Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2020 U.S. Open Championship Picks. The guys give their DraftKings fantasy golf picks and provide their one and done strategy for the event from Winged Foot Golf Club.
2020 U.S. Open Championship Picks: Show Index
8:22 The Favorites
1:10:34 Quick Picks
1:13:13 Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson/TV Coverage
1:18:19 One and Done Picks
Watch the show HERE:
2020 U.S. Open Championship: Field
Field: 144 Players | Cut: Top 60 and Ties after 36 Holes
First Tee: Thursday, Aug. 27, at 1230 p.m. ET
Defending Champion: Gary Woodland
With the NFL in full swing, this doesn’t feel like a Major week. But I looked at the calendar and it says the 2020 U.S. Open is this week, and I don’t think there’s a secret cabal out there trying to tarnish the name of Pope Gregory XIII by specifically duping me into getting my dates wrong. Although, I have read some pretty convincing fringe message board positions the subject. Everyone on the internet is certified expert, right?
Down from its usual 156 players field, the 2020 U.S. Open will only have 144 golfers heading to the New York/Connecticut border for the year’s second Major. Not every big name will be competing for the 120th U.S. Open, however. Brooks Koepka is out with a knee injury and Scottie Scheffler withdrew over the weekend after receiving a positive test for COVID-19. Still, the combination of extended spots for the top Korn Ferry and European Tour players since the return of golf almost makes up for their absences. Almost. As much as I love seeing the FINNISH FLASH
Teemu Selanne Sami Valimaki in an event on this continent, I’m going to miss Brooks in a U.S. Open.
Now, because of the shrunken field, it will be slightly easier to make the cut this year, but not by much. The U.S. Open features a cut line of the Top 60 players and ties after 36 holes, as opposed to the Top 65 and ties for a regular PGA TOUR event and the Top 70 and ties at the PGA Championship. The Masters is only Top 50 and ties (and any player within ten strokes of the lead), but Augusta only invites 80 players sometimes. Many think a similar ten stroke rule is in effect at the U.S. Open, incorrectly. That’s not a thing.
A minimum of 42% of the field will make the cut at the 2020 U.S. Open, which will make this one of the lowest perfect 6/6 DraftKings lineup events of the year.
2020 U.S. Open Championship: Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
Par 4s Gained: 450-500 Yards
Proximity 200+ Yards
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2020 U.S. Open Championship: Course
Course: Winged Foot GC
2020 U.S. Open Championship: Past Winners
2019: Gary Woodland -13
2018: Brooks Koepka +1
2017: Brooks Koepka -16
2016: Dustin Johnson -4
2015: Jordan Spieth -5
2014: Martin Kaymer -9
2013: Justin Rose +1
2012: Webb Simpson +1
2011: Rory McIlroy -16
2010: Graeme McDowell E
2020 U.S. Open Championship: Strategy
With the way the recent U.S. Open’s have played out, no short hitter would be at the tip of anyone’s tongue. No, with Brooks, DJ, and Woodland sharing the past four wins, distance has become the focal point. And that’s not wrong; long and straight is the key. Those players aren’t just lurking around the grounds in bunches, though. And with the videos (and player testimonials) about how THICC the rough is going be at Winged Foot, I’ve decided to lean harder on accuracy than almost every other year.
Obviously, the longer hitters can keep smoke wagon in the bag and use driving iron all week to keep the ball in the short grass. It’s pretty difficult to decipher who is actually going to take this approach, though. So, straight, then long is going to be my preferred strategy for picks.
A “classic” U.S. Open course, Winged Foot has a lot more in common with Oakmont, Shiniocck Hills, and Merion then other recent U.S. Open venues like Erin Hills, Pebble Beach, and Chambers Bay. And taking a gander at Oakmont specifically, many will rush to call it bombers paradise because Dustin Johnson ended up hoisting the U.S. Open Trophy (yes, it’s actually called the U.S. Open Trophy). But look at some of the other leaderboard lurkers in 2016: Jim Furyk, Scott Piercy, Kevin Na, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson. When the winning score is -4, simply avoiding mistakes is good enough to challenge for a victory.
No one is going to play perfect golf, but keeping it in the fairway will mitigate a lot of issues. In the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot (Geoff Ogilvy won at +5 after Phil went into the tent on the 72nd hole, ‘member?), the field only hit 50% of fairways, 50% of greens in regulation, scrambled at a 40% clip, and averaged one three putt per round, per player. Someone is going to win this tournament by hitting fairways, landing approaches 40-feet from the cup, and two-putting for par as much as possible. Maybe offset the inevitable bogey runs with a hot putting round and sneak a few birdies along the way.
You know Winged Foot is a historic course because the designer has the most old timey name possible: A.W. Tillinghast. Now, like most Tillinghast courses, they have been redesigned over the years but still possess the essential elements which made them so great to begin with. If you want to dig into more Tillinghast venues this field has played, I’ll give ya a head start on the winners.
A.W. Tillinghast Tournaments
US OPEN — Winged Foot
2006: Geoff Ogilvy +5
US Amateur (East & West Courses)
2004: Ryan Moore 2 UP
PGA CHAMPIONSHIP — Baltusrol
2016: Jimmy Walker -14
2005: Phil Mickelson -4
The Barclay/Northern Trust — Ridgewood CC
2018: Bryson DeChambeau -18
2014: Hunter Mahan -14
2010: Matt Kuchar -12
2008: Vijay Singh -8
2020 U.S. Open Championship Picks
Webb Simpson $9,700
Despite sitting at No. 6 in the world rankings and having, you know, won a U.S. Open before, it doesn’t appear like any wants Webb this week. A few years back, he was an elite iron player. It didn’t really do much for him until he completely flipped his putting strokes. Now one of the best iron players AND putters in the world, he’s jumped into the conversation for the world’s best player with his improved driving. He’s not going to win a long drive contest any time soon, but he’s finding the short grass at an incredibly high clip. In this field Webb is 15th in fairways gained, and just below average in distance (87th). He’s not Steve Stricker in the driving distance department. If he continues to hit fairways at his yearly baseline, the rest of game is so well rounded he’ll be able to grind out pars with he best of them.
Matthew Wolff $7,700
Now that Scottie Scheffler has withdrawn from the 2020 U.S. Open, the WOLFFMAN possess the best combination of distance and accuracy of anyone not named Jon Rahm. In his past 24 rounds, Wolff sits sixth in the field in driving distance and 42nd in accuracy. That can be a lethal combo this week. We just saw him storm the leaderboard at the PGA Championship despite a brutal effort on the greens, and he lingered at the BMW Championship in tough conditions before the flat stick once again got the best of him. On the whole, he hasn’t been a bad putter in short career, but it seems to crop up when the rest of his game is rolling along nicely. Fortunately, beyond his elite driving, he sits 15th in SG: APP since the restart, and gets better the farther he is away from the hole: 2nd in proximity 200+ yards; 27th 175-200 yards.
Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Reed
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was a finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
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