Dan Box
By Dan Box

When the PGA of America announced back in 2017 that the PGA Championship was moving to May and the new schedule, including the earlier date for The Players Championship in March, would come in for the 2019 season, they probably didn't expect those changes to last all of one season.

Having said that, none of us could've known that COVID-19 was about to hit and completely change the way every one of us has lived our lives for the past six months and counting.

As a result, we now move into the third week of September with only one men's major played so far, and two still to go. This week it is the turn of the US Open.

2020 US Open Preview

Image Credit: PGA Tour Twitter

For 2020, the 120th US Open Championship, the USGA has returned to the iconic Winged Foot GC in Mamaroneck, New York, which last hosted the event in 2006. Geoff Ogilvy held his nerve, after Furyk, Mickelson and Montgomerie failed to hold theirs on the final hole.

Last Year

2019 saw Gary Woodland pick up his first major victory at Pebble Beach, with a fantastic final round of 69 enough to give him a three-stroke victory over Brooks Koepka, who was looking to become the first player in over a century to win three successive US Open titles.

Gary Woodland 2019 US Open

Image Credit: USGA

Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Chez Reavie and Xander Schauffele all finished in a tie for third, with Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson also sneaking into the top 10.

The Course

I find it a little strange that players are the first to moan when the USGA get things wrong in the US Open and the course is set up 'too hard'. The list of courses which are always regarded as their favourites - Pebble Beach, Shinnecock, Oakmont, Pinehurst and Winged Foot - are among the toughest in the world.

2020 US Open Preview

Image Credit: Winged Foot

So why do they complain that it's difficult? Surely that's what you want from a US Open?

Winged Foot's West Course has developed a reputation over the years of providing a fearsome test of golf for even the best players in the world, having hosted the US Open five times and only allowed a winning score to be below par once.

2020 US Open Preview

Image Credit: Winged Foot

It's a 7,264 yard par 72 which is converted to a par 70 during major weeks, and will be everything that you'd expect from a tough golf course. Long holes, thick rough, narrow fairways and firm greens. Unless the USGA decides to be kind, or we get a lot of rain, the winning score is likely to be around level par or even higher.

Winged Foot also been responsible for some of the most dramatic, and heart-wrenching, finishes in major history, as you can see here...

The Field

The headline news for this week is that two-time winner Brooks Koepka will not be teeing it up, after suffering with knee and hip injuries recently.

Koepka had a poor season in all, despite performing well at the PGA Championship, and is taking the time to get healthy with five more majors coming up in the next 10 months.

Dustin Johnson is undoubted favourite this week. After coming close at the PGA Championship, DJ then went on to win in two of his last three starts, including at the Tour Championship where he won the FedEx Cup and picked up a cool $15 million in prize money. He's the best player in the world at the moment, and he's certainly overdue another major win.

2020 US Open Preview

Image Credit: Dustin Johnson Twitter

Johnson is closely followed in the betting odds by Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas, who are both in excellent form, as well as new father Rory McIlroy who has now gone six years without a major victory.

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood arrives at Winged Foot in good form thanks to a closing 64 at the Portugal Masters on Sunday, whilst Phil Mickelson played well here for 71 holes back in 2006 before his unfortunate collapse. Phil recently won the Champions Tour and also put together four good rounds last week at the Safeway Open.

Finally, we have to mention Tiger Woods of course.

The 15-time major champion has certainly not looked at his best this year but any time he tees it up at a major there's a chance that he'll do something special, and the tough conditions at Winged Foot may suit his game if he's healthy.

Golfalot Tips

  • Justin Thomas @ 14/1

Recently crowned as the PGA of America's Player of the Year, Thomas has picked up two more victories in 2020 and currently sits third in the World Rankings. He's our favourite due to his excellent short game and consistent form over the past few weeks, as well as having the length required to cut some of these holes down and give himself shorter approaches to the green.

  • Tommy Fleetwood @ 35/1

Fleetwood has a good track record at the US Open thanks to his precise approach play and tidy short game, finishing second and fourth at the 2017 and 2018 editions. He hasn't won yet this year but did finish T3 last week thanks to a Sunday 64, so arrives in form, and also spent time in the area practicing during the summer.

  • Patrick Reed @ 40/1

Not a huge hitter which will means he'll have his work cut out, but a strong each-way bet due to his fantastic short game which is an absolute necessity at Winged Foot. The American has quietly put together a pretty strong season with a win, runner up finish and five other top 10s including T7 at the Tour Championship in his last outing.

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