U.S. Open 2024: One critical sentence (or thereabouts) on every contender at Pinehurst

June 11, 2024

Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas share a laugh during the 2022 PNC Championship.


It’s a busy world! You don’t have time for anything! There are people to see, work to be done, money to be made. Maybe, maybe, you’ve got time for a single sentence, at a stretch. If that’s you, or even if you’ve got plenty of time but your attention span is fried, this post is for you. What follows is a list of every player in the field, alphabetical by last name, who has a real chance to win the 2024 U.S. Open (as decided by me), followed by a one-line description that will give you all the information you need to follow them at Pinehurst No. 2 this week.

Byeong-Hun An: South Korean journeyman, seems to have been around 30-plus years despite being 32, has somehow never won on the PGA Tour, got suspended last year for drinking the wrong kind of cough syrup.

Ludvig Aberg: Swedish heartthrob/wunderkind/prodigy, stupid good, messes with everyone by inventing a new pronunciation for his last name every four months.

Sam Bennett: Up-and-coming American, might just be Dabo Swinney having some fun in the offseason (seriously, look).

Daniel Berger: Bought Brooks Koepka’s Florida home for $3.3 million in a (thus far) failed attempt to osmose his way into five majors.

Christian Bezuidenhout: South African dude who won first-place prize money at The American Express when Nick Dunlap won as an am, wouldn’t even slip Dunlap a few bucks for bus fare back to Bama.

Akshay Bhatia: Brooklyn hipster who got included in a PGA Tour field by clerical error, turned out to be extremely good, putting music career on hold to try this golf thing for a while.

Keegan Bradley: Wakes up at night shouting “Ryder Cup! Ryder Cup!” in a blind panic, then walks to his dartboard featuring Zach Johnson’s face.

Dean Burmester: An uptight college administrator from the 1970s comedy masterpiece “Animal House.

Sam Burns: Current holder of the Justin Thomas Award for “being best friends with a ridiculously good golfer,” seeking the Justin Thomas Award for “good job, you won a major, you’re no longer a sidekick.”

Patrick Cantlay: Single-handedly blocking any potential deal between the PGA Tour and the PIF, and single-handedly blocking a sub-six-hour round by pacing off a 210-yard approach.

Wyndham Clark: Enlightened, almost Buddhist thinker, experiencing career renaissance while also being one of several suspects in the case of who paid off Bryan Gillis to harass Scheffler.

Eric Cole: Minor-league tour legend who somehow won PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in his mid-30s, currently trying for an exemption into the Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee.

Corey Conners: Canadian, from Canada, extremely Canadian vibes.

Jason Day: Former world elite Aussie on the brink of breaking through again, now wears surplus jumpsuits from old-timey prisons for some reason.

Bryson DeChambeau: Escaped to LIV after a year of being perpetually bullied by Brooks Koepka’s army of frat boys, somehow beloved now.

Nick Dunlap: Approximately two winless weeks away from being featured on a “Where are they now?” segment on golf’s forgotten child stars.

Harris English: Three top-10s in the last four U.S. Opens with a last name that’s really false advertising given he’s about as American as possible.

Tony Finau: Slowly finding his groove after a top-10 finish at Memorial, will be cheered on by his wife and 19 children.

Matt Fitzpatrick: Self-deprecating Brit, still apologizing for winning U.S. Open at Brookline, only current PGA Tour player to regularly use the phrase “oh, fiddlesticks!”

Tommy Fleetwood: Ayahuasca shaman seeking to achieve nirvana by winning on PGA Tour and thus becoming a real golfer.

Rickie Fowler: Lack of major titles offset by being the coolest human alive with the best possible life.

Sergio Garcia: LIV golfer and former Masters champ, most likely to light a clump of wiregrass on fire when it has the audacity to impede his swing.

Lucas Glover: Older player in midst of career renaissance who cured his putting woes by attaching actual brooms to his hands for seven years.

Adam Hadwin: Pissed off that Scottie Scheffler not content to simply win everything, also had to go and steal his “getting harassed by law enforcement” gimmick.

Brian Harman: Despite friendly attitude, man to be most feared in an apocalypse scenario for how quickly he could hunt and skin you.

Tyrrell Hatton: Will probably manage the difficult Pinehurst conditions with equanimity, accepting that sometimes this game can be tough, and you just have to calmly roll with the punches.

Harry Higgs: Currently ripping it up on Korn Ferry Tour and will be asked by fans to take off his shirt no less than 60 times per round.

Nicolai Hojgaard: The 23-year-old Dane’s life going well other than uncle marrying his mother after murdering his father, plus the threat of attack from a Norwegian prince.

Max Homa: Walks the fine line of being a funny, beloved internet presence while also playing great golf; called by Time Magazine “the impossible confluence of Joel Dahmen and Vijay Singh.”

Billy Horschel: Tour winner in the Dominican earlier this year who seems like he would enjoy going to town hall meetings.

Viktor Hovland: Crazy good Norwegian, still no top-10s in the U.S. Open, currently attacking Nicolai Hojgaard.

Sungjae Im: Plays approximately 67 weeks per year, never finishes outside the top four, rarely wins, will haunt U.S. Presidents Cup team for decades to come.

Stephan Jaeger: Houston Open champion trying to keep the streak of Germans winning at Pinehurst alive (Kaymer in ’14), who kinda looks like Scheffler in certain lights, loves when Americans call him “Jaeger-Meister” (trust us, absolutely loves it).

Si Woo Kim: With Sungjae, won an Asian Games gold medal to exempt himself from mandatory Korean military service, great player, permanently impossible to hear his name without immediately thinking of Jordan Spieth singing “Si Woo, shaking dat ass.”

Tom Kim: Extremely fun young Korean player, oodles of talent, who can be seen splitting his pantsplaying in mud and riding a motorized drinks cooler around his apartment; would like to be taken more seriously.

Chris Kirk: One of approximately 324 Georgia Bulldogs in the field who won the Sentry this year and is currently favorite to become Ryder Cup captain because nobody else will take the job and “Captain Kirk” has a certain ring.

Kurt Kitayama: Let’s be honest, to some degree he’s coasting on the Bay Hill win last year, but currently leads the field in having a kickass alliterative name.

Jake Knapp: Worked as a nightclub bouncer before breaking through with Mexico Open win this year, and based on skinny frame, must have been a nightclub for children. (Note for Jake Knapp: Don’t beat me up.)

Brooks Koepka: Tried out the role of “whiny washed-up dude plagued by ennui” for season one of “Full Swing,” now back in his preferred role of “generational killer with terrifying alpha energy.”

Min Woo Lee: Trying to join his sister as U.S. Open winner, difficult to discern yet if he’s very cool or simply being pushed on us as very cool; very much in the gray zone, cool-wise.

Shane Lowry: Taking a break from his late career role as “fun wild card to have around in team events” by actually playing extremely good golf again.

Robert MacIntyre: Recent tour winner and one of few golfers brave enough to stand up to Big Drone.

Peter Malnati: Bucket hat everyman, won the Valspar this year, currently the guy on the Player Advisory Council whose job it is to say, “man, you guys, this is nuts” at meetings.

Hideki Matsuyama: Broke two-year victory drought at Riviera this year who is in solid form even if experts say his caddie is more likely to give Pinehurst the finger on Sunday than bow to it.

Denny McCarthy: All-time great putter, limited in other aspects of his game by the fact that he carries 14 putters.

Rory McIlroy: Low-key, private, soft-spoken type who isn’t in the news much, doesn’t have strong opinions.

Phil Mickelson: Low-key, private, soft-spoken type who isn’t in the news much, doesn’t have strong opinions.

Collin Morikawa: Two-time major winner quietly playing amazing golf again who has Officer Gillis on speed dial if it comes down to him and Scottie at Pinehurst.

Mathieu Pavon: Came out of nowhere to win PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, almost won another, could become first French winner of U.S. Open since Bryson DeChambeau.

J.T. Poston: Inoffensive and always around, like a decent living-room rug.

Jon Rahm: First player to become forever cursed immediately after joining LIV, the anti-Koepka; has some foot issue now, likely to be attacked by wild coyotes.

Justin Rose: Still thriving at 43, won this thing in 2013, played every single character for all six seasons of the hit British drama “Downtown Abbey.”

Xander Schauffele: Just won the PGA Championship, at the peak of his abilities, can absolutely win at Pinehurst, yet there’s a 62-percent chance he says, “Screw it, I’m a major champ” and just coasts for four to five years.

Scottie Scheffler: Now a beloved American outlaw like Billy the Kidd or Bonnie and Clyde, a dashing ne’er-do-well with a wicked grin and a penchant for mischief.

Adam Scott: Our wives remain with us only due to his mercy.

Cam Smith: Hasn’t yet won on LIV this year but should thrive on tough Pinehurst greens and has vowed to make mullet 10-percent rattier each passing week until he is given another major.

Jordan Spieth: When asked how he thinks he’ll fare at Pinehurst, said, “I will once again rip out the heart of everyone who loves me.”

Sepp Straka: Seeking to become first “Austrian but kind of American too but got to play on the European Ryder Cup team but has a southern accent but his dad is legit Austrian but he went to Georgia and lives in Alabama now” winner of the U.S. Open.

Sahith Theegala: In solid form, proved he can win at the Fortinet last year, once again asking that his hilarious dad be given a mic and a dedicated camera during the broadcast.

Justin Thomas: Slightly at sea at the moment, as he’s winless since the PGA Championship in ’22, desperate to win any major that isn’t “the most lame one.”

Tiger Woods: Please just let him finish golf gods, please don’t hurt us more than is necessary, please just let him finish golf gods, please don’t hurt us more than …

Cameron Young: Simultaneously looks like a man who would cut out your heart without thinking twice, yet also can’t seem to win; called by Time Magazine “the impossible confluence of Brooks Koepka and Briny Baird.”

Will Zalatoris: He was on the doorstep of winning majors, now we’re praying each round that his body will hold up, which means he went from 1996 Tiger Woods to 2024 Tiger Woods in roughly a year.