The US Open is organised by the United States Golf Association (USGA). Traditionally it is played in mid-June and scheduled so that the final round is played on the third Sunday, which is Father’s Day. However, with the schedule reshuffle due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, the US Open is now being played in September.
The US Open is an official tournament of both the PGA and European Tours. From a course difficulty perspective, the US Open Championship is traditionally the hardest of the four Majors to win.
The tournament is staged at a variety of courses and set up in such a way that scoring is difficult. US Open courses are typically characterised by low scoring, are long, have a high cut of primary rough, undulating greens and tight fairways.
This year the 120th US Open is returning to New York and the West Course at Winged Foot Golf Club.
Winged Foot is a private club with two 18-hole golf courses located in Mamaroneck, New York. Both courses at Winged Foot were designed by famed architect A. W. Tillinghast, who also designed Baltusrol (Lower) and Bethpage Black.
Winged Foot Golf Club was founded in 1921 by a group consisting mainly of members of the New York Athletic Club. The golf club gets its name from the New York Athletic Club’s logo but the two associations have never had any direct affiliation. Winged Foot Golf Club officially opened in June 1923 and in 2019 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Winged Foot member Tommy Armour won three major titles, the 1927 US Open, 1930 PGA Championship and the 1931 British Open. Claude Harmon (Butch Harmon’s father) was the head professional at Winged Foot GC when he won the 1948 Masters and collected a check for $2,500.
Winged Foot’s West Course has hosted the US Open five times and the PGA Championship once:
- 1929 US Open Bobby Jones
- 1959 US Open Billy Casper
- 1974 US Open Hale Irwin
- 1984 US Open Fuzzy Zoeller
- 1997 PGA Championship Davis Love III
- 2006 US Open Geoff Ogilvy
After this year’s hosting of the US Open, only Oakmont Country Club and Baltusrol Golf Club will have hosted the tournament more times.
The 1974 edition was known as “The Massacre at Winged Foot“. Hale Irwin won with a +7 (287) and just seven sub-par rounds were recorded over the four days.
In the 2006 US Open, Geoff Ogilvy won his only major title by one stroke from runners-up Jim Furyk, Colin Montgomerie, and Phil Mickelson. Each of the runners up failed to par their final hole. Mickelson, who was one shot ahead on the final tee box, double-bogeyed his 72nd hole. He used driver off the tee and failed to hit the fairway. A litany of errors followed and Mickelson didn’t get his ball on the green until his fifth shot.
“I still am in shock that I did that. I just can’t believe I did that. I am such an idiot”Phil Mickelson
Montgomerie double-bogeyed when his approach shot from the fairway ended up short and in the rough. He then followed the difficult chip with three putts. Furyk missed a 5-footer for par on his final hole.
Only 11 players broke par over four rounds with the lowest score a -2 (68). Tiger Woods missed the cut playing for the first time since the death of his father. He shot a pair of 76’s and it was his first missed cut in a Major as a professional.
The following is a list of players who finished inside the Top 30 in the 2006 edition of the US Open at Winged Foot;
|T16||Miguel Angel Jiménez||70||75||74||72||11||291|
|T21||José María Olazábal||75||73||73||71||12||292|
|T21||Tom Pernice Jr.||79||70||72||71||12||292|
The West Course at Winged Foot Golf Club is a Par 70 that can stretch to over 7,400 yards from the championship pegs. The Par 4’s average out at 450 yards with holes No. 5 and 17 topping out at just over 500 yards. The course features a very strong set of Par 3’s with three playing over 200 yards.
The Par 5 12th stretches to nearly 640 yards making it one of the longest Par 5’s in Major history. In the 2006 US Open the Par 5 12th was played 437 times and yielded up only one eagle.
West Course Score Card
|4||Sound View||467||4||13||White Mule||212||3|
Early reports and indications suggest that Winged Foot will be setup like the traditional US Opens of old. This basically translates to a very stern test of golf. Following his BMW Championship victory, Jon Rahm had an opportunity to play a practice round at Winged Foot and had this to say;
“It’s just a difficult course. It’s long. It’s narrow. It’s undulating. You just need to play really good golf. If it gets firm like some of the USGA guys told me they want it to be, I don’t see how any of us shoot under par. Or if we shoot under par, it would be somebody winning by a lot.”Jon Rahm
It is well worth the 11 minutes and fifty seconds to watch the following flyover of Winged Foot to get a insight as to what awaits the golf professionals in this week’s US Open.
Play from the tee around Winged Foot can be penal. Aggressive tee shots run the risk of running through the fairway as the landing zone narrows the further you hit the ball. Also, the angle of the fairways on some holes require precise execution.
While play from tee-to-green at Winged Foot is challenging, getting off the greens can be more challenging. Greens on the West Course can be best described as scary and treacherous. The combination of the shape of greens together with the significant slope and undulation make distance control on approach a critical part of play. Players on the wrong side of the pin this week will face a challenging two-putt.
The greens are also well protected with false fronts and strategically placed bunkering. The greenside bunkers present difficult recoveries. The Par 3 7th has seven-foot deep bunkers that are not all visible from the tee.
The US Open is the ultimate test of patience. Players have to change mindset and convince themselves that par golf (or even worse) is sometimes good enough. Often it is the complete antithesis of regular Tour events where grinding out pars is the staple for success.
Winged Foot is a course that tests every club in the bag and probably more so the ‘sixteenth club‘. Good course management will be paramount this week. Players will need to drive well and in particular iron play on approach will need to be razor sharp.
It goes without saying, that of all tournaments, the US Open is not the one to be arriving at trying to find your game so Current Form is a key consideration.
Important factors this week will be good strategy, hitting the right parts of the green and avoid haemorrhaging shots to the field.
US Open Betting Tips
Xander Schauffele 16/1 (E/W) – this is his fourth outing in the US Open with his previous three results reading T5, T6 and T3. Impressive run in the FedEx Cup Playoffs puntuated by a T2 in the Tour Championship. Prior to the playoffs he finished T6 in the WGC FedEx St Jude and T10 in the PGA Championship. A stellar all-round game (especially tee-to-green) puts him 5th in this week’s Stats Analysis table. He is also 10th on Tour for GIR and 5th for Scoring Average. Only player in this week’s field to feature in the Top 10 for each of the key performance indicators of Event Form, Current Form and Stats Analysis. The question is not if he will when a Major, but more when will will he win one. With the trajectory his game is currently on, he is certainly hard to ignore.
Daniel Berger 28/1 (E/W) – best finish at the US Open is a T6 in 2018 when played at Shinnecock Hills. His form since golf’s return is impressive. Followed up a victory in the Charles Schwab Challenge with five Top 15 finishes from seven starts. Comfortably and impressively places 2nd in this week’s Stats Analysis. He is also 15th on Tour for Strokes Gained Putting and 5th for Scoring Average. His game has transcended to new levels and is now a regular on leader-boards almost every time he tees it up. The 27 year old is playing with a confidence and a maturity that puts him firmly in this week’s cross-hairs. Has the perfect game and skill set to unpick the challenges of Winged Foot.
Phil Mickelson 90/1 (E/W) – there is absolutely no logical or coherent argument that can be made for Lefty based on form and statistics. But maybe, just maybe the all powerful golfing Gods will smile down with empathy and compassion and right the mistakes of 2006 (sorry Geoff!). The ultimate golfing karma. Is there anyone out there who would begrudge Phil the Career-Slam and what better place to do it than Winged Foot. Yes, he will find trouble off the tee this week, but he won’t be alone. C’mon Phil!