jason day
Jason Day is in pole position to fill one of two men's spots in Australia's golf team for Paris. Image by AP PHOTO
  • golf

Former champ tips Day, Smith to fire at golf’s US Open

Darren Walton June 12, 2024

Former champion Geoff Ogilvy is convinced big guns Cameron Smith and Jason Day can tame the beast that is Pinehurst No.2 and snap Australia’s 18-year US Open title drought.

Despite Day and Adam Scott both rising to world No.1 and Smith to No.2 over the past decade, no Australian golfer has conquered golf’s most brutal test since Ogilvy prevailed at Winged Foot with a five-over-par total in 2006.

Only Day, the runner-up in 2011 and 2013 and joint fourth in 2014, has seriously contended.

 Geoff Ogilvy famously lifted the US Open trophy in 2006, edging out the likes of Phil Mickelson. Image by AP PHOTO 

But after regaining the country’s top ranking, a place in the world’s top 20 and finishing co-runner-up at last year’s British Open, Ogilvy believes the revitalised Day could be thereabouts come Sunday afternoon in North Carolina.

“He’s swinging it really well. He’s playing well. He seems up and about,” Ogilvy told Fox Sports’ US Open preview show.

“I think Pinehurst No.2 is a really good course for him. He’s a great ball striker but his real strength is around the greens.

“And Pinehurst No.2, it doesn’t matter how well you hit the ball, you’re going to have to get the ball up and down a lot. He’s one of the best in the world at that.”

Smith arrived at the season’s third major on the back of an astonishing collapse at LIV Golf Houston, where he dropped 12 shots in his last eight holes on Sunday.

But Ogilvy is preferring to back Smith’s pedigree after the 2022 British Open champion and one-time world No.2 showed his class with a tie for sixth at the Masters in April despite being unable to buy a putt all week.

Cameron Smith
 Cameron Smith’s scrambling skills will be a huge asset. Image by Michael Errey/AAP PHOTOS 

“His game is built for Pinehurst No.2,” Ogilvy said.

“If you were going to design a golfer for Pinehurst No.2, you would say Cam Smith.

“He drives the ball well, his iron play is solid but, just like Jason, even more so, he’s an incredible scrambler around the greens.

“That’s what is going to be required to win at No.2.

“He’s going there to win. He’s (already) a major winner. In his head, he wants to go there and contend.

“He wants to prove to everyone that the decision to go to LIV isn’t going to affect his career in the majors. I’m sure he’ll be motivated.”

Scott is teeing it up at an incredible 92nd consecutive major after scraping into the 156-man field as the world No.60 – right on the cut-off mark – to keep alive a 23-year streak that stretches back to the 2001 British Open.

 Adam Scott will extend an amazing streak of consecutive majors played. Image by AP PHOTO 

“It’s unbelievable,” American Sam Burns said of Scott’s feat, which edges the 2013 Masters champion to within eight of joining Jack Nicklaus as the only players to contest 100 successive majors.

“I heard about it last week and had to ask, is that right?,” Burns told the PGA Tour.

“What is that, 23 years? It’s insane.”

Scott looked like missing out after countryman Cam Davis edged him on the third hole of a tense playoff at Open qualifying last week in Ohio.

But the USGA removed Grayson Murray, who died last month, from the rankings list, which bumped Scott back into the top 60.  

Davis is enjoying a strong run in the majors, sharing fourth at last year’s PGA Championship and tying for 12th at Augusta National two months ago to prove he belongs on golf’s biggest stages.

 Cam Davis continues to show he belongs on the majors stage. Image by AP PHOTO 

Emerging superstar Min Woo Lee returns for his third US Open tilt after sharing fifth last year and finishing tied for 27th on debut in 2022.

Despite nursing a broken finger at Augusta, the 25-year-old also posted top-30 results at the Masters and PGA Championship.

Journeyman Jason Scrivener rounds out Australia’s six-strong contingent after qualifying at Walton Heath in England to earn a second US Open start.