Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York. September 17-20.
Par 70, 7477 yards
Golf fans will remember the last time the US Open Golf was played at Winged Foot in 2006. It was a brute of a test for the players, with a score of +5 winning the tournament for the Australian Geoff Ogilvy, who beat home hero Phil “The Thrill” Mickelson into the runner up.
The winning total of five over par was the joint highest, with Angel Cabrera’s triumph in Oakmont in 2007, since 1974 when Hale Irwin won at Winged Foot with +7. From those two winning scores of +5 and +7, the professionals can expect a severe test of skill this week.
I have to point out that the interim Winged Foot hosted the PGA Championship of 1997, which Davis Love won at -11, and the 1984 US Open that Fuzzy Zoeller won with a score of -7. The PGA Championship of 2007 would have been set up easier while Fuzzy Zoeller’s triumph was by 8 strokes making the runner up over par.
Designed by the renowned A.W. Tillinghast in 1923 it has hosted the US Open six times now, behind only to Oakmont and Baltustrol, which are also a Tillinghast creation. There are seem correlations between Winged Foot and Oakmont, so that could be useful this week. Winged Foot is made up of narrow undulating Poa Anua fairways, many that dogleg to greens with severe bunkering, and a US Open standard rough set up between 2-5 inches of ryegrass, meaning the players will have to be on their A-game to survive.
What Type of Player Can Master Winged Foot?
Looking back on 2006 we can note that Geoff Ogilvy and Phil Mickelson are long hitters who have high ball flights, and the strong short game’s in and around fast greens amongst their many skills. They say Oakmont is a comparable test, and the last two winners there; Dustin Johnson and Angel Cabrera have similar skills of being long with high ball flights.
Rekindling Former Glories
Jason Day has a high ball flight, while he has always been comfortable playing US Open Golf, and now is the time to rekindle former glories for the talented Australian.
The former world number one looked nailed on to be a future US Open winner. In his debut in 2011, Day yielded a runner up position to Rory McIlroy’s eight-stroke victory at Congressional in Washington. He followed with another runner up placing in 2013 to Justin Rose, and three other top 10 finishes to illustrate a liking for Golf’s ultimate test.
The last three seasons have seen him suffering from a slump in form, but 2020 has seen the Australian resurface in the higher echelons of tournament leaderboards with five top 7 finishes. In the PGA Championship, he was a brave 4th and lost nothing in defeat. A couple of low-key results since, as well as a couple more weeks off, should have set him up perfectly for a strong challenge this week on a course that suits him. Among the best sports betting sites, Bovada stands out at +4000, making him a Top Golf Pick at the US Open this week.
US Open Top Golf Pick:
Shane Lowry to Prove His Liking
Last year’s Open Championship winner Shane Lowry never had the chance to defend his crown, but could potentially now hold both Open titles if he wins the US Open this week. Lowry held a four-shot lead going into the final round of the 2016 US Open at Oakmont but was beaten by an inspired Dustin Johnson.
As I mentioned earlier Oakmont has a correlation with Winged Foot, and Lowry is a player capable of shaping shots either way and controlling ball flights to suit. The Northern Irish has other shared features with Geoff Ogilvy and Angel Cabrera, mainly an ability to go under the radar while being strong closers of the sport’s biggest tournaments.
He could have done a better prep in California at the Safeway Open, but he still looks a value selection as one of this week’s two Longshot Picks with US Open odds at +8000 with Bovada.
Martin Kaymer to Prove Patience Is a Virtue
Few would have guessed that Martin Kaymer’s triumph in the US Open of 2014 would be his last worldwide tournament victory. The 2014 victory was his fifteenth worldwide before the age of thirty, and his second major championship to go along with his 2010 PGA Championship.
It’s worth mentioning that he also won the 2014 Players Championship five weeks before, and his position of one of the sport’s elite plus one of the most impressive closers looked set in stone. What was to follow at the start of 2015 few could have expected when he lost a 10-shot lead over the back nine of the Abu Dhabi Championship.
This rocked the solid foundations of his career, and despite still being a golfer of the highest quality, he has finished many tournaments in a weak, concerning fashion.
What Changed About Kaymer?
It was noticeable in 2018 and 2019 when he finished tournaments poorly to lose out on final rounds. His post-event press conferences displayed signs of being in denial that anything was wrong. The last two weeks saw him lose out in final rounds when he appeared to hold the ascendancy on the European Tour at the UK Championship and the Andalucia Masters. What has impressed me the most is a change in his attitude.
I think the statement on his Instagram post shows a change in mindset from Kaymer, displaying a sense of his determination while owning the obvious disappointment. Winning a US Open is the ultimate test of a golfers’ skill and mental resolve. It’s something previous champions have been very adept at over the years. Outside the two greatest golfers of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus; Hale Irwin, the late Payne Stewart, Lee Janzen, Retief Goosen, Curtis Strange, and Andy North have illustrated strong affinities with the great championship while becoming multiple champions.
The last name mentioned Andy North illustrates the unique nature of the event as a two-time winner, seven years apart while never winning in the interim. In fact, he only ever won one other PGA Tour event, and it was prior to his first US Open win in 1978. Others like Payne Stewart and Retief Goosen for example didn’t close as many regular tournaments as their abilities suggested they should. However, they proved to have the patience to grind out wins in the different styles that the US Open demands.
Martin Kaymer this week could win his second US Open, six years after his first win with no other tournament wins in the interim. Kaymer knows what it takes to win a US Open and should we know he is playing well while possessing all the tools and experience required. He is our second Longshot Golf Pick for this week’s US Open at +8000 with BetOnline.
Golf Longshot Picks: