U.S. Open Preview: A challenging weekend ahead

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Tiger Woods watches his shot off the 12th tee during practice before the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament at Winged Foot Golf Club, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Mamaroneck, N.Y. Photo by John Minchillo/AP Photo.

The story of the 120th U.S. Open is not centered around any particular player or group, but rather on the course that has been picked for arguably the most prestigious major in all of golf. The site of Phil Mickelson’s infamous 18th hole collapse back in 2006, Winged Foot Golf Club is one of the most historic courses in all of New York, but is also one of the most difficult. This is where the rescheduled U.S. Open will be taking place this year, and it is shaping out to be unlike many others in the past.  

Regarded as one of the hardest courses on Tour, the West Course at Winged Foot has been the host of the U.S. Open five times. Of those five times, only one champion has ever finished under par: Fuzzy Zoeller back in 1984. In fact, it was in this tournament where the only under-par finishes ever at the course during a U.S. Open were recorded, with Zoeller beating Greg Norman in a playoff after both finished 4-under.  

To put it bluntly, this course is brutal. It measures at nearly 7,500 yards, lengthened over 200 for the major. This distance is spread out all over the course, with some of the par 3s playing at around 250 yards. The last three holes are all par 4s that can quickly turn a player’s round to a complete disaster. The greens are ridiculously fast; some argue that they might even play harder than Augusta National’s challenging slopes. They are also nearly impossible to figure out. Members of the Winged Foot say they have barely figured out all of the breaks after years of playing, something that the players are going to have to do in one weekend, all with the pin location changing daily. The fairways are long and narrow and are surrounded by some of the thickest and deepest rough on Tour. If a player misses the fairway, the ball simply disappears into the grass, and without spectators to trample down the rough, it will be a consistent thickness throughout its entirety, meaning there is no advantage for players to miss far to the left and right of the fairway.  

The golfing world has recently seen players like Dustin Johnson post rounds of -30, and then win the Tour Championship a couple of weeks later at -21. This will most certainly not be the case this weekend, as many experts are projecting the winning score to be over par with a cut line on Friday of around +8. Simply put, it won’t be the player that makes the most birdies that takes home the trophy. Rather, it will be the player that can avoid making the most bogeys throughout the weekend. We are set up to watch a fun, exciting and certainly humbling weekend of golf.  

My Pick to Win: Dustin Johnson 

Winning Score: +4 

Final Round Score of Champion: Even (72) 

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