With less than two weeks since the dust settled on the 2019/20 PGA Tour season and Dustin Johnson bagged himself the small matter of $15m by hoisting the Fedex Cup, we have reached the first major championship of the 20/21 campaign.
The host venue for the first of two US Opens to be played in this campaign is Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, situated about 50 miles North East of New York.
A par 70 measuring 7477 yards Winged Foot is an old school style US Open test where par is your friend.
A brute of a course that last graced our screens on the US Open rota in 2006, the key here will be patience. Basically, the winner will be the last man standing, just ask Geoff Ogilvy who triumphed here that year with a winning total of +5!
While avoiding the rough off the tee will be key, the secret to mastering the course will most likely be found on and around the greens, which are heavily sloping and expected to play firm and fast. Simply, if you find the wrong level on the green a two putt becomes nigh on impossible.
So, with Winged Foot likely to play as tough as they come, who of the leading contenders seem best placed to handle the test?
Well not unsurprisingly it is hard to look beyond the front two in the market, Dustin Johnson and John Rahm, as a starting point.
Johnson of course has had it on a string of late and having shown over the years he is more than capable on a tough test, so a second Major for DJ this week would surprise no one.
My nagging concern regarding Johnson this week though is that he will have some kind of let down from his Fedex Cup triumph, and my preference therefore is to start our team with the man he pipped Jon Rahm.
Apart from his great recent form, the thing that draws me mostly to Rahm this week is his all round game, which statistically has no holes.
He sits second on the PGA Tour in Total Driving, his approach play is excellent and he has a magnificent touch around the greens. His game seemingly has no holes and he is the man for me this week.
With Rory McIlroy’s attention you would think on ‘new Father’ duties still, I’ll head a bit further down the market for my second pick and side with Tony Finau.
While Finau has proved almost impossible to get over the line over the past couple of years, the suspicion remains that when he next does it may well be in a Major.
The big man has posted six top 10 finishes in his past nine majors, thus giving a stellar each-way return to those who have stuck with him in the biggest events and with his form trending very nicely, I expect another strong run from him this week.
Of the British contingent while I am sure there will be plenty of support for Tommy Fleetwood on the back of his fast finish in Portugal at the weekend, the one I like and am keen to have onside is Tyrrell Hatton.
The Englishman has matured into a world class performer over the past 12 months and he showed when winning the API in March that he has what it takes to gut it out on a tough course. Arriving here in great nick I expect a big performance.
Finally, in an event where Paddy are generously paying to 10 places each-way, I will roll the dice on a couple of big outsiders in the shape of Cameron Smith and Brian Harman.
Back in 2006 the victor Geoff Ogilvy was one of three Aussie’s to finish high up the leaderboard and I expect those from Down Under to be suited by the conditions again this week.
Of these Cam Smith, who already has a top five in the US Open to his name and possesses a great short game, is the each-way pick at the prices to me.
Harman, meanwhile, is a gritty competitor who has played some solid stuff of late and tends to thrive in the bigger events like when second to Brooks Koepka at the 2017 US Open.
A left hander, who should be suited by the course shape, he also has the short game to thrive and arriving here in strong form, he is fancied to go well at huge odds.
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