Here are five things you need to know ahead of the U.S Open at Winged Foot Golf Club, the second Major Championship of 2020.
Second Major of the year
With a restructured season caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club will be the second of three Major Championships played in 2020.
The tournament follows on from Collin Morikawa’s impressive Major victory at the US PGA Championship, and precedes the Masters Tournament being played at Augusta National from November 12-15. The Open Championship will make its return in 2021.
The tournament comes three months later than scheduled, and there’s plenty of storylines to watch out for. Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson both count two wins each in 2020 as the battle for World Number One continues, Phil Mickelson seeks to complete the Grand Slam at the venue he came close to victory at 14 years ago, and Rory McIlroy hopes to add a fifth Major to his tally and his first since becoming a father.
A Sixth U.S. Open
Returning to the schedule for the first time since 2006, Winged Foot Golf Club will host its sixth U.S. Open this week.
It becomes just the fifth venue to reach that number, joining Baltusrol (9), Oakmont Country Club (7), Oakland Hills (6) and Pebble Beach (6).
The course, which opened in 1923, hosted its first U.S. Open in 1929, won by Bobby Jones. Billy Casper claimed the title here in 1959, followed by Hale Irwin in 1974, Fuzzy Zoeller in 1984, and Geoff Ogilvy in 2006.
A history of high scoring
Gary Woodland earned his first Major title during last year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach with a score of 13 under par, but it would be misguided to think that the scoring will be similar at Winged Foot Golf Club – a place renowned for slick greens and a premium on driving accuracy.
In its history, just one U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club has producing an under par winning score (four under), which occurred during Fuzzy Zoeller’s play-off victory against Greg Norman in 1984.
The last time the tournament was held at Winged Foot was in 2006, when Geoff Ogilvy triumphed with a winning score of five over par after both Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie double-bogeyed the final hole.
The Race for World Number One
The top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking has already been held by five different golfers in 2020, a number more staggering when you consider the ranking was frozen for two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dustin Johnson, who claimed the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup two weeks ago, is the current World Number One, but could be overtaken by as many as three players by the end of the U.S. Open week.
Jon Rahm became the first Spanish golfer since Seve Ballesteros to hold the World Number One spot earlier this year when he overtook Rory McIlroy, and has a chance to do so for a third time this year with a strong finish.
The other contenders are Justin Thomas and PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa, who both need to win in order to have a chance.
One of the incentives for players during the European Tour’s UK Swing was the chance to qualify for a place in the U.S. Open through the mini Order of Merit.
With traditional qualifying events cancelled, the USGA confirmed that the top ten aggregate points earners after the conclusion of the fifth event – the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor – would be exempt for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club.
Of those ten, six will be making their first starts in a U.S. Open. Adrian Otaegui, Connor Syme and ISPS HANDA Wales Open champion Romain Langasque have all played in at least one other Major, but the career milestone is more significant for Rasmus Højgaard, Thomas Detry and Sami Välimäki, who will all be making their first appearances in a Major Championship.