US Open: Huddersfield’s Marcus Armitage on a par with Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau at Torrey Pines

WHile the focus will be on Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, two recent champions whose simmering feud is the biggest story in golf right now, the charm of a US Open can also be found in the opportunities it presents to less famous names.

Winner: Marcus Armitage reacts to applause after winning The Porsche European Open at Green Eagle Golf Course in Hamburg, Germany. Picture: Getty Images

Take Huddersfield’s Marcus Armitage for example.

The 33-year-old who plays out of Howley Hall in Morley, tees off on the 10th hole at Torrey Pines in San Diego today at 6.56am local time (2.56pm UK time) for a rare tournament in America and only the second major of his career.

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He is in southern California, teeing off for the briefest of moments as an equal to the Koepka’s and DeChambeau’s of this world, by virtue of a breakthrough win on the European Town just 10 days ago in Germany.

Marcus Armitage poses with the trophy after winning The Porsche European Open at Green Eagle Golf Course on June 07, 2021 in Hamburg. (Picture: Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)

After years of trying, years of bouncing around between the satellite tours, plunging into debt and wondering if he would ever reach this level, Armitage is finally here thanks to that nerveless 64 at the Porsche European Open in Hamburg last Monday that clinched his maiden Tour title and punched his ticket to Torrey Pines.

His emotional interview to Sky Sports, in which he referenced the day his mother died when he was 13, summed up just how much it all meant to him, the lengths he had been to mentally as well as physically to reach his own personal mountain top.

“I’ve always been an emotional guy,” Armitage said in an interview from Torrey Pines with the New York Post earlier this week, the name of the publication further indication of how much his life has quickly transformed.

“I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m as honest as I can be.”

Paul Casey, of England, hits from the seventh tee during a practice round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Now he has reached one mountain top, the next challenge is to find a new summit to scale.

“This can’t be the end,” Armitage’s performance coach, Duncan McCarthy, told The Yorkshire Post in the wake of his win in Hamburg.

“We have to look now to what’s next.”

Right in front of Armitage is Torrey Pines, a traditional US Open layout that places a premium on accuracy off the tee.

There are 54 bunkers on the 7,652-yard, par-71 layout, made even more menacing by the 515-yard sixth hole which has been reduced from a par five to a par four.

The greens are fast and firm and the rough is deep.

As is the calibre of the field, led by defending champion DeChambeau, who rendered traditional US Open pitfalls irrelevant with his booming drives that launched him towards a six-shot win at Winged Foot last year.

Koepka went close at Kiawah Island in the PGA Championship, but took ‘a few kicks to his knee’ in the melee on the 18th in the words of his coach Pete Cowen in an interview with The Yorkshire Post last week.

Koepka won the US Open in back-to-back years at Erin Hills and Shinnecock Hills but comes in with more talk about his ongoing feud with DeChambeau than discussion about his game and his health. “I’d take Koepka in a street fight any day,” mused Cowen. “When he gets in sight of victory, there’s no-one better.”

The American trio of Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth are the other home favourites, each of them familiar with breasting the tape in major championships.

Also, what price Phil Mickelson, four weeks removed from winning a historic sixth major title at the PGA, finally getting his hands on the one prize to elude him?

The English challenge is led by 2013 champion Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Tyrell Hatton, who had a top 10 in South Carolina last week, and Lee Westwood, almost ever present in the big events in his late 40s and fresh from getting married in Las Vegas last week.

Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick has five top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season including last week at Conagree,, and is growing in stature.

There is no Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters champion had surgery to remove his appendix last week.

But Armitage is there, a man with momentum, a man having the time of his life, rubbing shoulders with the golfing elite.