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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Twofer Tuesday: US Open

Twofer Tuesday takes compass in hand and enters the high rough at the US Open.

Defending champ Gary Woodland

The US Open site rotates from year to year, with defending champion Gary Woodland having won his at Pebble Beach in 2019.

In case you somehow missed it, the 2020 US Open returns to Winged Foot Golf Club, site of numerous "Winged Foot Massacres" over the years -- the most recent back in 2006. And the delay from summer to fall hasn't made the course any more forgiving.

This year Winged Foot will measure 7477 yards and play to a par of 70. The fairways will be obscenely narrow, the rough obscenely high (as much as five inches) and the heavily contoured greens will run at a stimp of 13.

Simply put, the A.W. Tillinghast course -- and its Gil Hanse-restored greens -- is going to be a bear once again.

While I, like many fans, would love to see Phil Mickelson finally make things right and complete his Career Slam, I haven't picked him as a Twofer Tuesday pick. Don't take that to mean I don't think he can't win; quite the contrary. Mickelson's scrambling abilities should allow him to make a serious run -- as long as he's on his game. But the same can be said of just about any player in the field, and a course this tough could give us a truly unexpected winner.

But this week I've made my choices with two different outcomes in mind...

  • Should Winged Foot somehow show mercy to the field and allow a winning score that's under par, I like Dustin Johnson. Ironically this isn't because DJ has been in such great form lately, although I'd be a fool not to consider that in my pick. Rather, it's because of his strength. While I expect DJ to play a fairly conservative game and just try to outlast the field, there are few players who can dig a wayward shot from the rough as well as he can. If he can scramble and putt well this week, it's hard to bet against him.
  • But should we see the expected massacre with the winner finishing over par, I think Webb Simpson is one to watch. Despite the length of the course, a high winning score negates some of the need for length. I admit that I'm a bit concerned over Webb's lackluster performance in the TOUR Championship after taking a week off, especially since he's coming off yet another one-week break. But I'm banking on him having put his game back in order; he knows this is one of the best shots at a second major he's had in years.

I realize that DJ and Webb have repeatedly been my picks (when available) over the last few weeks but with all these big events crammed so close together, I simply have to go with proven form. Otherwise I'm just shooting in the dark because, as I said, a track this tough doesn't favor any single player over the rest.

Thursday's TV coverage is all over the place. GC starts it off from 7:30am-2pm ET. Then NBC picks it up from 2pm-5pm ET. And finally (clearly anxious to get subscribers for their new app) Peacock covers the last shift from 5pm-7pm ET (and presumably until finished if they're still playing at 7pm.)

I'm very interested to see how this September US Open plays out. Less daylight and different weather, combined with the lack of fans, is going to make this US Open unlike anything we've seen before.

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