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Five key talking points ahead of the 124th US Open at Pinehurst

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

Here, we look at some of the main talking points ahead of the year's third major championship.

Can Bryson DeChambeau win a second US Open title?

A bulked-up DeChambeau used his newly-acquired strength and length to overpower Winged Foot in 2020, finishing six shots clear of the field and the only player under par. He has since slimmed down after being warned his diet was unhealthy but remains golf's "Mad Scientist" who uses a single-plane swing and 3D-printed clubs, and proved a fan favourite in the US PGA as he chased down Xander Schauffele in a thrilling final round.

Will Tiger Woods justify his special exemption?

In one sense Woods has nothing to justify as surely no-one could reasonably complain about one place in a field of 156 players being given to the 15-time major winner. Yet the man himself might be among those to see it differently after finishing last of those to make the cut in the Masters and making an early exit from the US PGA. Golf's ultimate competitor will not take kindly to needing an invite to a tournament he has won three times.

Can Scottie Scheffler regain his dominant form?

The form figures for Scheffler's last seven starts (before this week's Memorial Tournament) were 1-1-2-1-1-8-2, with the "aberration" of an eighth-place finish in the US PGA still a pretty remarkable result given his arrest following an incident with a police officer on his way into the course ahead of the second round. All charges against the world number one were subsequently dropped and he finished second on his next start, but whether he can get back to his serene best remains to be seen.

What are the chances of a shock winner?

In a word, slim. Ben Curtis was ranked 396th in the world when he won the 2003 Open, but since Keegan Bradley (108th) won the 2011 US PGA there has been just one major champion from outside the top 50 and that was Phil Mickelson (115th) when he won his sixth major in the 2021 US PGA. So far this year the Masters was won by world number one Scottie Scheffler and the US PGA claimed by number three Xander Schauffele.

What kind of test will Pinehurst provide?

The third US Open played at Pinehurst's No 2 course in 2014 was the first since the 2010 restoration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, which stripped the course of its rough and returned it to its original Donald Ross design. Despite the absence of penal rough and narrow fairways associated with USGA events only three players finished under par, with runaway winner Martin Kaymer winning by eight shots.

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