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It’s for the 120th US Open, this year played in New York State (most US Opens tend to be played either in the mid-West or North-East of the country). After Collin Morikawa won the first major of 2020 last month, the much-delayed and re-scheduled US PGA Championship, who will get their name on the US Open trophy come Sunday?
The US Open
The US Open is a prominent feature on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour schedules. The event is actually under the control of the USGA (United States Golf Association), who treat it very much as the opportunity to “torture” the players with the ultimate test of golf – tight fairways, long and penal rough, treacherous greens. The winner of the US Open is always viewed as a player who really has earned their reward as the conditions can be that difficult. It is usually the third Major of the year, after the US Masters and US PGA Championship, but in this exceptional year it’s the second – albeit, being played in September and not June.
The tournament was first held in 1895 and since then the roll of honour has been dominated by home players,with 85 of 119 champions coming from the US. The remaining 34 winners comprise Scotland (13), England (9), South Africa (5), Australia & Northern Ireland (2), New Zealand, Germany & Argentina (1). The leading individual winners are all some way back in the record books… Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus (all with 4 wins apiece). Next on the list comes Hale Irwin and, more recently, Tiger Woods (each with three wins).
The field is typically 156 with the line-up drawn from a much wider catchment than, say, the US Masters. The US Open is “open” to any professional or amateur golfer with the necessary handicap, who either qualifies or is exempt on account of their status (past champion, world ranking etc). The unique characteristic of this event is that should there be a play-off after 72 holes, the tied players come back the next day (Monday) and compete over 18 holes.
The US Open is played at a variety of courses, with the tournament so far being hosted in 19 different states. This year we’re at Winged Foot Golf Club (West Course) in Mamaroneck, New York State. It’s a par 70 that will play a hefty 7,477 yards. Designed by the famous course architect A.W. Tillinghast, the course was built in 1921 and opened in 1923. It was most recently updated by Gil Hanse in 2017. It last hosted the US Open in 2006, where the winning score was 5-over-par (Hale Irwin was a winner at 7-over in 1974!). So it’ll be the standard tough test for the players, just as it tends to be at every US Open.
268: Rory McIlroy (2011)
63: Adam Scott (2013)
2019 Gary Woodland (Koepka – Rahm, Reavie, Rose, Shcauffele)
2018 Brooks Koepka (Fleetwood – Johnson – Reed – Finau)
2017 Brooks Koepka (Harman, Matsuyama – Fleetwood – Fowler, Haas)
2016 Dustin Johnson (Furyk, Lowry, Piercy – Garcia, Price)
2015 Jordan Spieth (Johnson, Oosthuizen – Grace, Scott, Smith)
2014 Martin Kaymer (Compton, Fowler – Day, Johnson, Koepka, Stenson)
2013 Justin Rose (Day, Mickelson – Dufner, Els, Horschel, Mahan)
2012 Webb Simpson (McDowell, Thompson – Dufner, Furyk, Harrington, Toms)
2011 Rory McIlroy (Day – Chappell, Garrigus, Westwood, Yang)
2010 Graeme McDowell (Havret – Els – Mickelson , Woods)
We have a full compliment of 150+ players this week. Dustin Johnson is the $9.50 favourite with TopSport.
There’s a slight chance of rain this week, but nothing of any consequence. Temperatures will be best on Thursday (hitting the low 30s), but heading into the weekend it’ll cool down to around 20 degrees. Predicted wind speeds are also low (sub-10mph), so it looks a pretty decent week for the players.
Outright / Each-Way Value Bets
Tommy Fleetwood (currently $31 with TopSport)
Fleetwood decided to play the Portugal Masters last week and it could prove to be a wise choice. Fleetwood re-discovered his form with both his driver and his irons, which had been missing for numerous weeks when playing in the US. Last week in Portugal, Fleetwood finished 3rd, but he ranked as the No.1 player from tee-to-green by a mile. Had it not been for a stone-cold putter all four days he would have won the event comfortably.
Fleetwood’s game is ideally suited for tough courses, where the emphasis is on driving it long and straight, and hitting laser-like iron shots, so he’s an obvious contender this week. He nearly won the US Open in 2018, when he finished second to Koepka, and the year before he finished fourth. Fleetwood also had a chance to win the Open last year but came second to Ireland’s Shane Lowry. Fleetwood has shown time and time again that he’s capable of winning multiple majors, and this week’s assignment looks the perfect fit for the Englishman to get off the mark.
Bubba Watson (currently $151 with TopSport)
I’ve tipped Watson numerous times this season and we’re yet to benefit much from such picks, but I have to keep the faith with a player whose long game numbers are continuously better than the field. Watson has been just about the best player off the tee since lockdown, gaining over 17 strokes in this category on the field in six events. His iron play has been solid if unspectacular, but ultimately he’s setting up multiple opportunities off the tee with his superb driving. One week soon, when he has his irons dialled in, he’s going to make a mockery of such a big price. Watson is a multiple major winner who must be respected on tough layouts, despite his poor US Open record. I’m willing to give the charismatic American one last chance to reward our loyalty.
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