LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) — There is no doubt that Phil Mickelson is San Diego's most beloved and best-known golf star. However, while his improbable win at last month's PGA Championship has made his chances to win the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines tantalizing, it's another local player who many experts believe has the best chance at winning.
At #6 in the World Golf Rankings, Xander Schauffele is primed to make the U.S. Open his first major championship.
Schauffele, who played Torrey Pines frequently when playing for Scripps Ranch High School and San Diego State University, has had his sights set on this week's tournament even before grew into a PGA star.
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“Six or seven years ago when they announced the site here on TV, my dad and I were sitting on the couch and we’re like, 'we need to do whatever we can to get into this tournament," said Schauffele.
Schauffele has since won four times on the PGA Tour, including at some of golf's premier tournaments. He has also built a record of consistent contention at golf's four majors.
While he hopes to have a home-course advantage, he says it's less than one might think.
“I played 19 (holes) Wednesday, 18 Thursday, ten holes Friday, 18 Saturday. I’m trying to make this more of a local place for me. It’s a really busy place during the year, which I’m not sure everyone is aware of. It’s hard to just come out here and play golf just for fun," Schauffele said.
Schauffele and Mickelson are not the only two players in the U.S. Open field with San Diego roots. Charley Hoffman, who was a state champion at Poway High, and former San Diego State star J.J. Spaun are also playing.