Scottie Scheffler, and Xander Schauffele lead list of legit US Open contenders

PINEHURST, N.C. — Xander Schauffele got his last month.

Wyndham Clark got his last year.

Who will get theirs at this week’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2?

Surely Schauffele, fresh off his first career major with a PGA Championship victory at Valhalla, enters this week with his confidence at an all-time high.

Clark, who won the U.S. Open last year at L.A. Country Club, will enter the week with good feelings.

How will Rory McIlroy feel, seeking his first major championship in 10 years? The No. 3-ranked player in the world has done everything but win a major in the past decade.

Xander Schauffele of the United States plays his shot from the fifth tee during the second round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 07, 2024 in Dublin, Ohio. Getty Images

How will world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler respond this week, just a month removed from his arrest mess at Valhalla that included a mug shot and being detained in jail?

Scheffler will be looking to resume some normalcy to his world, which means contending in majors.

What about Jon Rahm, who’s coming off a missed cut at the PGA and a tie for 45th at the Masters in the year’s first two majors?

It feels like he’s been in witness protection since he left the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf. He was ranked No. 2 in the world when he signed on with LIV and is now No. 7.

Watch out for Bryson DeChambeau, who finished runner-up at the PGA and in a tie for sixth at the Masters, and his confidence has to be at an all-time high.

The same cannot be said about Tiger Woods, a three-time U.S. Open winner who was given a special exemption into the field.

The 48-year-old Woods — who missed the cut at the PGA; finished 60th at the Masters, which was last among the players who made the cut; and withdrew from the Genesis Invitational — has become a ceremonial golfer these days.

For Pinehurst No. 2, this is the fourth time it’s hosted a men’s U.S. Open and the first since 2014, when Martin Kaymer won.

Its first came in 1999 when Payne Stewart won, staving off Phil Mickelson at the end. Mickelson famously was wearing a beeper because his wife, Amy, was about to give birth to their first child, daughter Amanda.

Jon Rahm of Legion XIII reacts on the on the fourth green during day one of the LIV Golf Invitational – Houston. Getty Images

“It’s hard to believe it’s 25 years ago, but it’s like they say, ‘The days are slow and the years are fast,’ ” Mickelson told The Post last week. “It’s amazing how fast the years have gone by.”

Kaymer might not agree considering that his 2014 U.S. Open win was the last tournament he has won — a resounding eight-shot victory.

“Obviously the last 10 years, if you would have told me at the press conference that I’m not going to win the tournament from 2014 until 2024, I would have thought you were crazy,” Kaymer told reporters this week at the LIV Golf event in Houston. “But this is the reality, and this obviously is quite difficult for me to handle, that I haven’t won since then.’’

In 2005, Michael Campbell, a New Zealander, won the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, edging out Woods by two shots.

Many eyes will be on Scottie Scheffler after a wild turn of events at the PGA Championship. Getty Images

This week, many eyes will be on Scheffler and Schauffele, whose world ranking elevated to No. 2 after a runner-up at the Wells Fargo Championship then the win at the PGA.

How will Scheffler play now that he has been freed up by the dropped arrest charges and tries to win another major?

Speaking to reporters in advance of last week’s Memorial, he said he “definitely hadn’t moved past’’ his arrest.

“It’s not something that I love reliving, just because it was fairly traumatic for me,” he said. “It’s not something that I love talking about, and it’s something that I’m hoping to move past.

“It was definitely a bit of a relief [having the charges dropped], but not total relief because that’s something that will always, I think, kind of stick with me. That mug shot, I’m sure is not going anywhere anytime soon.’’

Schauffele, whose world ranking elevated to No. 2 with his PGA Championship victory, said he “really tried to enjoy’’ the PGA win with a couple weeks off afterward.

“I feel really lucky to be able to win and have two weeks off after,’’ he told reporters in advance of the Memorial. “Not everyone’s so fortunate to be in that position where they can kind of unwind, decompress, and look around and kind of take it in a little bit.’’

Asked what his mindset will be entering this week’s U.S. Open, Schauffele said, “Kind of just rinse and repeat.’’

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