Four angles at the US Open: Numbers and trends ahead of the third Major Championship of the year

The world’s elite are in San Diego this week, enjoying the Pacific Ocean views from the cliff-top fairways and greens of Torrey Pines.

A Torrey Pines US Open is not quite a normal US Open.

Venues such as Oakmont, Shinnecock Hills and Merion are kept pretty much exclusively for the Majors.

In recent years we've also been introduced to new hosts Erin Hills and Chambers Bay.

But this year's venue is, like its Californian cousin Pebble Beach, a spot we know inside out from the annual stop there early in the PGA Tour calendar.

But what the schedule gives with one hand, it takes with another.

The Farmers Insurance Open uses both the North and South Courses, whereas this week the US Open sticks purely to the South.

There is also the little matter of conditioning: the course naturally plays faster in June than in January and the USGA ensure that this is a major test not a regular one.

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It leaves us with a thorny issue: to take heed of course form or to ignore it?

And what of championship credentials, current form or just past history in California?

In the quest for value, let's take a look at what we might call the fours Cs of this year's US Open.

Championship form

The USGA might visit different courses every year, but there is some sort of uniformity about the test.

The courses are mostly set up long with thick rough - they particularly fashion that around the greens, much to the chagrin of the course aficionados.

Bryson DeChambeau might have won last year playing bomb and gouge but it has been a long, long time since short and straight got the job done in the US Open.

All of this means that some players thrive on the challenge - and others are far from keen.

The most obvious lovers of the test are Xander Schauffele (never outside the top six in four starts and also second at Torrey Pines in January), Brooks Koepka (who missed the cut on his debut, but has never finished outside the top 20 in his six subsequent starts including two wins), and Dustin Johnson (13 starts, six top 10s, victory in 2016).

For a bigger price, consider Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who's landed four top 10 finishes in 11 starts and was second in last month's PGA Championship.

Course form

With stiff seas breezes from the Pacific Ocean, straightish fairway shaping and putting surfaces with Poa Annua grass, Torrey Pines doesn't suit everyone.

Tournament favourite Jon Rahm leaps from the record book with victory in his debut at Torrey Pines in 2017 and since then he's added fifth, second and seventh.

Rory McIlroy has also enjoyed his visits there, finishing fifth, third and T16th in the last three years.

"It sets up for a fade and length is a big advantage," Tony Finau explained two years ago, adding that those factors made him feel right at home and his results back that up.

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He finished T24th there on debut in 2015 and it remains his worst finish. Since then he's added six top 20s, four of them top sixes including second this January.

California form

Patrick Cantlay is not only the recent winner of the Memorial, he's also a Californian native who loves playing golf in his home state, saying: "I like poa annua greens, I like fast, firm greens, and I like California golf."

He's a winner at Sherwood, has finished third, ninth and T11th at Pebble Beach, fourth at Riviera and he's also been second on the resort courses which host The American Express. About the only place he hasn't played too well, however, is Torrey Pines.

A more sneaky play then? How about Adam Scott? He's a two-time winner and two-time runner-up at Riviera, has a US Open top 10 finish at Pebble Beach, and has also finished second and T10th at Torrey Pines.

Current form

Collin Morikawa won the PGA Championship last year, the WGC Workday Championship in March, and hasn't ended a week outside the top 20 since before the Masters.

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Don't speedily overlook Jason Kokrak, another winner late last season and also more recently (in his case at the end of last month). He's also finished top 30 in four of his last five Torrey Pines starts.

Irishman Shane Lowry finished seventh in the Farmers Insurance Open back in 2015 and he's another playing nicely at the moment.

He was eighth at Sawgrass in March, tagged a career-best T21st at Augusta, and in his last four starts has landed top 10s at Harbour Town, Kiawah Island and Muirfield Village.

READ MORE: Rory McIlroy’s Major problem: A look at how slow starts are almost always fatal in the big events

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