Golf fans have waited patiently all summer for the 120th U.S. Open, and the big week is almost here. When the USGA brings its signature championship to a club steeped in history like Winged Foot, there’s an extra level of excitement that even a three-month delay in the proceedings can’t dampen.
Of course, there are things that will different about this year’s U.S. Open. With no fans in the galleries, the atmosphere will be much more subdued, as was the case a month ago at the fanless PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park. Then again, New Yorkers aren’t really that vocal a group, so maybe it really won’t be that different. (Kidding!)
What isn’t likely to be different is players facing a stern test of every aspect of their games. Traditionally, U.S. Opens at Winged Foot have meant thick rough, narrow fairways and slick greens—all leading to high scores. Here are the winning scores in the five previous U.S. Opens held at the Mamaroneck, N.Y., club.
1929: Bobby Jones, six over
1959: Billy Casper, two over
1974: Hale Irwin, seven over
1984: Fuzzy Zoeller, four under
2006: Geoff Ogilvy, five over
Interestingly, the lack of fans might actually make the course play even harder. Without spectators tramping down the rough way outside the ropes, the penalty for wayward drives is only likely to get worse. Phil Mickelson noted when talking to Golf Digest for our recent oral history on the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot that he was hitting it so bad the galleries became a huge help
“I was hitting it into the people anyway,” he said. “And I hit it so far off line that I kept finding my ball in trampled-down areas, so that allowed me to hit some shots. This year there won’t be any galleries, so I’m going to have to hit it straight.” [Laughs.]
Below is the 144-player field as of Friday, Sept. 11. Players will be competing in threesomes off the first and 10th tees during the first and second rounds next Thursday and Friday. Tee times have yet to be set, but check back here and we’ll have them posted as soon as they go live.