Stats show the most demanding US Open in golf

The US Open demands more from its competitors than any other tournament in the game. This has a statistical impact, no matter how one dives into the numbers.

Since 2011, the Champion’s average age has been under 28, by far the youngest of the four majors, which means it’s a tough physical test. The settings are also the most difficult: Since 2000, average win scores to level 4.5 have been lower, while each of the other three disciplines has yielded average win points two digits below par.

Punishing rough and fast surfaces are permanent features in this tournament. So, who were the players who performed best when they faced the USGA’s annual final exam? What are the best attributes of a successful US Open player? A full bag of comprehensive skills will be needed to find the red numbers this week.

These are the players that fit this description:

Xander Shaveli

It’s hard to start a career at the US Open better than this: Since debuting at Erin Hills in 2017, Shaveli has never finished outside the top 10. He is the only other player since 1920 to start his career at the US Open with five or more top 10 spots. It was Bobby Jones, who finished 10th in his first seven in the US. Shaveli averaged 3.02 hits earned: Total per round in his US Open career. Since 1950, this has been the second highest score a player has achieved without a win. Bobby Lock averaged 3.74 per round in his career, but he never finished higher than third.

Even with the tournament champions included, it’s hard to beat Shaveli’s performance. Of all the players who have taken 20 or more rounds of the US Open since 1960, Shaveli is the only player to have averaged 3 or more strokes: the total for each round in that tournament. This includes Brooks Koepka (2.88) and Tiger Woods (2.36), both of whom have won the US Open more than once.

Shaveli has done everything well in his US Open career. Over the past five years, he has ranked sixth in both strokes earned: ball hits per round (1.51) and strokes earned: shots (1.07). He’s added up to 16 rounds or better since he debuted at Erin Hills, the most of any player in that period. Since 1960, only Kopka has a better US Open scoring average (70.37) than Shaveli (70.40).

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