One more sleep, folks. This time tomorrow, the 120th edition of the U.S. Open will be underway on the West Course at Winged Foot Golf Club. What a sentence.
Gary Woodland arrives at Winged Foot as the defending U.S. Open champion. Last summer, he separated himself at Pebble Beach, finishing three shots ahead of Brooks Koepka and at least six ahead of the rest.
But there hasn’t been a huge amount of fanfare surrounding Woodland this week. So far, the course itself has been the center of attention. The last time we saw a major at Winged Foot was at the 2006 U.S. Open, when Geoff Ogilvy walked away with the title after Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie both made double bogeys on the 72nd hole. It was one of the most dramatic finishes in recent golf history and has fans excited to see the world’s best take on Winged Foot once again.
Hats off to Hanse – A golf course cannot win a major championship, but it can be the star of the show. Gil Hanse’s recent restoration of Winged Foot will be on display this weekend. Our own Andy Johnson sat down with Gil to discuss the work he did for our latest episode of Digging into Design. That interview will be available this morning on our YouTube page. Subscribe to be alerted when it goes live!
Best of the best – The top three in the Official World Golf Ranking—Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, and Justin Thomas—have unequivocally been the most consistent players since the restart of the PGA Tour season. DJ and Rahm have both won twice, while JT has a win and two runner-ups. Together they’ve combined for more than 50 career victories, but not one of the three has more than one major title. It’s going to take lots of fairways, greens, and deft recoveries to win this week, which are skills that all three players have. The only problem is that Winged Foot has a lot of right-to-left holes, and this trio likes to work it left to right. Can DJ or JT capture that elusive second major? Can Rahm break through for his first?
Experience – The U.S. Open is a unique event. It takes a ton of talent and patience to pull through. Usually major championship experience bolsters patience, and that bodes well for Adam Scott, Jason Day, and Patrick Reed. Reed has played the fewest majors of the three (25) but has four top 10s in his past 10 major appearances. Scott has played extremely well lately, and he has five top 10s in his past eight U.S. Opens.
Korn Ferry Tour studs – Because of the pandemic-altered season, the USGA did not hold local and sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open this year. Instead, more exemptions were given to high-ranking players, including to top players from the Korn Ferry Tour. No two KFT players stand out more than Will Zalatoris and Davis Riley. Roommates and Nos. 1 and 2 on the money list, these two guys seem like can’t-miss stars. Zalatoris has a win and 10 top 10s on the Korn Ferry Tour this year, while Riley has two victories and five top 10s. Expect at least one of them to make the cut and get some well-deserved hype this weekend.
Drinking game – While it has hosted more than its fair share of major championships, Winged Foot West is most famous for the 1974 and 2006 U.S. Opens. Known as the “Massacre at Winged Foot,” the ’74 championship saw Hale Irwin win with a score of +7. Geoff Ogilvy didn’t fare much better in ’06, but his +5 total was good enough to earn the trophy. Needless to say, we expect high scores this weekend and many mentions of these two events on the telecast. Let the “massacre” and “meltdown” drinking games commence.
The USGA always gets a bit cheeky with U.S. Open pairings, adding a little spice to golf fans’ pumpkin lattes. This year is no different. Here are a few our favorites:
The Break Up + Hideki: Jordan Spieth – Patrick Reed – Hideki Matsuyama
The Distinguished Gentlemen: Rory McIlroy – Adam Scott – Justin Rose
The Long and the Thicc: Dustin Johnson – Tony Finau – Bryson DeChambeau
ASU Legends: Jon Rahm – Phil Mickelson – Paul Casey
I’m a Cowboy, Baby: Rickie Fowler – Victor Hovland – Matthew Wolff
The Flushers: Tiger Woods – Justin Thomas – Collin Morikawa
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie: Lukas Michel (a) – Matt Jones – Lucas Herbert
This week, Dustin Johnson was voted 2019-20 PGA Tour Player of the Year. A two-time winner and the FedEx Cup champion, DJ wasn’t a surprising choice. Nor was it shocking that Scottie Scheffler was named Rookie of the Year. It was more unexpected last week when the PGA of America awarded its POY to Justin Thomas and Johnson finished fifth. Apparently the PGA of America doesn’t care as much about the FedEx Cup. Press Release
As usual, Bryson DeChambeau opened the week with a goofy quote.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Approaching the Unpinnable: Why the greens at Winged Foot West are great – Andy walks you through how the beautiful, severe, newly restored greens at this week’s U.S. Open venue work.
Paulie’s Picks: 2020 U.S. Open – See who Paulie thinks is best equipped to take on the challenges of Winged Foot this week.
The Fried Egg Podcast: John Bodenhamer – 2020 U.S. Open setup
John Bodenhamer, USGA Senior Managing Director, Championships, joins the pod this week to discuss all things U.S. Open! Andy and John work through this week’s setup, differences we’ll notice between this event and the ’06 U.S. Open, managing championships without fans, and close the conversation with a few thoughts on the USGA’s new anchor site. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Shotgun Start: A golf podcast about the U.S. Open (and Cody Parkey)
The 2020 U.S. Open is here and this episode is an extended preview with a couple distinguished guests, Billy Draddy, creative director at Summit Golf Brands who has a long personal history with Winged Foot, and Fried Egg Paulie, who provides his usual fantasy and gambling expertise while indulging Brendan and Andy’s idiotic picks and proposals. But first, Brendan and Andy go back and forth on the national championship. They discuss their excitement and even gratitude around it getting back up and running this week. They get into a lengthy discussion on Winged Foot, what makes it so great, what to pay attention to, what “it’s all in front of you” means, and how, if at all, it could get screwed up to the point where Zatch is moaning about something being “gone” or “lost.” Then they run through some of their favorite tee times, debating whether it’s better to start on WF’s 1st or par-3 10th and if Phil has any chance getting a late-early draw. The DJ-Bryson-Finau grouping discussion is also highlighted by some fun #JupScoop on DJ’s new boat and Bryson’s talk of putting a 48-inch Jarmo shaft in play. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Something about a September U.S. Open just sits right with us. The cooler temperatures and changing winds feel so good. Or maybe it’s just that we always look forward to putting on our Fried Egg crewneck sweaters from B. Draddy. Get yours today!