Editor’s Note: This is Maxx, Gary tells me it’s his Brother-in-law. Could honestly be some gambling savant hobo from Kensington. Regardless I’m riding with him. The guy absolutely loves gambling on golf. This preview is insanely detailed and a good outlook on what you’re going to see the next 4 days. Give Maxx a follow @MaxxKleiner.
It’s been over 400 days since Shane Lowry won the Open Championship. Which means the only major we’ve had in that span was the PGA Championship last month. It’s been bleak, man. But we’re coming back in a big way. Barring a breakout of COVID-19 cases, the U.S. Open kicks off an incredible run of golf. Here’s what we’re looking at:
U.S. Open – Winged Foot (September)
Masters – Augusta National (November)
Players – TPC Sawgrass (March)
Masters – Augusta National (April)
PGA Championship – Kiawah Island (May)
U.S. Open – Torrey Pines (June)
Open Championship – Royal St. George’s (July)
A little history
If you’re a golfer, Winged Foot needs no introduction. If you aren’t here’s the deal. Winged Foot was founded in 1921 and designed by A.W. Tillinghast (we like Tillinghast). The club has 2 courses (East & West), the West being the “championship” course. This will be the 6th U.S. Open Winged Foot has hosted, in addition to 1 PGA Championship, 2 U.S. Amateurs, 2 U.S. Women’s Opens, and the Walker Cup.
One reason why it has hosted so many big tournaments? The course is a savage. The past winning scores at the U.S. Open were +5 (Geoff Ogilvy, 2006), -4 (Fuzzy Zoeller, 1984), +7 (Hale Irwin, 1974), +2 (Billy Casper, 1959), +6 (Bobby Jones, 1929). Aside from 1984 it has been an absolute bloodbath. Love it.
The course will play as a par 70 measuring 7,477 yards. It has got a great mix of holes – you’re gonna get your brutal par 4s, a few getable par 4s, long par 3s, a short par 3, and long ass par 5s. There are dogleg lefts, dogleg rights….and diabolical greens.
If you want to get a look at the course The Fried Egg made a beautifully shot video with commentary from Geoff Ogilvy and Gil Hanse.
I found it poignant when Ogilvy said you gotta be really really good from inside 100 here. The USGA’s Twitter handle has been posting cool little flyovers of each hole, which are also worth checking out.
And lastly, you can’t talk about Winged Foot without talking about the 2006 U.S. Open where Phil Mickelson famously double bogeyed 18 to lose by 1 stroke.
On the bright side, U.S. Open demons and old age didn’t prevent some maniac from betting $45K on Phil to win $3.3 mil. I hope this works out, that’d be unreal.
The Lead Up
Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson aren’t best friends?
Whoa, what there’s beef? I thought these two were boys? Everyone thought they were, but then at the PGA Brooks came out of nowhere and said nah we ain’t boys and DJ only has 1 major so I don’t even see him on the leaderboard. TO BE FAIR, DJ did and still does only have 1 major. He didn’t close the deal at the PGA, like he could have and probably should have, but has been on an F YOU Tour ever since. He shot 30 under at the Northern Trust, and won by 11 (!!!), lost in a playoff at the BMW, and won the Tour Championship. Brooks had the second worst score of the day in that final round and hasn’t been heard from since. He is also not playing this week, due to injury. Tough look for my guy, Brooks.
The Rise of Morikawa
Forget about the best young player in the world, Collin Morikawa (+1700) is flat out one of the best players in the world. Period. He’s 23 and already a major champion. Now look, the PGA is not the U.S. Open, it’s just not. He a million percent has the physical game to compete, but not sure if he’s there mentally (and he’s not a great putter). That’s not a knock on his mental game at all, it’s just that winning the U.S. Open is very very tough and usually takes some experience.
Beef’d Up Bryson
Here’s my take on Dechambeau (+2800). Personality-wise, he’s clearly got some weird shit going on. Amongst other things, the fake dog scandal at the BMW was friggin bizarre. Aside from that I think he is great for golf. Not only is he a content machine, but he is a true innovator. He should be applauded for the way he approaches the game, whether it’s the single length irons, quirky putter, or muscle building regimen. He has found success with it all despite the haters, and most importantly has shown everyone that there are different ways to play this f’d up game.
That being said, will he compete this week? I think he was able to compete at the PGA because the rough was playable. I’m just not sure that will be the case here. He missed the cut at the Memorial and finished 50th at the BMW, if course setup is any indication. Would I be shocked if he was in contention, absolutely not, but there is definitely room for hesitation.
It’s hard to find many positives with Tiger (+4500) right now. He hasn’t played all that much and when he has played he hasn’t been great. In 4 events since the restart his best finish is T37. No doubt, he builds his season around the majors, so maybe we can take these past tournaments with a grain of salt. I just think that at some point you gotta have tournament reps, get yourself in contention, etc. before you roll up to a U.S. Open and win. +4500 is probably fair, but I think that there is much better value on either side of that, which brings me to the guys I like.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the fact that there will not be any fans. It’s been an unusual season in that way, and it’s hard to say how that affects each player. Some players have talked about how it’s not the same, which certainly makes sense. Normally, playing with Tiger is a big disadvantage for most players because they are not used to playing in that madness. From a playability standpoint, there won’t be the trampled down areas where wayward shots normally end up in a better lie than they would if they were 5 feet off the fairway.
Guys I Like
Dustin Johnson (+850)
DJ is the favorite and for good reason. His driving alone makes him a great fit. You have to drive the ball long and straight at the U.S. Open – he’s really good at that. I’ll be honest, the greens scare me with him. But, here’s the thing with tough greens – you can offset tough greens by hitting the ball in the right spots, which means putting the ball in a good position off the tee. These greens are tough when you are leaving the ball under the hole – impossible if you are missing them or above the hole.
John Rahm (+900)
There’s a lot to like about John Rahm. This year he won the Memorial and the BMW, the two hardest setups this year. The BMW was basically a U.S. Open. Prior to DJ’s F You Tour, Rahm was #1 in the world for a hot minute. I would run through some stats, but I don’t need to, he’s good at everything. He will win a U.S. Open (or two, or three) so why not now?
Xander Schauffele (+1500)
He’s got tons of game. He ranks 8th in SG: Off the Tee. I wish he was more accurate, but the rest of his game is so solid it’s a little bit easier to overlook. He ranked 2nd in Scrambling this year and not coincidentally he also ranks 16th in Scoring Relative to Par inside 125 yards.
Webb Simpson (+2800)
Webb has had a great year. He’s got the full game. He ranked 18th in driving accuracy, 13th in putting, 6th in SG: Approach, 32nd in SG: Around the Green. And I’ll give you a bonus stat. He ranks 1st in Scoring Relative to Par inside 125 yards.
Tony Finau (+650 Top 5)
Tony Finau is probably not going to win, but should be a good bet for a top 5 or top 10. His ball striking alone will put him in the mix. He just never wins. Not that he can’t, he just doesn’t and now I need to see it to believe it.
Daniel Berger (+3300)
Aside from DJ, Berger has been the hottest player since the restart, with finishes of 1st, T3, T2, T13, and 3 thus far. One of the many things that jumps out at me is he is 1st in Scrambling this year. Put it all together and he’s all the way up to 13th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Jason Day (+3300)
His game and somewhat recent performance force me to mention him. He was looking like his old self after the restart, but totally disappeared in the playoffs. I wish I could tell you what he is going to do, but I get burned every time I touch him. Keep an eye on the first 2 rounds, if he is relevant I think a live bet on the weekend is worth it.
Tommy Fleetwood (+3500)
Look, I love Tommy lad. Everyone loves Tommy lad. His weekend performance in big tournaments just rips my freakin heart out. If he is going to win he will probably come out of nowhere with a 64 on Sunday. Basically, what would have happened at Shinnecock had Brooks not been around. Check in on Tommy on Sunday morning – if he’s within 5 shots fire away.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (+6000) (+500 Top 10)
He tends to show up at tough venues. T6 at the BMW, T6 at the FedEx St. Jude, 3rd at the Memorial, T20 at least year’s Open Championship, T12 at least year’s U.S. Open. Just sayin.
Harris English (+6600) (+550 Top 10)
English has been quietly putting together a very good year. Statistically, he is solid throughout the bag, he drives the ball well and has the short game to match. One of the key stats that jumps out at me is he hits his long irons well (6th in Approach > 200 yards). With several long par 4s and 3 out of 4 par 3’s measuring 200+ this should be an advantage.
Brendan Todd (+8000) (+600 Top 10)
Is he a sexy pick? Absolutely not. Does he pound fairways (4th in Driving Accuracy)? Yes, he does. The haters will say his Strokes Gained: Off the tee is – .073 and admittedly that’s a tough look for Todd and driving accuracy in general. But, here’s the thing – at the average tournament, missing the fairway doesn’t mean anything – at the U.S. Open, it does. Oh, and the cherry on top, he ranks 3rd in Scrambling.
Aright, that’s my schpiel. Good luck out there.