Open champion Henrik Stenson believes the trend of first-time Major winners is symptomatic of a greater strength in depth making the elite game more competitive than ever.
A maiden Major champion at the US Open, which starts on Thursday at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, would be the seventh in a row – a run that included Stenson’s own breakthrough victory at Royal Troon last year.
That possibility is lent credence by the scratchy form of leading candidates Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth, and the Swede admits another first-timer would be little surprise.
“I think the competition on a weekly basis is so tight out there and so tough. There are so many players in the field that can win,” said Stenson, 41.
“Whether this is going to continue or not, or if there are going to be a few guys stepping up and becoming second- and third-time winners short of them having more first-timers, I guess that’s yet to see.
“But I think in general it’s very hard to predict who is going to do well any other week. It’s been like that in the last year and a half in the Majors, for sure.”
Forecasters are predicting 30C heat and humid conditions for the first round at Erin Hills, which will also test players with its length – at 7,741 yards, it is the longest course in US Open history – and its punishing rough and bunkers.