Wyndham Clark will defend his US Open title at Pinehurst

Five players to watch in the 124th US Open Championship

Wyndham Clark will defend his title when the 124th US Open Championship takes place at Pinehurst from June 13-16.

Clark, who held off Rory McIlroy to win his first major at Los Angeles Country Club last year, was playing at Oklahoma State University the last time Pinehurst staged the US Open in 2014.

Scottie Scheffler

Justified being a hot favourite for the Masters by claiming his second green jacket in three years at Augusta National, but Scheffler saw his bid to win the US PGA derailed after being arrested following an incident with a police officer on his way into the course before round two. He was released in time to return to Valhalla and shot a remarkable 66, but struggled to a 73 on Saturday without regular caddie Ted Scott, who was attending his daughter’s high-school graduation. All charges against Scheffler were later dropped.

Rory McIlroy

McIlroy finished 12th in the US PGA despite the week starting with the revelation that he had filed for divorce from wife Erica. He returned to action with a tie for fourth in the RBC Canadian Open and has been in good form all season without threatening to end that oft-mentioned wait for a fifth major title. McIlroy was 23rd at Pinehurst in 2014, a month before winning the Open and subsequently adding a second US PGA title at Valhalla.

Rory McIlroy

Brooks Koepka

Finished in a tie for fourth at Pinehurst in 2014, albeit 10 shots behind runaway winner Martin Kaymer. Koepka revealed at the US PGA that he had faced a series of “punishment workouts” ordered by his fitness team following a disappointing tie for 45th in the Masters, but could only fare slightly better at Valhalla. He usually raises his game for the majors and will be determined to avoid a third-straight poor performance.

Brooks Koepka after winning the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in 2018

Xander Schauffele

Seen in some circles as an underachiever, Schauffele answered questions about his ability to close out tournaments in the ideal fashion with a birdie on the 72nd hole to beat Bryson DeChambeau by a shot and win his first major in the US PGA Championship. He also finished eighth in the Masters and will be expected to contend in many more majors going forward.

Colin Prater

One of the best stories to emerge from final qualifying, Prater is a science teacher at Cheyenne Mountain high school, who also coaches the golf team and played himself at university in Colorado. The 29-year-old amateur carded rounds of 68 and 73 to claim one of just two places on offer from the qualifying site in Oregon. “It’s been a dream of mine since being a kid to play in a major and to fulfil that dream is amazing,” Prater said.