant event that has been held there in the 140 years of the course’s existence. All the 1913, 1963 and 1988 tournaments in the United States played a playoff. The Americans won the 1999 Ryder Cup there in a dramatic fashion. And now, we’ve had the ball-hitting battle of the ages, as Fitzpatrick, Zalatores and Scotty Scheffler survived a court that was largely bitten and spit on Saturday and Sunday.

Take the eighth hole, where Schaeffler was knocked out of the Eagle hole on Saturday while countless others were just hoping they could make their shots far enough on the green that the ball wouldn’t roll all the way to their feet. Or the eleventh, a 130-yard 3 that looks positively cool on TV and yet Scheffler handled the specter of killing momentum on Sunday. Each hole provided its own test; All those tests were difficult. And it was so fun seeing the best in the world have to think and work their way through every shot they take. Hopefully next year Los Angeles Country Club will be doing well – and we’ll see Brookline again soon.

Rory McIlroy: Always in the top 10, never a winner (in eight years)

Another major, another solid performance from Rory. It’s becoming to be expected at this point: he either starts strong or finishes strong, but can’t put together enough good runs to actually win his fifth career major, and his first since 2014. And while that might be good enough for 98 percent of professional golfers There, McIlroy’s case remains frustrating because he still has an incredible amount of potential.

Take this week: Rory, who took a massive win at the RBC Canadian Open, seems to be doing it all. His game has been strong – enough to finish second and eighth in the Masters and PGA Championships this season, respectively – and he added some fire from his spending last week publicly defending the PGA Tour and exposing LIV Golf and everyone involved with it (more on that later). On Thursday, this group was strong enough to earn him a 67th and a place in the T-2 on the leaderboard. But while he was stuck on Friday, he was back on the field on Saturday 73 and couldn’t get low enough on Sunday for the incredible Fitzpatrick, Zalatores and Schaeffler rounds match.

He finished tied for fifth, matching expectations but never exceeding them. Oddly enough, this was probably the most frustrating thing he could have done.

Scottie Scheffler is world number 1 for a reason

Speaking of matching expectations, but in a good way, Scheffler is in for an incredible tear. He’s won four times on tour already this season, including the Masters in April. The US Open is his second runner-up finish in three events. And through Sunday’s first six holes, in which he played 4 less than par, he looked positively unstoppable.

Now, he’s back down to earth a bit at the nine-back and had a chance at the age of 18 to match Fitzpatrick and make things interesting for the final set. But even with that frustration, this week just proved that Schaeffler can do it on any track, in any championship, at any time — a frightening idea for the rest of the field.

Leaf golfers were not a factor on the course

…but they will remain the defining story of this tournament. As the week rolled in, the conversation revolved around the newly minted LIV Tour, the Saudi Arabia-funded outfit it hopes to challenge the PGA Tour, and the players who have already defected to it. Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and others were playing on their first course since LIV officially started, and observers were curious (a) how they would play out on a legitimately difficult track, and (b) how guys like McIlroy and Justin Thomas would cope. , who have been vocal in their criticism of the new tour and those who joined it, on the reunion.

Well, there was no tension during the tournament – although at least in part because none of the LIV players were a factor. Johnson came closest, and on Friday entered two shots from behind at 2 below par. But he quickly deteriorated from there, shooting a 73, 71, and 72 the rest of the way. Mickelson, the undisputed leader of the group, mercifully missed the cut after playing the first two days 11 on a par. And arguably DeChambeau’s performance was worse than him, making the cut only to finish at plus 13.

Despite these efforts, though, rumors continue to circulate of new players likely to make the jump to the LIV. John Sutcliffe from ESPN mentioned On Sunday, Mexican golfer Abraham Anser will move, and many have speculated whether players like Colin Morikawa and Victor Hovland will soon follow. It remains to be seen if any of them actually leave the PGA Tour, but the conversation shows that none of this is going away anytime soon.