Storylines to Watch at the 2022 U.S. Open

LIV defectors, Team Reed, Mike Whan, pairings, and other things to track at The Country Club


And just like that it’s time for the third men’s major of the year. The major schedule feels even more hectic now that LIV Golf has turned the sport into a non-stop geyser of breaking news. An eerie, dystopian shadow hangs over professional golf and will be part of the story all week at Brookline.

While Phil Mickelson, captain of LIV’s “Hy Flyers” team, grabbed the headlines during his tense press conference on Monday, there are more than a few areas of non-LIV intrigue as the opening round at The Country Club gets nearer.

To set the table for this U.S. Open, Tron Carter of No Laying Up joined Andy Johnson on The Fried Egg Podcast to discuss everything from their winner picks to Boston’s roadways, with a little LIV chatter mixed in.

Andy’s Five Things

The possibility of a LIV champion

“What if Pat Reed or a LIV player wins? What’s the response? Is it less celebrated? The thing about it is with DJ or Reed or one of their bigger players, obviously this is a USGA championship, but the Tour has poured so much money into promoting these guys. Golf is a superstar-driven game. The Tour understands that in the way they promote these guys and creates stars somewhat with their social media, their commercials, all that. This might be the first major where we have a winner and you hear crickets from the PGA Tour.”

Holes 2-6

“Two through 6 is going to be an amazing stretch of golf to watch. That to me is probably the coolest part of the whole course. I think the par 3s in general are really one of the strongest aspects of the golf course. It is not a typical U.S. Open course and none of these guys, outside of the guys who played the U.S. Amateur, have really seen it. It’s not going to Pebble or Torrey that they see every year. That’s one of the things that diminishes the majors when they have them there is that we see them every year. Most golf fans have never seen this course.”

(Read more about the course from Gil Hanse in his own words here.)

Nos. 3 (left) and 6 (right) at The Country Club. Photo: Andy Johnson

Two majors?

“Can somebody get two majors in a year? We’ve got two guys, Scottie and JT, obviously you put them as favorites. JT getting to three majors would be huge. He’s at the point now with two majors, every major he adds he’s moving up the echelon of great players dramatically. And for Scottie, you’re talking about number one player in the world having a historic year. He gets a second major, now all the sudden you’re talking about one of the greatest seasons ever in the modern era. He’d be at six wins, two majors, with a lot of tournaments left.”

Rory and Spieth

“I don’t know if Rory can keep it together. And Spieth is just not a good putter right now ,but he’s hitting the ball the best he’s ever hit it in his career.”

Young players needing to make their mark in majors

“We have a lot of young guys that are really highly ranked who haven’t done anything in majors. Hovland’s one of them. Patrick Cantlay’s the ultimate case here. He’s No. 3 in the world. These guys are having such success so young, and they have such a small sample size. Xander’s up there, too—high in the rankings [but] hasn’t really done much in a major in a while. This could actually be a good Hovland course. He’s an extraordinary driver of the golf ball without being extraordinarily long.”

Tron’s Five Things

Lady J’s Fenway return?

“First things first, I’m looking forward to Lady J potentially returning to Fenway to the line-drive seats. [The Red Sox] are playing the A’s, and then I don’t know who’s in town on the weekend, but it’s like a six- or seven-game homestand. Yeah, they’re making the move to LIV. I’m a little worried for her safety if she starts chirping at Norman or MBS for setup stuff or draw stuff. But I guess it’s a shotgun start, so no good draw or bad draw.”

The 14th 

“It might be the only par 5 in the world that matters anymore. It’s 660 up the hill and even if you’re laying up you have to hit a 230-yard shot up to this tabletop area. If you miss the green short, it’s rolling back down the hill like 80 yards with a Shinnecock-style false front in there.”

The 14th hole at The Country Club. Photo: Andy Johnson

Whan’s presser

“I think it’s on Wednesday. It’s time for some people in golf leadership to step up to the plate. I’m excited for Mike Whan to answer questions because they came out this past week and said, ‘Hey we’re not banning these guys, at least for this event,’ and I’m sure they’ll do some wonky stuff with the OWGR. They can’t really discriminate against someone based on what tour they’re playing.”

Ninth fairway freakout

“The fairway on 9 makes me hesitant about picking Billy Horschel…. You can hit it down even the left side of the fairway and the ball goes into the lake on the right. My money is on Billy or Hatton to keep the freak-out train rolling.”


Tron: “They like to do some cheeky stuff. Remember when they did the fat pairing a few years ago? That was outrageous.”

Andy: “It’d be amazing if they put Rory with Phil. Or JT with Phil. Guys that have just demolished Phil, and they put them with him.”