Sergio García, Puig and Chacarra at Us Open

The 124th US Open, which kicks off this Thursday, will be the first in the budding career of Eugenio Chacarra and the first that Jon Rahm will miss

by Andrea Gussoni
Sergio García, Puig and Chacarra at Us Open
© Getty Images Sport - Sean M. Haffey / Staff

The 124th US Open, which kicks off this Thursday, will be the first in the budding career of Eugenio Chacarra and the first that Jon Rahm will miss. It's a paradox for the Spanish Armada, which on Tuesday was reduced to three members due to Rahmbo's last-minute withdrawal.

Rahm preferred not to risk with an infected cut between his toes that had already hampered him at last week's LIV Houston.

Sergio Garcia, news

So, at Pinehurst's Number 2 in North Carolina, the macro-resort where the United States Golf Association (USGA) has part of its headquarters and the Hall of Fame, one of the few courses fixed in the Open rotation, the national hopes will be represented from this Thursday by Chacarra, in his first major appearance; David Puig, attending this event for the second time; and Sergio García, who didn't secure a spot in the qualifying but eventually made it as a reserve in his 25th edition, marking his silver jubilee.

Chacarra will tee off this Thursday with Mexican amateur Santiago de la Fuente and Englishman Sam Bairstow. Puig will play with the notable company of New Zealander Ryan Fox and American Dan Berger, while Sergio will be joined by Japanese Ryo Ishikawa and Francesco Molinari, the only Italian to win a major (the 2018 British Open).

Rahm's absence will be felt, as he had the chance this week, at the tournament where he won his first major in 2021, to straighten out a poor first half of the Grand Slam season, with his worst performance at the Masters (45th) and a missed cut at the PGA Championship.

His last major events of the season, aside from the LIV's playoffs and finals, will be the British Open at Royal Troon from July 18th to 21st and the Saudi super league stop at Valderrama the week before. Depending on how you look at it, perhaps he even dodged a bullet, as details have emerged in recent days suggesting a potential bloodbath.

It appears that the USGA, to no one's surprise, has taken last year's events in Los Angeles to heart. Neither the opening 62s from Schauffele and Fowler nor Clark's -10 fit within the acceptable parameters for an organization that likes to push the elite to the limit, and Donald Ross's course design preparation seems set to be unforgiving.

The main challenge for participants, however, is not with Pinehurst but with Scottie Scheffler, the current world number one, who follows in the footsteps of Tiger Woods (who, by the way, will play on a special invitation) and comes off winning the Memorial, his fifth victory of the year.

It's an unprecedented haul at this point in the calendar, both in terms of quantity, since Tom Watson in 1980, and in terms of quality, since Tiger in 2001. A resume that reduces the list of favorites to just one name: his.

Last chance for the Olympics The subtext of this US Open holds significant narrative importance in Olympic terms, as Pinehurst marks the deadline for qualification for the Paris Games, which officially closes on Monday. For Spain, Jon Rahm's presence is already certain (Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Muñoz will represent in the women's event), despite his participation in the LIV, whose tournaments do not distribute world ranking points and therefore not for the International Federation, which manages this process.

Rahm has managed to stay on the right side of the cut. The question remains about who will accompany him, a race in which players like Pablo Larrazábal, Adrián Otaegui, Eugenio Chacarra, or the two with the most chances this week, Jorge Campillo and David Puig, have been involved.

The spot currently rests with the latter, another LIV member who has had to make the effort to play Asian Tour events, an ally of the Saudi super league, to climb in the rankings. If he makes the cut this week, assuming Sergio García and Chacarra don't win, he will definitively secure it. If he fails, it will go to the Extremaduran.

Us Open Jon Rahm