The weirdest golf season of all time continues Thursday when the 2020 U.S. Open tees off — a week after the 2020-21 season began.
Such is life in the PGA Tour this season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Open, originally scheduled for June, was pushed back to September and now has the distinction of being played a week after the 2020-21 season began with the Safeway Open.
The second major of 2020 — after last month’s PGA Championship — the U.S. Open will go down at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
It’s a return to Winged Foot for the USGA, as the Westchester County course hosted the 2006 U.S. Open won by Geoff Ogilvy. That tournament, however, is better remembered for Phil Mickelson’s meltdown.
Here’s all you need to know about this week’s U.S. Open with a focus on the betting odds and daily fantasy play.
THE COURSE — WINGED FOOT GOLF CLUB
Yardage: 7,477 yards
Winged Foot is probably going to eat the world’s best golfers alive. This figures to be a brutal test this week, as was the case in 2006 when Ogilvy won at 5-over. The cut line just to get to the weekend was 9-over. Only four players shot under par Sunday, and they finished a combined 37-over for the tournament.
Let’s start with one of the USGA hallmarks of a U.S. Open: the rough. According to early reports from the course, lawn mowers aren’t getting much use outside the fairways and greens.
Don’t hit your golf ball there.
Assuming you ever reach the ground, you’re in for another tough test with quick, undulating greens.
The silver lining? It’s not going to be nearly as hot as it might have been in June, which means the greens probably won’t be baked. In fact, there’s even rain in the forecast for Friday, which could make some pins getable.
Dustin Johnson +750
Jon Rahm +1000
Justin Thomas +1200
Rory McIlroy +1600
Xander Schauffele +1600
Collin Morikawa +1800
Patrick Cantlay +2200
Web Simpson +2700
Daniel Berger +2900
Tiger Woods +4100
— Johnson deserves to be the favorite, of course. He’s playing some of the best golf of his career and is coming off a dominant FedEx Cup performance. He also finished tied for second at the PGA Championship.
— Speaking of the PGA, Morikawa is receiving plenty of respect at 16-to-1 after living in the 30-to-1 neighborhood heading into the tournament at Harding Park.
So, what are we looking for this week? It’s a long par-70 test, obviously, but given how penal the rough could be, we’re putting an emphasis on accuracy off the tee. That might take out some of the bigger hitters, so we’re also looking for players who can hit long irons. As always, approach is a huge factor in general. We’ll also look for players who avoid the big numbers while also paying some attention to players who are good around the green.
Jon Rahm (10-to-1): The Spaniard is always a slight roll of the dice given his hot temper, but he’s done well to control that this season. He’s second on the tour in total driving and was 24th in strokes gained around the green. He finished third at the U.S. Open last year, and it’s just a matter of time before he breaks through
Webb Simpson (27-to-1): For starters, he’s been awesome this year, finishing top-10 in eight of his 14 events, including a pair of wins and five top-3 finishes. Simpson also fits the profile as one of the best ball-strikers in golf, and he led the PGA Tour in bogey avoidance for the 2019-20 season.
Rickie Fowler (50-to-1): Take Fowler in a major at your own risk, but he’s a good long-iron player, who doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. Getting him at 50-to-1 is tempting enough to take a shot.
Viktor Hovland (50-to-1): He’s obviously one of the best young golfers on tour, and he has played well in limited majors appearances, including a 12th-place finish at Pebble Beach last year.
Zach Johnson (150-to-1): The last few years have been a mixed bag for Johnson, and he ultimately could lack the length to contend this week. But he ranks 25th in scoring on par 4s of 450 to 500 yards while also ranking 15th in bogey avoidance. If the course really eats up the field, he’s savvy enough to make his pars and hang around.
Sebastian Munoz (270-to-1): Is Munoz going to win the U.S. Open? Probably not. But he’s a pretty good lottery ticket. Munoz is a solid ball-striker and is good off the tee. He doesn’t make a ton of bogeys. He’s really found his game lately, with three top-20 and two top-10 finishes down the stretch. Just takes one hot weekend with the putter.
Here’s a sample lineup for DFS games.
Xander Schauffele —The breakthrough is coming at some point for Schauffele, who has five top-10 finishes in his last eight majors, including three top-3s.
Webb Simpson — Already mentioned above.
Tyrell Hatton — Fits the profile and might be the most underrated golfer in the world.
Harris English — Another guy who fits the profile and doesn’t make mistakes (third in bogey avoidance).
Sungjae Im — Has struggled lately but features the talent to contend and can be had for a good price.
Sebastian Munoz — Maybe a win isn’t in the cards, but a solid performance at a good price helps you win DFS tournaments.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images