This week players head to Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York for the United States Open. The 2nd Major Championship of 2020 will be the first Major to ever be played in September and all indications are that Winged Foot will provide players with a true US Open like test (read: hard AF). Winged Foot is no stranger to USGA events, it has hosted five US Opens and two US Amateurs, and it is widely considered as one of the best major championship venues the United States has to offer.
Geoff Ogilvy In The US Open
The last we saw Winged Foot for a US Open was in 2006 when Geoff Ogilvy benefited from the collapse down the stretch of many players (including Phil’s famous double on 18) to post a winning score of 5 over par.
Since 2006 the course has gone through a renovation, lengthening holes and reconfiguring the green complexes to add difficulty. Winged Foot is setting up for another exciting finish with the closing three holes likely playing as the most difficult on the course.
The Top 50 World Golf Rankings
As with any major this field comprises basically everyone from the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
DJ and Rahm head the outright market and deservedly so considering their recent form. I would expect the winner to come from 50/1 or shorter and it has been years since someone outside the top 50 in the OWGRs has taken home a major championship.
It is important to note that the Outright Card provided in this article will be as if I am entering the market for the first time this week.
Before breaking down the plays, lets take a look at Winged Foot!
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The West Course at Winged Foot Golf Club is hard. It isn’t hard by normal PGA Tour course standards. It is hard, like the hardest course these guys will ever play in competition hard.
The Par 70 plays at over 7,000 yards making it extremely long tee to green. 250 yards of length was added since we last saw Winged Foot in ‘06 and with that lengthening, there are only 4 true birdie holes left, the two Par 5s and two short and straight Par 4s.
The added length probably won’t overcome the technology advances golf has seen since 2006 but I would be shocked if there was a winning score better than a couple under par.
I actually expect a +1 winner and would be more surprised by an under-par winning score than the winner being higher than +1.
Off The Tee
The challenge of Winged Foot starts off the tee. Players are faced with tree lined fairways that feature doglegs both left and right. The fairways are set from 19 to 25 yards wide which is extremely tight by Tour standards and with the renovations the usually firm short grass funnels into bunkers.
By all accounts the bunkers are much more preferred than the rough. Anywhere from 3 to 6 feet, Winged Foot’s rough will be brutal. Players have commented that it gradually gets worse so the more errant the drive the worse the lie that awaits.
Due to the length of the course, players will be forced to take driver off almost every tee. Those laying back may gain an advantage in lie, but the length into firm and undulating greens will be tough to overcome.
On The Greens
As hard as Winged Foot will be from tee to green, the Poa green complexes will be the biggest test for players this week. Each green sits above the hole which means errant shots will be propelled off the green and into tightly mowed run offs, deep bunkers or thick rough.
In 2006, the field as a whole hit only 50% of these greens in regulation, extremely low by Tour standards, while at the same time getting up and down after a missed green only 40% of the time.
That up and down percentage is due to two factors: the bumpy Poa Annua surfaces and the severe undulation of these green complexes. Poa is most commonly found on the West Coast along with a few Northwest courses and many players have expressed their disdain for it. Throughout the day as Poa grows it does so unevenly, leaving surfaces bumpy and putts rolling untrue.
Difficult Winged Foot’s Greens
When you combine the difficult to putt on Poa with the extreme undulation found on Winged Foot’s greens the result is what many have called the most difficult putting surfaces they have ever played. Winged Foots greens are slopped severely from back to front with ridges acting like spines throughout each surface.
Indications are they are currently running at a 12, which is extremely fast by Tour Standards and with SubAir systems built underneath each green during the renovation, which basically sucks the air off the greens, organizers can get these greens running as fast as they want.
This Week’s Statististics
Winged Foot will be all all around test and I kept the key statistics simple this week. Approach is always a key component and it isn’t any different here.
I weighed off the tee game more heavily here than most weeks and I did so by combining Strokes Gained Off the Tee and Fairways Gained in an effort to capture players who not only hit it far but also hit it straight.
Finally, if players are going to miss 50% of these greens as a field, I was a player who excels at scrambling, so scrambling percentage is my final stat.
The US Open Championship Outright Plays
Patrick Reed +4000 At MyBookie.ag
The 8 time winner on the PGA Tour, including the 2018 Masters, is constantly disrespected in the Outright market and in most cases I will blindly bet Reed at any number over 40/1. Here, we get a known tough course player (multiple WGC wins including his Green Jacket) who already has a win on the season and who has shown excellent form in the categories that will be important this week.
Recently, Reed has been excellent off the tee, gaining strokes in the category in 7 straight events. Where he has faltered of late is on approach, losing strokes in three straight, but in a week where even the best iron players will miss 40% of greens that weakness will be negated.
Where Reed has excelled in his career is scrambling. In 2020 he is 29th in this field in scrambling percentage, backed by being 27th in the field for 2020 in strokes gained putting. That skillset should translate to success at a Winged Foot course that will put every player in the field in uncomfortable positions around the greens.
My favorite thing about Reed, especially at this price, is that he has thrived most when competing for the biggest prizes. Along with his Master’s victory in 2018 he has two WGC wins and two wins in FedEx Cup Playoff events. He has a solid US Open record including 4th at Shinnechock where scores will be similar to what we see this week.
An 8 time winner on Tour including a win within the last 6 months showing form like Reed at 40/1 is an absolute joke of a price and I will gladly take advantage.
Tyrrell Hatton +4000 at MyBookie.ag
Hatton is beginning to show the same ball striking form he displayed prior to the suspension which culminated in a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitation. That win is important here. Bay Hill, especially on Sunday, played extremely difficult with scoring averages well above par. What Hatton showed was his ability to grind, gaining strokes around the green and putting over the course of those 4 days to go along with his excellent approach numbers.
As of late, Hatton has shown similar excellent ball striking as of late, gaining in both off the tee and on approach in four straight starts. His putter has been iffy, but post suspension he has shown the ability to get hot with the flat stick gaining 9.3 strokes putting at the RBC Heritage and 5.9 in his next start at the Rocket Mortgage.
If the Englishman can combine the ball striking form he has shown in his most recent starts with the putting form he displayed immediately after the suspension he will add his first major victory in 2020 to his first PGA Tour win.
That is it for this week’s write up. Thank you for reading! I am free all week for any questions and be sure to check out the FORE! Profit Podcast, my full card on Wednesday Afternoon and my live Q and A Wednesday Evening (pushed back to Thursday this week).
All of my weekly content is available via @jmazzjd on Twitter.
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