Horses for Courses: 120th US Open

Winged Foot hosts for a sixth time. Better pack the Advil, Kleenex and be ready for battle!

By Mike Glasscott, PGATOUR.COM

What is old is new again as historic Winged Foot Golf Club is hosting the 2020 United States Open. The West Course, located in Mamaroneck, N.Y., will be the challenge for the sixth time in history but the first since 2006 in determining our national champion. Oddly enough it will also decide the first major champion of the 2020-21 season, the first of SIX to be crowned.

The Par-70 will stretch to 7,469 yards and provide an unbelievable test of all 14 clubs and especially the six inches between the ears. There will be bogeys and doubles bogeys. There will be three and four putts. As with any big ballpark, those who can give it a knock off the tee will have the advantage. Finding the short grass as frequently as possible will create scoring chances but pars will be excellent this week. As Geoff Ogilvy famously remarked, the only safe place at Winged Foot is in the clubhouse.

A.W. Tillinghast made his mark in this part of the county (Bethpage Black) and Winged Foot is considered by many the perfect challenge for determining the finest golfer in all of the land. Designed and opened in the early 1920s, the winners at Winged Foot have included Bobby Jones, Billy Casper, Fuzzy Zoeller, Geoff Ogilvy and the survivor of the “Massacre at Winged Foot” Hale Irwin, who won by posting seven-over, 287. Davis Love III also won the 1997 PGA Championship on this track.

The West Course is known for its incredible green complexes and diabolical rough and both of those will be front-and-center this week. Gil Hanse has brought the greens back to their original sizes, adding more pin placements in theory, which won’t favor anyone. The massive complexes of bent and poa will test the 144 players on speed, read and creativity. Running upwards of 13 feet on the Stimpmeter being above the hole or even pin-high in certain spots will create problems. Only one creek pops up and the trees lining the rough will only affect those far enough off the beaten path. Missing large greens won’t come with a reward this week so players who can grind out pars will feel like they’ve made birdies. Accuracy is rewarded both off the tee and into the greens, as it should be.

Hanse also removed plenty of trees to help the routing visually. Social media suggested Monday that the notorious rough was getting its last haircut of the week. Yes, Monday. Upwards of five inches in the thickest spots, the graduated cut doesn’t allow the big miss to avoid penalty. Remember, with no galleries this week there won’t be any matted-down areas from foot traffic to provide any relief for the extremely errant strikes from the tee box or attacking the greens.

Last year Gary Woodland collected $2.25 million from a $12.5 million purse so that will give gamers an idea of what’s a stake this week. The official prize money, as of Tuesday morning, has not been released yet. The top 60 and ties play the final 36 holes. If there is a playoff required, it will be a two-hole aggregate followed by sudden death.

2006 U.S. Open (entered this week)

 2  Phil Mickelson

 6  Steve Stricker

12 Ian Poulter

12 Paul Casey

21 Adam Scott

26 Henrik Stenson

32 Scott Hend

37 Charles Howell III

48 Graeme McDowell

MC

Rory Sabbatini

Zach Johnson

Lucas Glover

Tiger Woods

Billy Horschel

Matt Kuchar

Sergio Garcia

Last 10 U.S. Open Winners

2019: Gary Woodland (Pebble Beach)

2018: Brooks Koepka (Shinnecock Hills)

2017: Brooks Koepka (Erin Hills)

2016: Dustin Johnson (Oakmont)

2015: Jordan Spieth (Chambers Bay)

2014: Martin Kaymer (Pinerhurst No. 2)

2013: Justin Rose (Merion)

2012: Webb Simpson (Olympic Club)

2011: Rory McIlroy (Congressional Country Club)

2010: Graeme McDowell (Pebble Beach)

2006 Recap

Geoff Ogilvy (+5)

The Aussie posted first and watched as those behind him couldn’t make par down the stretch. Getting up and down from everywhere, including his impossible chip-in par at No. 17, Ogilvy holed a five-footer at the last for par to post 72 and five-over. Did not have one round in the 60s.

Notables: Phil Mickelson doubled the last to miss the playoff by a shot. Wayward tee shots (two fairways on Sunday, zero on the back nine) put tons of pressure on his short game. … Colin Montgomery, a legend in the ball-striking department, missed the green from No. 18 fairway from 171 yards and made double, missing the playoff by a shot. Montgomery was the only player to post a red number, 69, on Sunday. … Jim Furyk (70) also had six feet to force a Monday playoff but his par putt slide by. … Steve Stricker, another who is more accurate than long, claimed T6.

Subhed: Key stat leaders

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2019-2020 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.

Strokes-Gained: Tee to Green (* – previous top 10 at U.S. Open since 2015 or past champion)

 1  *Justin Thomas

 2  *Hideki Matsuyama

 3  *Jon Rahm

 4  *Sergio Garcia

 5  Collin Morikawa

 6  *Rory McIlroy

 7  *Xander Schauffele

 9  *Dustin Johnson

11 *Tony Finau

12 Patrick Cantlay

13 *Tyrrell Hatton

15 *Daniel Berger

16 Corey Conners

16 *Webb Simpson

18 Harris English

19 Bryson DeChambeau

20 Viktor Hovland

21 Paul Casey

23 Joaquin Niemann

26 *Patrick Reed

Strokes Gained: Putting

 2  *Matthew Fitzpatrick

 5  *Kevin Na

 6  *Ian Poulter

 6  Matt Kuchar

 8  Mackenzie Hughes

10 Bryson DeChambeau

12 *Patrick Reed

13 *Webb Simpson

14 JT Poston

15 Kevin Kisner

17 *Daniel Berger

18 Harris English

20 Brendon Todd

21 Richy Werenski

22 *Jon Rahm

23 Troy Merritt

26 *Tommy Fleetwood

Scrambling

 1  *Daniel Berger

 2  *Xander Schauffele

 3  Brendon Todd

 4  *Kevin Na

 6  Harris English

 9  *Brian Harman

10 Abraham Ancer

11 *Jon Rahm

12 *Webb Simpson

16 Kevin Kisner

17 Bryson DeChambeau

19 *Hideki Matsuyama

20 Alex Noren

21 *Patrick Reed

23 Lanto Griffin

25 *Justin Thomas

26 Brandt Snedeker

28 *Jason Day

29 Carlos Ortiz

Most US Open Appearances (thru 2019)

Phil Mickelson  (28)

Steve Stricker  (21)

Tiger Woods    (21)

Sergio Garcia   (20)

Adam Scott      (18)

Lee Westwood  (18)

Matt Kuchar     (17)

Paul Casey       (16)

Zach Johnson   (16)

Major Champions in the field

Tiger Woods (15)

Phil Mickelson (5)

Rory McIlroy (4)

Jordan Spieth (3)

Zach Johnson (2)

Martin Kaymer (2)

Bubba Watson (2)

Collin Morikawa

Shane Lowry

Gary Woodland

Patrick Reed

Justin Thomas

Sergio Garcia

Henrik Stenson

Dustin Johnson

Jimmy Walker

Danny Willett

Jason Day

Justin Rose

Adam Scott

Webb Simpson

Keegan Bradley

Louis Oosthuizen

Graeme McDowell

Lucas Glover

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