How to Win a U.S. Open: Check the Scorecards
05 Jun,2024 Credit : Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

By Tim Liotta


How to Win a U.S. Open: Check the Scorecards

Each year, the United States Open Golf Championship sets out to offer the best players in the world the most demanding test of the year.

Each year, the United States Golf Association offers what it hopes will be a 72-hole competition to 156 players who have by their play earned the right, either by exemption or by two rounds of qualifying, to take a test of their golf game against the most deserving field that can be assembled. 

 One of America's greatest golf courses, this year the famed Pinehurst No. 2, is presented to those players in a way that demands a player precisely controls of his golf ball in an enviroment where the inability to do so will cost the player strokes.

In 1974, when the conditions of that year's U.S. Open reached as demanding as ever - at the famed West Course at Winged Foot Golf Club - where an opening round concluded without a single player able to equal par, Sandy Tatum, the chairman of the USGA's Competition Committe at the time, laid down the most enduring description of championship's goal, one that has resonated ever since.

"We are not trying to humiliate the best players in the world," he said. "We simply are trying to identify who they are"

With that in mind, ForeMajorsGolf has examined the scorecards of each of the last 10 champions, the 10 players who have most recently prevailed under such a test in hopes that comparing the hole-by-hole performance of that year's champion might present clues as to what it takes to win a U.S. Open. 

The study dates back to Martin Kaymer's amazing performance in 2014 where he won by eight strokes over Pinehurst No. 2, and includes the cards of Jordan Spieth (2015), Dustin Johnson (2016), Brooks Koepka (2017, 2018), Gary Woodland (2019), Bryson DeChambeau (2020), Jon Rahm (2021), Matt Fitzpatrick (2022) and Wyndham Clark. 

Here's what we found. 


Nine of the previous 10 U.S. Open championship were under-par after the first round, with Wyndham Clark's 6-under 64 the lowest, with Martin Kaymer (2014) and Brooks Koepka (2017) posting 5-under-par first-round scores. Seven of the 10 were 2-under or better. 

Only Brooks Koepka has managed to win a U.S. Open in the last 10 years after being above par after 18 holes, prevailing at Shinnecock Hills in 2018 after an opening-round, 5-over-par 75 that included a pair of double bogeys. 


Eight of the last 10 U.S. Open winners have carded at least three rounds in the 60s, with only Gary Woodland (2019) stringing together four sub-70 rounds over Pebble Beach. 

Only Jon Rahm (2021) and Brooks Koepka managed to earn a U.S. Open title with only two rounds in the 60s. 

Only Woodland, and Wyndham Clark last year, have completed the U.S. Open title-winning performance in the last 10 years without an over-par round. 


Nine of the 10 winners played the par-5s under-par, the exeption being Jordan Spieth in 2015, when he played the Chambers Bay's par-5s 1-over-par for the week. 

Wyndham Clark's 8-under over the LACC par-5s last was two shots better than any other winner's par-5 scoring. Keep in mind LACC's par-70 setup had three par-5s and five par-3s.

Brooks Koepka was 6-under on the par-5s in 2017 at Erin Hills, where he had four each day as part of the course's par-72 setup.   

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the study was that 9 of the 10 winners play par-4s in even-par or better. 

Matt Fitzpatrick in 2022, Gary Woodland in 2019, and Brooks Koepka in 2017 each played the par-4s in 6-under-par for the week.

Par-3s can be whatever the course offers. Brooks Koepka played the par-3s at Erin Hills in 2016 in 4-under-par, while Matt Fitzpatrick played The Country Club's par-3s in 5-over.


Dustin Johnson won the 2015 U.S. Open at Oakmont with pars on 55 of the 72 holes. He posted just 11 birdies - the fewest by U.S. Open winner since 2014 - against five bogeys and one double-bogey. 

Jordan Spieth, on the other hand, posted only 43 pars en route to winning at Chambers Bay in 2015. His scorecards included 18 birdies, 9 bogeys and two doubles. 


Each of the last 10 U.S. Open winners have prevailed by posting no more than 13 bogeys for the championship. Matt Fitzpatrick won in 2022 with 19 birdies against 13 bogeys, edging Will Zalatoris by one stroke. 


No U.S. Open winner has made back-to-back bogeys more than twice over the 72-hole championship since 2014, with Matt Fitzpatrick the only winner to make three bogeys in a row, bogeying holes 2, 3 and 4 in the second round over The Country Club in 2022.  

Gary Woodland (2019), Brooks Koepka (2016) and Dustin Johnson (2015) each completed their U.S. Opens without posting back-to-back bogeys in the championship. 


If the U.S. Open offers the premise that mistakes will cost a golfer strokes, then Gary Woodland's 2019 victory in 2019 was extraordinary because he made just four bogeys over 72 at Pebble Beach, including a bogey-free, second-round, 6-under-par 65. 

In fact, Woodland went 34 consecutive holes without a bogey, from the 10th hole in the first run until the eighth hole of the third round. 

Brooks Koepka's four-shot victory in 2017 included just five bogeys and a 24-hole, bogey-free stretch from the third hole of the third round until the 10th hole of the final round. 

Dustin Johnson won the 2016 U.S. Open over the treacherous Oakmont track carding over-par scores on only six holes, 5 bogeys and a double.

After a bogey-free opening round, Johnson bogeyed the opening hole of round two and played rounds 3 & 4 with only a pair of blemishes on those cards. 

Johnson's first bogey of the final round was the result of controvery. On the fifth green, as Johnson prepared to address the ball for a par putt, the ball moved slightly. Johnson stepped away, and, after speaking with a rules official and believing he had not address the ball, sank the putt for what he thought was a par. 

Then, on the 12th tee, an official informed Johnson he might be penalized a stroke, but that no decision would be made until the round was complete.

A one-stroke penalty was ultimately assessed, but did not affect the outcome. 


Four winners over the last 10 years posted at least one double-bogey on their scorecard, with Brooks Koepka posting two in his opening-round, 5-over-par 75 in 2018, and Jordan Spieth posting two in 2015. 

Spieth's first double-bogey was a 6 posted on the closing hole at Chambers Bay, which alternated during the championship between a par-4 and par-5. It played as a 514-yard par-4 in the second round, a par-5 measuring 617, 577 and 601 yards the other three rounds. 


There have been a grand total of seven 6s posted on the 40 scorecards turned in by the 10 U.S. Open winners since 2014.

And only three times has the 6 been a bogey on a par-5. 

Brooks Koepka posted a 6 on the par-5 first hole at Erin Hills in the second round of 2017.

Bryson DeChambeau carded a 6 on the par-5 twelfth hole at Winged Foot in 2020. 

Wyndham Clark posted a 6 on the par-5 eighth hole in the final round at LACC last year.  

Matt Fitzpatrick (2022), Gary Woodland (2019) and Martin Kaymer (2014) each won their U.S. Open titles without a single 6 carded over the 72 holes. 

Fitzpatrick has the distinction of playing 72 U.S. Open holes carding nothing other than a 3, 4 or 5. He did not birdie a par-3 nor bogey a par-5 at The Country Club. 

Brooks Koepka is the only winner over the last six years with two 6s on his 72-hole scorecard, the doubles on Nos. 6 & 14 in the first round at Shinnecock Hills in 2018. 

The other three were: Jon Rahm's double-bogey on No. 14 in the third round at Torrey Pines, Dustin Johnson's double on No. 3 in the third round at Oakmont, and Jordan Spieth's double on the playing-as-a-par-4 18th at Chambers Bay in 2015.